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Is Contact Information a Google Ranking Factor?

Does Contact Information (or Lack of Contact Information) Affect Your Google Search Rankings?Providing a way for customers and potential customers to contact you by phone or email is good business.It enables people to get in touch and ask questions, ask any questions they may have, place orders, etc.

That being said, there may be valid reasons for an individual or organization to choose not to publish their contact information.The question is, does contact information (or lack thereof) affect your Google search rankings?

Disclaimer: Contact information is a Google ranking factor

There are two different caveats here:

  1. Your GMB listing (replaces the Google Places for Business and Google+ Pages documents, so you'll see a reference to the Places page below).
  2. Contact information on your website.

Evidence of Contact Information as a Ranking Factor

Having your contact information (especially your business name, address and phone number) appear in various places online is called a citation.

We know that citations are a local search ranking factor and have been around for over a decade (maybe even before Google launched its own "Places" page in 2009).

David Mihm's Fifth Local Search Ranking Factors Survey report, published in 2012, provided a snapshot of the conventional wisdom of using contact information as a local ranking factor at the time.

SEO professional Nyagoslav Zhekov (now Director of Local Search at WhiteSpark) was quoted as saying about the importance of having a local area code on Place pages:

"While it's a fairly small ranking factor, it can significantly impact your click-to-call rate and general conversion rate because when people search for a local business, they're more likely to find this.

James Svoboda, partner at WebRanking, said:

"On-page location factors such as business name, category, phone number, and address are important in building an accurate and credible profile that will rank high in your local market for relevant keywords.

You can learn more about citations as a ranking factor here.

It gets trickier when we try to determine whether including contact information on your site is a ranking factor.

There is evidence that it does.

The Google Quality Score Guidelines (page 15) states:

"The type and amount of contact information required depends on the type of website.Contact information and customer service information are very important for websites that process money (such as stores, banks, credit card companies, etc.).When a problem occurs, users need a way to ask questions or get help.

Now, that doesn't mean it's part of the algorithm.These are guidelines provided to human quality raters who have no ability to influence search rankings.

But it does tell us that Google considers contact information an important part of the searcher's experience, especially when it comes to "Your Money Your Life" (YMYL) pages.

Page 35 reiterates the importance of contact information in assessing web page credibility when YMYL comes into play:

"IMPORTANT: For YMYL pages and other pages that require a high degree of user trust, any of the followingunsatisfactory number of itemsare all reasons for giving pages a low quality rating: customer service information,Contact Information, information about who is responsible for the site or who created the content.

On page 42:

"...We expect most sites to have some information about who (eg, what person, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the site and who created the MC, as well as some contact information, unless there is a good reason to remain anonymous.

Evidence against using contact information as a ranking factor

In a 2016 Google Webmaster Central Hangout, John Mueller was asked: "Does the lack of contact information in news magazines cause Google News or Google News snippets to rank worse in organic search?

Mueller responded:

"I don't know Google News, so I can't comment on that.Regarding normal web searches, I don't think we look at things like contact information on web pages.So it's probably not something we care about in web search rankings.

He added that, personally, he appreciates that sites show contact information because Google can get in touch with them directly if they notice a major site error (such as applying noindex site-wide).

He also noted that, especially for news sites, not giving visitors a way to contact a business seems like a poor user experience.

Contact Information as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Google will definitely use contact information from local listings (citations) as a local ranking factor.

That was in 2016, although Mueller expressed doubts that contact information on the site was used for web (organic) search rankings.

The subject of higher standards for EAT and YMYL featured prominently in the Quality Rating Guidelines published in 2015.

I read and wrote about a previously leaked version of the guidelines in 2011, and the focus on YMYL in the 2015 version appears to be an improvement on the page rating scale Google used in earlier versions.It asks raters to assign "exactly one" of the following ratings:

  • Vital.
  • Useful.
  • Relevant.
  • Slightly Relevant.
  • Off-Topic or Useless.
  • Unratable.

By 2015, Google's attitude toward website quality seemed to have matured to the point where it recognized the need to evaluate different types of websites in different ways.

Google's Danny Sullivan said in 2018 that the key to doing better in broad core algorithm updates is to take full advantage of the quality rater guidelines.

For all of these reasons, evidence points to contact information on your website as a ranking factor for queries that have the potential to impact an individual's health or livelihood.

Google's search ranking system consists of many different algorithms.Sites that publish important and potentially impactful information will be held to a higher standard, which includes enabling readers/customers to contact them.

Extended reading:

Is code to text ratio a Google ranking factor?

Is click depth a Google ranking factor?

Top 8 Google Ranking Factors - What Really Matters for SEO

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