Reading the curiosity-arousing article on SEL, “The Phone, Calling,” I noticed that the use and presence of call tracking numbers, toll-free numbers, and other non-main-line phone numbers could cause trouble for search engines.
“First, these numbers throw a monkey wrench in business identification. Second, they could expire, inadvertently creating a dead-end for a consumer. Publishers today struggle with how to accurately identify an actual business when many phone numbers are involved.”
The easiest solution, imho, is to show humans one thing (the non-main-line phone number) and search engines another thing (porn, viagra, and all the good content [read: auto-generated] search engines love).
“But that’s evil blackhat, Gab!” Actually, all I mean is to recommend mediocre usability and coding in this exceptional case.
In an image-editing/creation program, you type the phone number that you don’t want search engines and local listings publishers using. And then you post it – without alt text – on your site.
If you’re really paranoid about search engines using fancy optical character recognition (OCR) technology to extract the phone number from the image, you can go further.
Step 1: Create an HTML frame.
Step 2: Block search engines from accessing it with Robots.txt and any fun cloak-and-redirect set up you want.
Step 3: Place the image of the phone number in the frame.
Step 4: Embed the frame wherever your phone number needs to appear.
If you liked this local SEO / grey hat SEO tip, you’ll probably enjoy my upcoming advanced SEO book, which teaches the principles of such creative/critical thinking and offers 30 advanced tactics. Download a free chapter here. (There’s also a link to the download page in the upper left if you browse away from this page.)