Using the AdWords Phone Setting For Location Extensions

Google My Business Has A Little-Known Setting For AdWords Location Extensions Phone Numbers

Google My Business Secret Door

Google AdWords recently initiated two phone-related changes that has generated some confusion. After reading multiple blog accounts and suggestions, I realized that there was one key setting that many advertisers might find useful.  To begin with, Google sent an email to advertisers about a change in location extension and call extension phone numbers:

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

Your AdWords account contains ads that are using both location extensions and call extensions. Starting January 19, 2017, when your ads show a business location, calls may be directed to the phone number associated with that business location even if a different phone number is used in your call extension… Starting January 19, 2017, ads that feature specific business locations may drive calls to phone numbers associated with those locations.

These changes upset advertisers using ad-specific phone numbers and call tracking extensions. There were a lot of blog posts from experts with variations on the same theme:

[T]he major drawback to this change is that local advertisers will lose the ability to track and report these calls from ads as conversions, which is of course the point of call tracking. This will make managing and optimizing your account particularly difficult if your main goal is to drive calls. {WordStream}

There are a lot of reasons to use third-party call tracking numbers instead of Google AdWords conversion numbers — we use one ourselves for our clients.  But Google’s changes certainly implied that third-party numbers would be less reliable.

Luckily, Google already provides an alternative control that allows us to continue to use our own call tracking for paid search.  In face, we already do…

Location Extension Phones Already In Map Ads

Locations extensions drive phone numbers in Google map ads now. The call button in paid map pack and map ads is populated from the phone number in the Location extension. This number — at least when I tested it –comes from data entered and validated through Google My Business, not call extensions.

paid and free listings

Free and paid listings using the same phone number

Contrary to all the blog posts and FAQs I’ve read, you don’t need to give up third-party call tracking because of location extensions.

You need to use a special feature in Google My Business added just for this purpose.

The “Secret” Google My Business Location Settings

Okay, not so secret. You’ve probably seen these settings already, and just never considered their use. Here’s how to get to them. Access your Google business listings via the Google My Business Location Manager. If in the card or map view, switch over to the list view.

A. Click on the business address instead of the controls on the left of the row:

Google My Business List View

List View, Google My Business


B. In the familiar, standard Info page for Google My Business, you see:

Google My Business Info View

Standard Google My Business Info View


C. However, when you click on the address in the listings view, check out the extra controls on the right-hand side.

Google My Business Location Management

Google My Business Location Details

Labels are not quite self-explanatory. These are used to select business locations in AdWords. If you have ten local business locations with same name, you need a way to filter these location extensions. You may want to promote business to one location, but not another. You can filter these businesses base on a label and not a complete business name. This has come in very handy in some of my own recent campaigns.

AdWords location extensions phone however is exactly what it seems.  You may also have one central phone number for these ten locations you’re promoting through AdWords. Each store may have its own number in Google My Business. But for your AdWords promotions, you want calls routed to a central number. Call extensions won’t help if maps ads—and now search ads—pull numbers from your location extensions.

And that’s exactly why Google provides this optional phone number, as documented in Google’s bulk upload instructions:

AdWords location extensions phone

The number used in your location extension ads through AdWords. Your location extension ads can show different phone numbers from those you have given us to show in Google Maps. (For example, you might want to give a toll-free phone number for reservations in your AdWords ads, but need to provide a local phone number to show in local search results).

If you don’t enter a location extensions phone, AdWords will use your primary phone. You can use a toll-free or call center number. One number can be used for multiple locations.

This input should comply with AdWords phone extension specifications. Note that AdWords does not allow inclusion of premium numbers (such as 1-900 numbers in the U.S., and 871 numbers in the U.K.) for which a user must pay additional charges.

Google location extensions use this alternative number for maps ads, local  listings ads, and now search and display location extension phone numbers.

No need to opt out because of new call conversion tracking issues.  If you have an alternative or tracking number you want to use in Google AdWords, simply add it in this page:

AdWords Uses This Number In Location Extensions


D. Google AdWords Now Uses Your Added Extension Whenever It Pulls A Phone Number From Location Extensions.

Adwords Phone Location Extensions.

Separate organic and paid tracking numbers.

I’ve been using this setting for phone tracking numbers with multiple AdWords accounts and it works perfectly. It seems to take about an hour between adding in the new number and having it functional on live ads.

Keeping Control of Your Phone Numbers

There are several steps I recommend for most business owners:

  • Use a third party call tracking solution?  Add a tracking number via Google My Business immediately
  • Never created a Call Extension in AdWords? Set them up now before Google scrapes your site to create automated call extensions.
  • Don’t want call extensions at all in your ads?  Disable automatic call extensions in AdWords now.

1 Comment

  1. Brendan Coffey on March 24, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Just what I was looking for! I was prepared to be quite frustrated by having to disable Location Extensions so I could properly report conversions to clients. Thanks!

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