Call Tracking Phone Numbers the Wrong Call for Local Marketing
Have you been tempted to use one of those marketing services that reports on how many calls your business receives from your search or social listings?
I see their ads touting their local marketing services every (heck – even I get them!) You see them everywhere, so surely they must be onto something – RIGHT?
There is so much to think about when it comes to internet marketing – being able to quantify where your leads comes from seems a no-brainer. Oh, if only if it were that easy, I mean – businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know what marketing tactics works and which ones don’t - what tools or services would be good for them, and what’s going to hurt them. So when a client was asking me about these services recently – I went directly to the source and sent them the following excerpt from Google to answer their question.
Q: Does it matter whether I include multiple telephone types?
A: You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business. Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location [source]
The question was pretty unspecific – so it’s easy to imagine that the person was referring to possibly using both a main phone number and fax number, or perhaps they were inquiring about using a sales and service numbers on their website or within their linkbuilding. Regardless of the lack of specificity – the answer from Google was very specific.
Call tracking numbers are discouraged
As it turns out, a business phone number has some very important SEO data that search engines use to quantify a business. The phone number is a foundation data element that is vital for local internet marketing. The trade refers to this data-set as NAP (Name, Address, Phone), and the phone number helps authenticate a business via its area code (state validation) and phone prefix (town/city/neighborhood).
When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards – they lose that vital component of authentication.
The loss of local-identity wasn’t something that was mentioned in the information my client had received. Neither was the question as to what happens when a business no longer subscribes to the service? The short answer is – they lose again.
I’m sure there is a business that could find these types of services valuable – but in my experience, businesses that rely on local marketing should steer clear of the calling and play their numbers safe.