If you have missing Google Places descriptions or info that is not updating or think you are in the Google Places new listing sandbox and wonder how long you’ll be there – you’ll want to read on.

One of the big questions that keeps coming up about the July 21st Google Places update is why did descriptions disappear? Everyone thought it was a bug. Google employees confirmed it was an “issue” and was being worked on. Vanessa confirmed in the forum that descriptions were not removed as a result of the update. I started a thread on July 6th about the missing description bug. Weeks have gone by, descriptions continue to go missing, but we’ve been unable to get an update from Google on the Google Places forum.

Well I just got an answer from Googler Joel Headley in one of my Google+ streams about the missing descriptions problem. He also confirms the current length of the Google Places update cycle – which is MUCH longer than people realize. Wanted to share the info, since I doubt many people will see Joel’s comments hidden in my +stream.

Below is a link to my Google +stream where I air concerns about many of the recent Google Places bugs and problems. Joel has commented 4 times so far with some important insights. I’ve only copied a few snippets, you need to head over to read the whole stream.

Google Places Bug Makes Listings Disappear for 6-10 Weeks! They call this a HICCUP???

Linda – Aug 11 – NOTE: Due to lack of updates about bugs or guidance about what to do (like hold tight, don’t make any changes, we are working on it) people in the forum are giving TONS of users bad advice that will just make the problems worse. (I share some examples and links.)

Joel Headley – Aug 10 – We all agree. We’re working hard to make changes to the current system so that updates happen faster. Unfortunately, improving infrastructure that holds the world’s place information takes time. Please know that everyone at Google wants updates to happen in a more reliable way.

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.

So in summary, there is currently a 6 – 10 week update cycle. Plus if you make edits you can expect the description to disappear for about that length of time. If you have a new listing that’s a REALLY long time to have to wait. If you have buggy things going on and you are waiting to see if they clear up in the next update, that’s a REALLY long time to wait!

TIP: I’ve been adding a “post” on my listings to supplement the missing description. I do some nice friendly copywriting and add some warm or helpful info about the business to help it stand out a little instead of just having that big empty blank white space. I’m careful not to totally repeat the description because we know G does not like KW repetition PLUS when the description comes back I don’t want it to be totally redundant. Just remember posts only last 30 days.

There is lots more info in my + stream above. I suggested someone from Google do some announcements in the forum to help all the users that are stressing out and trying tricks to get a description to show up that are going to just cause more problems with their listings. Google has not posted yet, but yesterday I posted updates in the 3 primary threads that deal with the missing description problem to try to let people know what the situation is.

Read Joel’s other comments and stay tuned for more, at this Google+ stream.

UPDATE: 1 PM PST – Mike Blumenthal just informed me on Google+ that many of the descriptions on Places he watches just came back. I checked a couple and mine came back too. So either Google just fixed/changed that feature or there was just an update.