Local SEO for Canadian Businesses: Which Online Sources Should Matter to You?

by | Nov 30, 2018

In an earlier blog post, we explored some of the most important aspects of any healthy local business’s SEO strategy. If you’re new to the discussion, local SEO can be defined as “getting your local business to show up as a search result for local consumers (like “restaurants near me”)”.

The first point we discussed focused on online business listings. We mentioned that the best mix of listing sources depended on what industry your business is in, but this post is going to dig a little deeper – focusing on where your business operates; specifically, this one goes out to my fellow Canucks.

If you’re operating a Canadian business, which listing sources should matter to you?

Most of the information you can find online regarding digital marketing advice tends to have a U.S.-centric point of view. It’s nothing personal – our southernly neighbours have a market that dwarfs our own. Something many business owners may not realize is that the strategy for a Canadian business is quite different than for a U.S-based business.

Put simply, most of the listing sources for U.S. businesses don’t have any use for a Canadian business!

Why is this? In the U.S., there are a number of massive data aggregators (Infogroup, Neustar/Localeze, Axciom, Factual) that only operate with U.S. specific data. While these aggregators push information out to dozens, sometimes hundreds of listing sources, they don’t have any functionality for a Canadian business.

(So the next time you get an agency pushing their listing software on you, ask them how they approach this issue. If they can’t give you a satisfactory answer, tell them to take a hike, eh!)

This means that for most Canadian businesses, there are really only a few listing sources to focus us (with respect to niche listing platforms like Zomato and TripAdvisor). When you’re trying to decide which listing sources are most important, keep in mind the most important factors are:

i) being present on the platforms with the highest volume of searches
ii) being present on the platforms that your customers use

Our baseline recommendation for any local Canadian business always features 5 listings.

Google My Business

Google’s Google My Business knowledge panel is the de facto listing source for every local business in North America (and pretty much everywhere else). It lets a local business get found on both Search and Maps results, and provides a potential customer a quick look at what’s most important about that business.

Facebook

Facebook originally started out as The Social Network (great movie!) but has evolved into an extremely powerful marketing tool for local businesses, if used correctly. Most of your customers use Facebook for more than just socializing, and while a business’s overall social marketing strategy depends on many factors, having a business page on Facebook is a no-brainer. It’s a place to communicate information to your customers, gather reviews, and open up the opportunity to wield Facebook’s extremely powerful digital advertising capabilities.

Apple Maps

A lot of people have iPhones now, and you don’t need me to tell you that. But did you know the default mobile browser for iPhone uses Apple Maps results for local Google searches, and not Google My Business results? Even though Apple Maps may not be the first place for many consumers to search information on, this listing features an important intricacy in local SEO. It’s one you don’t want to overlook.

Bing Maps

If you’re like me, you’ve never even set a digital foot inside Bing Maps. But any digital marketer worth his or her salt knows how important it is not to assume all consumers act like we would. Many people (particularly in older demographics) rely on Bing Search for their information. Why is this? One reason could be that Microsoft’s default internet browser, the indefatigable Internet Explorer (it’s still kicking!) defaults to Bing Search for its search results.

Yelp

Yelp was one of the original local business review sites, but things have been slowing down for them recently as Google and Facebook become more ubiquitous amongst consumers. That said, Yelp is still the 3rd fastest growing review site in North America, and that is a pie any business owner should want a piece of. One important distinction between Yelp and Google/Facebook – Yelp actively discourages review requests from businesses to customers. So while it’s a healthy strategy to include your business on Yelp’s listings, we recommend paying more attention to Google and Facebook.

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The best part of these five listing sources? All they take is time to build! If you haven’t already done so, make sure you are incorporating all of these listing sources into your Canadian local SEO strategy. Depending on your industry, there may be other useful sources as well, so do your research or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out!

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