Client in Canada, We are based in US

Hi all,
I am curious to know how location affects SEO. We have a new client who we designed a website for who is based in Canada but he also wants us to take on his SEO efforts for the first 3 months (I just found this out). We have never done SEO for company out of the US and are curious if you could point me in the right direction.

Any helpful tips? Is there a different way we should approach this? Anything would help!

It’s the same for any country specific site:

  • Host the site in the same country if you can
  • Tailor text content in the native language(s) if it’s country specific audience, eg “elevator” in the US is “lift” in the UK
  • Provide good, accurate and useful information to allow visitors to achieve their goals
  • Optimise page load speed etc

What if he would like to rank well in both the US and Canada? He runs a construction company and wants to attract home builders in the US that may have vacation homes in CA.

Curious how I would approach that?

Assuming he’s going to only work within a certain distance of his location, I think the content should reflect that. eg.
testimonial from SomeClient, SomeCity, SomeState - “great, affordable, blah, blah”
“portfolio” of past jobs (with the clien’ts permission) eg.
Kitchen cabinet installation for a SomeTown, SomeProvince customer.

As @Mittineague says it’s all about mentioning those facts in your text copy - aka the stuff that the sites visitors will read.

Just to add a word to the good advice you’ve already been given …

In general, search engines are good at figuring out which country a given company is based in, and which market they are serving. The signals that they use to determine this include: the country where the website is hosted; the top-level country domain (.ca in this case); the language of the website (perhaps not so relevant for Canada vs US, but might be for UK vs US); and a few minor factors.

Once they determine the country, they will favour the site in searches performed by people in that country - all other things being equal. So if a person searches for the name of a product, they are more likely to see results from companies selling that product in their own country. You’ve no doubt seen this yourself in your own searches.

If, exceptionally, the engine fails to detect the country (perhaps because it is a .com site and is hosted in a country other than the one where the company is based), then you can notify the engine which country you are targeting. You might also do this if you are based in one country but most of your customers come from another country. How you notify the engine varies; in the case of Google, you would use the relevant feature of Google Webmaster Tools.

To summarise: You probably don’t have to worry about any of this. Just apply the usual good principles of SEO, and you are unlikely to go wrong.