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June 2 , 2009

Google captures 80% of Canadian searches
Advertisers should leverage popularity

A report released last week by Hitwise in Canada revealed that Google search properties accounted for 80 per cent of all Canadian searches conducted in the 12 weeks ending April 25, 2009, a trend that according to Heather Dougherty should be leveraged to increase ad revenue.

Dougherty, the Director of Research for Hitwise, says that Google has been capturing top shares of searches across all markets. Their closest competitor, MSN, accounts for only 8.84 per cent of Canadian searches while Yahoo finished in third place with 7.34 per cent.

“Just the sheer size of the Google search engine makes it the defacto space to advertise,” she says, adding that in Canada, 59 per cent of users search google.ca while 20 per cent search google.com. Other users are even using Google’s international search engines on a regular basis.

But she warns businesses that when it comes to running paid search campaigns, they have to be sure to target google.ca, otherwise they can end up with competition from businesses that forgot to change their default settings and are essentially advertising in markets where they don’t even do business.

“Google really is omnipresent and gives good reach for paid search,” says Dougherty.

What are Canadians doing online?

The top online activity for Canadians is search, capturing almost 15 per cent of all Canadian internet visits in April 2009. Social networking and forums came in a close second with about 14 per cent while entertainment captured just over 13 per cent of visitors.

Search engines account for a 53 per cent larger share of Canadian internet visits compared to the U.S. and 22 per cent larger than the UK.

“I think search is so popular in Canada because it is related to where people go after the initial results page. Canadians are using search to find content and video whereas in the U.S. online users are more about shopping.”

Top 10 most popular Canadian Internet categories - April 2009


Percent of visits

Search Engines (Computers and Internet)


Social Networking and Forums (Computers and Internet)




Email Services (Computers and Internet)


Business and Finance




Portal Frontpages (Computers and Internet)


Multimedia (Entertainment)


Shopping and Classifieds


News and Media


Note: Parent categories were used except for Computers and Internet, where we used the sub-categories Search Engines, Social Networking and Forums , Portal Frontpages  and Email Services. Data is based on 12-week rolling periods (ending April 25, 2009) from the Hitwise sample of 100,000 Canadian Internet users.

Source: Hitwise, an Experian company


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