Calls, Local SEO, and Mobile Search

Video Transcription

[Greg] Good afternoon or good morning, everybody. My name is Greg Sterling. I’m with the Local Search Association and welcome to Calls, Local SEO &Mobile Search, What You Need to Know in 2016 with CallRail’s Mark Sullivan. And how’s it going today, Mark? How are you doing?

– [Mark] It’s going well. It’s going well. Thank you.

– Yeah. So thanks for being here. I want to tell people listening in and just joining us that you can ask questions at any time. Mark’s got some great data, some really interesting stuff in his presentation. I’m sure there will be questions so feel free to pose them in the console at any time and then we’ll…we may take them during the discussion or we have a time for Q&A at the end.

So look forward to this. So our webinar is going to be archived on the LSA site. You’re also going to get an email after this packed with a link so you can watch it again. And everybody that registered will get that. So you’ll be able to get that in 24 to 48 hours after the conclusion. Next slide, please.

So I got to put in a plug for LSA 16, the LSA annual conference happening in San Francisco. These are some of our featured speakers. You can go to our website and look at the full agenda. We’re adding speakers every day. It’s going to be an excellent show with a lot of great topics, very interesting stuff. I’m happy to answer any questions about the conference if people have them but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

Next slide, please. So that’s me on the left and Mark on the right. I’ve got to get a new picture because that picture is like 12 years old now but nonetheless, that’s us. Next slide, please. My job here is really to set up Mark’s discussion and provide some context for what he’s going to say.

And some of you have heard me say some of the same things before but it’s worth repeating many of these issues that we’re going to talk about. So everybody knows today we’ve got a very fragmented audience across multiple screens. Next slide. But very clearly, mobile devices, smartphones in particular, have emerged as the primary screen for a lot of people, especially younger users, but really the audience in total.

So we’ve got, some of these stats you’ve seen, 60% of the media time on mobile devices, apps dominate. We’re almost at 80% smartphone penetration. That’s a Comscore number. I’m sure in Q1, we’ll cross 80%. Ninety percent of millennials have smartphones. Google said last year, and most of you on this call, not everyone saw this, there’s more mobile searches than searches on the PC.

And by my calculation using Comscore and Google data, that is about 7 billion plus monthly local queries in mobile on smartphones, which is a really, really giant number. Next slide. So again, many of you may know this. This is LSA data but I think there’s other data to support this.

We’ve seen a transition in terms of where local searches are happening from the PC to mobile. They happen across the board but mobile has overtaken the PC in terms of local intense searches. Next slide. Anybody who’s looked at any of the holiday shopping reports, any of the recent sort of the recent mobile data that has come out, has seen the disparity between mobile traffic and you probably look at this in your own logs if you’re looking at that information.

You see the disparity between mobile traffic and conversion. So the numbers…there’s a gap, a pretty significant gap even though mobile conversion rates are growing. So when people do research or do searches on mobile devices, typically they converge later on or elsewhere in the real world, on another device with a larger screen. Next slide, please.

So this has been my short stick for the last 15 years. Basically, the story of digital influence, offline commerce is a much, much bigger story than e-commerce. E-commerce is $3-plus billion approaching $4 billion over the holiday period, but it’s still really a tiny fraction.

I think total numbers are something like, and I haven’t looked at the most recent Comscore data, approaching or slightly over 300 billion annually. But what we’re talking about is trillions of dollars in the real world, real world commerce, services, retail, all kinds of travel, and so on and so forth that is impacted by the internet where people do research online first, PC or mobile, and then go and actually spend money in the real world.

We’re getting a blurring of e-commerce and offline commerce in certain categories but by my calculation using government data, we’re talking about $11-$12 trillion or more that has some internet influence over the spending. And if you go in and you just look at the categories, it’s amazing how big these numbers get out of the total GDP of about 17.4 trillion. Next slide, please.

