Should You Use Phone Numbers In Meta Descriptions?

I recently updated meta descriptions for a new client’s site and he asked a very good question upon seeing the finished work:

Usually in a description I like a CTA with the phone number. What are your thoughts on that?

You Want People To Call Your Business, Right?

I agree, the meta description needs a clear call to action (CTA) that pulls the searcher in with a clear value proposition. We only have 155 or so characters to do this (it was longer for a while, but as of mid-May 2018, Google has reverted back to shorter display snippets). I find that a combination of keyword phrases and actionable language (“click here to learn,” “Find out how …”) generally works best for blogs.

… But the Answer is ‘No’

Blog posts, by their nature, attract informational searches—i.e. searches where the person searching is likely not familiar with the brand and is not looking to hire someone at this exact moment. As such, that valuable real estate on the SERP is (in my opinion) best used to lure these people in with the promise of value. Once they’re actually on-site, a clear CTA (usually an above-the-fold form) is waiting for them after they feel confident that we can deliver what they’re needing.

Possible Exceptions

For main site pages (think “service pages” that make up the core of the site … These are “pages” in WordPress vs. “posts”) I would be more inclined to include the phone number in the meta descriptions. These searchers are more likely to be bottom-of-the-funnel searchers ready to take action, or else they’re already familiar with the brand/business and we can save them a click by telling them how to contact us now.

But honestly, I still wouldn’t do it. Here’s the big reason I don’t use phone numbers in blog meta descriptions: Google doesn’t always show the description we provide. Rather, they show the description they feel best suits the individual searcher’s intent (using either the meta description we provided or text extracted from the page itself). As such, they’re more likely to display a description that has [long-tail keyword phrase] rather than a description that has [contact us at (312) 386-7524 for a free consultation].

Put another way, if someone is looking for information, they’re unlikely to actually see the phone number if we put it in the description. If someone is actively searching our brand name, they are more likely to see the Google business listing, where the phone number will be prominently displayed in the SERPs.

I agree with these posts from The Moz Q&A Forum about using phone numbers in meta descriptions.