This week Google has been testing telephone numbers in Mobile Search. This means search results on mobile devices (cell phones) have been specially modified to display a click-able telephone number just like you see in local search results or on CTC PPC ads (click to call pay per click).
It is important to stress that the telephone numbers were IN the search results, so no, this is not a feature of “local” search (maps results).
This is what the search results looked like. They began displaying February 29 and stopped by March 2, 2016.
Are the results based on Schema markup?
The first thing I wanted to check was if the phone number was being pulled from the website or not, and if it was if Google was obtaining the phone number via Schema structured data markup or not, and if they were, were they giving preference to JSON-LD language over microdata or not.
The answer to all of the above is no. Telephone numbers were indeed displaying in search for businesses not using Schema.
One thing I noticed is the fact that businesses with the phone number met a certain quality threshold. These are established business entities and trustworthy sites. Trustworthy sites are sites belonging to high ranking business entities which rank highly in search.
Will these phone numbers return?
I am certain that this was a dry run and I would be willing to bet money that phone numbers will indeed return to Google Mobile Search results. This simply makes sense as it results in a better user experience for the end user.
Will Phone Numbers in Google Mobile Search help SEO?
Any time you can gain more exposure in search it is helpful. For mobile users there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will increase exposure. However, this will increase calls to a business, yet reduce overall web traffic. This makes ranking in search even more important than ever. The same goes for content. While a page for a known business or a very direct search will display a phone #, people still ask Google questions all day every day.