The guys talk about Yelp's complaints that Google is altering search results. They also answer, "In the Belford example and those working in "boiler rooms" they are convicted of using unfair selling tactics but what does that mean? Do salesmen not use unfair sales tactics when they psychoanalyze the client and use that to their advantage?"
Full Podcast Transcript
NASIR: Welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business.
This is Nasir Pasha.
MATT: This is Matt Staub.
NASIR: And welcome to Episode 68 where we cover business legal news and answer some of your business legal questions that you can send in as a listener to email@example.com. This is our jogging episode of the week.
MATT: Yeah, slowly picking up. 68 seems like a lot. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Probably I would guess, like, 38 maybe.
NASIR: I was going to guess, like, 67 or 69.
MATT: Good guess.
NASIR: About 68.
MATT: Ah, if you got 69, Price is Right rules, I still would have won. You’ve got to guess under.
All right, what do we have on the jogging episode here?
NASIR: By the way, anyone that didn’t listen to Monday’s episode has no idea what a jogging episode is but that’s okay.
MATT: Yeah, they’ll figure it out.
NASIR: If you haven’t listened to Mondays’ episode, go back two days ago – Episode 67, I believe, if my math is correct.
MATT: This is, like, 24 and you need to start. You can’t just jump into the middle of it. If you’ve never listened to an episode, you’ve got to start at one and you’ve got to work your way up to 68. Everything connects.
NASIR: Everything connects.
MATT: Not true. If you enjoy this topic, then just listen to this one.
NASIR: And events occur in real time.
MATT: Very good, I like that.
All right. So, we have a dispute between Yelp and Google.
NASIR: I choose Google.
MATT: So, no one’s going to feel sympathy for Yelp in this situation but, basically, what Yelp is claiming is Google is altering search results to put their Google sponsored content higher than Yelp’s stuff. I mean, I’m just thinking, when I Google something – like, the most common thing, a restaurant – probably what’s going to pop up is the restaurant’s website but, like, one of the first or second things that pop up is usually their Yelp page because that’s what people go to. I mean, a Yelp page is actually going to tell you more than a restaurant website ever will. Plus, you can get the link for the website on Yelp anyway.
But Yelp is complaining that Google is unfairly altering the search results. I think you and I are probably on the same page here. I think we’re probably going to side with Google on this one.
NASIR: Yeah, just because we hate Yelp. By the way, the technical term is “SURP” which is the Search Engine Result Page rank.
MATT: Ah, gotcha! Interesting.
NASIR: Talk about SURPs and SEO. I guess that’s not interesting at all. But, anyway, what was interesting is that the only reason we know Yelp thinks this way is because documents of Yelp was released and TechCrunch published some of them. First of all, this may be an issue for Google, especially in the EU, they’re a little more strict when it comes to shutting down monopolies and I think they’ve declared Google as a monopoly when it comes to search engines so, if they unfairly put up their results that they like over others, then that might be construed in such a way and, you know, Yelp builds probably a good case. But, look, any business owner that talks about SEO and thinks about SEO and as far as their marketing plan has had trouble one day or the other with their rankings on Google. Frankly, Yelp, being a target for ex-employees and your competitors to leave bad reviews for you, I don’t really care if Yelp goes down on the list, frankly – at least for our clients’ sake, right?
MATT: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that’s on Yelp, I mean, people are going to find that stuff anyway. People want to see Yelp reviews so they’re just going to search out. I guess Google has their own review system as well. It’s just not as widely used as Yelp’s is for this stuff.
When I think of Yelp, I think of restaurants. I don’t really have anything else.
NASIR: Only thing, they have a conclusion slide.
By the way, Yelp’s documents I think look like slides from a presentation.
MATT: They do.
NASIR: And the conclusion slide is pretty interesting because it talks about certain navigational searches are seeing an estimated 20 percent siphonage – which is an interesting term – but then one of the bullet points is “does not appear to have negatively impacted our overall traffic.” So, it seems like this is just kind of like a cautionary tale that, if this escalates, this may affect them, but right now it’s not.
MATT: I don’t have any sympathy for them. Like I said, I don’t even think it’s even going to affect Yelp.
I guess what this does do in general is bring the attention to other things. You know, people that are in SEO are trying to get more results. Maybe they’ll look at this and think, “If this is happening to Yelp, it’s happening to other things.” I don’t know.
Google, you know, it’s their website.
NASIR: Yeah. By the way, even in the United States, Google had a settlement with the FTC back last year on some anti-trust concerns. But I believe most people thought that Google went out on that for the most part.
MATT: And that’s why this podcast is brought to you by Bing. Formerly, we were sponsored by Netscape Navigator before that.
NASIR: Netscape Navigator is not a search engine, by the way. It’s a browser but that’s okay. You’re not a tech person, I know.
NASIR: Let’s get into the question of the day. Hopefully, we can bash Yelp some more. Even if the question is not related, I’m going to bash Yelp.
MATT: All right, this is an interesting question. There might be some background that’s needed on this.
