A phone number is not a phone number. This is especially true when it comes to local search and serving local markets.
Recently, a local company changed their local number to an 866 number. Now why would this be problematic? They follow the golden rule of phone numbers and have their number prominently displayed on their website. The problem is two fold:
- 866-xxx-xxxx looks a lot like 865-xxx-xxxx. For people used to dialing a local number, you’ll scan the number quickly and think it is local. When you dial it you get an annoying greeting that this number cannot be reached. Epic Fail? Absolutely.
- The second problem is that local consumers prefer to deal with local businesses. Moving from a local number to an 866 number not only makes little sense when your service area is so narrow, but it distances your business from local consumers who are trained to dial local for local businesses.
If you are wondering why this qualifies as an SEO Epic Fail, it’s because phone numbers are an increasing part of SEO/SEM strategy. With the growth in mobile, having the right number in the right place is paramount to success. A good SEO company will think outside of the narrow responsibility of SEO and look out for their clients’ overall marketing strategies.
Years ago, I made a living managing call centers. At one point I helped Frist Tennessee Bank, establish a new call center in downtown Knoxville. Now this was the late 80′s and before Google and search engines ruled the world. But I learned something valuable that has stayed with me since that day. Whenever possible, provide local phone numbers to potential clients no matter where your servicing unit is located. We consolidated 14 local service centers into a central location and provided local numbers for each location along with our 800 number. A good example of this would be our client, Fountainhead College of Technology. They prominently display both their local and 800 numbers.
So what’s the lesson from this SEO Epic fail? Post your business phone number prominently on the home page and every page of your site AND make sure you are displaying the most advantageous number that serves your current and potential clients.
Got an SEO Epic Fail you want to share? Let us know.