I’m primarily a writer and a journalist. As such, I try to avoid conflict that would give the appearance of favoritism in my writing. This page is designed to give more background on that and disclose things that might create that appearance. It is current as of the date above; it’s been on this site before that date and associated with me at previous sites I’ve run for years.
No Payment For Coverage
I don’t receive payment from companies for any type of coverage, not here on my personal blog nor in my writings at Search Engine Land. Nor anywhere elsewhere, for that matter.
I Don’t Handle Ads
I don’t handle the advertising or sponsorship activities at Search Engine Land, Marketing Land nor for any of the properties published by Third Door Media, where I am a partner in the business. I obviously benefit indirectly from those activities, but I have no day-to-day role in them. I do not allow them to influence editorial decisions.
At Search Engine Land, I do not want readers to feel there’s any incentive for me to push a particular product or service on them, so there are no affiliate links for the products and services mentioned within the site. In addition, I do not have any deals or associations with search engine related products from which I benefit.
Here on my personal blog, I occasionally have affiliate links, primarily for products I’ve written about that might also be sold via Amazon. It’s interesting for me to see how the Amazon system works. It also produces a tiny bit of revenue for the site. I don’t add these links to anything I wouldn’t have mentioned anyway, and I usually do call them out as affiliate links in some way, when I do.
Also on Daggle, I have ads from Google AdSense and ValueClick Media. As with the Amazon links, this is primarily to see how the systems work. Part of my job sometimes involves understanding self-serve display ad systems for publishers. My blog gives me a first-hand test bed. They also produce a small amount of income. Suffice to say, if I shut them down, they’d have little impact on my overall income. I’ve got no incentive to favor these systems.
I also sometimes use VigLink and SkimLinks on the site. VigLink, I added VigLink in January 2010 primarily to test it when writing about it. It will turn links that I didn’t tag as affiliate links into such, if it’s relevant to do so. In July 2011, I also started using SkimLinks as testing solutions to Amazon dropping its affiliate program for those based in California.
At the moment, neither are running, because I was having some text rendering issues. They may return. If so, both may turn words I haven’t added links to into affiliated links. And if you click on either of those links to those companies, and join them, then I might earn referral fees for your sign-up. Don’t like that? Go to them directly. Or don’t sign-up. Makes no difference to me.
I do not perform paid consulting with any of the major search engines. Indeed, as a general rule, I do not consult with any search-related company. I routinely turn down such offers of work. I do this in order to avoid potential conflicts with coverage.
In 1997 and 1998, I performed a very few phone consultations with new search related companies that were considering entering the market and wanted opinions about ways to progress. Usually, these were cases where someone booked time to discuss the search engine industry, and then I realized when talking with them that they were considering launching a product. My policy at the time was not to do more than that initial consultation. Since 1999, I’ve also pre-screened bookings so as to avoid even doing initial consultations. If I get even a hint that a company is search related, I tell them that my policy is not to do paid consultations in order to avoid potential conflicts with coverage.
As for search engine optimization, I do not handle on-going projects. I’ve done this deliberately so that both the search engines and the search engine optimization industry do not feel I have any need to push a particular viewpoint. Instead, search engine optimization work is mainly through phone consultations, providing further advice about the information already discussed within Search Engine Land.
I’m often asked for referrals to companies for search engine optimization work. In response, I usually provide a list of resources where people can locate companies and perform their own research. Occasionally, I might suggest a particular firm, if I know of it and think there might be a good match. I receive no referral fees for such suggestions. Nor do I personally list any companies or individuals within Search Engine Land in return for fees or for any other type of benefit (they might buy ads, of course, but not from me). I have never done this.
Until early 2003, I referred people who asked me personally for consulting work to a variety of different search engine optimization companies or individuals who perform such work, given that I cannot handle all the requests I get. In return, I received small referral fees from some of these companies or individuals. This was only done in relation to email I received directly about such work. It was a tiny amount of my income.
Legal Consulting & Search Engines
I have offered legal advice or served as an expert witness on some search engine-related cases. One involved speaking on behalf of a search engine, in the Playboy vs. Excite & Netscape case.
I disagreed with Playboy’s view that the linking of banner advertisements to keywords should be prevented. I was also concerned that should this type of advertising be prevented, search engines would be less viable — which impacts the entire internet. It was an important case, and the way search engines operate needed to be clearly explained.
Given this, after long debate, I did agree to serve as an expert witness on behalf of Excite and Netscape. It went against my policy of consulting with search engines; however, my consultation work was really with the legal firm representing Excite and Netscape. In addition, I felt I was helping to defend the entire search engine industry, rather than a particular company. I did not let this expert witness work influence my other coverage of either Excite or Netscape.
