Call Tracking Phone Numbers the Wrong Call for Local Marketing
Have you ever been tempted to use one of those call tracking services that report on how many phone calls your business receives from your search or social listings?
I see their ads touting their local marketing services everywhere (heck – even I get them), so surely they must be onto something.
There is so much to think about when it comes to internet marketing – being able to quantify where your leads come from seems a no-brainer. But oh, if only if it were only that easy.
Businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know what marketing tactics work and which ones don’t – what tools or services would be right 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 peculiar to a business location [source]
The question itself was unspecific – so it’s easy to imagine that the person could have been referring to possibly using both the primary 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, however, was very particular.
Call tracking numbers are discouraged by Google
As it turns out, a business phone number has some very valuable SEO data that search engines use to quantify a business. The phone number is a foundation data element that is vital for local marketing. The SEO trade refers to this data-set as NAP (Name, Address, Phone), and the phone number helps authenticate a physical business location via its area code (state validation) and phone prefix (town/city/neighborhood). This verification element is vital for local discovery on search engines.
When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards – businesses lose that vital component of local 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 – their listings revert to their original state.
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 call tracking.