Websites are using your location to customise the content they show you, in many cases they even know what company you work for. This is called IP Geolocation or IP localisation. But how do they do it and what can it be used for?
Every device that has an internet connection has an IP address. Nowadays the IP address gives the location of the person using the computer, but in the past many of the locations of IP addresses were not the actual location of the user, so it gave you little information other than the user’s service provider. In recent years that has all changed...
Have a look at whatismyipaddress.com
Not only does it tell you the service provider but it often has accurate information about the company / homeowner and their location, down to the city.
So how can this be used for your website?
It can be used in a whole host of different ways:
- Delivering different web pages to customer from different countries or event cities.
- Helping to signpost user to the correct content for their location
- Looking up which companies are visiting your website (You can already see this in Google Analytics but you could have this alert you when target companies visit your site).
- Altering what is delivered to certain companies
- Adjusting content to suit ‘real world’ events such as weather, sports events, etc.
- Providing special offers specific to a location
- Targeting people using a public wi-fi – Imagine if one coffee chain could display deals to people in their competitors’ locations?
What about mobile users?
This is obviously even more advanced when you look at mobile users. It’s relatively easy to pop up a message asking for the user’s current location and then you can apply the same rules to a visitor on the move. There are lots of things that need to be considered when approaching this such as:
- Having a fall-back position for when you don’t get a location – There is the odd occasion when you won’t get a result, so consider what the user will see then.
- Ensure the IP database is up to date – The IP address a company uses can change, especially if they change service provider or location and so you need to ensure you keep up to date with those changes. There are subscription services that you can use to do this.
- Providing a way of over-riding so you can access content for other locations – You may find that a user doesn’t want the content that you have sent them to, you need to ensure that there is a way of browsing back or setting their location manually.
- Understanding how it affects search engine optimisation – Search engines use spiders and these often also have a location, so you need to be ensure you don’t accidentally block them from content.
How we have made use of it?
Mercurytide used this for a recent update to Faithful+Gould’s site www.fgould.com. The site utilises IP Geotargeting to take the user directly to a homepage which has content specifically for that region and there is still the option to be able to select a different geographical region if the visitor wants to. It also uses the visitor’s location within the search to bring back the most relevant results.