SEO Mythbusting: Does Google Recognize Click-to-Call as a Phone Number?

SEOMythbusting_BLOGSEO is a field where testing assumptions can reveal truths about optimizing your website. Busting SEO myths helps us make better business decisions and get more from investments in SEO.

In Issue #4 of PAGES, I busted a myth about phone number formats and their impact on search rankings. We determined that the format used for a phone number does impact the way Google recognizes the phone number.

As is often the case with SEO testing, I invariably forget something.

In the last issue, I tested the best telephone formats to use on the web so that Google can understand them.  If you did not read that article, I suggest you get your hands on the Q3 issue of PAGES SEO Magazine and review it.  

I mentioned that I had not tested the phone number format ###_###_####.  I added this format to the three iterations of my test grid. After a couple weeks, the results were in.  

While that format did not perform as well as the “winning formats”, it did deserve an honorable mention.  So again, I would not use ###_###_#### on my website but if forced to use that format on another site I would not worry too much – Google will likely figure it out.

The second test variation I had not considered was wrapping the phone numbers in the HTML telephone link code:

<a href=tel:+1-###-###-####>

I tried two different variations of this test. First, I wrapped this code around the “losing format” of the phone number (the one using periods - ###.###.####). The second variation was to wrap the code around just text.  The phone number never appears on the page, only within the telephone code. If Google reads the number in the code and uses it for on-page optimization purposes, the pages should rank in the search results.

In both cases, Google did not seem to use the phone number as an on-page optimization factor.  In the first case, the “losing format” never ranked for any of the other phone number format searches, only searches explicitly for ###.###.####.  In the second case, (text wrapped in code) the page never appeared for searches for the phone number – even when using the “site:” command. I also tried searching for the full phone number “1-###-###-####” and even “+1-###-###-####” both without and with the “site:” command – again, no results.  

I feel this demonstrates that Google does not use the telephone code for on-page optimization purposes.

I hope this test helps you make more informed decisions about the content on your site! This is always the goal of SEO testing. If you have questions or comments about the test, let me know on Twitter: @CharlesHTaylor

 

Charles T
Charles T
Charles has been actively involved in online marketing since 2000. For the past 15 years, he's focused on SEO in a number of B2B and B2C verticals – legal services, eCommerce, information marketing and affiliate marketing. He is currently the SEO Manager for Verizon's Fios division. Charles is always looking for new ways to help new and established companies to solve their SEO challenges.