So calls represent one bridge or one way to measure that offline impact. There are other methodologies emerging using smartphones but calls are one of the primary ones that have historically been the dominant way that people have measured the offline specs of digital marketing. Next slide.

This is some data from IDC and YP that recently came out showing that on average, people are taking a very short period of time between the initiation of a local search and the conclusion of that process and the transaction. There are other data that have slightly different percentages but are directionally consistent with that.

In certain categories, people are searching and then acting very quickly. And so you see that these are…the point here is really that local searches are very, very qualified leads, highly qualified leads ready to take action. Next slide, please. So one of the points that Mark is going to address that’s a little bit counterintuitive now and that I want to set up is this notion that the phone call is dead.

I mean, we hear this again and again, texting has replaced phone calls, nobody is calling anymore, people don’t want to receive calls. Certainly, people don’t want to receive telemarketing calls and those are the kinds of calls that are annoying. But the idea that the call is dead is completely wrong. It’s an emerging notion which is actually contradicted by empirical evidence and Mark will indicate that in his presentation.

So the phone call is far from dead. Next slide.

– That’s a great image, by the way, Greg.

– Yes. It’s not my image. It’s a stolen copyrighted image so don’t tell anyone that.

– I liked the image in Number 4, the little turd.

– Oh, the poop? The poop emoji? Yeah. So I think that’s my daughter’s favorite emoji, in fact, but okay. Next slide. So this is Google data, Google-sponsored research conducted by Ipsos. It’s a couple of years old but it’s still really valid.

The idea is, and this still goes back to the earlier slide that shows that local searches are very qualified. When people get into a buying mode, when they’re ready to buy in the purchase phase, in the last steps of their research, a majority of them are going to make a call or very often, they want to make a call.

So this slide specifically talks about click-to-call from search results. But a majority said that they’re read to make calls, they want to make calls at that point. So that gives you some insight into the qualification of these people, you know, they’re ready to buy, to use the old phrase. Next slide. This is also Google-sponsored research that shows across categories, people are inclined to make calls.

So it’s not limited to selected categories. It’s pretty much across the board, people will make calls. And in some categories, they’re going to make more calls, professional services being one of them. But people want the immediacy and the kind of information you can get verbally. You know, often it’s hard to get your questions answered especially in a mobile device through website content and you want to talk to a person or you have to schedule an appointment or you need some additional information.

Next slide, please. So, historically, small businesses have always said that they prefer phone calls to other kinds of leads. Now, I’m sure we can find business owners who say I’d rather receive an email or I’d rather receive a booking, but phone calls are a currency that are highly valued and they also are an indicator of ROI.

So this slide is based on a survey conducted by BrightLocal last year and it shows how phone calls are one of the preferred KPIs or the top KPI that small businesses are interested in seeing and certainly interested in receiving the warm leads that phone calls will provide. Next slide. So this is my final slide.

There’s some Kelsey data here and then also eMarketer. And I don’t necessarily represent that these numbers are great numbers. I think directionally, they’re good numbers and that’s what they’re here to show. The idea that 72, almost three-quarters of mobile ads or just ad spending rather, digital ad spending as a whole, is going to be mobile in three years.

I’m not necessarily in agreement with that specific number but I think directionally, we’re seeing a lot more money moving into mobile following the audience. So I think that that’s directionally consistent and the point about the call volume projections is that as more and more action happens on mobile, the volume of calls is going to go up because these devices make it easy to contact businesses over the phone.

So there’s a natural relationship between mobile advertising, consumer behavior, and call volumes. So I think that’s my final slide. Yes. And now I’m going to transition over to Mark who’s going to get into some of the specific data, which is very, very interesting. So take it away, Mark. Perhaps Mark has… Mark, are you there?

Okay, now I’m playing the role of Mark. Mark Sullivan couldn’t be here to accept the award…- Sorry. I was actually…I made a mistake there. I was on mute.

– So take it away. Yeah, go ahead.

