The Ultimate Guide To Call Extensions

Call extensions are a great way to generate more calls to your business which a Wordstream case study showed that phone calls are three times more likely to convert that leads generated from somebody registering an enquiry on your website

Google reported that 70% of mobile searchers call businesses directly from search results. and that click to call extension generate 40 million calls monthly.

Sounds great, however there are some disadvantage of using calls extensions that I should make you aware of.

Firstly we have found that almost half of the calls that we receive form click to call extensions are either accidental calls or customer service calls. Different keywords are likely to produce more of these types of calls than others so it is crutial that you measure this if calls are an integral part of your business.

Here is a call breakdown from call analytics provider Marchex 

intent-of-calls-marchexAccidental calls will happen more than you think and one way in which you can measure the impact of accidental calls is to require a minimum call duration for it to count as a conversion. Which I will be teaching you how to do this later on in this article.

Call extension best practices

  1. Encourage users to call your business

A study by Wordstream showed that by adding calls to actions within your adverts that encourage users to call you on mobile devices, you will generate 2X as many phone calls.

To get the full benefit of call extensions you therefore need to display calls to actions on mobile devices that encourage users to call you, which I will show you how to do. The first step is to create mobile preferred adverts that will only be displayed on mobile devices, this way you keep your existing desktop adverts as they are.

The first step is to duplicate your current adverts, to do this go to an ad group and selecting all of your adverts and then go to Edit> Copy and then Edit > Paste. You should then see two copies of your original adverts.

The next step is to edit the copies of your original adverts that you have just created. There are now two things that you need to do here. The first thing is to change the call to action to encourage users to call you.

Here if you look at this adverts for Clicteq on desktops the call to action is “contact us to book your free audit” however on mobile devices I want to use the call to action ”call now to book your free audit” to encourage users to call me instead of going to my website and filling out a contact form.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 00.34.20

To encourage users to call you I suggest using the call to action ”Call now” in the second line of your adverts description.

Finally you need to tell Google to only show your adverts with a mobile friendly call to action on mobile devices. To do this check the mobile preference box as shown below.


2. Schedule your call extensions

Scheduling is a must if you are using call extensions. Scheduling allows to to choose what hours of the day and what days of the week that you want your call extension to appear. I strongly recommend scheduling your call extension numbers to only appear at times when you will have somebody to answer the phone.

For example if you only have people to answer the phone between 9am and 5pm on weekdays this is how you would set up scheduling to only display your adverts between those hours.

When you are creating your call extension expand the advanced options, which should reveal the scheduling and conversion tracking settings. In the scheduling option select +create custom schedule. To only show my call extensions alongside my adverts on weekdays so I have selected Monday – Friday.

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However if you wanted to show my call extensions only on Mondays and Tuesday for instance I would select Monday for the first row and then click the +add button to create a second row and then select Tuesday. Once you have selected the days that you want your ads to be shown you now need to select the hours that you want your adverts to show using the dropdowns.

To use ad scheduling effectively for larger accounts that run in several different countries and time zones you will need to create several different call extensions with ad scheduling that matches the respective time zones. For this to work you need to segment your campaigns geographically.

3. Create call only adverts

Call only adverts are a special type of call extensions that display your phone number as the headline of your advert instead of displaying a link to your website. They are currently only available on devices where a phone call can be made so this limits them to just mobile devices.

phone call only


Call only adverts are a very effective for driving more calls to your business and avoiding a leaky mobile landing page.


With paid search 95% of your traffic that will hit your landing page will not convert, even with a high converting landing page. The beauty of call only adverts is that is completely avoids this step as people can call you directly from your adverts.

With call only adverts 100% of your clicks will be calls so your able to much more effectively connect with your prospects.

However call only campaigns are not for everyone. For example if you are a local Plummer or a taxi company then call only adverts are a great way to generate more phone calls, however if you are an ecommerce store or you sell a service where people would like to learn more about your company before enquiring then it is best just to use standard call extensions.

When you are using call only adverts scheduling is essential, as users can’t visit your website and make an enquiry if they do not get through over the phone, so make sure that you check out the scheduling best practice section above for advice on how to set this up.

PPC hero have conducted several case studies into the value of call only adverts vs. adverts with standard click to call extensions.

Here are there results: 

Client A – Leads increased by 34% with call only adverts

Client B – Leads decreased by 41% with call only adverts

Client C – Leads decreased by 13% with call only adverts

As you can see here there is no statistically significant result and we suggest that you test both options and go with the one that provides the best results for you.

4. Use localized numbers

0800 numbers are very popular in the UK however we have found from out tests that local numbers almost always out perform them when used for ad extensions. Local numbers are only available with Google forwarding numbers in certain countries which you can find out more about here.

To tell Google to use a local number as opposed to a fee phone one your should enter a local number for your call extensions or call only adverts. Google will then assign a Google forwarding number that has the same prefix or area code as your business phone number, provided that they have one available. You can also request local numbers through any good third party call tracking provider.

