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Search Engine Marketing Opportunities in Canada

June 15, 2007

This week I had the honor of speaking at Search Engine Strategies in Toronto. While I was there, attending the other sessions, I had the opportunity to talk to some Canadian-based SEM specialists and find out the state of search engine marketing in Canada.

First, the Canadian market is highly under utilized. Gord Hotchkiss gave a rant at the end of his presentation, Communities, Conversations and Connections: The New Reality of Marketing, at Yahoo sponsored breakfast on how Canada needs to get a clue about search engine marketing. He provided statistics that showed that Canada leads the pack on online usage at 40 hours per month, which is significantly more than the average US user at 29.4 hours. Even though 70% of Canadian households are wired into the internet and use it to research and buy products and services, Canadian businesses are only spending 6% of their advertising budget on Internet advertising.

Okay, so if Canadian businesses aren’t tapping into the Canadian market, what about the US? Unfortunately, US businesses are just as clueless when it comes to Canada. Most online US retailers don’t ship to Canada, so most Canadians don’t bother searching for goods on US websites.

So how can US search engine marketers tap into the Canadian market?

  1. Research the shipping regulations between US to Canada. Shopping and Shipping Across the Canadian Border is a nice place to search your search.
  2. Make sure your shopping cart is equipped to handle international ordering and the different exchange rates.
  3. Once your company understands the regulations and are ready to sell to Canadians, advertise that you ship to Canada.

Watch out Canada…if your businesses aren’t willing to fill the need, someone else will come along and fill it. And personally, I think the Canadian search engine marketing landscape could do with a little competition.