Mobile and local search have been the subjects of much discussion recently, and these new updates from Google certainly serve to reinforce their importance. However, they also pose a threat to call tracking and attribution, especially for Infinity clients that have carefully set up tracked phone numbers in their AdWords accounts.
The two updates shortly coming into effect are as follows:
Location extensions will be updated to automatically include Google My Business phone numbers
Click-to-Call will be automated for mobile search by pulling landing page phone numbers through to ads
You will need to make some urgent changes to your AdWords settings to ensure that you don't lose the valuable call tracking data you are collecting with Infinity.
How to protect your Google AdWords account
It’s important that you act promptly to safeguard your valuable data from the impact of these Google updates. Please read on for a full description of each change, along with Infinity’s recommendation for the most appropriate AdWords settings.
UPDATE #1: LOCATION EXTENSIONS
From 19 January 2017, for advertisers using both call extensions and location extensions, Google may begin showing the local retail phone number when a location extension is shown - even if a different number is specified in a call extension for that campaign.
This update poses a significant threat to the correct attribution of calls. As Search Engine Land reported: “Advertisers that depend on calls going to a central phone number for conversion tracking and other reasons will face a challenge … Google says it ‘may’ show the local retail phone number when that store’s location extension shows in an ad even if a call extension in the campaign uses a different phone number in order to increase the relevance of ads that feature specific business locations.”
If you would like your campaign-level PPC ad extension call tracking to continue as usual, then we advise you to opt out of this new feature so that your tracking is not affected by Google automatically updating your extensions with local retail numbers pulled from your website.
At this stage, we do not know how your SEO rankings will be affected by opting out of the changes. Only time will tell once these changes are rolled out. Therefore, if your local Organic rankings are more important to you than accurate tracking of calls to your campaigns, at the very least, ensure that you update/replace your Google My Business local phone number(s) with an Infinity fixed number so that you do not lose complete visibility.
From 6 February 2017, call extensions will be automatically added to mobile search ads using the phone numbers from your landing pages.
According to Google: “You'll be able to get detailed reporting insights about your calls performance (including call duration, call start and end time, caller area code) and whether the call was connected. You can also set up call conversion tracking to see which parts of your campaigns are driving the most valuable calls.”
However, this update will override any campaign-level call extension numbers which you have assigned through Infinity, and all the features and benefits which they have offered are already available through your Infinity tracking. This means you could be replacing your current strategy with less effective, less granular return on data.
Before 6 February 2017, please follow these steps to opt out from having Google create additional automatic call extensions in the future:
Within your Google AdWords account, go to your “Ad extensions” tab
Select "View: Automated extensions report"
Scroll down to "Automated extension options (advanced)" and click on "Edit"
Uncheck the option for "Automatic call extensions" under "Do not use specific automated extensions in this account".
You can also update call extensions yourself directly in AdWords to use different phone numbers or remove them from specific campaigns and ad groups.
We recommend that all our clients replace any phone numbers used in Google My Business listings with fixed tracking numbers from the Portal, if you haven’t done so already. This will ensure that any calls from your Google My Business listing can be tracked and monitored along with all the other numbers used in your ads, both online and offline.
If you decide not to opt out of the Google changes and your Google My Business fixed numbers are presented on local/mobile PPC listings, we would expect call volumes to these phone numbers to inflate. Therefore, you may wish to update the descriptions on your Google My Business fixed numbers to reflect this with the call data returned.
You can explore this topic further in our Knowledge Base about using Infinity numbers within Google call extensions.