Is your goal to sell your products abroad? Are you thinking of the European market? Or maybe it’s a good idea to learn more about SEO practices further away, for example in Canada? Keep reading to find out more about the Canadian market and the examples of successful activities, which will help you decide whether expanding to Canada is right for your business.
The characteristics of the Canadian market
Canada, also known as the country of the maple leaf, it’s the second biggest country in the world. It’s multicultural – and it’s also a vast, rich, and absorptive market, especially when it comes to online services. It’s worth keeping in mind that it’s one of the richest countries in the world, with the above-average standard of living. What’s more, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement CETA was definitely an important step towards fruitful cooperation between Canada and European countries. It was signed at the end of September 2017 to eliminate customers’ duty and other non-tariff barriers by 98%.
What to take into account in order to succeed in the Canadian Internet?
Currently, there are more than 36 million people in Canada, and more than half takes advantage of e-commerce. The way Google works is pretty much the same as in Poland. It’s worth to consider slight differences, however, such as the competitiveness of the market and the existence of two official languages (English and French). Below you can find the most important factors to consider when expanding to Canada.
Language – a significant factor that affects SEO
Canada is a country with two official languages: English and French. More than 20% of all citizens use two of them simultaneously, which is why none of them should be underestimated. 58% of Canadians use English, whereas 21% speak French, according to the statistics available at https://www12.statcan.gc.ca. Many companies perceive these numbers as a barrier since they usually impose higher costs of having multi-language websites and the necessity of performing marketing activities in various languages at once. Not everyone’s budget is ready for it. Proper Search Engine Optimisation in Canada, then, basically requires creating two separate websites. Having two versions of the same one might be much less popular. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that such a solution is usually more cost-efficient and cheaper. One hosting and one page with multiple languages might be favored by many, but such a website might encounter obstacles, such as limited link building options in catalogs for a given country. Yet, with separate websites, you can target a more specific audience. Having your own ccTLD with a country code can also be an important factor when it comes to optimization efforts.
In Canada, the default language version of the majority of websites is English. The French version, however, is often seen as an addition. You can find the examples of such websites below:
|French version of a Canadian website||English version of a Canadian website|
Quebec is the largest province in Canada in terms of size. It matters since French is the only official language there – even though half of the population also knows English. Still, local websites are bilingual, with the French version being the default one, and the English is only the addition. The best examples of such websites are those of local service companies and restaurants.
|French version of a website||English version of a website|
Social media in Canada
Social networks have a wide reach. In fact, hyperlinks coming from such channels are treated by Google as valuable. Plus, there’s also a chance to reach a wider audience, which is another reason why different aspects of social media marketing should be taken into account when expanding to the Canadian market. According to Canadian Internet Registration Authority, 74% of all Canadians use Internet 3-4 hours a day. This number should not be underestimated, given that 67% of the respondents have social media accounts. Interestingly, according to SocialBakers, Canadians have recently become more interested in the following industries on social media: retail, food, services, e-commerce, fashion (the peak can be seen from June 2018 onwards).
Below you can find a graph with the number of social media users in Canada from 2017, with the estimates till 2023. As you can see, the popularity of social networks has been increasing steadily, year by year. It all comes down to one conclusion: Investing in the social media presence of your business is definitely worth it, since it affects its popularity, along with brand awareness and even profits.
According to the Statcounter GlobalStats, Pinterest was almost as popular in Canada as Facebook back in March. It’s particularly interesting since the trend is completely different from the situation in Poland, where Facebook is far ahead of the competition. It’s also worth taking into account Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Reddit, even though they might bring less significant results than the most popular social networks.
Where to build links?
Link building can bring a lot of benefits, provided that you build quality links in the process. Google takes into account factors such as valuable and comprehensive content, site optimisation, as well as the number and quality of backlinks. That’s precisely why links should be built from relevant and secure websites. Their types should vary as well – with different anchor texts, including the address of the domain itself. As for Google – the links should be natural and bring some value to the users. With its algorithms, Google strives to provide the most relevant and useful answers to what search engine users might be looking for.
