Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.
Michael Martinez: Well, as someone who searches on phone numbers quite often (just because of all the robocalls I get), I tend to just type in the numbers separated by spaces. Google and Bing show me the kinds of sites I would want to see.
JL Faverio: But what about search bots that crawl the same number in several different formats? Wouldn`t consistency be benefitial for local seo?
Michael Martinez: JL Faverio What specific need are you trying to address? If you`re just trying to cover all the bases, I think you could find other bases that need your attention more. If you feel there is a specific need that is only being poorly met, I think you`ll get more helpful responses if you can articulate that need.
JL Faverio: Sometimes little guys like me just want to learn, and brainstorm with greats like you. My need is learning.
Michael Martinez: JL Faverio I appreciate the compliment but there is no one right way to publish a phone number. Long before it became necessary to optimize for local search the Internet found a myriad of ways to publish numbers. The search engines have had to learn as many of those formats as possible.
Rob Woods: probably not as Google likely knows and accounts for different formats and equates them to each other. Also, if someone already knows your number, does it matter that much if it ranks? However, getting the exact right format in your structured data does matter.
JL Faverio: What about the visual benefit of using parenthesis? In my opinion, it`s easier to remember a phone number with the parenthesis separating the rest of the numbers as you can remember it better as if it were an image in your head.
Sean Norris: JL Faverio I seriously doubt many are memorizing phone numbers off google these days.
Moe Rubenzahl: Cool. Let us know what you learn. My bet (based on mere hunch) is no difference.
Linda Caplinger: Just a random thought with regard to testing formats for phone numbers - try a few formats on different pages and then visit the site with Skype browser add on and others - what does it do with your data? Can it parse it correctly? Not? https://chrome.google.com/.../lifbcibllhkdhoafpjfnlhfpfgn... Might be worth playing with.
Dave Elliott: My one is do you do the +44 (0) thing at the start of uk numbers for international clients or do you just use a standard uk number. It annoys me! Obviously, this applies less for a taxi firm....
Rob Woods: if you want people from North America to call you, you better give them the exact numbers they have to dial.
Dave Elliott: that`s the thing i`m never sure if people get the whole +44 (0)1234 6876 type of number! Do Americans understand they have to dial 44 1234...... do Brits know they have to dial 01234......i`m pretty sure if i write it properly in Schema or Google my business(probably due a name change isn`t it?) then Google displays the right version depending on where the search originated from, but what of the site!
Tim Capper: Dave Elliott Always confuses me to, but in general most people know that when dialling country code +xx they need to drop the 0
Tim Capper: GMB uses 123-456-7896 in their listings, so I would probably use that format
JL Faverio: Tim Capper I just tested your theory and GMB just formatted it automatically for me to use parentheses. Can I ask why you think they use the format without parentheses?
Tim Capper: JL Faverio Every US i looked at yesterday did have parentheses. So this is interesting, because it obviously feels non US users with and US users without. So if the business is US based, show without, GMB will convert. I would then also use without in my schema and on site.
Dave Elliott: Tim Capper yeah it definitely changes depending on where you search with GMB. For example my dad`s business is is france and i get the country code when I search from here(UK for those who don`t know) but not if i go via a VPN using a french IP address.I`m unsure if this also applies for schema data...and the site question makes my head hurt.
JL Faverio: Tim Capper You`re saying even though GMB used parentheses, you`d still not use parentheses in schema markup?
Masatake Wasa (wasaweb): I did not really express myself well in this segment (nothing unusual), but I was attempting to refer to https://schema.org/telephone and suggesting that Example 1 is the one to follow (Phone: (800)555-1234). In other words, mark up the phone number with the international code and full number without spaces, parentheses, etc, but adapt to the local conventions for human visitors. This way, machines will not mistake the number in any way, but will be familiar for human visitor. Perhaps it`s similar to how best deal with dates (marking up as yyyy-mm-dd, but using dd-mm-yyyy or mm-dd-yyyy for human readers).
Masatake Wasa (wasaweb): Oops, the format was lost. Hopefully the following works:
< span itemprop="telephone" content="+18005551234" >(800)555-1234< /span >