Canadian SEO in 2013 and Beyond
They say that Canadians are humble and polite and overly friendly (all true by the way). They also say that Canada is one of the most wired countries on the planet (also true). In fact, reports such as this one from Yahoo state that while 60% of the world’s population is not connected to the Internet, in Canada it is a different story. Approximately 83% of Canadians are connected to the Internet.
Canadian Internet Usage: 2012
Number of users: 29 million
Total devices: 140 million
Population: 36 million
Estimated Usage: 2017
Number of users: 33 million
Total devices: 255 million
Population: 38 million
As of 2011, 83% of Canadians were plugged in. That’s more than a number of other countries including Australia and the United States.
So okay, we get that Canadians are plugged in, but what about Canadian businesses? When it comes to digital marketing and organic search, it seems like Canadian businesses have been a little slow out of the gate. Yet, Canadian businesses have been promoting their brands and services online more and more in recent years.
It is easy to see the shift in advertising spend and where it is going as Search is expected and has in fact seen an increase in spend over the past five years. This brings us to Search and specifically organic search in Canada. If we examine Google for a moment, the one major difference between US-based and Canadian-based businesses (and their web properties) is that Canadian sites have more of an opportunity to be seen in both google.com and google.ca. Of course, it is worth mentioning that the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are quite different when comparing Google.com and Google.ca. In fact, Google maintains separate databases for 10 different countries including the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Australia. When comparing US-based and Canadian-based versions of Google:
- Google.ca has its own Canadian-oriented index
- Google.com searches from within Canada redirect you to Google.ca (unless of course you are searching via a proxy)
- Google.com searches from within the USA access a separate index
- Algorithm updates tend to be released in the US first followed by other GEOs (including Canada) later.
So perhaps an argument can be made that while Canadian businesses may have been a little behind to take the digital plunge, the same could be said about the Google.ca algorithm being a little behind its US counterpart. At the end of the day Google is simply trying to return the most relevant result to you based on you location and past search history. As a business, at the end of the day you are just trying to drive qualified traffic and generate qualified leads. If you are a Canadian business targeting Canadians, you want to ensure that you have a strong presence on Google.ca.
5 Quick SEO Tips for Ranking in Google.ca
- Understand your target demographic – if you are a Canadian business and are targeting a Canadian audience, ensure that you leverage a .ca domain name. This will send a strong signal to Google that your site is more relevant to a Canadian audience. Deploy a relevant .ca URL for your web property.
- Optimize for Local – ensure that your contact us page features your full address or multiple addresses for your physical locations. Leveraging Google+ Local allows you to create a listing for your business that includes the address, hours of operation, and keywords about the products/services you offer.
- Set your preferred domain in Webmaster Tools – if you are solely targeting a Canadian audience, you can set your preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools to “Canada”. However just know that by doing this you could be alienating your US-based audience. Typically we would recommend setting your preferred domain to the US, so this is only if you are solely targeting the Canadian audience.
- Building links from other Canadian sites – if you are producing link-worthy content, you should naturally be able to attract links to your pages and your website. The higher the quality of links, the better your site will perform in Google. The higher the quality of links from another Canadian site, the better your site will perform in Google.ca. Sites that are authorities in Google.ca will carry a lot more weight and thereby provide more value as linking sources if you are trying to place well in Google.ca.
- Ensure page copy targets the Canadian audience – if you are an electrician in Toronto or a plumber in Calgary you want to ensure that you utilize fresh content that is of high quality that describes your services in these areas. Unique, fresh, and relevant content will always ensure success with Google in Google.ca or other GEO versions of Google.
So your focus is on the Canadian marketplace and you require some assistance with your digital strategy. Where should you focus?
SEO in Canada: What Services Should You Look For?
SEO in Canada is not that much different than SEO elsewhere. The main difference might be in the local and linking strategies that you would deploy. At Mediative, we are Canada’s leading provider of SEO services and organic search practices. We offer a wide arrange of services that you can use to help grow your business both online and offline. SEO typically works best when combined with additional channels. Some of the services that we focus on (and provide) include:
- Search engine optimization
- Local search optimization
- Display advertising
- Social media marketing
- Content development
- Website redesign optimization
- Conversion path optimization
- Analytics insight and reporting
We also offer pay-per-click-advertising to boost your organic search efforts. A successful SEO strategy starts with a clear understanding of your business, your customers, and their online behavior. At Mediative we understand this and as a result we are one of Canada’s largest digital media advertising companies, offering extensive display, mobile, and other location based marketing solutions.
Canadian SEO in 2014 and beyond will mean more of a local focus: more focus on developing high quality content that can be easily accessed whether through a desktop or mobile device. In fact, in 2014, SEO will no longer be “search engine optimization” it will truly become more about organic search and developing an online presence for you to engage with your audience. Whether Google tests overview snippets on their search results or ranking factors continue to change, the only thing restricting you and your online marketing efforts may be Google itself. Continuing to focus on producing fresh and high quality content to make your site more engaging will continue to pay off and as a result, you will be able to grow your business and your relationship with your target audience.