Rejoice…The Local Pack Is Near Me!

As a Project Manager here at Whitespark, I’m usually knee deep in implementing a bunch of SEO strategies for our LocalSpark clients. I’m usually not the guy around here that digs into the algorithm to see what has changed from one update to another. Let’s just say I’m not the one around here that’s going to tell you something new about the algo. I leave that sort of research and discovery to Darren and Phil.

But on this day I found myself doing a number of searches for a Realtor we’re working with to see if anything was triggering the local pack, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon something that even Darren thought was worthy of a post. What’s the saying…even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while?

Prior to the algo update on July 25th, there were many broad real estate keyword phrases that would trigger the local pack. Keywords like “real estate Minneapolis” or “realtors Minneapolis” would trigger the local pack all day long. That is no longer the case since the update. It seems like nothing triggers the local pack for real estate agents…well at least not until my recent discovery anyway.

Enter the Phrase “Near Me”

Out of curiosity I started to plug in a bunch of long-tail keyword phrases that I know get at least *some* searches based on some previous PPC work I did for clients. One of those common long-tail phrases was “near me” as in “real estate agents near me” or “emergency plumbers near me” or “mold remediation near me.” You get the point. Guess what I found when I did these searches? The coveted local pack! Take a look:


real estate agents near me


emergency plumbers near me


mold remediation near me


Other long-tail terms I discovered that triggered the local pack was “find a” and “find” as in “find a realtor” or “find emergency plumber.” Take a look:


find a realtor


find emergency plumber


Darren wanted me to try some searches with zip codes but those didn’t trigger the pack. Literally the only terms I found that triggered the pack were phrases with “near me” and “find” or “find a” in them. I’m sure there are other long tail phrases that trigger the pack that I didn’t test but they are certainly far and few between.

What about Mobile Searches?

I was really hoping the broad terms would still produce the local pack on my iPhone but no such luck. In fact, the mobile searches I conducted mirrored the desktop results. Broad phrases such as “real estate agents Minneapolis” didn’t trigger the pack but “real estate agents near me” did.

What Is the Take Away Here?

I have no idea…lol. I’ll leave that thinking and analysis to Darren, Phil, and the rest of you thought leaders in our space. What it means to me is that I can at least tell our local SEO clients that they can still be found locally for some long-tail keywords.

We have been talking internally what we’re going to do if this latest algo change doesn’t get fixed soon. After all, our bread and butter is in the local SEO space so if we’re working with a client where the typical broad keyword phrases no longer trigger the local pack, such as the case with Realtors, what are we supposed to tell them?

“Relax, we’ll just get you ranked organically. You’ll *only* be competing against Zillow, Trulia,, and a handful of other major brands. No problem.” At least for now we can tell these clients there is still some presence locally. Sure it’s limited exposure right now, but it beats nothing!

What does any of this tell you? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear your take!


Travis Van Slooten

Travis has nearly 10 years of SEO experience and has been heavily involved in Local Search for the past 4 years. You may have seen him around the local search forums posting helpful responses and thoughtful questions.

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0 comments on “Rejoice…The Local Pack Is Near Me!

  • Great find, Travis!

    One thing I find odd about the “near me” query is that nobody cares where the realtors themselves are located: only what properties they list, what markets they know, etc. It’s not like “restaurant near [city]” or “emergency dentist near [city]” where you actually do care about the distance between their door and yours.

    To me, it’s just another little sign that Google doesn’t have this one right (yet?), and we’ll see more dial-twisting on the local algorithm before things calm down (temporarily) again.

  • Could it be you found a loophole in the algo? 🙂
    Have any of your Real Estate clients noticed a change in calls/inquiries since their mysterious disappearance from local packs?

  • Our head of development sent me this as we have been trying to determine from our large group of clients who has been affected and how (+/-) and what is the overarching implication going forward. I wish I could be as happy about long tail searches as you seem to be. I set my computer to MN and did incognito searches around real estate terms. The problem is that “near me” in the search term returned 10 searches twice. Given the volume of searches for broader terms, that is really statistically irrelevant. Not totally, but nearly. I do not know what you charge your clients, but when you have a 7 pack and that is where they are limited to showing and there are thousands of searches, if you declare that, but hey if someone oddly types in … “near me” with their search you have almost a 15% chance of getting them ten times a month. So, at best, you might get 1 click or call a month if you are lucky. Not a client, a click or a call.
    I cannot provide local service at a reasonable rate for those types of results.
    Sorry, just don’t see it. But thanks as I had not discovered the “near me” equation on my own and it is relevant at least.

  • Using Google’s Keyword planning tool I did a search volume query for Jacksonville,FL, by far the highest populated city in Florida (Population 836,000) using 4 long tail keywords;
    Realtors near me
    Real estate Agents near me
    homes for sale near me
    Real Estate Offices near me

    Each yielded 10 searches per month. I agree with Robert, I just can’t see charging a monthly fee for those #’s. Real Estate is a hyper competitive market, they might get 1 deal per year with those #’s. Nor do I see our Real Estate Clients paying for SEO, they could’t afford what we would have to charge to be competitive with Zillow, Trulia,, etc.


  • We added the language of “Near Me’ to our website for this specific purpose. Google Plus Pages are so key for local services. I hope Google does not go away from this model.

  • Robert and Josh: I agree. Hardly anyone is going to be typing in “realtors near me”. I don’t think that’s the point here. For me, this represents a glimmer of hope that realtors aren’t *completely* removed from local pack rankings. It makes me wonder if there might be some mistake with dropping the local packs for these industries and that they may be returning. That’s my hope anyway. I think we need to see how this plays out over the next few weeks/months.

  • I’m still seeing local pack in legal results here in Chicago:

    I’ve seen local pack disappear in other locations. Wondering whether we just haven’t “caught up” yet here.

    My very speculative guess is that we’ll see a return of local results in a modified form. My .02, the folks at Google are going to be hard-pressed to argue that directories (which seem to have received a bump) satisfy local business search queries better than the local businesses themselves.

    Curious what folks are seeing in legal space around the web.

  • In the mold removal industry, I did an experiment on “near me” using a client’s Google Adwords and the Search Terms report (to bypass the “not provided” cluster****) over 1,617,480 impressions and 4327 terms…I found that “near me” was used ZERO times. “Near __________” where the blank was a locale or zip code was used, but only 46 times. That means that in 1% of searches, “near” was useful. “Near me” was nowhere. Does Google have a “near me” fantasy? Or are they planning for a new pattern related to voice search?

  • Perhaps Google believes that with everyone has location service turned on making “near me” a more likely search term?

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