Everything You Need to Know About Call Tracking for Google Ads

Phone calls are often an essential source of leads for many businesses and are important to track to determine the effectiveness of ad clicks. Call tracking allows advertisers to see which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns lead to phone…

Phone calls are often an essential source of leads for many businesses and are important to track to determine the effectiveness of ad clicks. Call tracking allows advertisers to see which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns lead to phone calls and helps with understanding the return on investment for a company’s ad spend.

The Different Types of Call Conversions

Google provides four ways to track phone call conversions on Google Ads. These are set up either directly through Google or imported through another call tracking system. Below are the three main call conversions that we use at Corporate Conversions.

Calls from Ads

Calls from ads track whenever a user manually dials or clicks on a phone number in a mobile ad or ad extension using a Google forwarding number. This is the easiest call conversion to create as it can be set up directly through Google Ads. There are two main areas where calls from ads can be utilized.

Call Extensions

Call extensions are one way to add phone numbers to existing ads. Like other ad extensions, this will show up automatically alongside ads in search results but won’t necessarily show up for every ad impression. Whether or not calls are important to a business, this ad extension helps improve click through rates and quality scores and so is an important element for every ad campaign. Learn More About Call Extensions

Call Ads

Calls ads are specifically tailored to generate phone calls. They are recommended for any campaign whose goal is geared towards phone call lead. As opposed to text ads that direct users to landing pages, these ads show up only on mobile devices and allow users to initiate a call by clicking on the ad. Learn More About Call Ads

Calls from Website

This conversion action is whenever a user manually dials or clicks on a phone number on a company’s website. This is tracked by using a call forwarding number provided by Google and can easily be added to a website using Google Tag Manager. Google forwarding numbers are free to use but don’t provide as much data as a 3rd-party call-tracking service. Learn More About Google Tag Manager

3rd Party Call Tracking

A 3rd party call tracking service may be beneficial for companies that rely heavily on phone call leads. These services often provide more phone call data than is available from Google forwarding numbers but come at a cost while the Google call tracking is free. 3rd party call tracking can be integrated into Google Ads for both Calls-from-Ads and Calls-from-Website conversions.

Click to Call

This conversion tracks clicks on tel: links for a company’s website. A tel: link click doesn’t necessarily translate into an actual phone call, so this conversion is most often used as a fall back for when Calls-from-Website conversions are not utilized. 

Google Forwarding Number

In order to track phone calls Google uses forwarding numbers. These are unique numbers that show up in ads or placed on a company’s website that will route to a business number. Details about when a call is placed and how long the call lasted can be gathered using these numbers.

Concerns over Using Call Forwarding

There are two main concerns that are often brought up when companies are hesitant to use Google’s forwarding numbers.

Local Area Codes

Google will use a number that shares the same area code as your business whenever possible. If a number is not available for that area then an area code for the same geographic region will be used. If a number is still unavailable then a toll-free forwarding number will be used.

The Number Is Temporary

Many companies have concerns that potential clients or customers will save the call forwarding number and use that number when it no longer connects to their business. Google’s forwarding will connect to the business 60 days after a user’s initial call. If a user calls within that period then the 60-day window resets. This is well within most companies’ lead time.  Learn More About Google Call Forwarding

The Phone Calls Metric

The phone call metric tracks every time a user manually dialed or clicked on a Google call forwarding number. This includes every number interaction whereas a call conversion will only count calls that reach the call length determined in the conversion settings.

Optimal Conversion Settings for Call Conversions


Ideally an average value should be set for each phone call conversion determined by how often phone calls turn into leads and how valuable those leads are for a business. This is often difficult to come up with, so if not set I recommend not using a value for call conversion actions.


For all lead conversions it is recommended to only count the first interaction so this setting should be set to “One” for each call conversion.

Call Length

The current recommendations from Google account reps is to set the call length to 20 seconds.

Click-through Conversion Window

This is the maximum time after an ad interaction that a conversion will be tracked. Most conversions don’t happen after the initial ad interaction. A high click-through window helps determine the long-term value of ads. It is recommended to set this to the maxim value of 60 days.

Attribution Model

This determines how much credit a click gets for a conversion. The recommended attribution model for most conversions versions is Position-based. This allows Google to assign value to ads throughout the whole conversion funnel.

Hopefully this guide helps you understand how call tracking works and how it can be used to help determine how effective your digital advertising is working so you can make choices that will result in a higher return on investment for ad spend. If you would like help with your digital marketing, please call us at Corporate Conversions. We would be happy to advise you on the best course of action for your company’s goals. 

Joey Voges

As the SEM Manager Joey Voges has been managing PPC campaigns and optimizing websites for SEO since 2012. He appreciates the ever-changing nature of the industry which provides ample opportunities to learn something new. During his time off Joey likes to play board games, practice piano and paddle down rivers on his kayak.