A location masterlist is simply a structured and up-to-date list of a businesses locations that also contains all corresponding data including NAP, opening hours, descriptions, categories, etc. They are often created by consolidating a number of lists together to incorporate multiple data streams, changes to locations (newly added, removed locations, address changes, etc). For a medium-sized business with 10-or-more locations this can be an incredibly handy tool to stay focused and organised; at the enterprise level dealing with 100s or even 1000s of locations, the masterlist is a key ingredient in delivering timely results for your client. We’ve provided a sample NAPtastic Location Masterlist which you can adapt for your own clients.
If you think about what happens when dealing with a client with multiple stakeholders, you usually end up with multiple sets of location files:
- The Google My Business download of locations
- The edited Google My Business list of locations (for upload)
- The location list the client gave you
- The list you created after correcting the client’s list
- The location list the client gave you with the 3 new locations they forgot to include on the first list
- The list Suzie created whilst you were on leave in the Bahamas for 2 weeks (cos you’re sick of lists), and Google did 9 GMB updates forcing someone to edit the client’s lists
A location masterlist seeks to address this inefficiency, and double (and sometimes triple) handling, by collating all of these lists into one up-to-date and accurate information list.
Benefit 1: Building trust with the client
Having one consolidated location masterlist will demonstrate to the client:
- You are highly organised
- You care about their data/business
- You are willing to provide results & progress – transparency
- You are trustworthy
The final item, trustworthiness, is the golden ticket to client retention. Clients will stay with people they trust, even if they have to weather some storms. Why? Because trust is one of the most valuable commodities in the digital age, and very few agencies (or people) have it. So if you demonstrate it, straight off the bat, the clients will appreciate you above your competition.
Recommendation: Gather client location list information early in the relationship, from as many stakeholders as possible. Create a draft location masterlist and present it to the client, to demonstrate pro-activeness, transparency and organisation ability. Have them confirm and sign-off and you are beginning with accuracy.
Benefit 2: Enhancing efficiency
A location masterlist, is beneficial at your end, as it improves day-to-day efficiency by having all the information located in one place. It also ensures that you are tracking citation data correctly and accurately. It reduces confusion, and it also makes it far easier to include new locations and to catch-them-up to your current progress with the existing locations in the citation process. Whenever a location changes address or phone number you are also able to revisit all the citations it has been listed on, and update them accordingly. This can be extremely important as when a location has a changed address (for example), Google will be representing the old address which means customers are unable to locate the clients location. This can result in a bad experience for the customer, with a knockk-on effect of bad reviews, or worse, losing the customers loyalty and trust in the brand/business. To alleviate this, having that information in the masterlist and being able to systemically update the citations to the new address will create the signal you need for Google to trust the new information that you supply to Google My Business, which in turn will feed into the maps and ensure your client’s customers can find their business.
Recommendation: Use the location masterlist to also track citation coverage. This will ensure you know exactly where you left off, and any changes to data will allow you to quickly adapt.
Benefit 3: Creating accurate data
Because all of your location lists for the client are collated into one up-to-date list, you are creating the most accurate pool of that data. Any changes that are required after creating the list will continue to enhance the accuracy of the data without double-handling in other lists that you are maintaining. If you’ve worked with an enterprise-level client with several hundred locations, you would understand how monumental a task it can be just to keep on top of new locations, divested locations and changes to existing locations – on a weekly basis. Having all of this information in the one place, and being able to update it when the client communicates the changes to you, ensures that you are able to maintain data integrity and keep the data as accurate and up-to-date as possible. This becomes increasingly important when dealing with a multiple stakeholder client. Quite often in those situations, different departments have different location lists, so being on top of that from the outset means that you only need to deal with the changes not an entirely new list every time you have a client location update. The extreme here is where you have entirely different database dumps from each stakeholder, requiring initially some vlookup and pivot table guru skills. Once the tables are merged with non-duplicate data, they become a single accurate data source.
Recommendation: Communicate with the client regularly in regards to upcoming changes to locations (new, changes, existing). Make this an on-going conversation as this allows you to plan and prepare resources.
Benefit 4: Improving data security
Everyone wants access to the list. Changes here, changes there, changes everywhere. The fact is, only one representative from the client needs access to the list to make changes. Try and obtain the most active representative and utilise them when changes arise. The best person is usually the day-to-day contact you have with the client, because they are the most hands-on; they have the availability to make quick changes when necessary; and they understand the importance of having the locations as accurate as possible (because of course you’ve involved them in the process!). Sometimes clients will change address, phone numbers or even their brand name. However, too many cooks can spoil the broth. It’s better to be slower and have one representative, than be fast with many, because it is much more difficult to keep the data secure and accurate.
On the flipside, your agency should also only have one representative with access to the location masterlist. Whilst you are on leave, or ill, having others step in can poison the data pool, and be something you need to heal when you return. This isn’t the ideal situation. It would be better to come back to out-of-date data, that you need to communicate with your day-to-day to get up to speed, than incorrect data that you somehow need to magically work out isn’t correct.
Recommendation: Limit access to the data to 2 people (1 from your side; 1 from client side). Maintain data security and you will maintain data integrity.
Benefit 5: Avoiding duplication and repetition
This is kind’ve the benefit that “goes without saying”. Naturally if you have compiled a multitude of data lists into one masterlist, you will be avoiding repetition and duplication of that data. It really is a simple idea. Having worked with multiple data sets before, all it takes is a tired worker on a Friday, to miss the double-bookkeeping and you have a problem. Fixing it might seem simple – ask the client what the correct data is. The problem with this is that the client is *trusting* you with their data, and if you cannot get it correct and continually need to ask what the correct data is, then you don’t really represent trustworthiness – and as a result – the relationship deteriorates. What’s infinitely more powerful is having the client come to you to confirm the correct data, and being confident AND true in your response.
Recommendation: Drop any additional lists that you might be handling and keep it all in the one list. If the client happens to bring you a new list, then compare it with the masterlist and make any changes accordingly to that list, before dismissing the new list.
Tips for maintaining a location masterlist
- Create and Share on Google Drive keeping editors to one from your side, and one from client side – this allows everyone to view, but ensures data integrity is maintained by limiting access.
- Use the list to track citation submissions, as this will not only ensure that you can pick up where you left off, but you can also “fast track” a new location and catch it up to the rest of the list; or make a quick citation run-through for changes to an existing location.
- Communicate and check-in with the client regularly to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information available (are they planning on: obtaining new locations? closing locations? changing address?). If you know the client is obtaining 2 new locations next month, it allows you to plan and prepare resources for when those locations arrive, so this should be an on-going conversation to always stay ahead.
The 5 benefits of a location masterlist are:
- Builds trust with your client (transparency and organisation)
- Enhances efficiency (one file versus multiple files)
- Creates accurate data (compiling all lists into one)
- Improves data security (by limiting access to the list)
- Avoids duplication and repetition (one list, no repeats)
Do you use a location masterlist for your Local SEO? Share any tips, advice or comments below.