How Long Does it Take For A Google Places Description Update

As part of the changes to Google Places that took place in early August, Google’s Jeol Headley noted on Google + (in response to a question by Linda Buquet) that an update to a business’s description could take a long time. It appears possible that the alternate phone number field is under the same regime.

Joel Headley – Aug 12 – Regarding the description not appearing — we did a change that forced descriptions to go through a longer update pipeline than other information on the Place page. So, just like a new listing that doesn’t appear in searches when they’re first added vi Google Places for business, description require a longer update.

Linda – Aug 13 – So does that mean that if edited, a description will take 6 – 10 weeks to show up? Can you confirm that’s the current average update cycle?

Joel Headley – Aug 13 – That’s is correct. We’re working on improve the update cycle now, though.

I was curious exactly how long it would take so I made minor changes on August 16th to my description and started tracking. So as not to have to visit my Place page every day, I set up an Page2RSS feed of the Place page that showed any changes to the page directly in my email InBox where I could take a quick peek to see what was new. (The Page2RSS  set-up also spots new reviews, sentiment snippet changes and other updates but it generates a lot noise and gibberish every day).

So how long did it take? My changes finally showed up on October 4th, exactly 7 weeks to the day after the change was made to the description content.

So the question is what is the Google filter  for that Joel H speaks of? And why does it take so long? We know that if Google wants to a change to a Places page that new content can show up almost immediately (think the “Share an update on your place page” feature).

My guess is that in addition to running the description through some sort of quality assessment Google added a time delay to slow down abuses by black hat local SEOs.

I doubt that many legitimate businesses are negatively affected by the change. Once the description goes live, most SMBs change it infrequently if at all. If you are doing Places on behalf of a client, the only negative is that it is necessary to let them know of the delay.

I am curious if anyone else has tracked the time for the update to occur and if so how long it took.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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39 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take For A Google Places Description Update”

  1. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for linking to my post on this issue.

    The other negative I see that affects consultants like us is that often the new client has name, city, keyword repetition in their description that I want to clean up to avoid any potential penalty. Or they simply have a poorly worded description and my new description could help boost conversions. So the lag time is a little frustrating for me.

    Right after I optimize a client I show them a before and after and explain how the changes I made are designed to help boost conversions as well as rankings. So I have to say “Here’s your shiny new Place page, EXCEPT your description still has violations and still sucks and the new one won’t show for 6 – 10 weeks” Not that I say it like that. 😉

    As far as update time, I have not tracked per say except on indiv client worksheets and no time to go check. But pretty sure most of mine have been in the 6-7 week range too.

    FYI I’ve been using Page2RSS to track changes on my Place page too.

  2. I may be unique in this matter, but I updated a description just a couple of days ago, and it went live immediately (or as immediately as Places gets). It was the first time I’d seen a description update that quickly since mid August.

    Google may have switched back to their old update policy for descriptions.

  3. Mike, this has been especially frustrating for a particular client Place page I am working on. Allow me to share my story for you and your readers.

    We claimed the page in August. I filled it out on September 1st with all the pertinents including description, photos, hours, etc. Although the changes seemed to take effect within the day, here’s what is happening that supports your claim that Google is taking their sweet old time updating certain stuff.

    1) Originally, Google created the Place page with an incorrect category. When we claimed and updated the page, we deleted the bad category and put the correct category. Still today (5 weeks later), it shows the old (wrong) category and the right category. The Edit screen doesn’t show the old one. Aaaargh! I “Reported the Problem” and got a call that same day from someone “at Google.” The caller id actually did say Google with a 650 area code (San Mateo, CA). She called to confirm the right category and abruptly said goodbye and hung up.

    2) The Place page description doesn’t show at all, but I think that’s a broader issue with Google. At least, that’s what I am hearing.

    3) The Place page shows up on page three even after 5 weeks of consistent citation building and despite the location proximity. I know local seo is not a clearly defined science, but dang, we should be outranking some of the other guys by now.

    4) When the Place page shows up in a blended result, it still doesn’t show the web site’s META title and description. I had made significant changes to the web site in early September and Google quickly re-indexed and cached those changes. But, the Place page has not yet inherited the new META info.

    Sorry for the long comment, but it reinforces your point and hopefully makes some of your readers feel better about their frustrations.

    Thanks for your wonderful service to us, Mike!

  4. Good to hear Shawn maybe they changed it.

    I just checked a client I started and edited on 8/28 and his description has not updated yet. Others from early Sept haven’t either.

    But the next client I do I’ll be watching to see if it updates right away. I just to love that! All new cats, images, description right away. Ahhh, the good ‘ole days.

