Call tracking is an idea thought up by marketing companies to use as a tool to track which strategies are producing the most return on each advertising dollar.
The idea of call tracking is pretty simple. A business sets up an account with a calling service that provides them with several different phone numbers that all ring at the business. A different one of these phone numbers is then used for the business listing for each advertising source. Once in place, the call system software can then monitor which numbers are calling the business with the most frequency and the owner will know immediately which advertising is paying off and which isn’t producing results. This sounds like a good idea, but in the age of Google Local Business Listings and local seo it can have an adverse effect on page rankings. Here’s why.
In traditional Search Engine Optimization for websites, the primary factor for determining page rank is the number of back links, or other sites that have links to the ranked site. However for businesses, even extremely popular and reliable businesses may not have a web page to link back to. This can skew the results and make a relatively unpopular business with a well optimized web page rank above a huge business without a site. To correct for this, Google and other local search providers reduced the importance given to back links and instead rely on what are called citations. Citations are simply a reference to the business somewhere in the vast world of cyber space. A citation is something that lists the business’s name & phone number, name & address, or both. In local SEO parlance this is called the name, address, phone number or NAP factor. Are you beginning to see why having multiple numbers can be bad?
Local searches use what are called trust factors. These are merely consistent indicators that a particular listing is legitimate and refers to what the engine thinks it does. This makes having all of you business information standardized across the board. Multiple numbers can confuse the engine and citations will be disregarded as unreliable. In the world of local searches, a business’s NAP is how they are identified. It’s the DNA of online business listings.
If a marketing company is telling you that call tracking is a good idea, then you might want to reconsider your company. At least give them a pop quiz and make them tell you exactly how such a technique will not affect your local listings. Be prepared for a song and dance.