Back in 2011, Google announced a fantastic new feature called Call Extensions. Since this announcement, call extensions have become a staple feature utilized by many AdWords advertisers. Subsequent call-related features such as mobile Click-to-Call and the newer Call-Only ads simply show how Google is adapting to the changing universe in how people interact with the Internet on their mobile devices. In fact, people now search the Internet more with their mobile device than with their desktop.
Now, the next evolution in phone call-related features will be taking place in June of 2015. Google will now be requiring AdWords users who use Call Extensions (and Location Extensions) to verify their phone number in order for it to appear in ads.
“Starting in June 2015, we’ll begin requiring verification of ownership for all call extension and location extension phone numbers, in addition to our existing call extensions and location extensions AdWords policies. Call extensions and location extensions that do not meet this policy will be disapproved.”Google Announcement
So, why is Google doing this?
This update simply puts more controls in place to prevent spammers and those who would like to misrepresent themselves and deceive users. Right now, anyone can throw up an ad with a phone number, claim to represent a business and begin receiving phone calls from people. Imagine those looking to gather sensitive personal information from people. They could create Click-to-Call ads with www.wellsfargo.com as the display URL and wait for unsuspecting people to call in, thinking they may be contacting their local Wells Fargo branch. That’s not good.
With this new verification process, scammers like this are going to have a difficult time.
How to get your phone number verified
1. You have to have the phone number you are using in the extension appear on the website in text (not an image).
2. Link your AdWords account to your Google Search Console account.
3. Add the AdWords tracking code to the landing page(s) for your ads.
Already using 3rd party tracking? Not to worry. Google is fully on board with (perhaps even embracing) outside call tracking providers. If you are already using 3rd party call tracking, you simply need to execute on steps two and three above.