– So I was just mentioning, when no one can hear me, of course, that last slide that you had, the 72% of digital ad spend by 2019 is forecasted to be on mobile, I think that perhaps part of that is…part of what’s baked in there is just the transition of traditional marketers from desktop to mobile is going to sort of ignore desktop for a little while. I imagine that’s part of the projection.

But even what we’re seeing, it’s about 50-50 for mobile and desktop and I imagine that that’s sort of trending.

– In terms of ad spend right now?

– In terms of…we actually don’t…we don’t have much insight into ad spend specifically but calls that are coming from mobile devices, from paid sources versus non- paid, I mean, versus non-mobile. So I imagine that number is going to continue to shift upward especially as properties on the web are more optimized for web but I find these numbers…I mean, there’s huge opportunity and marketers that can get this, right?

– Absolutely.

– So my name is Mark Sullivan. There’s my picture. I’m the Director of Partnerships here at CallRail for those of you who aren’t familiar.

– That’s a super happy and optimistic picture. I’m envious that you’re so kind of full of like hope and vitality in that picture, Mark, I have to tell you. I won’t interrupt you after this.

– I have to give credits to the photographer. That was really a company photoshoot and he made me look very, very happy. So CallRail, next slide, CallRail, we’re a call tracking and analytics company. We focus on data-driven marketers who want to get lower-funnel metrics, specifically that bridge from, that Greg was referring to, from online to offline conversions with regards to phone calls.

So we were founded in 2011, there’s 25,000 companies. Actually, I think we’re almost up to 30,000. This probably needs to be updated. But the companies are in the U.S. and Canada that use our product. And we were very, very focused on marketers that use our product day in day out.

So everything from our features that sort of are sourced by customer requests to hopefully this webinar. We’re super focused on making you a better marketer and giving you information and the tools to determine what’s working and what’s not. Next slide. So what I want you to take away from my presentation here is, I’m going to tell you some things that we’ve learned from analyzing millions of phone calls at CallRail.

And there’s some interesting data that we’ll show you about the sources and some of it may surprise you about where these phone calls are coming from. So I want to talk about that and sort of make it clear the importance of phone calls isn’t just something that all of us in call analytics companies and digital marketers are trumpeting.

It’s real and I’ll show you some data that back that up. Also, I want to go over briefly some best practices for using call tracking with local SEO. There’s been a lot of confusion around how to use it and I’ve been focused on this from early days at CallRail and so is one of our founders who actually has a background in local SEO as well.

So I want to go over that and I’m sure they’ll be some questions during the Q&A so feel free to send some in and we’ll go over that and then we’ll have a Q&A at the end. Next slide. So this is sort of like…these are a few news articles from 2015. “Americans prefer texting to talking,” report says.

This was published in March in <i>The Chicago Tribune.</i>The next one says, “Why Millennials… ” Next slide. “Why Millennials are Scared of Talking on the Phone and how to get over it.” This was <i>Business Insider</i> published in May. The next slide, “Why Millennials are Texting More and Talking Less.” This is in <i>Forbes.</i>It’s almost like there’s a bandwagon of articles, article topics, and all these publishers sort of get on board.

Here’s another one that says, “Five Reasons Millennials aren’t Answering Your Phone Call.” Again, trumpeting sort of the death of the phone call. This was just three months ago in November. So this has become a little bit of a drumbeat in national media. And I think it’s important to understand really what…I want to make a distinction between the data they’re looking at and sort of why they’re making that conclusion and why it’s not exactly true for those of us who market on behalf of SMBs and specifically with local search.

So next slide. So this is data from CallRail and this is all from 2015. And this data is coming from not just… I want to make sure it’s clear here. This isn’t just looking at the growth of like CallRail, for example. This is looking…these numbers are coming from a specific set of more than 600 companies, 1.3 million phone calls.

This is actually reflecting companies that are tracking all the calls that are coming through their website. So these people are using the session-level product that we have, which essentially tracks all phone calls, all visits to a website that turned into phone calls and that includes referring URLs and a bunch of data about those phone calls.

