Search engine optimization, or SEO as it’s known by nearly everyone, has become extremely competitive in the vast modern internet of today. Ranking for nearly any keyword, set of keywords, topic or niche that are even half valuable in monetary terms requires putting in some serious work. You will without a doubt have to conduct sound research, lots of testing and possibly even need professional assistance to lighten the load on your own SEO.
This competitive aspect of SEO especially applies to websites written in English, possibly the most commercially dominant business language of the internet. And the largest single English-speaking market involves the United States and Canada. On the other hand, you can turn this to your advantage, by cleverly tailoring your own optimization to U.S or Canadian geographies for a competitive edge. This is what we’re going to cover now with these essential tips.
Before we get down to the key pillars of targeted SEO, let’s start with a basic checklist of good practices and simple steps you can and usually should take to give yourself a leg up on making your site’s SEO robust in general.
These steps don’t individually guarantee results, but they all help. You can use this list as a quick reference for delving deeper into detailed strategies for each.
Read our other articles The Essential SEO Checklist and Definitive Guide to SEO for more information on completing the other steps required for SEO.
Online reviews help to boost SEO, especially Google reviews which are a factor in developing better Google rankings. A study shows that the number of Google reviews a business has can impact its ranking. Good Google reviews can also help small businesses to compete against larger companies by conveying trust and credibility. Be sure to get relevant reviews from all areas of the country you are targeting.
Work into the content that you are ‘national in scope’. Things like ‘free shipping nationwide’ to differentiate your business from your local base. You can still target specific cities and regions with content specific to their areas.
Content marketing is extremely important in SEO and it’s a good way to engage a national audience. It is relatively easy to find local directories and citations – which you still need for the cities you represent – but it is more difficult for businesses that are national in scope. Thus, blogging and content marketing are important.
Content is still king on the internet and high Google rankings by the search engines absolutely count on it. Sure, there’s lots of SEO gaming but in the long run, you’ll be read, shared, reshared, linked to and ranked higher if a wide body of readers love what you’re creating. This means making your content as rich and useful as possible.
Get your site and its content linked to on social media and other websites, preferably authoritative websites in your niche linking back to your website. Social media shares won’t directly affect your SEO because Google doesn’t index them, but they will boost readership by alternate means and that does help site popularity.
Your website content should absolutely be based on sound keyword research for your niche and your U.S. or Canadian geography, preferably by combining geography and niche keywords where you can write the two together naturally. Avoid keyword stuffing and use keywords naturally in your text.
Create content that people love and feel relevant enough to share. Even if the content isn’t text-based, try to make it interesting enough to be linked to by major websites. If you can do this, your search engine rankings can skyrocket in just weeks. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.
Basically, keep your specific page URLs as keyword-focused and simple as possible and relevant to the country you are targeting. For instance, consider using a .ca domain if your business is only focused on Canada. A few URL setups include country code domain like domain.ca, subdomains like ca.domain.com, sub-directories like domain.com/ca or an entirely different domain like domaincanada.com.
Your links should take readers to authoritative, reputable websites that offer recent, quality information that’s relevant to what you’re covering on your site. Not every link you place is going to go to something that meets these criteria (that will depend on what you’re talking about), but link quality optimization is a good general idea and practice.
Keep your site and page layout neat, easy to navigate and clear. Don’t let ads, popups and typography clutter into the screen and block content that readers want to see. Keep your text neatly spaced and easily digestible.
As of 2021, 90% of the world’s internet-using population accesses websites through its mobile devices. This is 4.32 billion people! If your site doesn’t smoothly work on smartphone screens, you are going to have very serious SEO problems.
Write your content in both Spanish and English when targeting the US nationally and write a French version of your website for addressing Canada nationally. Content that is written in both languages is better than using a language convertor tool on your website.
Aside from all of the general rules above, a fundamental pillar of strong SEO involves making your site as targeted as possible towards its specific niche. If your niche is on the expansive side, then you can still target it more specifically by making it relevant to a specific geography or a particular subset of that niche. Your content and keywords should reflect this as much as possible and so too should things like your site’s links and meta tags.
The reason why you should target is simple enough: it reduces your competition. If your site is about something really popular and generic like DIY car repair, crafting content and keywords that are aimed for an audience of car repair fans in just the United States, or in a few specific U.S states will go a long way towards making your overall site search engine rankings grow. This will then make broader ranking easier too.
The crucial parts of targeting more specifically are sound keyword research and using those keywords to create quality content. What you create with your keywords should offer quality information with relevance to your geographic or other type of target audience. Simply creating generic, shallow website content but stuffing your site with geographically specific keywords is not the answer to sound long-term SEO.
In addition to these factors there is a myriad of other variables you to take care of for on-page SEO, off-page SEO and Technical SEO.
If you are national company with a local office or multiple locations be sure too apply all of the local SEO principles to these locations.
You could use your physical locations to your advantage with local SEO that makes it more difficult for national competitors to compete with you. By doing this, you will make best use of your local clout with a Google Business Listing, map results, local convenience and and a greater degree of trust. Competing locally is usually less expensive than nationally and your competitors will be forced to pay for potentially expensive Google Ads to get any exposure other than organic search results.
SEO is hard no matter how well or strategically you manage it. You might get lucky with your efforts and rapidly gain mention in major websites on the wider internet, but don’t count on this kind of Hail Mary pass of luck for success.
Instead, if you really think that your SEO efforts aren’t moving quickly enough, or they’re simply beyond your ability to focus on effectively, you also have the option of outside help from professionals.
Our core specialty is SEO, and our results have helped to develop many successful long-term relationships with our clients, many of whom have been with us for over a decade, and we hope to add you to our long list of satisfied customers.
Contact us now for a free consultation.