How to protect your search campaigns from “bot” calls

A lot has been written recently about “bot” or robo-dialed calls. Most of us know them all too well. We get a call that looks like it’s coming from a local number, but we don’t recognize it. It could be our dentist or that chiropractor we called the other day or any number of real people looking to get a hold of us. We pick up the phone, say “Hello” and wait a second to hear a recorded voice on the other end say “You’ve been pre-selected…” Click.

Yes, bot calls, robo-dialed calls, annoying spam calls are everywhere:

  • According to, there were 5.3 billion robocalls made in May 2019 — 22 bot calls per person in the United States1
  • In a February 2019 report, the FCC cited a study that expects that nearly 50% of the calls you’ll receive in 2019 will be spam2
  • The volume of these robocalls has almost doubled since 20163

These calls are frustrating enough on our personal phones, but for businesses with paid search advertising and call tracking, bot calls can skew your results — and impact your campaign budget too.

Identifying (and blocking) bot calls

There are steps being taken by the FCC and telecom industry to address the growing number of bot calls, but your best defense today is to work with a digital marketing partner with scalable technology solutions to stop bot calls before they reach you by:

  • Analyzing your incoming campaign calls
  • Identifying the calls that are coming from bots — and blocking them whenever possible
  • Making sure those calls don’t impact your Cost-Per-Call metrics and overall campaign performance

For example, Hibu analyzes every incoming call tracking call for our clients each month, focusing on calls that are shorter than 10 seconds (with the assumption that most of those are bot calls). That’s helped us block close to 60% incoming calls to our clients that are suspected bot calls.

And in the past 3 months, even as bot traffic has continued to increase, the percentage of incoming Hibu Search call tracking calls that are less than 10 seconds has been on average just 2.6%.

While there’s no “exact science” yet to identify and block all bot calls through automation, there’s no reason your business should have to waste time or money hanging up on bot calls — especially bot calls that look like they’re being driven by your paid search campaign.

By working with a partner who can monitor your calls and come between you and the bots, you can be more confident that the next call you answer is proof that your paid search campaign is reaching real local customers.


2 Federal Communications Commission “Report on Robocalls” Feb 2019
3 YouMail RoboCall index data comparing May 2016 to May 2019 robocall volume in the United States
Craig Plummer

Craig Plummer

Craig became Hibu's Director of Product Management – Traffic Products in August 2017 after serving as Hibu's Director of Search Operations. Craig has been honing his digital marketing skills since 2006. Why does Craig love Digital Marketing here at Hibu? “It’s 3 things, really. There is tons of data and I love data. It’s ever-evolving. You have to be willing to admit you don’t know everything and continue to learn. But the best part is working with SMBs. Being able to connect our clients to consumers they might not otherwise reach — 'That’s gold, Jerry!'" When he’s not in the office, Craig loves to spend time with his family and enjoys growing beets.

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