Hyperlink Phone Numbers for Mobile Browsing

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My friends will get a kick out of this, since I rarely answer my phone… but hey… this is about helping your company, not mine! With the huge surge in iPhones, Droids and other smartphones, it really is time that you begin optimizing your site for use on a mobile browser. We recently crafted an entirely different user experience for a client, releasing a mobile version of the web application we built them and optimizing it for use on iPhone and Droid.

While your company may not be able to afford an entire redevelopment of your site for mobile usage, there is one simple thing that you can implement immediately: hyperlink your phone numbers so that mobile users can simply click on them and start a phone call. The syntax is quite simple:

<a href="tel:3177594940">317.759.4940</a>

A typical anchor tag with a web link utilizes a URL in the value, an email link utilizes mailto… the syntax for a phone number is simply tel. I've tested the value with and without parentheses, periods and dashes and everything appears to work on both iPhone and Droid. However, I'd still limit the phone number to just the actual numbers in the href value.

Just think about how many car crashes you might save people from so they need not try to memorize or write the number down!


  1. 1

    Genius Doug! Plan to start using that on all of my client sites. Okay if I post this on my blog? Of course giving you full authorship. Very cool! 😎

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    So is there any reason NOT to put parentheses, periods, or dashes in a phone number? And does the html phone number act like a title tag? Is there any SEO benefit to doing a title tag within the href code?

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    @edeckers The RFC3966 standard doesn’t appear to support parenthesis but do support a ton of other options and symbols for international calling, extensions, etc:

    As for SEO, I don’t see why not! Perhaps the business name + “phone number” could be a good way to implement!

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    Hi, that’s a cool trick but I tried this and Firefox gave me an ugly error message saying it didn’t know how to read the link. To me, it isn’t worth an ugly error message when someone clicks the link on a desktop just to have a mobile phone be able to access the link. “Long-press” on the phone number on Android and it automatically tries to call a number anyways. Am I wrong? Is there a work around?

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    Thank you so much. simple like you said, yet efficient. You can go a couple steps further and make it link to an icon and create a title in the anchor tag to display your phone number and further instructions for users who hover their mouse over the icon. Thanks again!

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    Just a simple correction … you said you recommend we “keep everything but the actual numbers IN the href value”

    I’m sure you mean “keep everything but the actual numbers OUR OF the href value”

    Or else you’d just be dialing a bunch of punctuation 🙂

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    I still don’t know from this column, how to email a phone number – to a cell phone, so my boss can just tap it and call.

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      Hi Dee, your email software would need to support HTML and the ability to add the hyperlink we describe above. This article was more about how to do this on a mobile website, not an email.

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    Hi Douglas, how well does this work for international callers? Do you think it’s best to use an international (e.g. +44) number, or a local area code?

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    Hi, Can a hashtag be used as a hyperlink to start a phone call? I heard it mentioned the other day but have not seen it. Thank you!

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    How do I create a “call now” button in an email marketing program such as Microsoft Publisher? Also how would I put it into mailchimp?

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