What is a Google Forwarding Number?

What is a Google Forwarding Number?

A Google forwarding number is a temporary phone number assigned to a Google Ads (formerly AdWords) call extension that simply forwards calls to an advertiser’s phone number for the purpose of tracking call conversions. In addition to allowing calls to be tracked as conversions, the number also allows for information such as call duration and caller area code to be provided in Ads.

How Does a Google Forwarding Number Work?

Google forwarding numbers are innately tied to call extensions within Google Ads and website call conversion tracking. Call extensions are numbers that appear next to your ad on the SERP (search engine results page). Website conversion tracking swaps out your business phone number with a new Google forwarding number every time a new visitor gets to your website.

Call extensions, one of many “ad extensions” that you can append to your ads, will list a number next to your ad for potential customers to call. If you’re on mobile, it’ll even allow you to “click-to-call” the phone number connecting you directly with the business.

Google forwarding numbers are a required part of running call extensions if you’re looking to track these calls in Ads as conversions. You can also track calls with Google Analytics or an integration with Google Ads, but with either you lose the ability to differentiate between calls made from call extensions and calls made from your website.

When using a Google forwarding number as a call extension or for website call conversion tracking, each time your number appears, Google will assign you a different Google forwarding number, allowing you to track which specific keyword was searched when the prospect clicked your ad. With website call conversion tracking these different numbers allow you to differentiate between site visitors and track which source they came from (organic, paid, etc.). This means you won’t know the actual number that’s appearing in your ad or on your website.

Who uses a Google Forwarding Number?

Any business looking to track calls made to via call extensions in Ads ads or calls on their website. As an Ads advertiser, you’re looking for as many touch points as possible in order to optimize a campaign, so gaining insight into what is arguably one of your most valuable metrics, calls, is invaluable. Businesses looking for a baseline level of insight into calls made to their business will often use Google forwarding numbers because they’re not looking for an additional level insight into their calls.

How to Get a Google Forwarding Number

When setting up a call extension just click the box next to “Report phone call conversions” to signify you’d like to use a Google forwarding number. You’ll also have to create a call conversion action in the tools menu. You can then select the conversion action you’ve created on the screen when setting up your call extension.

Setting up the Google forwarding number on your website is more complicated. You’ll need to edit your website to include a JavaScript code that will swap out your phone numbers with the Google forwarding number. You have to edit this code, so this route is definitely more advanced, and Google recommends only going down this route if you’re familiar with JavaScript. You can read their documentation here.

When implementing dynamic number insertion with CallRail, the process is simpler. Once you’ve created your phone numbers for the various sources (Google Ads, Organic, Bing, etc.) in CallRail you add one line of code and you’re done. Once this is in place you can see call duration, area code etc., for the call, but also referring URLs, and lead quality by utilizing CallScore (our automated lead scoring algorithm).