Are you using call tracking in Google Places? It can hurt you.
 by Casey Markee

Are you using call tracking in Google Places? It can hurt you.

  • My client wants to use a phone tracking number in his Google Places account. We told him that this was not a great idea and should be avoided. He's not convinced. Are we right in this advice? Is there some specific advice from Google on this practice that I could direct him to review?

call-tracking-phone.jpgAnswer: You are right in your advice. Google has never embraced the use of call tracking numbers or any other number for that matter in Google Places where a local business number is readily available. Google's main aim here is to provide uniform information through the cultivation of "consistent signals" from many citation sources.

Here's what Google says specifically on the matter taken from their own Places Quality Guidelines:

"Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or "refer" users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business."

It's our belief that Google provides this advice for two very important reasons.

First, a phone number is a uniquely identifying piece of information to classify businesses internationally. Having as little variation as possible ensures that full credit is given when the business details are algorithmically scored by Google Places (or other local business directories). Otherwise, listings may be split either between databases or spawn duplicate listings that result in the same outcome: reduced signal authority for ranking purposes.

Second, if a business does use call tracking and decides to either retire that number or change call tracking providers that number is still out there for indexing purposes. Thus, call tracking routinely results in confusion on the part of potential customers who may find and call a defunct n...