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.