But you can see that in the first quarter, it was up 16% calls to these businesses, in the second quarter, up 19%, Q3, 5% and then the last quarter that we just came out with an 8% increase. And these are companies that have been using the product for over a year. That’s how we’re able to get this year-over-year quarter data.

So it’s not like they’re just ramping up. These are people that have been using it for a while. So essentially, the common wisdom specifically about millennials and maybe some is bleeding over into the broader population and conclusions about phone calls and device usage from them, it’s really like when we’re talking to each other, there may be a decrease in phone calls.

But when we’re talking about calling businesses, we’re seeing a vast, like the vast majority of businesses are seeing an increase in phone calls. And we’ll dive into a little bit about why, at least my understanding of why that’s happening. Next slide. So this is another interesting point. This sort of surprised me.

The average call duration is also up. So looking at the same set of companies, we talk 20% longer on phone calls. So each phone call was 20% longer in 2015 than it was in 2014. I find that really interesting. That means that we’re not only calling businesses more but we’re actually talking on the phone, perhaps we have more specific questions.

That means that some of these questions that we’re asking, they can’t be answered online and so they’re getting those answers over the phone. Next slide. So what is driving the increase in phone calls to SMBs? This is a big question and we’re all sort of hypothesizing here, those of us that work in the industry and are digital marketers that are driving these phone calls.

But I think one of the big reasons is consumer preference for instant information. We’re sort of used to being able to search very quickly, find an answer for many things, many questions that we have. But when it comes to local businesses, the information that we want may not be easily digestible on web properties. There’s all these websites for SMBs and they all look a little bit different.

I can’t find…the same information might not be in the same place. So what do I do? I essentially, I want to call that business to get an answer to my question. There’s also some indication, and Greg, you and I have talked about this, that voice search, the adoption of voice search, which is growing quite rapidly especially among young people is leading to sort of a preference to talk.

So asking your phone questions and then just saying, “Connect me to someone.I want to talk to them.”

– Real quickly.

– Yeah.

– Real quickly, I’ll just interject. There was some interesting research from MindMeld that I wrote about on the LSA website that shows within the last six months, voice-initiated search queries are way up. A lot of people say it’s not being used or they don’t use it but there’s data that shows now that it’s really starting to take off. So I think that’s a factor perhaps in this trend that you’re identifying as you say.

– Yeah. And that sort of reflects some of this stuff that…I recently wrote about this as well. And it reflects some of the studies showing that like if you look at a younger demographic, even just a year ago, their adoption of voice search was much higher than the rest of the population. And obviously, as they adopt at that rate, there’s people behind them that are sort of adopting as well and then there’s people that will adopt that are a little bit upstream age-wise.

So yeah, I think that’s a big factor. But that preference for instant information, I want an answer as soon as possible. Sometimes answers are the quickest, reach the quickest to answers when we call. The other main driver of this is that the web is more and more friendly to phone calls.

More and more web properties are being optimized for phone calls. So click-to-call, ad extensions. We’re seeing an entire infrastructure that sort of is the desktop web and it’s going through this shift and more and more web properties, everything from directory sites to ads to even SMBs that have a savvy digital marketing mind or a digital marketer working on their properties.

There’s WordPress templates that are more and more optimized for phone calls. So I think that’s also driving it as well is that the ease with which people can make the phone calls as the transition happens. And then the next slide, this is part of the data that I want to dive into. And I’m sure, Greg, you’ll have some questions about this. But we looked at 600 companies, it’s actually almost 700 companies, 1.3 million phone calls and the vast majority of these are SMBs.

And we looked at what are the referring sources, the properties around the web or the types of properties around the web that are referring visits to their website where they’re tracking the calls that turned into phone calls. So these numbers reflect the percentage of each property that drove a phone call to an SMB website or a visit to an SMB website that turned into a phone call.

And Google obviously has the lion’s share here. I was a little surprised that Yahoo’s numbers are where they’re at. And then all others is essentially, if you look in the top left there, all others are referrals.

