Digital Reach
By Digital Reach | SEM | February 6, 2017

Call Tracking

Call Extensions is just one of the many extensions Google allows us to utilize in order to entice people to make contact with you or go to your website.

It allows them, when utilizing their mobile devices, to tap the “Call” button which will fill in your number on their phone.  It’s important you know that this is considered the click, not when they actually dial.

Big changes in Call Extensions

Local advertisers have relied on a Google My Business account to manage how their businesses appear on the search network. This allowed you to highlight information about your business, address, phone number, hours, reviews and pictures. Linking your Google My Business to your AdWords account allowed you to show ads on Google Maps and create location extensions to show your address to local searchers right in your ads.

Google announced that starting on January 19, AdWords will also begin to show local searchers the local phone number of that advertiser’s address as it’s listed in their Google My Business account, regardless of how they’ve set up their call extensions. That means that if you’re using call tracking or another number phone in your call extensions, that call extension number will no longer appear alongside your ads on the local search engine with your location extension.

What’s the impact?

This change only affects how ads appear when a location extension is being shown and local extensions only appear when a user is relatively close to that location. Call extensions will still appear unchanged when location extensions do not show, which is the overwhelming majority of the time. Most regional, national and international advertisers won’t notice any significant changes.

However, local advertisers who show their location extensions more frequently may notice more calls going to their Google My Business number rather than their Call Extension number. To see how often your location extensions show, view the location extension under the “Ad Extensions” tab:

The Ups

From a user perspective, this change unifies the search engine and ensures that the information Google is sharing is consistent between the paid ads and the organic results. Users have every reason to be confused whenever Google shows different phone numbers for the same local business address. From an advertiser perspective, this may make account management easier for a lot of local businesses. No longer will they need to create several different call extensions and different campaigns just to make sure they’re directing calls to the correct location. 

The Cons

While ads will still drive the same number of calls, the major drawback to this change is that local advertisers will lose the ability to track and report these calls from ads as conversions, which is of course the whole point of call tracking. This will make managing and optimizing your account particularly difficult if your main goal is to drive calls.


You do have the option to unlink your Google My Business account from your AdWords account. You’ll no longer be able to serve location extensions or ads on Google Maps, but you’ll have complete control back of how your phone number appears alongside your ads.

Before you do that, evaluate how much traffic you get from call tracking to determine if it’s worth it. Review how often your location extensions appear. It may surprise you to find out how infrequently they show up, especially if you’re targeting a large area.

If your main goal is to get more phone calls, consider using call-only campaigns. You’ll still be able to track mobile click to call actions from mobile devices. If you’re worried about missing out on calls from your call extensions, make sure you start tracking calls from your landing pages as well.

Need more help?

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