In January, AdWords announced a change to how phone numbers are displayed in ads. Location extensions, which show a company’s address and other info from a linked Google My Business account, would now be able to show the phone number from Google My Business.
How this change was deployed is a little confusing. Rather than replacing all call extensions, it seems like these location-specific phone numbers operate as a component of location extensions. Location extensions can pull in data from a Google My Business account other than the address, including business hours, star ratings, and now phone numbers. Call extensions would continue to show at about the same frequency.
This change is concerning to companies that track phone calls from ads. It is inadvisable to change the number in your Google My Business listing because that would negatively affect your local SEO. But if those calls aren’t being attributed correctly to ads, your results will look worse than they are and your data is flawed for making optimization decisions. Google did provide a form to opt out of showing these location phone numbers, but that could negatively affect your ads since extensions are factored into the equation for what ads are shown.
As an agency that works with a lot of local campaigns, this issue is very important to us and our clients. In following up with our Google rep, we learned about the ability to set AdWords-specific phone numbers in Google My Business that will be displayed for location extensions.
This solution isn’t perfect because you have to use the same phone number for all ads using that location, but it’s a huge step up from having no tracking. Fully utilizing location extensions is crucial because they affect whether your ad will show for mobile and location-based searches, including Google Maps.
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