The final step in The Local SEO Formula is to track your local SEO campaign. Tracking is obviously important so you know whether or not your investment to rank high in the local results is driving any new business. If it is, and you’re getting more traffic, phone calls, and customers, then you will probably want to invest even more time and resources into this marketing channel.
Tracking a local SEO campaign is not easy, but it’s not impossible if your website is set up properly. One tool I highly recommend to track local SEO, as well as all of your other marketing campaigns, is phone call tracking. Phone call tracking will allow you to report the number of calls, leads, and sales generated from a given marketing channel.
However, with local SEO you need to be very careful with how you set up your phone tracking. Used incorrectly, your phone tracking could actually hurt your local search rankings and prevent you from showing on the first page of Google.
How Phone Tracking Can Hurt Rankings
If you’re familiar with local SEO, then you know you need to get citations. A citation is simply your business name, address, and phone number listed on another website like a business directory. Think of citations like references for a job. Google checks your references (citations) to make sure all your information is accurate and you’re really the legitimate business you say you are in your Google+ Local profile.
If at any point during the reference check Google finds discrepancies in the information, then that will hurt your chances of “getting the job,” or ranking on the first page of Google.
Can you see now how tracking phone numbers could hurt your rankings? Let’s say you would like to track all of the calls from your Google+ Local page separately from your website. That way you’ll know how many calls, leads, and sales are generated directly from Google+ Local.
To do that you would need to display a unique phone number on your Google+ Local page versus all the other phone numbers you may have listed on your website. To take this a step further, you may also want to track your Yelp page separately and your Yahoo or Bing local pages as well.
That would mean Google’s phone number reference checks are not going to pass. Google’s going to see you have one phone number listed on Google+ Local, another phone number listed on your website, and other phone numbers listed on citations. Those discrepancies will could demote you off of the first page of Google when prospects search for your products or services.
The Right Way to Set Up Phone Tracking For Local SEO
So now you know the wrong way to go about tracking phone calls with local SEO. Do not try to use unique phone numbers on Google+ Local and any other business directories. Always make sure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are 100% consistent across the internet.
How then can you possibly track phone calls?
Don’t worry, it’s still possible. You’ll need to use dynamic number insertion, or DNI. With DNI you’ll be able to dynamically change the phone number on your website based on the source of the traffic. For example, if you’re running Google AdWords ads, then you could show phone number A whenever someone visits your website directly from an AdWords ad. Or in the case of local SEO, you’ll want to dynamically show phone number B when the visitor is coming from your Google+ Local profile.
DNI sounds high tech, but it’s actually not that hard to set up. Plus, every phone tracking company I’ve researched has this built into their system. The reason this does not affect your SEO rankings is because you’re technically not changing your phone number from Google’s perspective. As long as the default number on your website is the same number used on Google+ Local and all of your business directories, then you will be fine. Only visitors coming from the sources you want to track will see the unique tracking numbers.
With that said, I still recommend you use Schema.org to tell Google explicitly which phone number to use. Read How to Spoonfeed Google Your Correct Business Information for more information about how to set up Schema markup on your website.