  5. Nice information, Mike. I hope you get a lot of responses. Your experiment is anecdotal in nature, not broad scale research. It would be great to get a broad perspective on this.

    But 7 weeks for something that was probably relatively minor. What the Hell is going on. Is there a human filter to review this information??? How can there be a 7 week backlog???

    Got a lot of problems google??? Can’t keep up with the ability to reflect live info for real places???

    Hire some Americans. They need jobs, you have the money….and your local advertising revenues keep soaring!!!

    ooooh….and btw: I recently got some emails from some Google Adwords Reps. Nice helpful people with all sorts of nice advice…with an underlying purpose of getting the local businesses to spend more money.

    Follow the money!!!! You love that SMB money. You hate putting bodies into customer service for the SMB’s that desperately need it.

    Put some back into the Places World to make it more accurate, timelier, more responsive!!!

  6. I have been working with a client who has duplicate Google Places listings and finding this post gives me hope that I’m not the only one frustrated with how slow Google is to update Places descriptions. I helped my client delete their listing that was farther back in the serps in hopes that we could update the incorrect one that was on page 1. Well that was about a month ago and still no updates to the description are showing while the other listing was deleted immediately. Judging from what I just read, (thanks for the post and comments) I guess I’ll have to tell them to hold out for another 3-4 weeks. 🙁

  7. Mine also haven’t change yet. It’s been 3 weeks already. It’s annoying because I have put some misleading information. I don’t want to get my business screwed out of this.

  8. Hey guys,
    I tried posting this yesterday but I guess it didn’t get through. I have about 400-500 accounts I can go through and change the description of. I’ve noticed that a few weeks ago I changed the descriptions to most and they change still has not taken affect. I’ll be willing to change the description on these clients and time how long it takes to get a bit more of a broader scale here.

  9. @Douglas

    We would love to hear the results. Perhaps not so obviously and one explanation of the variety is that the time delay imposed by Google MAY be different on a large scale like yours than on a one off like Shawn above.

  10. @Mike

    Once I’ve changed them all, is there a shortcut I can use to check for any changes besides logging into each one of them daily?

    1. @Douglas

      You probably will need to pick a representative sample and setting up Page2RSS for each one of the samples. Bring them into a feedreader where you can glance at each one to see when the new content shows up…

  11. Checked several client’s listings I completed exactly 6 weeks ago: only one showed the description. However, I did a very small-scale test: making a minor change to listings that did not show a description, such as adding the fax number (which I hadn’t originally done), or changing the title of the listing, was enough to make the description show up.

  12. I seem to have different results for different clients. The description takes much longer to update on older accounts but for others it appears immediately. I also verified a new listing on Monday and the description just showed up on the live listing today.

  13. I have different results for different clients. The descriptions takes much longer to update on older accounts, but for others it appears immediately. I also verified a new listing on Monday and the description just showed up today.

  14. Somewhat on the same subject, I have seen these kind of delays when creating brand new listings, as well. I had two clients that took about 8-9 weeks just to index, and one that is going on 10 weeks now.

  15. I’m going to change the description on 350 clients and keep track of 200 while spot checking the rest. I set up the Page2RSS (thank you) to help me spot the changes. Unfortunately, I won’t get through to all the clients today since I have to go to class in 20 minutes (Go ASU!!!). My goal is get them all done by tomorrow but if not Monday at the latest.

    Where is the best place to share the results once found? Also, to be 100% honest I MAY forget about this blog by the time results are shown, so if anyone notices me missing feel free to email me as a reminder.

    Is this showing up?!

  16. @Douglas Are you REALLY sure you want to do that??? I’d strongly caution against it.

    I don’t recommend touching Place pages and doing edits unless necessary. Yes if info is wrong or you need to change a cat go ahead. But any time you make an edit you risk hitting a new bug. (the smooshed phone # bug or one of any number of other bugs that have happened over time.)

    Plus who has time to log in and change that many listings? What if you hit a bug and all 350 client listings develop problems you need to work on? Then what?

    @vladdy said: “making a minor change to listings that did not show a description, such as adding the fax number (which I hadn’t originally done), or changing the title of the listing”

    Careful changing titles. The name should be the official business name so you shouldn’t change it unless it’s wrong. Even a minor title change can mess up NAP and cause ranking to drop. Plus I avoid fax#s or any other type of secondary phone #. It seems to sometimes just confuse her. At least that’s my feeling.

  17. Me again. I updated 5 descriptions today and all 5 of them have gone live. I must be in some mystical, magical Google bubble that makes my descriptions update quickly.

