Some of the most commonly-used search terms among Canadian shoppers are Canadian, Canada, and/or the name of a province, such as “buy business supplies Alberta Canada”. This is also true of shoppers searching for local stores, restaurants, etc.
Search engines use keywords and other methods to determine the physical 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.
Local SEO 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 over US and other Canadian websites, as well as offline competitors.
Following are 15 ways to let search engines know what country, province or city your business is located in:
- Make a list of related keywords and add a location to them. 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.
- Your address can be included at the bottom of every page on your website.
- Testimonials can be included on product pages with the customers’ name, city, province and country.
- Insert location keywords with helpful information, such as “Prices are in Canadian dollars” or “Made in Canada”.
- Use the Canadian spelling of words, such as catalogue, centre, or colour.
- Use your location keywords in the image file name, alt tag, title and description if they’re a natural fit.
- Have a French version of your website.
- Purchase a .ca or provincial domain extension so engines can easily identify you as Canadian. You can find a list of website hosts offering .ca domain extensions and other Canadian-friendly options in our Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business.
- The major search engines allow you to add your country manually if you prefer an international domain extension such as .com or .net. Go to Region for Search Results on the Settings page.
- Ensure that your website information is current in the Whois database.
- Manual submission to search engines.
Submit your website to Canadian, provincial and city directories.
Submit your website to large directories that accommodate localized search, such as the Bing Business Portal.
- The potential for working keywords into blog posts and post titles is virtually endless, and blogs offer a host of other SEO benefits. If you don’t have a blog on your website, I encourage you to seriously consider it.
- Submit guest posts to blogs in your area or national blogs, and include your website link in the author bio. Use our Canadian-Owned Blogs for Blogger Outreach and Guest Posts listing to get started.
- Join local online communities/forums and add a link to your signature if they allow it. Fill out the profile page and include your website link with keywords if possible.
- Add your location to social media accounts.
Bonus Tip: Sponsor local events and charities and give organizers your website URL (most events are shared online).
Have you found other ways to tell search engines to send Canadian shoppers to you? Please share your tips in the comments below or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook Group.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.