State of Internet Search Engines in Canada, 2018

Searching for Translation online image

Searching in Canada

Canada is a vast landscape encompassing different ecosystems, economies, languages, and ethnicities.  Despite its size, Canada is one of the most sparsely populated nations as much of the land is challenging to human life.  Tough winters and difficult terrain leave hundreds of square miles without a single human soul.  With an environment like that, it pays to be connected and stick together whenever possible.  Approximately 82% of Canadians live in or near cities, and most of these are close to the Canada-United States border.  Canada has a close relationship with its neighbor to the south, with strong economic and historical ties. Thousands of people from each country cross the border every year to visit and do business.

Canada has embraced new technologies and joined the new wave of the digital world.  Survey-based data as of January 2018 reveal an internet and smartphone-savvy population.  Out of a total population of about 37 million people, 89% report using the internet daily, a 90% penetration rate.  Few activities besides eating and breathing can boast a similar number of users. 26.5 million people report that they are active mobile internet users, which is a 72% penetration rate.

In today’s digital culture, our search engines, whether on our desks or in our hands, become an eye through which we can see our worlds- and each other’s.  Today we’re looking at the changing face of Canada, the current state of internet search engine use, and how your business can make that information work for you in English, French, or the language of your target audience in Canada.

Who is Canada today? 

Demographics in Canada’s population have been shifting for some time and show no sign of stopping.  The majority of Canada’s population growth in recent years has been from immigration, with Canada ranking 9th in the world as a destination for new citizenship.  Canadian citizens often live abroad, that figure currently being close to 10%.

Immigrants find Canada an attractive prospect for various reasons.  The economy is strong, there is plenty of work, and plenty of space and Canada generally has a friendly attitude towards new people.  Many of these new citizens are coming from China and make up most of the approximate 1 million people in Canada who speak a Chinese dialect as their native language.  Other languages growing in use include Punjabi and Spanish, with Tagalog experiencing the fastest growth rate.

Projections place Canada to become one of the nations most composed of immigrants and their children, citizens by birth. By 2031, it is expected that over half of all Canadians over the age of 15 will have been born outside of Canada or have at least one foreign-born parent.  High immigration rates, a modern economic and political system accelerates the need for information to be readily accessible in multiple languages. Translation services in Canada play an important role in making effective communications possible in its diverse environment.

How do today’s Canadians get information?

  • 61% of desk and laptop computer users report using a search engine at least once monthly, 53% for mobile users. With such a digitally-minded population, it follows that Canadians display strong preferences for their data delivery.
  • As of 2018’s first quarter, enjoys the position of the most used search engine. With Google’s 90.1% market share, the rates after that drop sharply, with Bing at 5.6% and Yahoo! at 2.5%.
  • Desktop computer users favored Google for their searching needs at about 85.5%, but mobile users use almost nothing but Google to search, at 97% of the market share.
  • Tablet and other handheld computer users sit at 92% using primarily Google. (Bing, Yahoo!, and DuckDuckGo claim shares of what is left.)
  • The most entered search queries include Facebook, Google, YouTube, and weather.
  • For internet browsers, Canadians favor Chrome first and Safari second on desktop, rankings swapped for mobile browsers.

With so much information being shared in different channels across such a diverse population, it follows that the more information a website can share in as many languages as possible, the more useful it will be, and the more hits it will get when people search for products and services.

What does this mean for my business?

french translation and localizationIf your business wants to have a strong online presence in Canada, there are a few things you should do to get the most out of the country’s current state of web searches and shifting the ethnolinguistic landscape.  Besides being aware of Canadians’ searching and browsing habits, there are many other factors to account for.

  • Embrace Canada’s bilingual nature. Canada has two official languages, English and French, and most Canadians speak at least some of both.  Your website won’t get far among Canadian users if it is not available in both French and English, so use professional translation services for your content.  You will also need to be keenly aware of legalities across Canada’s many provinces regarding which language must be offered on a primary basis or if equal attention must be given.
  • Localize! Be aware that you cannot use the same kind of French in Canada that you would in France.  Canadian French has had an evolution all its own over the years, with different influences than its mother country.  Using France’s French for the French Translation of your website will make it plain to Canadians that you did not make the effort to localize the language to the Canadian Market.
French Europe French Candian Meaning
Des frites Une patate frite French fries
Il pleut Il mouille It is raining
Attraper, Prendre Pogner To catch, grab
Un copain Un chum Boyfriend
Une perite amie Une blonde Girlfriend
  • Be mindful of your Canadian English content as well.  Canadian English is slightly different from English  in the United States, using a spelling system closer to the UK’s, e.g. “colour” over “color.” “ Favour” instead of “favor,” and “centre” over “center.”  Words such as ”realize” and ”paralyze are usually spelled with -ize or -yze rather than -ise or -yse.
English USA English Canadian
Center Centre
Color Colour
Traveling Travelling
Gray Grey
Defense Defence
Favor Favour
  • Consider going beyond bilingual English-French. 20% of Canadians already speak a language other than French or English as their native tongue.  The majority of these are indigenous peoples, but Canada’s large number of soon-to-be citizens is also part of that figure.  This is yet another reason why carefully targeting your market and tailoring your message to them is crucial. Use only professional translators to ensure accuracy and cultural relevance in your digital presence and print material.
  • Keep in mind that with every language that you add to your marketing repertoire, you add a new dimension of cultural competency necessary to bring your message home.  Rely on native experts to make sure that your brand and products will appeal to your market.  Find out what keywords are most used by your target linguistic group.
  • Use Canada’s SEO strategies and suppliers. For instance, YellowPagesGroup is the largest provider of data on Canada to the world.  It feeds information directly to Google, and to smaller sites such as Yahoo! Local and Canpages.  The Canadian government provides an unusually large pool of searchable data via Industry Canada to search engines and direct to the public.
  • Canadians use social media to stay connected domestically and with friends and family across borders. Use a local expert to familiarize yourself with their social media habits and create accounts for your business that will come across as both friendly and familiar.  If your social media pages are fun and relevant, that will create followers and loyal clients.
  • Think practically. Canadians like to shop online, but a perennial sticking point is that many businesses either do not ship to Canada or charge exorbitant fees to ship goods to them.  Consider making your business the exception.

Translation Services in Canada help businesses attract a diverse clientele

If you want to build your business’s clientele by marketing to a diverse, informed, and modern crowd, Canada is the perfect place to do so.  Though smaller in population compared to many world powers, Canada, and its people are making their presence known. If done strategically, with knowledge of what Canadians will use to find your business, and what they will want to find when they get there, your brand will discover Canada to be a goldmine of sales opportunities.  It is always wise to rely on a Professional Translation Services Company skilled in localization, and local, professional, multilingual SEO experts.