Nope. Well sort of.
As you may or may not have heard (I think Mary Bowling) tweet during localu in beautiful Edmonton, AB Canada (of course I’m referring solely to West Ed Mall), the description field in Google Places is NOT a ranking factor. This was indeed confirmed by the Google Places engineer who was present at the event. Sorry bro, cats out of the bag now. That is, you can put any god damn thing in there, and it won’t positively or negatively affect your rankings. So for all the goofs out there who think they are pulling a fast one by stuffing the description with keywords, you can stop. This includes me as well : )
Sucky right? Nope. All this means is, instead of trying to finding crafty, loosely spammy ways of stuffing my description with keywords, I/you can now focus on readability and sales. Temporarily find the wordsmith within, and take your best shot at improving CTR. Between Linda (Catalyst) and Mike B’s blogs, I am sure you can find some nifty ways of doing this best.
Additional details, where I admittedly used to STUFF (I am talking 50 lines) with keywords and shortened URLs to supporting properties, can also be left untouched. You may remember not long ago Goog used to display these to the public… I was not able to get confirmation from our handy Google Places engineer, but I did take a consensus from those fancy Local SEO pros in attendance, and many confirmed that Google NO LONGER uses additional details as a signal, and thus does not influence rankings. To be fair, I am not sure any of them explicitly said yes or no, but the feeling was that Google did not.
Oddly enough however, many of these same Local SEOs, including the Mike B the Great (Professor Maps probably has a better ring to it), STILL fill it out. No doubt it only takes a moment to do, (their reasoning exactly), but it makes me wonder if they think it might come back? Is Google trying to figure out how to better implement this feature?
I personally do not fill it out – for whatever it is worth. Do you?