Drive More Calls with Google Ads Call Extensions

Today, more than 65 percent of time spent on digital media is spent on mobile, meaning it’s more important now than ever to pay attention to your audience’s behavior and optimize your web presence for phone leads.

This goes well beyond creating a mobile optimized website. You’ll want to make sure your marketing strategy is in line with the times, and that means creating mobile-friendly ads that encourage users to to perform actions, like calling.

Taking this one step further, you need to be able to effectively measure how well your mobile optimized ads fare among consumers in order to get an accurate picture of their performance.

Think about it: Most likely, you rely on Google Analytics to give you stats about clicks and online conversions. Why wouldn’t you do the same for phone calls?

So, how can you track phone calls the same way you would track clicks or online conversions? Enter Google Ads (formerly AdWords) call extensions.

What are Google Ads call extensions?

Google Ads call extensions is a feature that lets you add a phone number to your existing Google Ads. When a user clicks on your ad, they’ll be taken to your website or, if browsing on mobile, they can call your business directly. If browsing on desktop they will be presented with a number to reach you at on the ad. You can even configure your ads to display your phone number only when your business is actually open to have fewer missed calls, more conversions and a better, all-around customer experience.

In today’s world where mobile reigns supreme, it’s essential to add call extensions to your Google ads in order to effectively reach your core customer. According to Google, adding call extensions to your ads can increase your clickthrough rate by as much as 5 percent.

If you want to drive even more phone calls, you may want to opt for call-only ads. Unlike call extensions, call-only ads do not link to your website — they only allow users to call you when clicked.

When someone dials your business through a call extension or call-only ad, you can turn on call reporting in your Ads account to count phone calls as clicks and conversions.

But before that happens, you’ll also need to set up Google forwarding numbers to track incoming calls.

What are Google forwarding numbers?

Google forwarding numbers are unique phone numbers that are placed in your call extension or call-only ads to track calls. When someone dials a Google forwarding number, they’ll be routed to your business’s phone line. The call data then feeds into your Google Ads account through call reporting, enabling you to see detailed information about the call.

While powerful, Google forwarding numbers do have some shortcomings that can cause your information to be skewed:

  • They’re only available on the search network. You can’t use Google forwarding numbers or Google’s call reporting features anywhere else such as on the Display network or in paid social campaigns.
  • They are the property of Google. This means you can’t use these phone numbers anywhere outside of Google.

Because of these shortcomings, and a limited amount of call data, Google forwarding numbers make it difficult to see the entire picture of the customer lifecycle. For example, if a customer first sees your call extension ad on Google but then doesn’t call you until after they visit your website, you could be missing a key step in the conversion process.

For this reason, it may be wise to explore other analytics platforms such as third-party call tracking software to better track the entire customer journey from start to finish. When used in conjunction with Google, call tracking can give you powerful insight into which campaigns are driving phone calls to help you determine your PPC ROI and optimize your strategy.

Who Should Use Call Extensions?

Virtually any business that relies on phone call conversions can benefit from call extensions and call reporting. Some examples include:

  • Restaurants
  • Brick and mortar local shops
  • Hotels
  • Theaters and other entertainment venues
  • Medical practitioners
  • Any type of service provider — hair salons, body shops, etc.

While most businesses can benefit from call conversion tracking, there are certainly some exceptions. Ecommerce stores that don’t typically receive a high volume of calls may find that call extensions aren’t necessary, as the majority of their conversions occur online. In addition, any business that simply doesn’t have calls as a main goal may not benefit from Ads call extensions and reporting.

How to set up Google Ads call extensions

Call extensions can be set up fairly easily:

  1. Sign in to Google Ads
  2. Choose the campaign you want to add call extensions to
  3. Click on the Ad extensions tab
  4. Go to the View menu and select Call extensions
  5. Click +Extension and add your phone number

From there you can turn on call reporting to track calls as conversions and designate your call extension to show only during business hours or on mobile devices.

How to set up phone call conversion tracking

To set up call conversion tracking in Google, you first need to have an Ads account. You also need an active call extension or call-only ad with a Google forwarding number. (See which countries support Google forwarding numbers.)

Google has detailed step by step instructions for setting up call conversion tracking, but the basic process entails the following:

  1. In your Ads dashboard, go to the Tools tab and click on “Conversions” from the drop-down.
  2. Click on the “+ Conversion” button.
  3. Choose the “Phone calls” option.
  4. Choose “Calls from call-only ads or ads using call extensions.”

From there you’ll name the call conversion for easy tracking and reporting (i.e. “Cake orders”) and designate how long the call must be to count as a conversion. You can also select a “conversion window,” or a time frame in which you can count calls as conversions after an ad is clicked.


There’s no CTA that’s more straightforward than a click-to-call button. Incorporating Google Ads call extensions and call reporting in to your marketing strategy is crucial for any business who wants to increase phone conversions and better understand what drives consumers to call.

For more tips on how to create killer PPC campaigns that entice phone calls, check out our top PPC best practices.