Tracking Phone Numbers and Automotive SEO

I’ve written about this topic more than once. The concept; that the phone numbers you are putting on your website can affect search performance, this concept never seems to stick. Good idea today, gone tomorrow! I’m doing it again because this boomerang has legs.

In automotive, tracking numbers are everyday life – no one thinks about not using them. So they are plastered everywhere, often without a method to measure what they are supposed to measure – the effectiveness of an advertising campaign. But they are certainly thrown about like candy without regard for the impact they make on your search rank. (that means Google)

So think for a minute like Google. (Google doesn’t think about automotive per se) Google thinks about all retail as a whole. So take Home Depot as a great example. They don’t change their phone numbers (use tracking numbers) to sell a new line of bathroom fixtures or when there is a blow-out special on plywood. Neither does Costco or Macy’s.

1) Google does not like more than 1 phone number on a website. (fax excepted because its usually a very similar number)

2) Google favors local numbers.

3) Whenever I have mixed phone numbers (local & 8xx), I have seen a drop in search rank. Not too scientific, but a definite trend is evident.

4) Frequent changes to website phone numbers seems to exacerbate our problems. No matter what we do with the above (2&3), our search results tend to return to normal – after a time. But it can sometimes be a long time.

Usually the phone number issue manifests in Maps and Places, where we’ll suddenly loose position to someone else. And to Google, that would make sense. Google is trying to serve up businesses in search that are (stable) “always there” – not some flaky business that seemingly keeps moving around town changing their phone numbers. Makes sense!