Google lawsuit highlights the danger of not managing your online presence

Hey small-business owner, you're pretty savvy. I know you're pretty savvy because you're reading this website on the internet, like the savvy small-business owner above. But some of your colleagues aren't quite as connected as you are. And sometimes that disconnected crowd faces serious real-world implications as a result: Take former restaurant owner Rene Bertagna for instance. His long-standing Virginia restaurant, Serbian Crown, closed last year "after nearly 40 years" due to, he believes, an error in Serbian Crown's Google Maps listing. The error was grievous, he tells Wired, and he's now suing Google in a Virginia court.

The restaurant's listing on Google Maps, Bertagna says, indicated that it wasn't open on weekends. Given the restaurant's location (nowhere near foot traffic), Bertagna and his lawyer posit, "Unless you know that the place is going to be open, you're probably not going to drag yourself out." And given the way Google Maps listings work, anyone can submit information for any place, which Google moderates before publishing. Bertagna's lawyer believes another restaurant in the area "sabotaged" Serbian Crown's listing. For its part, Google says in a legal filing, "The Serbian Crown should not be permitted to vex Google or this court with such meritless claims."

Of course, what's unclear is how much accountability here rests on the false listing; Bertagna says that neither he nor his employees maintained the Serbian Crown's online presence, which left it susceptible to tampering and misinformation.

Wired's piece highlights several other examples where small-business owners were, like you, savvy enough to maintain their online presence and cut off any issues before they affected the bottom line.

[Image: Shutterstock]