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Call Extensions. Should You Use Them?

A topic that we have been discussing a lot lately is Google’s call extension product. So, we thought we should go ahead and post something about it on our blog.

For those of you who don’t know what the call extension feature is all about, let’s review the basics. When you have a paid ad on Google for your business you will obviously include the basics: business name, website, address, phone number, etc. As an option, you are able to add what they call a call extension to your account. Basically having a call extension as part of your ad allows you to better track those potential customers who see your ad and then give you a call. Google will keep track of the number of people clicking on your phone number and you can view it as part of your analytics. That sounds great to most people because then you can really tell how well your advertising dollars are working for you. You could also probably get a sense as to whether or not having a true ad is worth the money or whether you could downgrade and just spend money on SEO.

Now, there is a potential downside to having using call extensions. You see, in order for Google to track those people clicking on your ad, they have to route your customers through a different phone number that they own. They are not able to track that data when your phone number is listed in the ad. So, when a potential customer sees your ad (and you have an ad extension in place) the phone number listed is not actually your business number.  When your customer calls the number listed, Google routes the number to your actual business number and starts counting the number of calls.

Now, if your customer were to actually dial the number (because they are on their home computer), there isn’t a charge to you once you upgrade to the enhanced campaign system. But, if your customer clicks on the ad from their smart phone and actually calls you, you pay the standard “click” rate.

For some, this tradeoff isn’t a big deal. They aren’t worried about their customers having their actual business phone number and would rather have the data. But we feel slightly differently. To us, a phone number is important to a business and it should always be listed consistently. If a potential customer calls you from your ad and then stores your phone number, we would rather have them store your actual phone number and not the one that Google owns. We are speaking more for those small businesses rather than the larger ones but we would rather see our clients focus on SEO and if they place an ad, we would recommend skipping the ad extension option.

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