Local Listings: How Canadian Retailers Stack Up and What You Can Learn

September 16, 2015
Aaron Polmeer

By rMaynes1

Posted by rMaynes1

Local online listings are an essential component of an effective strategy to drive customers into local stores. Ranking highly in the search engine results and dominating the top rankings with your listings is critical for your customers to be able to find you in an online search.

Partnering with Placeable, Mediative, one of North America’s leading digital marketing and advertising agencies, took twenty-five of Canada’s top retail brands (those with multiple local stores, spread nationally), and analyzed how they’re faring when it comes to local digital marketing compared to their American counterparts. The analysis found that 80% of the online listings for twenty-five of Canada’s top retailers are inconsistent, inaccurate, or missing information. The top twenty-five US retailers are outperforming the top twenty-five Canadian retailers by over 28%.

The retailers’ digital presence was analyzed across four dimensions, and brands received a score from 0 to 100 for each of the four dimensions. The dimension scores were weighted and combined into a single overall score: the NatLo™ Score (“National-to-Local”). This overall score is an authoritative measure of a company’s local digital marketing performance:


Depth and accuracy of published location content, as well as the richness and completeness of site information. Some examples include name, address, phone number, descriptions, services, photos, calls-to-action, and more.

Brands that achieve exceptional depth deliver a better customer experience with richer content about their locations and offerings. Greater Depth also produces higher online to offline conversion rates and supports other marketing calls-to-action.


Website effectiveness in search/discoverability. Some examples include site structure, page optimization, and web and mobile site performance.

Strong visibility produces higher search engine rankings and greater traffic. It also enables brands to achieve multiple listings in search results. Brands with poor Visibility surrender more traffic to directories and competitors.


Data consistency and coverage across third-party sites. Some examples include presence, completeness, and accuracy of location data on third party sites such as Google, Facebook, Factual, Foursquare, and the Yellow Pages directory site (YellowPages.ca).

Brands with outstanding reach can be found by consumers across a range of search engines, social sites and apps. Poor Reach can lead to consumer confusion and misallocated marketing investments.


Geographic accuracy of location data. For example, the pin placement of each location based on latitude and longitude, or the dispersion of pins on third-party sites (pin spread).

Superior precision enables customers to efficiently navigate to a brand’s location. Failure to ensure Precision damages customer trust and increases the risk of competitive poaching.

Key findings of the report

  • Across twenty-five of Canada’s top retailers, on average, 80% of all third-party site listings are inconsistent, inaccurate, or missing information.
  • The top twenty-five US retailers outperformed retailers in Canada by over 28%. Canadian retailers are weak in comparison.
  • In the analysis of twenty-five of Canada’s top retail brands, seven (or 28%) did not have local landing pages on their website, a key component of local SEO strategy that’s needed to rank higher in search engines and get more traffic.
  • Of those that included local landing pages, 72% failed to provide any content over and above the basics of name, address, hours, and phone number on their location pages. Engaging local content on local pages increases a brand’s visibility on the search engine results page, and ultimately drives more traffic to the website and in-store.
  • When it comes to Facebook location data, 90% was either inconsistent or missing, and 75% of Google+ location data was either inconsistent or missing. Inadequate syndication of location data across the third party ecosystem leads to poor placement in search engine results and the loss of online site visits.
  • Only 8% of map pin placements were “good,” with 92% being “fair” or “poor.” Inaccurate pin placements lead to customer frustrations, and a stronger chance customers will visit competitors’ locations.

Canada’s best-performing retail brands

Brands with NatLo™ scores of over 70 have positioned themselves digitally to perform effectively within their local markets, drive consumer awareness, achieve online and mobile visibility, and capture the most web traffic and store visits. Brands achieving a score in the 60s are still doing well and have a good grasp of their local strategy; however, there are still areas that can be improved to maintain competitiveness. Scores below 60 indicate that there are areas in their local strategy that need improvement.

The average score across the Canadian retailers that were analyzed was just under 48—not a single one of the brands was excelling at maintaining accurate and consistent information across multiple channels. Ultimately, the listings accuracy of Canadian brands is weak.

The five top-performing brands analyzed and their corresponding NatLo™ scores were as follows:

Jean Coutu


















Lululemon Athletica






Real Canadian Superstore






Deep dive on depth: Jean Coutu

Jean Coutu performed exceptionally well in the dimension of depth, achieving the highest score across the retailers (80). What does Jean Coutu do to achieve a good depth score?

  1. The brand publishes the name, address, phone number, and hours for each location on its website.
  2. Additional location information is provided, including local flyers and offers, directions, services provided, brands offered, photos, and more (see image below). This delivers a much better customer experience.

Deep dive on visibility: Rona

Rona performed exceptionally well in terms of visibility, with a score of 86.

Rona achieves superior digital presence by using optimized mobile and web locators, plus page optimization tactics such as breadcrumb navigation. The website has a good store locator (as can be seen in the image below), with clean, location-specific urls that are easy for Google to find (e.g. https://www.rona.ca/en/Rona-home-garden-kelowna-kelowna):

In this study of Canadian retailers, many brands struggled with visibility due to the absence of specific, indexible local landing pages and a lack of engaging local content.

Deep dive on reach: Real Canadian Superstore

Real Canadian Superstore performed exceptionally well in the dimension of reach with a score of 72. The brand has claimed all of its Facebook pages, and 69% of location data matches what is listed on their website. Real Canadian Superstore also performed well in terms of its Google+ Local pages, with 49% of location data matching. The brand has a good local presence on Facebook, YellowPages.ca, Factual, Foursquare, and Google+ Local. By claiming these pages, the brand is extending its online reach.

Across all third-party sites measured, Real Canadian Superstore had a 0% location data missing rate on average, compared to the total average across all brands of 20%. Many of the brands struggled with external reach, missing important location information on Facebook and Google+, or having inaccurate information when compared to the same location information on the brand’s website.

Deep dive on precision: Rexall Pharmacy

Interestingly, none of the top-scoring retailers performed very well in terms of precision (accuracy and consistency of pin placements). Rexall Pharmacy was the top performer, with a score of 62. At the time of writing, their precision scores were as follows:

39% were good.
35% were fair.
26% were poor.

In the retail industry, competing businesses can be located very closely to one another, so if the location of your business on a map or the directions provided through the map are accurate, there’s less chance of your customers visiting your competitor’s locations instead of yours.

In conclusion

All in all, Canada’s top retail brands excel at brand advertising at the national level. But when it comes to driving local customers into local stores, a different strategy is required, and not all the top retailers are getting it. A solid local strategy requires all four dimensions to be addressed in order to achieve the synergies of an integrated strategy. By emulating the tactics implemented by the four retailers highlighted above, even the smallest local business can make significant improvements to their local online strategy.

Rebecca Maynes, Manager of Content Marketing and Research with Mediative, was the major contributor on this report. The full report, including which brands in Canada are performing well and which need to make some improvements, is available for free download.

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