Zoe-Lee Skelton

How To Correctly Use Call Tracking For Enhanced Local SEO

Local SEO and marketing activities are more important than ever, with Google placing great emphasis on localised searches.

Obviously the mobile marketing revolution has played a significant role in driving local search with recent statistics showing that:

“1 in 3 mobile searches are local searches”

(source).

Furthermore, these searches are sending different types of traffic and inquiries to businesses. The same source stats that of these searches:

  • 42% visit a local business website
  • 41% visit a local business
  • 36% phone a local business

So with such a great deal of your leads now coming from local search, it’s incredibly important that you’re tracking and monitoring these leads through to conversion so that you can optimise your your local and wider marketing activities.

One of the best tools out there which is able to track multi-channel marketing for both online and offline media is call tracking. But recently, call tracking has been decried as having a negative impact upon your local SEO for a number of reasons.

So I decided to catch up with Mediahawk, a UK based call tracking and web analytics software company, to find out how they ensure their clients’ call tracking software isn’t damaging their local SEO efforts.

Firstly, what is call tracking and why is it useful?

Call tracking software enables online marketers to track which sources, campaigns, and keywords are generating phone calls simply by placing a unique number across their spread of marketing. Many businesses from a variety of sectors and marketing agencies across the UK use call tracking to close the loop on their online and offline marketing ROI calculations. Furthermore, some of the biggest companies in the world use call tracking to measure the effectiveness of their PPC campaigns, SEO efforts, and retargeting campaigns. These companies value call data significantly and they’re willing to spend a lot of money on it.

For these reasons, call tracking is the perfect complement to local SEO and marketing, and if applied in the right way, will help to boost your online ranking and wider marketing materials and communications.

But, if basic call tracking installation and best practices are overlooked, you could run into some problems. Let’s look at what these are.

So Why Do Some Think Call Tracking Hurts Local SEO?

5164271_2f583028d6_qThe main issue that can arise is when search engine crawlers find your profiles and the various numbers associated with them. The likelihood is that these different numbers were put in place for different marketing channels and call tracking for high priority leads.

But when it comes to local SEO, search engines are looking for consistency – the crawlers are specifically programmed to find the best results to deliver to users, and consistent information is perceived as accurate and informative. So your various marketing channels with differing numbers will most likely not perform well in SERPs, but there are ways to means to overcome this issue. So what’s the truth?

Mediahawk’s Managing Director, Mike Morrell said:

“It’s crucial that basic call tracking installation details are all present and correct, otherwise search engine crawlers may confuse the data and obscure your actual business location. The good news is that if you find yourself in this situation, the problem can be easily rectified”

Here are Mediahawk’s top tips for getting the most from call tracking for local SEO.

Place Tracking Numbers On Only Yours and Your Clients Websites

You will still be able to track calls generated by your different channels if you only use website call tracking on your own or your clients’ websites. Avoid placing call tracking on search engine business profiles or directory listings, as this is one sure-fire way to confuse the search engine crawlers. They will be looking at your NAP information (business name, phone numbers and address) and using different numbers across your online profiles will confuse matters. But if you have analytics and call tracking installed, you will still be able to track conversions from these sites.

Tagging with “No Script”

Website call tracking is enabled when a piece of JavaScript is added to your website. We highly recommend adding a ‘No Script’ tag alongside the JavaScript e.g.:

<noscript>your-phone-number-</noscript>

Google will index this NAP-friendly phone number, discerning it as a consistent number that will help cancel out any confusion about other existing numbers.

The above JavaScript tag also serves another purpose, in that it allows websites to serve up alternative content if the JavaScript fails to execute properly. The ‘no script’ tag essentially provides a telephone number if the crawler, user-agent or user is unable to activate the script, perhaps due to an old browser or JavaScript being switched off. With a telephone number provided in all circumstances, indexing can continue and leads are never lost.

Opt for Dynamic Number Insertion

Instead of applying a dedicated call tracking number to social media channels, you can opt for Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) tracking numbers. DNI numbers manipulate the number displayed to a website visitor, based on many different variables. So if a visitor is referred from a social media channel, then the DNI applies the tracking number, and only the consistent, regular number is found by the website crawlers.

Sending a clear NAP signal to Google with a simple Schema markup

Microdata, also known as Schema markup, is one great way to provide Google with lots of pertinent data about your content. The ‘itemprop’ is a vastly underrated by essential schema for best local SEO practices. The ‘itemprop’ schema basically tells search engines what your official business number is, and only requires a small piece of code to be inserted into your online channels. Simply add itemprop=”telephone” to your telephone numbers’ source code, and you’re good to go!

Apply Google Analytics to track smart phone click-to-call

A common feature of many smart phones is the function of clicking a phone number and automatically routing the call. You can take advantage of this feature with a small amount of coding that will allow you to trigger an analytics conversion tracking on each number.

With mobile device usage on the rise, adding this kind of data to your analytics is imperative, and helpfully, the code required to enable the tracking is NAP-friendly so will contribute to your local SEO efforts.

To enable mobile initiated conversion tracking, you’ll firstly need to ensure that your phone numbers are clickable links:

<a href=”tel:Your-Telephone-Number”>Call: Your-Telephone-Number</a>

Once all phone numbers have been converted to clickable links, you’ll need to add the “On Click” function, which will activate a URL-specific event in Google Analytics:

onClick=”_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Call Tracking', 'Clicked', 'Mobile Call']);”

Simply set up as a Goal in Google Analytics to ensure all mobile phone conversations are tracked.

Once all tracking code is in place, you should see this:

<a href=”tel:Your-TelephoneNumber” onClick=”_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Call Tracking', 'Clicked', 'Mobile Call']);”>Call: Your-Phone-Number</a>

It has also been advised that virtual pageviews are tracked, and whilst this is a viable option, event tracking assigns monetary values to each click-to-call. Ultimately, having this extra event tracking data to hand will give you more insight into your campaigns and marketing channels.

Invest to Improve Wider Marketing

Revising your call tracking so that is SEO friendly will help to boost your local SEO SERPs. But the added value of optimising call tracking is the provision of valuable data that will help to craft and hone your overall marketing campaigns and boost ROI on marketing spends.

This is because SEO-friendly call tracking improves your comprehension of offline customer behaviour, such as the keywords that they are searching for. Having this data available for analysis will be an important component in creating effective messaging. It will also help you to pre-empt questions that customers may have, and provide useful, pertinent content that answers those questions.

The inclusion of telephone conversations in your conversation rate testing (CRO) will also shed light on where and when visitors on your site are more inclined to fill in an online form, or pick up the phone. Likewise, mobile device conversion data will reveal how well your site is optimised for mobile, and whether any adjustments or improvements need to be made.

And lastly, SEO-friendly call tracking will help to justify your marketing spend by providing comprehensive data to compare the quality of organic traffic versus local PPC campaigns. Call tracking software is the only available tool that can provide an accurate and complete picture across the board.

So in conclusion, placing your tracked numbers in directories is bad practice, whilst using DNIs (Dynamic Number Insertion) on your site is good. And don’t let call tracking naysayers put you off of what could yield some extremely useful data for your business!

 

Zoe-Lee Skelton

About Zoe-Lee Skelton

I’m an SEO Content Marketing Consultant in the UK. In my spare time I enjoy blogging about digital marketing and web analytics. Feel free to connect!

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Zoe-Lee Skelton
I'm an SEO Content Marketing Consultant in the UK. In my spare time I enjoy blogging about digital marketing and web analytics. Feel free to connect!

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