What You Need to Know about Google AdWords and Call Tracking


Do you invest in Google AdWords? Do you use call tracking numbers and/or prefer to direct your inquiries to a central phone bank rather than a local branch? If so, you may be wondering about a recent email from Google talking about changes to phone number listings scheduled to take effect January 19. Here’s the 4-1-1:

Why the Change?

Google is always looking for ways to provide a better experience for its users. When it comes to looking for a number to call for information, Google has determined that a local listing (based on the searcher’s location) is what users really want. So, if a local listing differs from the number you used in the ad, Google may use the local listing instead.

How to Opt Out

Google is providing AdWords subscribers with an opt-out form—hyperlinked in the email from Google or available here. The email cautions not to use the form as it may negatively affect your ad performance. However, we think whether to opt in or out is a decision best left to you. Your customers may be better served by calling a non-local number and having their call appropriately routed rather than calling a local branch that has no idea how to answer their questions.

How to Work with the Change

The opt-out form must be completed before January 19, 2017. If you missed the deadline, all is not lost. First, Google has stated that it may use a local number, so it is possible that the number you listed in your ad will be the number that appears in front of users.

If not, how you roll with the change depends on how you used the phone number listing.

If your ad phone number was primarily intended to track leads and sales generated by your website, you can still capture that information. There are two primary strategies:

  1. Update your Google My Business/Google Places account with your tracking phone number (not the actual local listing). Yes, Google may cross-reference with other directories, but Google usually prefers to rely on information from its own properties.
  2. Implement a “how did you hear about us?” inquiry from the local person answering the phone.

If your ad phone number was intended to route all calls to a central location for proper handling, then you may want to talk to your local phone service provider about creating a user-friendly prompt menu that quickly directs callers (without having to hang up and dial again) to your main phone bank.

If you have questions about your Google My Business/Google Places listing, please contact us. We are happy to update your account with any phone number you think will best serve your business and your AdWords performance.