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How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls

phone calls How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls

A lot of time passed since my post on calls-to-action but I am still getting comments and requests from people who are willing to get their site visitors to act. One of the recent comments was about optimizing your site for phone calls: how to place your company number to start getting calls.

I don’t know any extraordinary hacks (if you do, please share) but here’s what I know about why and how to make your telephone number visible:

Do you actually need a phone number on your site?

Usability:

  1. A phone number is an effective way to get your visitors’ instant feedback (view the number of calls you get daily as an indicator of the website usability especially after the redesign or some tweaking);
  2. A prominent phone number on a website builds the trust and confidence (the Internet is impersonal enough: adding some evidence that there are real people out there – like the physical address and the phone number) makes people feel more comfortable). The telephone number offers an additional, convenient way to order, but most importantly it implies that a live person is ready to assist.

phone number trust How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls

Source: e-tailing.com

SEO:

  • A telephone number might be one of the on-page trust identifiers. One of the facts supporting this theory for example is that one of the old Yahoo criteria for listing was a valid phone number on the site contact page. (Some editors would even try the number to make sure it is legit);
  • Search engines are often believed to associate local area code as the local search rankings factor.

Stick to the easily recognized formats:

A U.S. phone number separates the area code, exchange, and number into three fields. Parentheses surround the area code field, and a dash separates the exchange and number fields. Thus the correct way to format a US phone number to make sure the US-based visitor instantly recognizes the format is:

(XXX) XXX – XXXX

To make it universally recognizable, the phone number should contain the country calling code:

+1 (XXX) XXX – XXXX

Helpful tip: if you are wondering about your country standard, try checking a local search engines to see which format they are sticking to. This  local search engine is good option for Canadians, for example.

Add phone numbers when you list your businesses in local directories

Some local directories allow (and encourage) you to add your phone number when requesting being listed there. That increases direct no-click conversions and send quality and trust signals to both people and search bots.

Those phone-support directories include:

Mind the placement:

There are traditional (obvious) placements of your company phone number:

  • Contact page;
  • Help page;
  • About-us page, and the like.

What should be noted here is that the best thing you can do to make sure your visitor is going to like you and your company from the very start is to make sure the phone number is easy to find. Often the owners seem to do their best to avoid the phone calls: look at this example (the phone number can only be found after the second click):

phone number unclear How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls

Contextual phone numbers

Some really essential steps in the buying process may require additional help or just re-inforce the feeling of confidence:

  • Order page (Is there actually a person behind the site?);
  • Checkout process (Is the site secure enough to entrust it with my billing details?);
  • Service description (Are there any custom solution to fit my needs?); etc

Increased visibility:

It often makes sense to make the phone number visible sitewide (in the head banner for example).

Adding the phone number in the title tag (as well as meta description) might also make sense (both FireFox and IE will make the phone numbers clickable within the search results to make the listing stand out and thus more clicked ):

phone number title How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls

Additional reading:

Post image by Daniel*1977

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 How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls
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  1. 25 Responses to “How to Optimize Your Site for Phone Calls”

  2. It is the best practice to place phone numbers in right place, people who really want to contact you must search for the phone number to contact immediately, but how to make it possible for being in the office for the whole 24 hours near the phone, i think for developing and small firms it is harder to track the calls..

    By vinoth on Aug 11, 2009

  3. interesting topic – since recession kicked in we’ve been doing everything we can to make it really easy for customers to speak to us even if it costs a little more. We receive 7k calls a day here. Best text for converting and call to action for us has been ‘FREE customer support 0800 xxx’ and ‘FREE reservation hotline 0800 xxx’ we’ve also dynamically included the opening hours in a hover e.g. if its 1am in the morning the hover will say we’re open again from 8am – and we do of course have phone numbers on each stage of the booking process. re: post above for mobile phone – don’t forget iPhones now identify phone numbers on sites and make them clickable.

    By Matthew Pack on Aug 12, 2009

  4. I think that placement is a big key when trying to optimize for phone calls, not so much in the search engine value but in the ability to get it noticed. I think keeping the number above the fold, in a large enough font size, and in prominent placement can really help someone who is wanted to get more phone calls.