As a side note, I’ve also worked for Playboy, in a sense, when I was invited to contribute a letter for the December 4, 2004 edition in reaction to a large piece they wrote about Google.
No Search Stocks Or Investments
I have no interest in any search related company, nor do I hold stock in them (unless they are part of mutual funds I own through my retirement program). I sit on no corporate boards of any type.
I did have a very small share of a UK-based search engine marketing company run by a friend assigned to me in 2001. However, I wasn’t aware the shares had been formally granted until September 2004. When it came to my attention, I asked that the shares simply be returned to the company. I gained nothing from these, nor was I ever involved in any of the operations of the company. In addition, the company never used my name to gain business, to my knowledge.
Swag & Gadgets & Visits
I routinely visit the offices of major search engines for interviews. It is not uncommon for me to be given a T-shirt, jacket, promotional bag or other token that might be given to any visitor. I have accepted these items, and I do not let them influence my coverage.
On visits to Microsoft in past years, I’ve occasionally been allowed to visit the Microsoft store and purchase products at discounted prices. Usually I’ve purchased a copy of Office or the Windows operating system. I haven’t been to the store since 2008, and I’ve bought plenty of copies of Office and Windows at retail prices since then.
In 2006, Yahoo was a World Cup sponsor, and I was invited by a friend there to attend two games with him. They were in Germany, which wasn’t that far from when I lived in Britain, so I accepted. I covered our hotel stay in return.
I travel to virtually all my meetings at search engines at my own expense. There have been two or maybe three press events over the years where Google or another company covered hotel stays for all press (one in Paris in 2007 is the only I can remember offhand).
I had my hotel stay covered by Google at the Google Zeitgeist partners conference that attended in 2010 and 2011; I covered my own flight on both occasions.
I have also accepted hotel and/or transportation reimbursement to speak at Microsoft and Google each for internal corporate meetings I’ve occasionally been invited to. In these cases, there were no other trips I could combine with that were already planned. I have never accepted any payment to speak at such events.
I’ve received many Google devices as part of events I’ve covered, including the Google I/O conference. These are:
- Google I/O 2009 Android developer’s edition phone
- Nexus One at the Nexus One launch event
- Sprint Evo at Google I/O 2010
- Chrome OS Cr-48 as part of pilot program
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 at Google I/O 2011
- Samsung Chromebook at Google I/O 2011
- Verizon 4G Mifi at Google I/O 2011
- Nexus 7 as part of Google I/0 2012
- Google Nexus Q as part of Google I/0 2012
- Galaxy Nexus, AT&T version with Android 4.1
- Nexus 4, as part of launch
- Nexus 10, as part of launch
Phew! But wait, there’s more. I’ve also received from Samsung, Microsoft and other companies:
- Samsung Windows Phone 7.5
- HTC Windows Phone 8
- Samsung Droid Charge
- Samsung Galaxy S3
- Droid Charge
- Sony Bloggie
If I Use It, I Buy It & Avoiding Conflicts
I use none of the devices above on a daily basis. I usually receive them as part of a review process. If I’m allowed to keep them, I do so because it’s handy to have the devices around for reference. I can compare different keyboards, operating systems and so on.
More recent devices, I may use for a day here or there, to keep up on how they are working. But devices that I do use on a routine basis, I purchase. And I’ve purchased plenty, including since 2008:
- Multiple MacBooks
- Multiple Windows PC laptops
- Every iPad since the first
- Every iPhone since the iPhone 3G
- Droid Charge
- Galaxy Nexus, Verizon version
- Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
- Nokia 810 Windows Phone
- Nexus 7
- Asus Transformer
- Microsoft Surface
- Lenovo Yoga
- Flip Video Camera
- Bloggie Video Camera
My current daily line-up of purchased hardware is, things that I use on a routine or daily basis, is:
- MacBook Pro
- MacBook Air
- iPad Retina
- iPad Mini
- iPhone 5
- Galaxy Nexus
- iPhone 5
I also use the ZaggSparqs that I was given by Zagg quite a bit on trips. They’re great. I figure I’ve more than covered the cost of those with the many, many Zagg skins I’ve purchased for those review devices over the years that I only used for a relatively short period of time. And the skins are great, too. A contact at Otterbox gave me a coupon code for a free iPhone 5 case that I gave to my wife; I purchased one at full price for myself. They’re also great.
I also maintain four phone lines. If you were counting, I have two daily-use phones. The other lines I use for test units. In other words, I’m not getting free phone service handed to me. Sometimes the units do come with a month pre-paid SIM. I usually pull this and just put my own card in.
Overall, I see my role as working first and foremost for my readers. To do the best job for you, I routinely try to avoid conflicts.
Should you have any concerns about possible conflicts not already covered on this page, please feel free to contact me using the feedback form.