A few weeks ago while responding to questions regarding a recent post I wrote for Whitespark’s blog on phone number porting I was reminded of one of the lesser known benefits of using an organic call tracking number for local SEO–ease of local listing verification. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, I always recommend using a call-tracking enabled phone number as the local business’s main line, even if that means porting over an existing number. More on the methodology here and on porting existing phone numbers here.)
For marketers working on local SEO campaigns on behalf of clients, verifying listing ownership is often a time-consuming, manual step in the initial setup for new accounts. I know well the frustration of having to get PIN verification codes from clients or their receptionists. The less we have to involve our clients in the marketing they’re paying us to do the better for all of us, right?
Phone Verification: The Old Way
The process of verifying Yelp listings, YP listings, and big data provider listings (Infogroup, Axciom, etc) often involve multiple people and tying up phone lines in order to switch over and get the verification codes. The more listings you work on for your client, the more phone calls and PINs you need to collect. As far as new account setup goes, this step is often the biggest variable in how long it takes to get clients set up and their citations optimized. After all, we can’t work on optimizing listing content or correcting any NAP consistency issues without verifying ownership of the listing.
Sure, you can avoid this by asking your client to provide login credentials for each citation; however, there’s a few things to consider that should make you think twice about this method and only use it as a last resort. One is the implicit security risks in passing login credentials over email. Often the passwords used by clients on one platform are used on other platforms as well. Another reason is the management of these usernames and passwords is often an operational nightmare.
(When I was working on my clients’ citations I would always opt to create separate account and claim ownership of the listing from that account, unless the listing platform didn’t allow it for some reason.)
Phone Verification: The Organic Call Tracking Number Way
If you decide to begin using one organic number for all your local listings, claiming ownership is remarkably simple and straightforward via a phone call. Normally the number would be routed to the business, but you can temporarily route the calls of an organic call tracking-enabled line to your phone in order to get the PIN, prove ownership, and then reroute the number back to the business.
When I was doing this on a regular basis for my clients there was never a need to bother them for phone verification PINs. While I still had to occasionally use the postcard method (Google Local listings, for example), the vast majority of the other major citations I could verify over the phone.
Bottom Line: Using an organic call tracking line saved me tons of time on listing verification and was a better experience for my client because I got to quickly dive into the work my clients had hired me to do: optimizing their business’s local visibility through citation optimization and management, on-page SEO, and review campaigns.