So essentially, some of these could be directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, some of them are niche or vertical- specific directories and they only account for 15% of the phone calls that these 600-plus companies received. And this is looking at year-over-year.

Actually, the next one looks at year-over-year. Sorry. But this is looking at a full year and a half of data, essentially, for the sources of these.

– Hey, Mark, do you have any sense of whether or not this is…I mean, you said earlier that about half the calls are coming from desktop and half from mobile. Is this primarily…is this sort of a mix of both? Is this primarily PC? Is this primarily mobile? Just give us some insight into what view this is.

– Sure. So I didn’t actually pull that data for this particular webinar. There’s so much data that’s collected on these phone calls. Referring URL or referring parameters is one of them and then device type is specifically what you’re referring to. From what I’ve seen, it’s about 50-50. So about 50% of these are coming from mobile and about 50% are coming from desktop.

And the data that we have is possibly fodder for another webinar we can do. We can dive into sort of what the exact percentages and we can get a little bit more granular. Because the session level product that CallRail offers, it collects so much information in addition to referring URL and device type. We can get OS data like the operating system that people are using so we can sort of really get granular on, you know, are more phone call…are iPhone users more likely to call than Android, for example?

– But this is a mix…- But it’s all 50-50 is what I’m saying.

– This is a mix of both PC and mobile calls. It’s a kind of aggregated view of both.

– That’s correct.

– Okay, great. Thanks.

– And then one more thing I want to note about this slide before we go on, the 15% direct that you see there, many of those, I’d say the majority of those, are actually coming from organic search. Many times we’ve done some testing with our team here looking at referring parameters and how they’re passed or not passed.

And a lot of times, the referring parameters, when you click on an organic search result and you go to a website, the actual…the cookie essentially is lost or referring parameter is lost and you don’t actually have anything. So that would show up as direct. So I would say the majority of direct is actually coming from Google organic as well.

So all the more reason to sort of get your ducks in a row so to speak when it comes to understanding more about the phone calls that are coming from your organic efforts and for local businesses. obviously, local SEO is really important and we’ll dive into some best practices on how to do that.

– Quick follow up question I’m seeing somebody submitted that’s relevant to this. So I want to ask you right now rather than waiting. This person is questioning…it says, “Could this be a function of what businesses are using CallRail for?” It’s not entirely clear what that means but I’m wondering if the question is how representative is this distribution of the whole market?

I think that’s what it’s getting at.

– I think that’s a fantastic question. And I sort of…when I dive into this data, I try to poke holes in it. And the person who asked the question absolutely could be right but when I look at the distribution of who’s using our session level product and when I look at these companies, they are everything from home services, to professional services, to health care, to retail, auto repair, auto sales.

I mean they sort of run the gamut. And from what I can see, they sort of track what we see in the larger SMB economy. So what’s not going to be represented here is companies like restaurants, like restaurants and food, grocery stores.

Those types of companies don’t really rely on phone calls to begin with so they don’t typically track them. So I think that the question makes a good point and I’ll say that I believe this is representative of the majority of professional services, healthcare services, retail, and automotive services where phone calls are really important to their business.

Does that make sense, Greg?

– Absolutely. So go ahead and continue.

– Okay. And also, the 1.3 million calls makes it fairly a representative sample of phone calls as well. It’s actually a super large data set. Next slide. This next slide dives into some really interesting…I like to geek out on some of this stuff.

This sort of shows, year-over-year, referring sources that are up or down. So it’s looking at half the year in 2014 compared to the same half a year in 2015 and it’s looking at referring sources for phone calls for this representative sample of almost 700 companies. So 2015 winners column, I find alternative search, like DuckDuckGo and even…I even saw DogPile, which I really haven’t seen in a long time, as I was analyzing this data.

