Some of the most common search words used by Canadian shoppers are Canadian, Canada, and/or the name of a province, such as "buy business cards Alberta Canada". This is also true of shoppers searching for local stores, entertainment, services, or any businesses in close proximity.
Search engines use keywords and other methods to determine the location of business websites, be that in your neighbourhood or nationally. These algorithms are used to provide results for searchers who specify a locality, and they're also used in narrowing results automatically based on the searcher's IP address or other identifying information.
"A marketing channel that small businesses often overlook is achieving visibility in local search listings," writes Ron Jones in his book, Keyword Intelligence. "Consumers, whether they are searching from their desktop computers or mobile devices, are often looking for local businesses."
Localized Search Engine Optimization for Canadian Businesses
One of the reasons Canadians aren't finding local or national establishments for online or offline shopping, is the lack of local, organic search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your website to grab these shoppers can give you a serious competitive advantage, both online and offline. Following are 15 ways to let search engines know what country, province or city your business is located in.
1. Make a list of related keywords and add a location to them, such as "maple syrup New Brunswick". Use them in your content whenever you can do so without it making it sound awkward. It's important to remember the golden search rule of not overusing your keywords. Use them where they fit naturally with product information, company information, and shipping pages, as well as in blog posts.
2. Your address can be included at the bottom of every page of your website. It's a good practice to establish trust as well.
3. Testimonials can be included on product pages with the customers' name, city, province and country.
4. Insert location keywords with helpful information, such as "Prices are in Canadian dollars" or "Made in Canada".
5. Use the Canadian spelling of words, such as catalogue, centre, or colour.
6. Use your location keywords in image file names, alt tags, titles and descriptions. For example, if you sell maple syrup you could name the product photo "Maple_Syrup-New_Brunswick.jpg", and include "Maple Syrup made in New Brunswick, Canada" in your HTML image information, caption and product details.
7. Have a French version of your website to bring in French Canadian shoppers, or people in Quebec who are looking for something locally.
8. Purchase a .ca or provincial domain extension (.bc.ca) so search engines can easily identify you as Canadian. The major search engines allow you to add your location manually if you prefer an international domain extension, such as .com or .net.
9. Ensure that your website information is current in the Whois database.
10. Manual submission to search engines:
- Submit your website to Canadian, provincial and city directories, such as Industry Canada Business Directory, Canada One Business Directory, and CdnPages.ca.
- Submit your website to large directories that accommodate localized search, such as The Open Directory Project and Bing Business Portal.
11. The potential for working local keywords into blog posts and post titles is virtually endless, and blogs offer a host of other SEO benefits.
12. Submit guest posts to popular Canadian blogs and include your website link in the author bio. You'll gain exposure to local consumers directly and provide another local lead for search engines to follow.
13. Add your location to your social media profiles.
14. Sponsor local events and charities and give organizers your website URL. Most events are shared online and it's standard practice to mention sponsors.
15. Pay for geo-targeted advertising on individual search engines. Most of them have sophisticated options for hyper-local targeting.
To know you is to love you. Take advantage of every opportunity to let Canadian shoppers know you're here to serve them.
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