Are iPhone type PDAs the way of the future. Will most searches be performed from such devices? I don't think any of us can argue against it ... it will happen ... and in fact the transition is well under way.

Accordingly, I thought the topic of getting better results from iPhones warranted a new blog series, beginning with a quick and simple gem detailed below. In the weeks that follow, I'll provide more tips, so stay tuned.

Click Image to Enlarge

Tip #1:
The first finding and tip is this; if you include your company's phone number in the meta description of pages that rank in the search results, the iPhone turns the phone number into a link (see image above). Click it, and the number is dialed ... no memorization necessary. Almost instant gratification, and in this world, instant gratification rules! Virtually no one else seems to be aware of this gem!

Most Benefit For:
While this isn't necessarily a revolutionary find for all businesses, it has some powerful implications for:

    a. local businesses (often people will just look for the phone number of a business)
    b. emergency services (eg. tow trucks, plumbers)
    c. impulse or on-demand purchases (eg. pizza, taxis)

Sure, it won't help your site rank better, but it will definitely increase the number of phone calls received for certain types of businesses.

As an example, imagine this situation; you're car has broken down on the side of a busy highway. You need a tow truck pronto. So you use your iPhone to access Google, and perform a search for "tow service toronto". Of the 3 listings you see above the fold ... the 3rd shows phone numbers that are clickable. This makes the 3rd listing much more attractive than the first two (all other factors equal) as you can achieve your goal much faster (ie. calling a towing service) than having to navigate through to another web page that may or may not have a phone number on it.

Precisely the same as with calling a taxi, ordering pizza or Chinese food, etc.

Now, the only issue I have with this solution. Unfortunately, it works really well for phone numbers that are within the local calling area, but not so well for phone numbers that require long distance since it doesn't offer the option to place a "1" in front of the phone number to make a long distance call. Mr. Steve Jobs if you're listening ... this would be a really nice addition!!!!!!!

In conclusion, why not provide a clickable phone number in your meta description ... its really very simple to incorporate? Add to this the fact that the penetration of iPhones is becoming significant (expecting 3% iPhone penetration in 2008, 6% in 2009). I really enjoy finding these types of solutions ... powerful, yet incredibly simple!

Try it today, and let me know what kind of an impact you see!

* Please Note: I realize the PizzaPizza example above does not show the phone number in a meta tag, but it is a good example none-the-less.

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26 Responses to “iPhone Search Result Optimization Tip #1: Phone Numbers in Meta Tags”

  1. this is a great tip! Start doing this now as iphone like browser and capabilities in every mobile phone will blow up within a few months to a year or two.

  2. I have never heard of optimizing for the iphone!

    I'll give it a try.

    Thanks for this innovative tip

  3. This is smart to do not just the iphone, but lots of handhelds. For instance my Verizon Voyager highlights the numbers in SERPs to make it a one click action to call the place of business.

  4. andymurd says:

    Excellent tip. Do you know if it works for internation numbers?

    Shame it is only in the meta description. I hope that HTML will adopt a variation of the anchor tag to standardise click-to-call from mobile browsers.

  5. Utah SEO says:

    To create clickable phone numbers:


  6. SEO goes in a different direction. I think it is more challenging now, with so many options; optimizing for iphone is a new step in the future :).

  7. Millionaire says:

    thanks, this is a great tip! works great :)

  8. Metaspring says:

    What a super idea. I can totally see how this can act as a value addition, and give one an edge over other similar listings. But does this work only with iphone or any kind of cell?

  9. I look forward to the series. I also hope that Mr. Jobs is reading this post!

  10. It certainly make sense but how do you create a clickable phone no. on the meta tag? Sorry for being such an ignorance or do I miss any point here?


  11. Rae says:

    I like the innovation of this article in that it suggests something new to the search community, but was disappointed to see it focused on the overhyped iPhone. The BlackBerry is the number one selling smartphone (also more likely to be owned by adults) and it would have been nice to see an article that targeted optimization for smartphone devices (iPhone is only a quarter of the market) and not one targeting the current hype.


    To make your number clickable, I believe you just need to give it the proper ahref tag to show a phone linked on a cell phone which is: (123) 456-7890 … just like href="mailto:emailaddy" hyperlinks an email, href="tel:number" will hyperlink a phone number. Don't wait for the phone manufacturers to do what you can do yourself and gain a competitive advantage over competitors not targeting these small tips.

  12. Paul says:

    Brilliant. Definitely a smart move for local businesses.

  13. Utah SEO says:

    Great article, I had not idea the iphone was rolling out so much new stuff. I think little by little they are taking over. Thank God for the hacks to get away from Cingular.

  14. Great tip… Google often uses snippets so wouldn't be the better spot since you can be absolutely guaranteed it shows? Done with .Net you could sniff the agent & have a different Title for mobile devices.

  15. I used Title tag above and it is invisible. I suggested the title as another spot to include the phone number for your mobile version.

  16. […] iPhone Search Result Optimization Tip #1: Phone Numbers in Meta Tags: Are iPhone type PDAs the way of the future. Will most searches be performed from such devices? […]

  17. ScriptyGoddess wrote a post about linkifying phone numbers over a year ago.

    Make phone numbers clickable to dial on mobile phones.

    The article points out the differences (and this is typical of Apple) between standards on mobile phones in general, and Apple's way of doing things. There is an actual mobile phone protocol defined as such:

    <a href="wtai://wp/mc;8015551212">801-555-1212</a>

    That will not work in the iPhone Safari browser. But this will:

    <a href="tel:1-801-555-1212">1-801-555-1212</a>

    Additionally. If you are wondering why the phone number need not be in the Meta Description, no mystery there … just ask Google and why it appears in the first place. Has nothing to do with the iPhone or the browser. But Safari utilizes "smart linking" when it recognizes that the formatting of numbers may be a phone number (ie ###-###-####)

  18. Ur shitting me…you can hyperlink a phone number? I've never heard of that before. I'll try that. Skype highlights phone numbers, but what would happen if you don't have skype on a pc?

  19. @Sherwin – Well, when you click on a linked phone number in Firefox you get an 'unknown protocol' error.

    Try it out:


  20. Great Tip. I like to put it in the title as well. I find people dont even go in the site. they just call!

  21. Brilliant Tip. It's really a smart move. We can't put the direct links to the cellphones. It is really helpful for local business

  22. Great tip! Any other things you can put in meta tags that the iPhone would read?

    Perhaps it could auto-GPS locate directions to your address?

  23. […] Traduction française de l’article écrit par Jeff Quipp le 11 août dernier (2008) : iPhone Search Result Optimization Tip #1: Phone Numbers in Meta Tags […]

  24. I agree with you I think the transition is already underway, as well. Everyone is going with the technology boom, pretty soon people will be having robots in there homes cooking for them.

  25. skyline says:

    optimizing for iPhone ? never heird about this untill now. Anyway, I will try these when my iPhone will arrive.

  26. This is a great idea, especially for companies looking for mobile search. I could also see this getting integrated into the adult chat arena, for live chat purposes.
    Nice work!