Targeting Canada, Eh? Canada-Specific SEO & PPC Issues

by Paul Marek

Paul Marek of, corresponding live from Search Engine Strategies Toronto '09

Track: Corporateville
Canada-Specific SEO + PPC Issues

Ari Shomair, Director of Marketing Optimization, henderson bas
Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO, Acquisio
Guillaume Bouchard, Co-founder and CEO, NVI
Heather Dougherty, Research Director, Hitwise

This session went FAST. I could barely take notes there was so much information coming at us so quickly. There were lots of figures, graphs and charts that displayed statistics, but I tried to pick the "how-to" meat off the bone for you below.

"Geo-ranking" is a major issue for many Canadian companies, whether they are strictly Canada focused, or have intentions for international exposure on the search engines. SEOing for locality can be a hair pulling experience (which may be what my problem is...), but with the right tactics, getting good rankings at (US), (INT'L),,,,,, and many others will be much easier.

One interesting fact I learned today was that results for are different in other countries than the US - no, not other TLD's for Google, but If you want to see what users in US are seeing at, you'll need to add &gl=us to the end of your query.

For obtaining ranking in the country you desire, here's the tactics the pros have shared today - try and guess which one is more important, revealed at the end of the post;

  1. IP location
    • host the site on a server in the country you wish to rank well in
  2. whois info
    • domain registration data should display an address that is specific to the country you want to rank in
  3. Google Webmaster Tools
    • in WMT, you can specify a geo-location that you want Google to index you in - but this only works at the domain level, not for subdomains
  4. country specific TLD (.ca)
    • this one is obvious, the TLD says a lot about where you SHOULD be found
  5. links from other established Canadian sites
    • links from authoritative sites in the country you want to rank in
  6. on-site physical Canadian address
    • have the contact address on your site be a REAL physical Canadian address - Google knows

If you guessed #5 - "links" as being the most important, you were right. All the panelists agreed that obtaining links from authoritative sites from the desired country was by FAR the most effective method of getting ranked where you want.

Links, eh? ...Should've known.

One other factor which may be coming into priority as a signal for determining rankings is address microformatting - placing special ID tags around the address in a standardized format - you can learn more at


Since 1999 SES (formerly Search Engine Strategies) has been the leading international conference series for webmasters, digital agencies, online marketers and corporate decision makers. Over the years SES has guided search marketers of all skill levels through the fast changing and complex world of search — the single fastest growing marketing sector. more

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Acquisio Inc. is a SaaS (software as a service) company that offers a pay-per-click (Google Adsense, Yahoo! Search Marketing, etc.) management software designed specifically for advertising agencies. The company was founded in 2003 as an interactive agency specializing in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and eventually began building software tools for its own use in order to serve its growing... more

Caledon, Ontario, Canada

We build stunning, functional websites that are not only attractive to humans and search engines, they're also attractive to marketing and IT departments. Whether you need a new website, better search rankings for your existing site, or an online marketing campaign to drive more traffic, we have the answers for you. You will easily find a simple solution to your unique online marketing... more

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Paul Marek

Paul Marek

Paul began his online marketing career in 2000, just as Google was coming into the scene.  Quickly realizing the value of search optimization, Paul developed link building and white-hat tactics for corporate clients long before anyone knew what SEO was.  Providing services through for both Canadian and international clients, Paul was able to gain experience in a wide variety of SEO... more

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