Even though the SEO in Canada is done “in a standard way”, link building is a slightly different story. Many SEO agencies use the same approach to link building worldwide – but it’s not a good way to go. Link building in Canada is essential… building links in Canada, not in any other country. It would be a big mistake to build links only from the US websites – that’s why it should be avoided, along with the .com domains. Canada is an independent country that has thousands of relevant websites with .ca domain, which should be taken into account when building links. This rule should not be taken too seriously, though – building doffolow links from org., .com, or .edu won’t hurt that much. It’s also worth sticking to the sites of Page Authority between 4-8 and avoiding catalogues that Google sees as spam. It’s essential, however, to create unique and high-quality content.
Search engines – what are the most popular in Canada?
When starting SEO process in Canada, it’s a good practice to get familiar with the most popular search engines. Each of them has its own set of rules, which is why you should be aware of them first. Below you can find data from March 2019 that show how the search engines are being used in Canada (according to Statcounter GlobalStats).
Google’s edge over the competition is clearly visible with its 93%. It means that it’s worth following Google’s guidelines when optimising websites in Canada and strive for the highest positions in Google’s SERP possible. Google’s popularity is well-deserved, mostly due to complex projects and the speed of finding the results for every search engine user. Bing takes the second places, even though it’s share is quite marginal – a little above 4%. Other search engines listed are Yahoo (2,16%), DuckDuckGo (0,7%), MSN (0,11%) and Baidu (0,04%).
What domain to choose?
When dealing with international SEO and choosing a domain, it’s recommended to go for multiregional domains. To put it simply, it’s a website meant specifically for the users from a given country. Multilingual websites, on the other hand, offer content in multiple languages. Multilingual websites might be cheaper for entrepreneurs but are not the best way to go. In Canada, its .ca domain is an asset when it comes to site optimization. Actually, your website might not be added to a local catalog otherwise. It’s also worth remembering that if you want to have your images displayed in Google, you should have different pictures for each version of the website.
The sites with the .ca domain can be bought by Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and companies registered in Canada. Plus, such a domain can only be registered if it has a trademark that is compatible with its name, which has to be valid in Canada.
The E-commerce market in Canada
According to the statistics from 2018, there’s a visible increase in e-commerce retail sales. Last year, for example, they increased by 9,1% in comparison to the year before. And it’s only the beginning – it’s estimated that in 2020 the sales will grow by another 9,1%. Below you can find a graph that shows these numbers, along with the estimates till 2023.
The numbers for Canada are pretty impressive, especially given the fact that e-commerce sales amounted to 40 billion dollars last year. What’s more, they are expected to continue growing – and to reach more than 55 billion dollars. It’s easy to see, therefore, that this market is attractive for many countries. In fact, the Canadian market is growing at an unprecedented rate. Plus, as the graph below presents – the e-commerce market share is also growing rapidly, based on the data from Statista.com.
What do Canadians buy online the most?
Total revenue from Canadian e-commerce amounts to almost 25 billion dollars. According to Ayima.com’s report, Canadians seem to buy gifts for others (74%), clothes and shoes (68%), as well as books and CDs/DVDs (65%) the most. They also purchase tickets for live events, or book plane tickets and accommodation quite often. The most popular online stores and marketplaces, though, are Amazon, eBay, Chapters-Indigo and AliExpress. It means that there’s high competition in the realm of Canadian e-commerce. Many smaller stores have to try really hard to stand out. Interestingly, Voice Assistants are becoming increasingly popular, also when it comes to online shopping. In fact, 42% of Canadians have already used it to make a purchase, and 16% uses this option regularly. This should be seen taken seriously by entrepreneurs who own online stores, as product pages should start being optimised for voice search as well. It’s important, still, to choose the right keywords and not to neglect other search methods. Especially since, in 2018, Canadians were still using their computers the most, followed by smartphones, in order to browse the Internet. As a matter of fact, products were still the most often bought via desktop (by 82% of respondents, to be precise), and smartphones (27%). It’s then also worth investing in responsive sites that work well on a mobile device.
For those entrepreneurs who want to offer their products in Canada, it’s also worth taking into account the tools that are used by the customers to buy online. Below you can find the insights from 2018, which indicate that websites and mobile apps widely influence the choices of Canadians when making purchases online. Blogs and social networks also attract some a lot of attention from Canadian shoppers.
SEO in Canada is certainly a topic that should interest those who are planning to expand their operations to this attractive market. SEO efforts should include link building, creating unique and high-quality content, social media integration, relevant keywords, blogging, choosing the language versions of the site, and the type of the website itself. Only a careful analysis of all these factors guarantees a successful expansion to the Canadian market.