Have you been tempted to use one of those marketing services that reports on how many calls your business receives from your search or social listings?

I see their ads touting their local marketing services every (heck – even I get them!) You see them everywhere, so surely they must be onto something – RIGHT?

There is so much to think about when it comes to internet marketing – being able to quantify where your leads comes from seems a no-brainer. Oh, if only if it were that easy, I mean – businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know what marketing tactics works and which ones don’t – what tools or services would be good for them, and what’s

going to hurt them. So when a client was asking me about these services recently – I went directly to the source and sent them the following excerpt from Google to answer their question.

Q: Does it matter whether I include multiple telephone types?

A: You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business. Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location [source]

The question was pretty unspecific – so it’s easy to imaging that the person was referring to possibly using both a main phone number and fax number, or perhaps they were inquiring about using a sales and service numbers on their website or within their linkbuilding. Regardless of the lack of specificity – the answer from Google was very specific.

Call tracking numbers are discouraged

As it turns out, a business phone number has some very important SEO data that search engines use to quantify a business. The phone number is a foundation data element that is vital for local internet marketing. The trade refers to this data-set as NAP (Name, Address, Phone), and the phone number helps authenticate a business via it’s area code (state validation) and phone prefix (town/city/neighborhood).

When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards – they loose that vital component of authentication.

The loss of local-identity wasn’t something that was mentioned in the information my client had received. Neither was the question as to what happens when a business no longer subscribes to the service? The short answer is – they loose again.

I’m sure there is a business that could find these types of services valuable – but in my experience, businesses that rely on local marketing should steer clear of the calling and play their numbers safe.