DogPile was in there and there was another one that was sort of old school. Ask is still around, ask.com. There’s some people that as Google gets bigger, they have a preference for DuckDuckGo or other search engines that maybe treat their search data a little bit differently. Obviously, small sample set but it is growing there with DuckDuckGo. Social seems to be on the rise, the sort of the larger end of social, you’ll see on the right hand side.

There’s Twitter and Pinterest that are down but Facebook and LinkedIn seem to be driving some results for the businesses that are included in this. Amazon is an interesting one. I have some theories about this. Greg, I think has some theories as well and I’ll ask you about that in a moment. But Bing Paid is up.

And I think partially that Bing Paid and Yahoo Paid partially reflects more and more digital marketers that are moving in to take advantage of what digital marketing can provide more more SMBs. And I think that there’s obviously less competition in Bing and Yahoo and I think that marketers are sort of realizing that and they’re taking some time to learn those platforms.

The loser’s column is interesting. We’re seeing sort of, and I saw this AOL Search. There’s also some indication. Comcast Search was dropping. So these search engines that are sort of…they’re sort of layered, layered search engines that are built into browsers or certain programs, they’re seeing a drop.

Certain directories are really, really suffering. DAX was another one that I didn’t include in here but it’s also dropping. So these sort of broad directories that are more horizontally focused in terms of industry, they seem to be suffering quite a bit. YP is down 25%. We did see a little bit of an increase with vertical specific directories like Avvo but they weren’t high enough numbers and statistically relevant to show on here.

But there’s some indication that vertical-specific directories are driving more phone calls than sort of these broad ones. And then Pinterest and Twitter, Pinterest sort of surprised me especially as they sort of focus on trying to monetize the popularity of the product but they’re actually not driving for this set of companies. They’re not driving as many calls as they did last year.

And Twitter as well. Greg, you had a question or a theory about Amazon. What’s your thoughts on why Amazon is up?

– Well, your theory was more sophisticated than mine. I was just assuming that this was reflective of their new push into a relatively new push into home services. But even that is really sort of an e-commerce centric kind of experience where they’re trying to get people to do appointments and other stuff or buy services directly online like it was a product.

So I’m really not sure and your theory was perhaps a more sophisticated one about ad networks.

– Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know that it’s accurate but I think part of it could be the home services in addition to sort of my hypothesis, which is that Amazon…I purchased personally. This is anecdotal. But I’ve seen a lot more ads on Amazon recently that when clicked, they send you away from Amazon.

And I’m wondering if they’ve sort of ramped up their desire to monetize all the traffic even the traffic that maybe will go away or doesn’t buy something on the site. And I’m wondering if they’re sort of sending them through an Amazon URL instead of the ad network, which would be captured in the referring URL. So I don’t know for sure but that was one theory that I had.

– Yeah, well, it’s very interesting data. I mean, really interesting and we could talk more about it but I know you’ve got more slides and people are asking questions about NAP consistency. Here’s a quick question about this particular slide that came through. Somebody is asking about Google and AdWords.

They’re wondering where Google and AdWords are in terms of growth or slippage? Can you comment there?

– Yeah. So Google AdWords was up 1% and Google organic was down, I think 3%. So I didn’t see those numbers as, I mean, 1% of the market share that Google has is significant but I didn’t see them as compelling enough. But that’s a good question.

AdWords is up 1% and Google organic is down 3%. But again, the Google organic could be reflective of those parameters, the referring URL parameters that get dropped sometimes when you click from a search result, an organic search result to a property.

– I don’t want to take up too much more time on this slide but there was another sort of clarifying question from somebody. I think you answered this I think earlier but maybe it wasn’t entirely clear. The source of this data, these are the 1.3 million phone calls that you analyzed from nearly 700 companies that are participating in the CallRail kind of ecosystem.

Can you just confirm that that’s the source of this particular slide data?

– Yes, yeah. This is all CallRail data and specifically, it’s companies that are using our session level product and that’s often referred to in a couple different ways, keyword-level call tracking or session-level call tracking or visitor-level call tracking.

