Monday, July 30, 2007

Geolocation: Where Are My Readers Located?

Free visitor meters, like SiteMeter and Statcounter, are great for telling you who looks at your web site, how they get there, how long they look, and many other useful details. One useful detail, not always completely understood, is where your readers are located. The process of determining this is called Geolocation.

How accurate is geolocation, anyway?


Not very accurate for me. My ISP is in Santa Rosa. I'm not.



Using the IP address of your computer (or more frequently, the external or WAN address of your network), many experts claim to know where you are located. Unfortunately, as in the example above, this shows where your ISP is located. Between you and your ISP is another network, called by the experts the "backhaul", that is transparent to IP and the Geolocation databases. Your ISP could be in another city, county, state, or even country.


My location is no secret. How far is Martinez, from Santa Rosa?


Not anywhere within walking distance, obviously.

For a more graphic example of geolocation, see And Now, A Dose Of Paranoia For You.

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2 comments:

demcb said...

IP Geolocation is not GPS...

Chuck makes a good point about IP Geolocation for locating website visitors; it is nowhere near as precise as say GPS for location determination. But then, Geolocation is not used as a GPS substitute web application developers. IP Geolocation is best employed in applications where knowledge of relative location benefits a business process. For example, does it help to know if the visitor is in or near Dallas, TX if serving sponsored links on a search page? Serving sponsored links for the greater Dallas metro area is certainly better for the visitor, and for the sponsor, than selecting from all possible sponsors. Does it help to know that a bank website visitor accessing an account is coming from Eastern Europe, particularly since the owner of the account is based in Philadelphia, PA and has never accessed the account from Eastern Europe? Eastern Europe is not terribly precise, but the information is invaluable for the purposes of guarding account access. In Chuck’s example of Geolocation in web analytics, is the Geolocation information covering a 50 mile radius is still useful? If running an email marketing campaign, in the western USA, it would be useful to monitor website visitors’ location information to measure effectiveness of the campaign, and location details within a 50 mile radius is more than adequate.

IP Geolocation is no replacement for highly precise positioning technologies like GPS, but it is helping online businesses protect the privacy and assets of their customers, to serve location-based web content, to comply with license and government mandated regulations.

Dan McBride
Quova, Inc.

nivetha said...

Thanks for Your information about the Geolocation.We can also check the geolocation of the ip address from the site www.ip-details.com