“In the Belfort example, and those working in boiler rooms, they’re convicted of using unfair selling tactics but what does that mean? Do salesmen not use unfair sales tactics when they psychoanalyze the client and use that to their advantage? Pharmaceutical industry located in South Florida.”
NASIR: Yeah, the pharmaceutical industry is pretty competitive. They rely on sales tactics, for sure. Oh, I guess the Belfort example, that’s referring to Jordan Belfort. He’s known as the Wolf of Wall Street. Of course, Boiler Room is one of my favorite movies but same idea.
Basically, it’s a question of what’s the line between misrepresentation or fraud and just mere puffering of sales tactics?
MATT: I think the big thing is there is fact and there is opinion, right? Or a factual statement and something that’s an opinion. That’s how I kind of view it.
NASIR: Yeah, absolutely. Puffery, I literally learned that word in law school. I never heard of it before but kind of how you puff up your chest in the sense that you’re not necessarily lying. It’s just that you’re kind of exaggerating maybe the truth, right? And so, I would compare it to like a sales person selling a car – like, “Oh, this is the best car in the world! You can take corners really, really well. It’s one of the safest cars out there.” All those statements would be good unless, for example, it can’t take corners at all or it can’t turn. Or if it’s literally rated one of the worst safety rated cars out there. But, even then, it’s still kind of a matter of opinion. But, if you say, “Oh, this was rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, this company,” and they’re not, that’s misrepresentation.
MATT: Exactly. I mean, it’s a fine line. Like, there’s a lot of grey area. You’ve seen Wolf of Wall Street, haven’t you?
NASIR: Yeah, I saw it.
NASIR: I personally didn’t like it that much but, you know, that’s me.
MATT: Well, I know, because you hate Leonardo DiCaprio but that’s fine.
NASIR: No. Actually, I like him but…
MATT: So, he ultimately ended up getting in trouble, right? The true story.
NASIR: Yeah, no, both the true story and in the movie. Have you not seen it?
MATT: No, I’ve seen it.
NASIR: I don’t want to give anything away but, yeah, he was arrested. It was literally for security fraud and money laundering and, basically, some of these stocks were being fronted as something that it wasn’t. Also, keep in mind that what you can say about stocks and securities is also more restricted.
NASIR: If this person is in the pharmaceutical industry, you may have some additional restrictions, I suppose, in what you can say about the products – you know, what it can or can’t do. You probably can’t say, “Oh, these are miracle drugs that’ll cure everything.” But this person mentions psychoanalyzing the client. There’s no prohibition in that and I don’t think that’s what Belfort was convicted of – not for their selling tactics but for fraud.
MATT: Right. Sales people are sales people. They know, a lot of times, if they’ve been trained, they know kind of where the line is and they know not to say anything that’s factually incorrect.
NASIR: Yeah, and I think a lot of sales people nowadays, I think the good ones stay away from those kinds of remarks, you know, saying that “we’re the best” or “this is the best” and kind of those opinions. I think the more successful ones have a little bit more classier style, right? I think the used car salesman kind of picture that people have in mind, I don’t think they exist anymore. If you go buy a car today, I think they’re even more clever than they are before because they really do psychoanalyze you. They throw in comments here or there or ask questions that make you think otherwise but they don’t make a lot of representations anymore.
MATT: Yeah, you’re right. I just got a car a month or so ago – two months ago – and, yeah, that was the first time I got a car in who knows how long and it’s not like the stuff that you see in the cheesy car salesman stuff you’ll see.
NASIR: Yeah. In fact, I have a friend in the used car sales business and, obviously, they make a lot of money in the financing the car, especially any car financing, but there’s a lot of manipulation that goes with how that works and the aspect of them putting you in a room and then leaving you and going to another room to talk to their boss, to get you a better deal, and then coming back and then how they diagram it for you. That is all very specifically done on purpose to manipulate you in the situation and keep you there for a long time. But that has nothing to do with misrepresentation or fraud. That’s just salesmanship, I suppose.
All right. Well, I hope we sold people on this is the best podcast that’s out there. It’s the number one podcast. Notice how I didn’t say “number one ranked podcast” so that’s it.
NASIR: That’s true.
NASIR: Even though it is the number one ranked podcast, you did not say that.
MATT: Oh. Now we’re in trouble.
NASIR: No, number one ranked by Staub and Pasha Incorporated – a podcast ranking service.
MATT: All right. Well, I think that’s it.
NASIR: Okay. Yeah, all right, thank you for joining us and thank you for listening.
Hey, don’t forget to leave some podcast reviews on iTunes. Even though that’s left for Friday episodes, I’m changing it up. Do it on a Wednesday. Leave some five-star reviews – assuming that iTunes goes up to five stars. If it goes up to six stars, do six. If it goes up to seven stars, do seven.
MATT: Yeah. But, if it goes up to eight, just do five because I don’t want to get too cocky.
NASIR: Yeah, exactly.
MATT: Keep it sound and keep it smart.