It involves the dynamic number insertion which essentially, is a method to serve up a unique phone number for every single website visitor. So every single one of these companies is using that product that sort of captures every single visit to their website, serves up a unique phone number. And so all the session level data about any web visit is captured with a subsequent phone call that comes from it.

And so that’s where this comes from and it comes from a wide swath of industries, the vast majority of which are SMBs. And yeah, so hopefully that clarifies, sort of, where the data comes from.

– So I know people are interested in the NAP consistency stuff. So let’s get into it.

– Sure. So next slide. So as you can see from that pie chart earlier, organic is huge. It’s still really, really important. And understanding exactly what plays into the visibility or ranking for organic results is important for businesses to focus on.

And I think there’s been some confusion about call tracking and local SEO and I just wanted to clear up some of this confusion. And I’ve written about this extensively since I joined. Before CallRail, I was at Yodel, a large company that used organic call tracking lines to track visitors or actually to track phone calls from organic sources.

So I just want to talk a little bit about that. So the first thing, NAP consistency and bad ideas. I’m just going to go over briefly what I mean by that. There’s been some terrible ideas by companies, large and small, digital marketers, sophisticated or not, to use call tracking in a way that will totally screw up your NAP consistency. And I want to clarify what is a bad idea and what you need to focus on in my experience.

And then the second one here, dynamic number insertion, that’s what DNI stands for. And I want to talk about the risk and the reward. This is something I have written about extensively and I’ve dove into the data on this, and specifically, CallRail data and customer support data as well. So I’m going to talk about the relative risk of using dynamic number insertion, which is essentially, for those of you who don’t know, it’s a JavaScript that’s on a website that swaps out a phone number according to certain parameters.

And then I want to talk about what I refer to when I talk about organic tracking numbers and specifically, the metric to rule all other metrics with regard to local SEO and call tracking, which is first-time caller. Next slide. So, first of all, NAP consistency, it stands, many of you know this, name, address, phone number.

It’s widely believed to be about I think the last Moz local SEO ranking factor infographic they put. I think it put it at right around 20% of like the weight of how Google orders information on local searches for businesses that would show up there.

And essentially, what this is, is Google is looking for indications that what Google Maps has or, I don’t know what they call it now, Google Places for business, Google Local, they change it all the time. But essentially, the business listing that’s on Google Maps. What that has for a name, address, phone number, Google wants to see that around the web, it’s also reflected on other directories, in other websites, and they want to make sure that they have the right information before they serve it up in a local search result.

And so it makes sense. They want to maintain that trust they have with their searchers. So it’s pretty simple, how to avoid NAP consistency issues when it comes to call tracking. Avoid using different phone numbers for citations unless you simply…unless you just don’t care about local SEO or you don’t care about the risk to your visibility and search results.

It’s important to remember that NAP consistency is one factor among many, many factors that go into determining where you sit for a particular local intent query on Google. And it’s a signal-to-noise ratio, right? So there could be some old phone numbers that are out there but if the overwhelming signal is that your name, address, phone number is consistent, even though there may be some areas on the web that have indexed wrong information, old information, it’s a signal-to-noise thing.

And if the overwhelming signal is that your information is consistent, then that’s going to play into your ranking there. There are so many other factors that go into your ranking. This is an important one and I want to stress that you can get it right just by avoiding different numbers for citations and that would include all local directories.

And you don’t want to put a different phone number on YP, a different phone number on Yelp, a different phone number on social media like Facebook Page, and then a different phone number on your website. While you can get some information about the calls that are coming in from different sources and that can help you be a better marketer and focus on allocating your resources, you are going to vastly reduce your likelihood of showing up in local search results.

And I’ll go into what I mean by an organic tracking number in a moment. So next slide here. Dynamic number insertion. There’s been a lot of comments and confusion about using dynamic number insertion on websites that would essentially serve up a different phone number to each visitor. So the dataset that we just looked at, they are using dynamic number insertion and serving up a different phone number to every single visitor on their website.

