Does call tracking & dynamic number insertion negatively impact SEO?

Does call tracking & dynamic number insertion negatively impact SEO?

SEO implications of using call tracking software

SEO is such a commonly used buzzword these days that I think it’ll be useful to take a quick look back on the term before we dive into the topic of call tracking and SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the sum of various strategies, techniques and tactics that work to increase traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

The keyword there is optimization; that is, all SEO endeavors should keep in mind that, first and foremost, the end goal is to optimize a site or page or group of pages. Here in 2018, SEO is more about evolution than anything else. Even the term SEO itself has evolved through the years. Think about what SEO used to mean 10 or 15 years ago versus what it means now. SEO used to be more about keywords and on-page content, now SEO is more about the big picture — how optimized your site or page is as far as page speed, structured markup, site health, etc.

Now in 2018, all things considered, SEO is often an exercise in adaptation. The “right” way to optimize a site (or a page on a site, or a group of pages on a site) is an ever-evolving science. And because of the dynamic nature of SEO, optimizing a site or page correctly often involves tough decision-making and prioritization. More on that in a minute.

Okay, so is call tracking generally bad for SEO?

Sorry, but the answer here is a hard “maybe.”

To best optimize the online presence of a business, it is good to stay as consistent as possible with a company’s defining characteristics — its name, address, phone number, etc. That is, it is generally not a good idea to have, for example, five different addresses, two slightly different company names, and eight different phone numbers for the same business. It is simply better (and safer) to stay as consistent as possible with this important information. Consistency avoids the likelihood that search engines will have a hard time figuring out exactly what and where a business is.

So, the above logic means that, in order to optimize a website and business for a phone number, it is best to simply use the same phone number everywhere. So, using that argument, using call tracking software that changes the phone number page-to-page is bad for SEO, right?

The SEO benefits of using Dynamic Number Insertion technology

So, yes, theoretically, using call tracking numbers across different websites or web pages could potentially impact overall SEO in a negative way. However, Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) goes a long way to protect the SEO value of a business phone number.

DNI refers to technology used in call tracking in which a specific phone number dynamically displays on a web page according to the source of the visit to that page. With DNI, you use the same hard-coded phone number across a website, and then the number swapping occurs in JavaScript after the page loads. Because DNI number swapping occurs in JS, bots still see the same phone number hard-coded in HTML everywhere, even though we humans see different phone numbers due to the JS code.

This all means that using call tracking software that implements DNI can reduce any potential negative SEO impacts of swapping phone numbers to track the source of calls.

Okay, but what about my business profiles on third-party sites?

Where it gets tricky is when a business uses call tracking numbers on its other profiles like social sites and review sites. Because using DNI on these external profiles is not usually an option, the tracking numbers on these profiles must be hard-coded.

This is where the aforementioned tough decision making and prioritization come into play.

If, for example, you were to place a call tracking phone number (different from your main business phone number) on a page or profile such as a local listing or a social media page, it could theoretically hurt you for local SEO. While using DNI on websites largely gets rid of any SEO risk with using different phone numbers, using DNI on these types of profiles is not usually an option.

In this example case, it’s up to your individual business to decide priorities. Is it more important to have the strongest possible local SEO and keep all phone numbers the same everywhere? Or does it make sense on that one profile (or on those two profiles) to use a tracking number because you tend to get a lot of calls and the benefit of having that call source data outweighs any possible negative hit to local SEO?

In the end, call tracking has little impact on the overall optimization of a website and online business presence. There are specific scenarios that can produce tricky situations, but a little prioritization can go a long way to making those decisions easier to make than at first glance.

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