To make best use of localized numbers you should segment your campaigns geographically, this is essential if you have several different store locations, this way you are able to display the most local number. If you have several locations, then you need to create new call extensions for each of these locations and use the local area code for each of your locations by adding them at campaign level.

How to setup Adwords call extensions

Step 1. Navigate to your ad extensions tab

Step 2. Click the view dropdown and select view: call extensions

call ext

Step 3. Click the red +Extension button to create a new ad extension

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Step 4. Select a campaign and then click the grey +new phone number button.

Step 5. You should then see a popup that looks like the one below

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First select the country in which your phone number is based and then enter the phone number that you want to receive calls on.

There are then two options, you can either show your advert with a Google forwarding number or you can use your own number. As a rule of thumb if you don’t have your own call tracking software such as call tacks or response tap, then I would strongly suggest using a Google forwarding number.

Using a Google forwarding number allows you to track conversions that come from Adwords and also allows you to track data on your calls such as the length and start time which I will talk more about in the call extensions reporting section of this guide.

There are then two further standard options, you can either show your call extensions by itself which will create a call only advert, or if you want to display your phone number alongside your adverts and create a click to call extension, then you should choose to show both my website and the phone number.

If you would like to create a call extension that is only displayed on mobile devices then you need to check the mobile preference box. This tells Google to only show your call extension on mobile devices (provided that you have desktop extensions setup).

Advanced settings

The advanced settings allow you to schedule what time of the day and what days of the week you want you call extensions to be displayed. They also allow you to setup call conversion tracking so you can track conversion that come from people calling you after seeing your phone number displayed alongside your advert or clicking on your click to call extension.

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To setup up scheduling please go the best practices section of this guide and look at best practice 2 which teaches you how to set up scheduling and will give you a couple of examples

If you want to track conversions from phone calls (and I highly recommend that you do) then you need to check the report phone call conversion checkbox and then select a conversion action. I will show you how to do this in more detail and how to view your phone call conversion later on in this article in the call extension conversion tracking section of this guide.

Step 6. Once you are happy with your settings for your call extension click save

step 7. Ensure that you call extension appears in the selected phone numbers column down the right hand side of the page.

Step 8. Click save

Why are my call extensions not showing?

There are several reasons why you call extensions may not be showing:

The first is that your ad rank is too low. Ad rank is a combination of your max CPC bid and your quality score. So to increase the chances of your call extensions being shown you should work on increasing your quality score and possibly look to increase your bids. Google’s latest algorithm changes may also choose not to show your call extensions if Google’s data suggests that your adverts will perform better with a different combination of ad extensions.

You call extension may have been disapproved. To check that it has not go to your ad extensions tab and view your call extensions and ensure that your call extensions status is not disapproved.

Your Google forwarding number will not be shown alongside your adverts unless your ad groups has a required minimum number of clicks. Which Google’s have said in the past to be 20 clicks within a 4 week period. There is however no minimum click requirement for your call extensions to be shown

Call extensions reporting

Call Extension Data Gaps

Replying on the data from Google and Bing, marketers must assume that any call over a set period that they have set have set becomes a lead with commercial intent. When using a Google forwarding number there is no way of determining if the call had commercial intent, was a repeat phone call our if it was an existing customer trying to get through to your customer service team.

The most detail you can get from these calls is which ad group triggered the call extension to be displayed that lead to the call being made, using the dimensions tab. The only true way to determine consumer intent is to use third party call tracking software as these record the calls and therefore allow you to review them and determine the reason for the call.

So on a basic level there are two main data gaps that occur when you are using Google forwarding numbers and call extensions.

The first is there is a minimum click threshold per ad group. You call extension will be displayed alongside your adverts irrespective of the number of clicks, however the Google forwarding number will only be show when there have been a minimum of 20 clicks in a 4 week time period according to Google. So the chances are if you have a very granular account with hundreds of ad groups that have very few clicks per month, the chances are that they will have been generating calls but you will not have any data for them as your Google forwarding number will not have been showing.

A second data gap occurs when using automated bidding rules. If you are using any of the automated bidding options within Adwords your Google forwarding number will not show. If you using the call data from your call extensions then it will be skewed, the only way to get accurate data here is to use third party call tracking.

The impact of not being able to effectively track calls with a Google forwarding number is probably best shown by this data from a study that was conducted by marchex call analytics. This graph shows the cost per call, and then the cost per call taking into consideration consumer intent.


you will notice that when taking into consideration consumer intent that the cost per call is in come cases 5X higher. This is one of the reasons that we recommend thrid party call tracking for our clients as it provides insight into the intent of the caller and allows us to optimise their campaigns to generate more calls that have consumer intent. When analyzing their data Marchex call analytics found that advertisers on average increased their ROI by over 50% from call extensions when they were able to see this data.

