commit: fb200d8 - #595 (2014-04-14 00:44:57 -0400)
Based on what I've been told by others in industry, it can definitely have an impact and can require a re-tooling of your citation building campaigns depending on implementation. So, in a nutshell, yes.
Most of the sites I'm working with have built up a significant amount of citations using a consistent NAP (used on the site). The local results are driving a lot of traffic…enough to be concerned. When reviewing ROI with clients, I want to be able to attribute the a significant amount of calls (leads) driven from these rankings, to our work.
I'm really interested to know if anyone has local search call tracking experiences (good or bad), suggestions on call tracking services, or strategies for implementing call tracking that they'd be willing to share.
From what I've read in the past it isn't a good idea from a local SEO point of view because:
- It can create inconsistencies in the NAP data you are making available to search engines- You miss out on the benefits of the signal of a number tied to your locality- You are creating a lot of citations with the tracked phone number, if you change tracking provider you will have a lot of work on your hands.
There are lots of suggested workarounds like placing the number in an image and your local number in text, cloaking (yeuuugh), various text and image replacement type solutions but from what I understand these won't necessarily protect you from all of the local SEO side effects.
What I would explore instead is implementing internal tracking solutions:
- Train those that answer the phone to ask where the person found the number (a lot of manual work, inconsistent, not realistic in all situations)- For those with those annoying press 9919919919 to speak to a human type systems, I wonder if they could set up a press 1 if you found us online. (Might seem a bit odd to callers and a another step in annoying automated system)- Again for those with the technology, I wonder if using an internal extension number for all online calls would work? Would it have the same SEO downsides if it is applied consistently?
Just some thoughts, but in summary, I think the advice is to avoid call tracking numbers on your website and either online citations.
Thanks for the insight Matthew. In this case we would definitely NOT be building citations with the trackable #. The only place the # would exist would be on the website. All citations and Google+ local would remain the same. I guess the only way to really tell would be to set up some type of test.
Yes, it absolutely will impact results.
There's really two schools of thought about this - on one hand, if you're performing very well locally, and you aren't in a very competitive space, you will probably be able to get away with doing some on-site call tracking.
On the other hand, if you're inheriting a project that has used tracking numbers for years, and the NAP data is so mucked up that Google doesn't have a freaking clue as to where your business is, then on-site call tracking is going to bury you.
Don't ever use call tracking numbers on off-site citations, unless you are 100% sure on who is sharing data, or you're doing it in very short-term batches. I'm currently into about month 6 of a massive cleanup for a client that went real tracking-number happy. Just don't do it.
If you take a look at David Mihm's Local Ranking Factors (http://www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml), you'll see that #9 and #10 in the "Overall Ranking Factors" section specifically relate to this.
I'm actually just about to start testing a potential solution that changes the phone number by user agent. So, Googlebot sees a different phone number. Some call this cloaking (and therefore bad for SEO), but we'll just have to see what the results say. It's such a minor piece of the site, so I don't really see it hurting too much.
Basically, to answer your question, more than likely it will screw things up. There's no real solution to this problem at the moment. Many of the real pros suggest just asking the caller where they came from, and others suggest hiding the phone number as an image, or in some kind of flash file and hard-coding the real number somewhere on the site. Godspeed!
Thanks Scott...citations are very clean and have been built using the same NAP info. The only thing that we'd remotely consider changing would be the phone number on the client's website.
Do not do it. Unless you are working with a new business, new website and new NAP strategy.
I use trackable phone numbers on our hotel websites all the time without any ill effects.
Citations are built against the actual hotel information per standard NAP best practices.
This method is safe & will help marketers for tracking the lead medium & source.
I would see no issue with serving up images with tracking numbers on the site itself, depending on the layout and your ability to maintain on site NAP data.
I use a trackable number in the header of a clients site. I have the actual "citation" number in the footer with the rest of address wrapped in Local Business schema. Thus far, I have seen no negative impact and it's been running this way for about 2 months.
I concur with the majority who have already responded. Keep phone number in citations consistent (ie one number to rule them all). Use call tracking number on the website displayed in an image. Step up the internal processes with regards to attribution ("Where did you find our number online?")
My initial trackable number strategy had it in an image, but I quickly realized that users weren't able to "click to call" when the image is displayed in mobile. With the nature of the business and mobile being ~30% of total traffic (for this site) that wasn't an option for me.
Just an observation :)