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Updated on October 19, 2013 

Every year I attend Search Engine Strategies in Toronto. While this is a global conference, SES Toronto tends to focus more on the Canadian landscape when it comes to SEO, PPC and Internet Marketing. And while there are many similarities between the two countries, when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, it is same, same but different!

1. Search Engines: Google Canada

Search engines (and organic search) are the primary focus of Search Engine Optimizers. And… Google is the number one Search Engine in both Canada and the USA. However the Canadian version of Google is Google.ca (not Google.com). Note: when you perform a search via Google Canada, you have two options: English or French Search.

Google Canada English

Google Canada – English

Google Canada - French

Google Canada – French

2. Language: English Search

Searches by language are the norm. And… the primary language in Canada and the USA is English. The spelling of certain words are however different. If you are targeting a Canadian audience – and want to get found in a Canadian Search ensure that you spell the words accordingly.

3. Domain Name: Country Extension

The .com is a generic top-level domain (TLD), one of the oldest; that stands for “commercial”. Both Canadian and American companies use this popular TLD. The .ca however says you are “Canadian” (and not American). If you want to get web traffic from Canadians, the .ca will help.

4. Cultural Differences: Country Data

People are online and searching the web – most every single day. This holds true for both countries. Search trends, keyword terms, and consumer behaviours however can differ greatly. So…. ensure that Canadian data (not American) is used when determining keywords to target and developing SEO strategies.

5. Inbound Links: Country Specific

There is no doubt that Search Engines love links – and that link juice is SEO fuel. Getting inbound links from other sites that have lots of credibility with the Search Engines are pure gold. Some web directories (even those that you pay for placement) only benefit American sites providing little or no value for Canadian websites. Ensure that you get backlinks from the right sources.

6. Local Search: City Keyword

Again, local search is the norm for both countries. It is a very popular search type. However there are several cities that have the same name in both countries. For example, Ottawa is not only a Canadian city but can also be found in the US. There is an Ottawa in Illinois, Kansas, Ohio and West Virginia. The same is true for Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Calgary and Edmonton. If you are targeting a “location keyword” for PPC, SEO or Internet Marketing kept this in mind.

While the foundation of Search Engine Optimization is the same for both Canada and the USA, as you can see there are several key differences. Country-specific search engine optimization does exist. For Canadian companies that want to get found on Google.ca, and global companies that are targeting the Canadian market place, understanding the uniqueness and developing strategic optimization is essential. And… just because you hire a Canadian SEO Company to do the work, it does guarantee that they are specialized in Canadian Search.

Are you getting found in a Canadian Search?

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