Marketing Advice & Reflections
Call Extension Telephone Number Verification - the Next Hoop Google want me to Jump Through
Starting in June, Google are going to require telephone number verification for all numbers used in Call Extensions.
You can verify your numbers already, if you wish, but in June, if the numbers are still marked as "unverified" then the Call Extensions will be disapproved.
At the moment they are simply marked as "unverified" - an unsightly red mark on your campaigns and one which clients are (understandably) worried about. After all, anything that Google put in red on your account must be bad, right?
Well, yes and no. At the same time as they mark the number as unverified they also provide helpful guidelines to help you get verification. Helpful, possibly. But of the three options, a little like Goldilock's porridge, only one is "just right"... and even that one has some serious questions to answer.
Here are your three options for getting your numbers verified:
1. Make sure that the telephone number you use in your call extension is visible on at least one (this was a later addition to the guideline, by the way) of your website.
On the face of it, this should be simple enough. Except, a number of my clients use Call Tracking Metrics - by far my favourite call tracking solution - to track calls. It's powerful, and I can install it using a single line of code which I can implement in a few moments through Google Tag Manager. Because I want to be able to credit Google AdWords with the call, I want to use the tracking number in my Call Extension - but this number doesn't appear on my website - not until it is dynamically swapped by the CTM system - so this option is a non-starter for many of my clients.
2. Add the AdWords conversion code snippet to your landing page.
Really?? No seriously, Really? Even my Google reps agreed that this was, frankly, a stupid approach. Why would I want to count every click on an ad as a conversion? Pollute all my conversion data and have to manually filter out all of these extra conversions. Maybe it sounded like a good idea back at GHQ - our CPA's would certainly look good year on year.
3. Link your Adwords and your Google Webmaster Tools accounts.
Again, on the face of it this is a simple task. And I can confirm that this works. Immediately. I linked one of my client's GWT tools accounts to the AdWords accounts and the telephone number was verified.
However (and I do appreciate that at this point it's beginning to sound like I just enjoy moaning) I don't have access to all my client's GWT accounts and some of them don't even have a GWT account.
But let's explore this solution. The way this works (again, confirmed by Google) is that it is proof of ownership of the site. And here's the really funny thing. If you want to set up a GWT account for a domain you must verify THAT. And there are a couple of ways to do that, one of which is to have Google Tag Manager on the site, and another is to have Google Analytics installed on the site.
So here's my question to Google. If proof of site ownership for GWT can be either GTM or GA implementation... why is this not enough for telephone number verification on Google AdWords?
Surely, if my AdWords and Analytics accounts are linked - and for most of us they are. Why, oh why, do I, therefore, have to jump through yet another hoop to get my Call Extension number verified?
Just another complication that could - and in my opinion should - have been avoided at the planning stage.
By the way, telephone number verification is also a requirement for any number you might want to use in Call Only campaigns - so you're going to have to deal with it.
Are your AdWordfs accounts and Webmaster Tools account linked? If not, how easy is it going to be for you to get them linked?
And, how do you evaluate the other verification methods proposed?