Leave Your Local Phone Number Behind

Earlier this year, I published this post explaining the appropriate locations for a call tracking number versus your law firm’s local phone number.

The reason for this was that tracking numbers allowed firms to see the results of their marketing more easily, while local destination numbers did the work of optimizing your local search results.

While this approach worked well for our clients, it did create some inconsistencies. The Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) could wind up being different on some of our clients’ most authoritative web properties in local search: FirmSites, FindLaw Directory listings and Google My Business. It’s nothing we couldn’t deal with, but it presented a mixed message to those of you who read this blog regularly.

Well as the saying goes, the only constant [online] is change. And this is one I think you’ll like.

Ditch the local number.

Our pilot testing has shown that exclusively using call tracking numbers allows for the best of both worlds: measurable performance with no adverse effect on search visibility.

Now, this is going to seem a bit like nit picking, but the little things make a difference here so bear with me a few more minutes. We’re going to make sure your NAP business citations are consistent.

Where to use a call tracking number.

Header/Hero area:

The primary call tracking number should be displayed near the top of the website. This can include the Navigation Menu, Header Content, or the “Hero” content.

General Content areas:

If a phone number is used within the body content of the site, it should be the primary call tracking number.

Design: A call tracking number can appear in the site design. Just remember, the phone number needs to be text, not a graphic. This may require styling the phone number text in order to match the site design, but it’s worth it from an SEO perspective.

NAP Block and Office Location pages:

The primary call tracking number should be the first listed phone number in the NAP block generally located near the footer of your website and on the office location page if you have one. As a best practice, the local destination phone number should not appear in the NAP block or footer. (This might feel counterintuitive since so many of us are attached to our “real” phone numbers.)

Google My Business Listing and other local citations (e.g. Yext):

The primary call tracking number should be the first phone number listed on the Google My Business listing.

What about my local phone number?

As I said above, it’s natural to become attached to your local phone number, especially if it’s been the one you’ve used for years or decades, but as far as online marketing is concerned, consistency matters more than history in this case.

You can still use your local phone number on your printed collateral, phone book listing, business cards and any other medium that doesn’t contribute to your online marketing efforts. The goal here is to keep a clean distinction between the two so that you can meaningfully determine which path is leading clients to your firm.

If you introduce inconsistencies to this process, you lose that tracking ability and you negatively impact your search visibility.

The Exceptions

We advise all of our clients to incorporate a call tracking number in their marketing solutions. However, some firms have a nationwide presence with a toll-free number or simply a well-established branded phone number. In these situations, sticking with what’s worked may be in the firm’s best interests. But cases like these are best considered one at a time.

Even when it’s working, online marketing isn’t always easy to see. By using a tracking number in specific and purposeful ways, your firm will have an easier time attributing client contacts to your efforts. Times change and best practices often change with them, but this is one development that I think will make life a little easier for attorneys wondering what makes the phone ring.

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