You can read more about their study here by reading their whitepaper called ”The $4 billion dollar blind spot: why marketers need keyword attribution for click to call

Segmented by click type

By segmenting your adverts and keywords by click type you can see which advert and keywords combination was responsible for the phone call. To view this data either view your keyword list or your adverts list and then go to segment > click type. You should then see a report that looks something like this.

repot 1

As you go down your report you will be able to see keywords like the one above where users have clicked on a call extension. This data will not align perfectly with your call details data as this only looks at the number of clicks for the phone number, as opposed to the number of people who actually make a call.

For a more detailed overview of call tracking metrics I suggest checking out ”How to untangle Adwords phone call metrics” by Susan Waldes 

Dimensions tab

If you are using a Google forwarding number then you can gain deeper insight into your calls from looking at your data from the dimensions tab. Your dimensions tab will allow you to see the start and end time of your calls, the call length, whether or not the call was answered, the duration of the call, the callers area code, whether the call came from a click to call or was manually dialed and finally the campaign and ad group that triggering the ad extensions that resulted in the phone call.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 01.03.16 copy

To view this report select the dimensions tab from the menu across the top and then select view: call details.

Calls that have the call type mobile: click to call will solely have come from click to call extensions however if the call type is manually dialed this will also include calls that have come from a user viewing your phone number on your website and then manually dialing it.

Call extension conversion tracking

Using a Google forwarding number

Tracking leads that are generated from phone calls is a smart way to get an accurate picture of the performance of your campaigns. To track leads generated from people calling your business after seeing call extension you first need to create a conversion action. Note, to do this you must be using a Google forwarding number.

Step 1. Go to Tools > conversions along the top menu

Step 2. click the red +conversion button

Step 3. Select track calls to your business

phone call covnersions

Step 4. From the popup select calls from call only adverts using call extensions.

phonme call cconversions

Step 5. Name your conversion, for example ”calls from call extensions”, make a note of this as you will need it later on. If you know the value of a lead then assign a value, otherwise select don’t assign a value. When it comes to call length I would advise setting a minimum call duration, this way you can filter out accidental calls and calls from people who were not that interested in working with you.

For example if it typically takes your sales team 10 minutes to close a lead, to make your reporting as accurate as possible you want to set the call duration for a lead to be registered at 10 minutes, as opposed to the default 60 seconds. You should adjust the settings in the Adwords interface to match your own requirements.

Depending on how you would like to count conversions select all or unique and set the conversion window to a similar length to your sales cycle. The conversion window is not really that important here as the call conversion will happen instantly. Select the most suitable category for your conversion, which in most cases will be leads and if you want to use conversion optimizer then you should select include in conv (opt.) columns. However as I explained in the data gaps section of this article conversion optimizer and call extensions don’t go well together.

Once you have done this click save and you will have created your conversion action. The next step is to match your conversion action to your call extensions. To do this you need to expand the advanced options when you are creating call extensions. Make sure that you have the count calls as phone conversion option checked and then choose the conversion action that you have just created.


You can see your call extension conversion data in two places within your account, you can see your account level data by going to Tool > Conversion within your account. This will tell you the total number of call conversions and their value if you have assigned one.

If you want to see which keywords and adverts were responsible for triggering the conversion then you need to add the phone conversions column. When either viewing your keywords or adverts click on segment and then conversions > phone call conv. This will then add an extra column which will show you which keywords and adverts generated a call conversion.

You should note that this data will also include any other phone call conversions that may have come from people calling you after viewing your phone number on your website, or clicking on a phone number on the mobile version of your website, it is not just specifically for your click to call extensions.

If you are not using a Google forwarding number

If you have opted not to use a Google forwarding number then you need to use a third party call tracking provider to track conversions. When it comes to click to call extensions third party call tracking software will actually not provide you as much detail.

They will not be able to provide you with the ad group or campaign that triggered the call, however they will be able to give you additional information on the call, such as the full phone number and will in most cases provide a recording of the phone call.

All good call tracking providers will have a range of local and national phone numbers for you to choose from so that you can use a number that is suitable for your business.

To track phone calls using a third party call tracking provider you will be given a static forwarding number, which you should enter as the phone number that you want to be called on when you are setting up your call extensions. You should then opt out of using a Google forwarding number and instead opt to use your own phone number.

These call conversions can then be fed into your analytics account and then can be imported into your Google Adwords account by importing conversions from analytics.


In conclusion it is clear that call extensions are a great way to generate more calls to your business and generate more revenue. However when tracking calls to your business using Google forwarding numbers you need to bear in mind the limitations.

If you Adwords do generate a large number of calls I would strongly suggest investing in some Good third party call tracking software so you can start to determine the callers intentions and optimise your campaigns to generate more callers with commercial intention.

Thank you for reading, if you have any questions please feel free to ask them below in the comments section.

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Econsultancy, Campaign Magazine and Search Engine Land. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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