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Canadians Searching Habits: Oh Canada: How Do Thee Search?
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well it finally arrived the other day. I was waiting for my copy of the latest Hitwise Canada Search report. It is always nice to see how others in my native land are using Search. Many around the world praise Canada for how wired we are, yet how do Canadian searchers leverage Search as say to searchers in the US. UK, or other parts of the world?
According to reports, Canadian searchers are more prolific users of Search Engines than their US and UK counterparts. The Hitwise report looks at this comparison and how Canadians searchers differ from those in the United States or Great Britain.

Some of the interesting findings from the study include:
  • Search Engines account for 15% of all Canadian Internet visits (based on June 2009 data)

  • Search Engines tend to be the largest referrer of traffic at over 33% of all upstream visits

  • The most popular search engine in Canada is Google.  No surprise there, but did you know that Canadian searchers use 8 different Google International search engine properties for their queries?  (They use 15 from Yahoo).

  • Google.ca dominates, accounting for 65% of Canadian searches, followed by 18% on

  • Canadians don't do long-tail?  According to the study the majority of Canadian searchers use shorter keyword queries with one or two words.  Quite often one of the words includes a brand.  This is quite a bit different than in other areas of the world where we have seen data suggesting that people are using as much as eight words in their queries with an increase in long-tail type searches.  Are Canadians simply finding the information that they are looking for based on these shorter search queries?

  • 51% of Canadian search terms contained one or two words compared to 43% of searches by
    US Internet users in the twelve weeks to June 27, 2009.

  • Further analysis from the report suggests that Canadian are not finding what they are looking for... at least not on their first search.  On average 30% of Canadian searchers resulted in the searcher not clicking on a listing and leaving the search page (based on data 3 months leading up to the end of June).

  • Canadians depend more on Search Engines than Americans and the British. Search Engines
    accounted for a 52% larger share of Canadian Internet visits compared to the US in June
    and 20% more than the UK.

  • Canadians are avid searchers of specific retailers, and online marketplaces such as Kijiji, eBay and Lespac in particular. Thirty of the top 200 search terms were for retail brands.

  • Social Networks, Entertainment (in particular YouTube) and web based Email Services are also
    much more popular (as measured by share of Internet visits) in Canada than in the UK and US.

  • Canadian searchers are still looking for improved relevancy.  The most likely reason for this is that Search Engines such as Google are placing the American counterpart (i.e. American version of the site) ahead of the actual Canadian listing.  
    • The success rate for searches for “walmart” was 88.83% while for “walmart canada” it was
    • The success rate for searches for “home depot” was 84.25% while for “home depot canada” it was 92.33%.

For additional details or to receive a report visit Hitwise at http://www.hitwise.com/ca/registration-pages/canada-search-report  and download the Hitwise Canada Search Report.
posted by Jody @ Monday, October 26, 2009  
  • At 11:28 AM, Blogger Karl said…

    Interesting statistics, Jody. It makes me wonder about why the Canadian market is different, and I can make a few guesses.

    1. Many Canadian companies are branches of US operations, and they have not tailored their Canadian sites to the differences in our market (other than adding a maple leaf to the home page).

    2. Search results often return US companies, because some Canadian companies are unaware of the value of optimizing their sites for search and get crowded off the SERP by less relevant results.

    3. Some Canadian retailers, especially at a locally owned and operated level, don’t have a web site at all, and search will only reveal a directory listing with a phone number, if anything. For example, a search in Bing for ‘kelowna computer store’ returns one (1!) local computer store listing – the rest are all directories and ads. Google fares slightly better, with local listings and a map, but then it’s mostly directories. And if you do click on a local listing, you don’t get much reward. One local store’s link actually clicks through to a page that says “there are no items to display”. Brilliant marketing.

    4. It’s difficult for search to find a company if their web presence is outdated, non-existent, or brand new. This unsophisticated approach to search makes for a very frustrating search experience for Canadians, so just finding a company’s web site can take several search attempts.

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