I have written about the risk in the past and when I first came on board at CallRail, I was a local SEO hardcore and I was sort of a a little bit, what would I say, orthodox and I didn’t want to stray too much because I had had a lot of success with my local SEO efforts and I thought that my way was the only way.

Well, I sort of advocated, if you’re not comfortable with dynamic number insertion to use an organic tracking number. At this point, when I’ve looked into customer requests, complaints about NAP consistency, basically anything that may have surfaced up from our customers that are using dynamic number insertion and tracking all visitors in this way and I can’t find any one case where it has been detrimental to visibility and where it’s actually had a number being indexed on Google that messed up their NAP consistency.

So at this point, I am willing to say and confidently with that, that the risk is minimal to none of using dynamic number insertion. Yes, Google has the ability now, the crawlers have the ability to execute JavaScript but we sort of know that when all the signals point to one phone number around the web and there’s a JavaScript that sort of replaces that phone number, this does not affect Google’s name, address, phone number consistency ranking factor.

This is coming from a lot of data. And specifically, let me be specific about what we do at CallRail to address the risk. The Googlebot has certain identifying characteristics about it that we can actually detect when it visits a website. And we’ve been testing some rules that essentially look for these parameters that would determine whether the Googlebot is the one on the website.

And it basically, we’ve determined…we’ve told these rules, “Do not show a phone number to Googlebot.” And essentially, what we’re doing is looking at one parameter and saying like when this parameter is met, do not serve…do not execute the JavaScript and replace that phone number.

So if the data that I’ve looked into and my experience with using DNI for local SEO isn’t enough, then you can dive into and ask questions about how we address that risk with identifying the Googlebot. So the real…- Hey, Mark.

– Sure.

– Mark. So I just want to call your attention to the time because we’ve got about 15 minutes left and you’ve got some more slides and we also want to get to some of the questions. But would you be willing to answer very specific questions about this offline if people send you emails?

– Yeah, absolutely. You can reach out to me, mark@callrail.com or Twitter, mpsulli, either way, absolutely.

– Okay, great.

– I’ll quickly go through the last slide here. So next slide. The organic tracking number that I’ve talked about essentially involves using one phone number that is a call tracking enabled phone number as your main line. So essentially, anywhere on the internet that’s indexed, we use one organic tracking enabled line.

And essentially what you get from that is you get all the benefits except for…without the granularity that you get with dynamic number insertion. So you get call volume data, you get call recordings, time of day, all the metadata associated with phone calls. Now, some of this, you can get from your business phone system and if you can get it from that, fantastic.

But if you can’t, then look into using organic call tracking number to get that data. And the one metric that you want to focus on when you’re looking at organic tracking numbers is first-time callers. And a first-time caller is basically whoever has never called your business before. If they make a phone call, that is a KPI you want to focus on. So first time callers are going up or staying steady, then you know that your local SEO is producing results for you.

And that’s sort of the best metric that I’ve used. The last thing I just want to point out is that you can port your number into a call tracking software like CallRail so you can…if you have a main organic line or a main phone number that you’ve used for business for a long time, you can actually port that into CallRail and start collecting some data on those calls, call recording, call volume.

You don’t get as much data as you get with dynamic number insertion but you can still use that for determining basically how to drive your marketing and allocate resources. So next slide. CallRail. We give a 14-day free trial to all of our prospective customers. You don’t need a credit card.

You can actually start using it right now. There’s a lot of features under the hood. We try to keep it simple so you can get up and started quickly and you can go to callrail.com/pricing.

– I want to thank Mark Sullivan for his wisdom and data and insights today. All of you on the call and those that registered but did not attend will get a link and the outreach that Mark talked about that you’ll get a chance to review the content here. And my apologies to folks that we didn’t get a chance to address their questions. But thank you all for joining us and look for more LSA webinars throughout the year.

Thanks again and thanks very much, Mark.

– Thank you and thank everybody for attending.