question answer series

Straight Answers: 3 Questions about Franchises, Phone Numbers, and SEO

When you have multiple locations for your businesses, many things that are straightforward for single-location companies become much more complicated.


Below are answers to questions I’ve recently had from clients about setting up phone numbers for new franchises.


I’m opening new franchises of my business. Should I set up a local and toll-free number for each location? How does this affect my Google local business listing?


In order to rank local business listings, Google tracks something called a NAP: your Name, Address, and Phone number profile. The more occurrences of your NAP on the web, the more proof that your business is valid and legitimate. To avoid confusing Google, I’d recommend a single, toll-free phone number associated with each address.


It’s also important to keep your business name consistent in each place that it’s listed. So for example, if your business name is “Tom’s Air Conditioning Services,” you shouldn’t list it as just “Tom’s Air Conditioning” or “Tom’s HVAC Services” in some directories.


I’d like to use tracking phone numbers to measure the effectiveness of my marketing. How does that affect SEO?


There’s a lot of debate on the impact of tracking numbers on SEO. Personally, I use them all the time and haven’t noticed a negative effect. They are a powerful way to measure your marketing efforts, and without them, you often can’t get an accurate measure of your ROI.


That being said, you should always lead with the location’s main phone number and address on your website, your Google local listing, and other directories, like Yellow Pages, CitySearch, and Angie’s List.


Another thing to note: If you use Google Adwords, you can track calls with their analytics, so you can gain insight into your ROI there without a tracking number.


How many phone numbers do I need?


This depends on how many sources you want to track and what technology you use to display those numbers on your website. I typically recommend people track anything they want to measure an ROI on, typically paid sources.


Have a question I didn’t answer here? Post a comment, and I’ll answer it in my next installment.

7 thoughts on “Straight Answers: 3 Questions about Franchises, Phone Numbers, and SEO”

  1. What about phone systems with extension number? Does it harm SEO in any way that my sales agents are listing our 800 number with their individual extension?

    1. Jim, good question! I have not heard, nor do I think extensions will hurt SEO. I do know from analyzing alot of data, if you expect people to enter an extension when calling a general number, it has a large non-complete rate. I analyzed hundreds of thousands of phone calls for a several million visit a month site and when we did the experiment, alot of folks did not enter the extension. I do think if they are dialling a specific person, you kinda expect to have to dial an extension. But some people try to add extensions to track advertising sources and this has not proved to have a high success rate.

  2. I didn’t realize Google tracked occurrences of phone numbers associated with a business. What about online retailers? Does NOT having a dial-in number affect search rankings?

    1. Online retailers usually have local listings in google maps for each store and a local directory of locations online with the specific location phone number. Having a large site with an 800 line as the main line is fine, you should just reference the actual store numbers somewhere on the site as well.

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