    By Jacob Stoops on Aug 12, 2009

  5. Very useful info! Was asking myself: “is toll free number worth the money?” Thanks for the answer.

    By Salt Lake City Utah Injury Attorney (Rex) on Aug 12, 2009

  6. I believe a phone number should be placed in the upper right side of the header on a Web site. It should be in large, bold type. Also, I think small firms with only 1-4 employees, for example, should outsource to a company that offers inbound call center services. It could be difficult for a small company to handle a large number of telephone and e-mail inquiries.

    By Karl on Aug 12, 2009

  7. @Karl,

    I guess it depends on what type of service or product your are selling. But if you are focused on a local market, a local number actually works better, based upon my experience. Of course nationally, you have to go with the toll free number.

    By Jason Capshaw on Aug 13, 2009

  8. An interesting post. Its also a good idea to keep your phone number as a text rather than a graphic, this will make it more accessible to search engines. Its also important to make your contact phone number easy to find, putting predominantly in the header of page is a good idea.

    By Mandy on Aug 20, 2009

  9. Yeah, I agree with you guys who made comments in this another one great post by Ann.

    I was also always thinking about toll free numbers. Now my question was finally answered.

    Thanks!

    By Bennie Stark on Aug 20, 2009

  10. @Mandy, I’m not sure whether it is important to make it accessible by search engines? But it is a good idea to place it somewhere predominant, like the header.

    By Peter on Aug 22, 2009

  11. I agree that a phone number on a website improves the trust relationship between the customer and the company and could actually improve sales. The major downside is that you always have to have someone “man” the phones, or use an answerphone but I wouldn’t recommend this. I’ve shopped on many retail websites before in frustration that I am unable to find a phone number to call because of a problem I have experienced. It does frustrate people when companies do this but I guess they can only sell cheap products if they keep their operating costs low.

    By SeoNext on Aug 25, 2009

  12. Great article with some very useful stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

    By VVS-Hedestoker on Aug 31, 2009

  13. Hi Ann,

    This is a great post and I have been bleating on about how important telephone call data is for internet marketing.
    This inspired me to work out, then write a paper on how to track telephone call data in Google Analytics.http://www.freshegg.com/pdf/CallTrackID_White_Paper_Fresh_Egg.pdf. You could use the same principle to test where placing telephone numbers is most effective.

    keep up the good work.

    best,

    Nikki Rae

    By Nikki Rae on Sep 1, 2009

  14. good post, with some i agree, and with some not, we put the phone number at the top, of course it helps to make more calls selling text and high traffic

    By SeoProfy on Sep 4, 2009

  15. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this nice info with us.

    I am satisfied by your thinking like phone no. place in header, title and meta tags. That will be so useful for optimization.
    But not sure, how search engine treat this and what search results we have in the Google searching? I think it will be cool.

    By Saurabh on Oct 13, 2009

  16. I still make the site when there is a miss call phone..

    By Fandi akhmad on Oct 16, 2009

  17. Very interesting post. We are gone implement strategies gained here. Rotapix

    By Benard on Oct 22, 2009

  18. Great tutorial for ecommerce sites. I am gonna pass this on to a couple of my clients.

    By Joseph Alvini on Oct 26, 2009

  19. We always keep our phone no in meta tags also, just in case someone wants to call and doesn’t have time to check out website. I comes up in google search straightway

    By Benard on Nov 17, 2009

  20. If you go on with your research related to this topic, we will possibly buy dissertation publication from the dissertation writing service online.

    By ELLA22 on Feb 8, 2010

  21. I think there is nothing more frustrating than going on a site that doesn’t have a phone number Photos on canvas

    By Paul on Jun 26, 2010

  22. It’s very rare that you find the relevant information on the net but your article did provide me the relevant information. I am going to save your URL and will definitely visit the site again.

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    By term paper for college on Oct 19, 2010

  23. Totally agree – this is quite an old post but it’s still spot on interestingly enough. In fact it’s probably even more relevant now with the amout of local results displacing organic results for lots of user searches.

    Great post Ann! Keep up the good work.

    By Designbysoap on Jan 6, 2011

  24. Phone no. is good idea for generating traffic. This one is the only source which is used instantly.

    By Access Healthcare on Jan 27, 2011

  25. Very useful, I might have to give this ago, I have a number on my site but its a mobile number, I don’t think many people hae trust in this.

    By Gregg on Mar 17, 2012

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