    Is everyone else still seeing a long wait for descriptions they’ve updated? If so, I have no idea why Google started to trust me so much, all of a sudden. But I like it. 🙂

  18. We are wary to make any changes the descriptions, they take 7-8 weeks to update. New descriptions take 6-10 weeks. Then there was a snag a couple of weeks ago when we lost some of our clients descriptions for about a week for no reason. Linda and Vanessagene helped with this.

    How long does it typically take for an address change?


  19. @Susan In my experience, addresses update “immediately”. If Google required re-verification by postcard, the address will update as soon as the listing is re-verified.

  20. To clarify, I mean “immediately” as in within 2 minutes to a couple of hours after re-publishing the listing with the new address.

  21. Hi Mike, Is there any info on updating of categories. We have a listing that has a mix and match of multiple categories, sometimes up to 8? Also, our listing “title tag” just lists our company name where some of our competition list the title tag from their home page. Do you know how?

    1. @Patrick
      Categories are undergoing the same filter/delay as descriptions so any changes may take up to 8 weeks to show. However if you have more than 5 showing it is usually the result of a listing being claimed into multiple accounts with the categories not in your dashboard coming from the other dashboard. Sometimes “report a problem” can resolve this IF you can’ t find the other login.

      I am not sure what you mean when you say “Also, our listing “title tag” just lists our company name where some of our competition list the title tag from their home page. “. Are you are referring to the information visible on the main Google search result page when they deliver “blended” results? If that is the case it has to do with your rank in the blended results. Usually the top 3 or so show website content whereas the lower 4 show only the business name from the Places listing.

  22. @Linda
    First of all I want to thank you for you blog, I really enjoy reading your posts and learn a lot from what you have to say.

    I managed to change about 75 clients’ and to my surprise every single one has updated the description within 22 hours of the edit!

  23. @Douglas thanks for the kind words and thanks for letting us know about the quick updates

    @Mike I didn’t know cats were delayed due to a filter. All my cats still update right away EXCEPT when there is a hidden ghost dupe in the way which is the case with many of my clients. But even then most cats update and there just may be duplicates or additional cats left over from the mystery listing.


    I’m wondering… is it that some listings are updated immediately vs. others bc of the following considerations?

    1. new listing verify by phone
    2. new listing verify by postcard
    3. pre-existing listing claimed (and verified by either phone or postcard)
    4. # of citations associated with listing

    I have a client that reflects changes within minutes of an update… the client’s listing was a pre-existing listing to which was postcard verified AND no NAP data was changed.. and has over 1k citations associated with it.

    anyone else have situations where their listing is brand new w/o many citations associated, can get immediate updates, AND is NOT in a saturated industry?


    5. degree of competition/saturation in industry the listing is in…

    thots anyone?


    1. @kevin

      The item that you didn’t mention was the trust google has in the IP address of the modifier.

      I doubt it is one variable. Or at least doesn’t seem so so far

  25. Hi Mike – about to make a description change this week for a client, I’ll keep track of how long it takes and update you with the answer. They’re in a very niche category here in Edmonton, so I’m curious to see if it takes as long for non-competitive phrases.

  26. Hi Mike. Thanks for the information. I think we’re talking about the same thing with regards the “title tag” We’re showing position 2 for a couple of keywords, and both in blended results and places results we just seem to have our company name, while our competitors seem to have the home page title tag. Not sure if these links will work but here’s some examples.



  27. This is an update from my earlier comment — see #3 above. Within my comment, point 1) talked about Google assigning the wrong category to my listing in addition to the right categories.

    Yesterday, I submitted another request to fix the incorrect category. today I got this email from Google:

    “Thank you for letting us know about incorrect information showing on Google Maps. With your guidance, we’ve made changes to our data and the updated information should be visible on Google Maps within 2-4 weeks.”

  28. We have been waiting around 5 months now for a simple address update to take place (in Sydney, Australia). Mind you, it’s for a locksmith company.

    We updated the listing on all of the local directories (yellow pages, true local, etc). We’ve also made reports to google with no result.

    It’s particularly frustrating as the company has received a lot of negative feedback from their customers blaming them for not updating their places listing!!

    To make things even worse, within the places account area the listing shows up with the correct address and is ‘active’ …. that data however has just never made its way through to maps and subsequently into the 7 block.

    We’ll keep trying!

  29. Historically when you changed name or address, you were required to verify the change. Lately, the change isnt requiring verification. Anyone else running into this? Does this mean Google isnt accepting the change or minimizing friction?

    1. Google has always allowed some changes of this ilk without verification IF the listing had a high degree if trust and the information change matched known information. I did notice this but am not sure if it is different or just more liberal.

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