wideangle

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I am the owner of a local business directory site and we're struggling to understand whether the businesses in our directory are receiving any phone calls (resulting from consumers viewing their listings).

We just finished building a call tracking system with Twilio for reporting purposes, but I had some concerns about the SEO implications of replacing the business numbers with call tracking numbers due to NAP inconsistencies. There is a lot written on the web about NAP inconsistencies harming SEO, but most of it seems to be written from the perspective of business owners (rather than business directory owners).

Does anyone know if there are negative SEO implications of doing either full-blown number replacement or dynamic number replacement (DNI) on a local directory site? Also, I noticed another thread in the forum where people were discussing issues with Google indexing DNI numbers and I was wondering if I do go that route, what the best practices would be.

Thanks very much!!
 

Colan Nielsen

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Putting myself into the shoes of a business owner with a listing on the directory I would be annoyed if my local number was changed to a tracking number without my consent. Or at least without letting me know that is what is happening.

The NAP consistency issue is not as big of an issue as it once was but it does still have the potential to cause issues if not handled properly.

Instead of doing a full-blown number replacement could you reach out to businesses to let them know they have the option to use a tracking number?
 

wideangle

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Colan, I appreciate your feedback. We are adding this feature because our members pay to be a part of our directory and want to better understand the ROI of their subscription. So, it has been highly requested, and we are allowing our members to disable the call tracking number if they have any NAP consistency concerns, etc... We will also be sending the tracking numbers to our members and suggesting that they add the numbers to their GMB additional #s to ensure the NAP issue doesn't affect them.

Back to my question, do you think there are any negative SEO implications for our directory?
 

UKSBD

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As a business owner I wouldn't like it if a directory listed a number that wasn't mine even if it was redirected, I just wouldn't trust that the directory wasn't syphoning of calls.

I've never actually seen my business listed with a wrong number, I have seen ones that make it look like the person is sending you an email, but on testing you don't actually receive one.

As a directory owner I wouldn't dream of putting other numbers on listings without the persons consent.

What I do sometimes if have a *click to reveal phone number* link which goes to a page where visits are tracked, it doesn't track whether a call is actually made, but tracks that people clicked to see the number.

This is particularly useful for stopping cold callers who harvest phone numbers.
If I see the same IP number constantly visiting the phone numbers pages I can block them from the site.
 

wideangle

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Thanks for the advice. Again, we are giving people an easy opt-out procedure and communicating what's happening to all members ... also remember this is a requested feature from our members. People want to know the money they spend on the directory is providing a good return and while we already report on impressions, clicks, click to call, etc, they ultimately want to know about actual calls originating from the site. We are a legitimate company with a a well-respected brand, and I don't think any of our members would have any concerns about us siphoning off calls.

While I appreciate the advice, I would love to hear from someone who has some insight on my question. Regardless of whether my approach is right or wrong, I think it would still be of value to have at least one place on the internet where this question has been answered... and I couldn't find one.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Back to my question, do you think there are any negative SEO implications for our directory?

No, not for the directory itself. Any negative impact would be for the businesses who have the listings....but not the directory itself.
 

tedchan

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I run a directory and we use Matomo for call tracking. We only use Twilio or tracking number for our sponsored listings. We get about 130K calls a month on 1.5M visitors!!
 

Tilak

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I haven't seen any evidence that DNI has any negative impacts on Local SEO so I think you're fine on that end.
I agree with Joy because I have seen lots of attorneys are using DNI with AVVO without losing the ranking specifically due this reason.
 

mblumenthal

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There will be no seo impact for you if you use dynamic numbers nor is there likely to be for the business.

The bigger question, as Colan pointed out, is the pr side of the business equation and making them opt out for your sake not necessarily their benefit.

If they do opt out you could still track their number usage (although not as accurately) via some form of event tracking.

For tracking purposes are you switching out the number via DNI or is each business getting a fixed number?

If they are static on a per location basis, the business owner could add it to their GMB as a tertiary number if they were worried about NAP consistency (which isn't a worry but they may still feel it)
 

travelincat

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Is there any benefit to adding the real phone number that is on their GMB page in schema?
 

lukeelliott

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As a business owner I wouldn't like it if a directory listed a number that wasn't mine even if it was redirected, I just wouldn't trust that the directory wasn't syphoning of calls.

I've never actually seen my business listed with a wrong number, I have seen ones that make it look like the person is sending you an email, but on testing you don't actually receive one.

As a directory owner I wouldn't dream of putting other numbers on listings without the persons consent.

What I do sometimes if have a *click to reveal phone number* link which goes to a page where visits are tracked, it doesn't track whether a call is actually made, but tracks that people clicked to see the number.

This is particularly useful for stopping cold callers who harvest phone numbers.
If I see the same IP number constantly visiting the phone numbers pages I can block them from the site.

What system do you use for tracking the IP addresses?
 

UKSBD

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What system do you use for tracking the IP addresses?

Mainly just manually using Statcounter.

I put a separate counter just on the phone pages, then have statcounter open showing visitor paths.

Statcounter shows you the IP of the visitor and how many visits they make

If the same IP number is just going through random numbers pages, it's pretty obvious they are up to no good.
 

lukeelliott

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Mainly just manually using Statcounter.

I put a separate counter just on the phone pages, then have statcounter open showing visitor paths.

Statcounter shows you the IP of the visitor and how many visits they make

If the same IP number is just going through random numbers pages, it's pretty obvious they are up to no good.
Interesting. So this is how you counteract spam. How often does this sort of thing happen, with the same IP going through and calling the numbers? How can you tell it's not just a random visitor going through the pages? At what point do you deem it necessary to block the IP?
 

UKSBD

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Interesting. So this is how you counteract spam.
One of the ways.

How often does this sort of thing happen, with the same IP going through and calling the numbers?
All the time, probably get 20+ a day going through the directory just looking for numbers to cold call. Most tend to be selling PPC (they don't say that though, they say guaranteed top rankings) , SEO, web design or similar services

There's dozens of companies here in UK who do it, not as bad as it used to be a few years ago, they would quite often imply they were from Google.

Also get lots of visitors from India and Philippines, you can normally spot them after 2 or3 visits.

How can you tell it's not just a random visitor going through the pages? At what point do you deem it necessary to block the IP?

They're pretty easy to spot, can soon tell the ones who are up to no good.

I don't block them, I redirect them to a pages that looks similar to the one they are visiting but which doesn't have a phone number displayed.

It can be fun at times just watching then wasting their time :)
 
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