IP To GPS: Public IP Geolocation

From IP to GPS, The internet has made the world a global village because we can interact and do business as a single community.

However, people are still in different locations geographically and might need personalized information while still being part of the global village.

So it makes sense to convert IP addresses to GPS coordinates to know user locations and serve customized data.

We will explain how IP to GPS works and ways to find a user’s geolocation data. Read on to learn more!

Table of Contents

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is a unique number for identifying any device connected to the internet. Currently, the world uses IPv4 but is slowly transitioning to IPv6, which has a pool of 340 undecillion unique identifiers to link IoT and other intelligent devices in the future.

Private vs. Public IP address

Public IP addresses identify a device connected directly to the internet, usually a modem. But homes or offices have routers to create private networks with private IP addresses to distribute the internet to connected devices.

A list of private IP addresses for planning a network

A list of private IP addresses for planning a network

Private IP addresses are not unique and generally have the format 192.168.x.x, 10. x.x.x, or 172.16.x.x. So you cannot look up these addresses to get their GPS coordinates. This geolocation service only works with public IP addresses.

What Is IP-Based Geolocation?

IP-based Geolocation is the science of identifying a web visitor’s internet connection and geographical location characteristics. The data enables companies to determine the exact location of the client-side devices to route traffic to the closest server for quick, low-latency communication. This data collection complies with CCPA, GDPR, and all privacy mandates.

How IP-Based Geolocation Works

This IP location service uses an IP geolocation database that maps public IP addresses to a geographic location using a pair of coordinates. So you won’t get the exact user location. Instead, you’ll get the coordinates of the physical location of the internet access point (modem or router).

How Accurate Is IP-Based Geolocation?

Third-party companies create and maintain these databases, meaning their accuracy varies depending on the organization managing the data. These companies usually get their data through data mining or polling users, the latter being a more accurate method.

The most accurate IP lookup database is usually around 95% for IP-to-country mapping, although some vendors claim to offer 98-99% precision.

With IP-to-country mapping, the official WHOIS public database gives the information for free, making it easy to get the information with high accuracy.

The concept behind IP geolocation tracking

The concept behind IP geolocation tracking

This precision drops to about 50-75% for IP-to-city/region mapping because there is no official source for this data.

So if you live in a suburb or any area outside a metropolitan area, your public IP address might point towards the city, not your exact location. But the state and country details will be accurate.

Such discrepancies might not be an issue for most commercial applications, but keep that in mind if you need city/suburb-level accuracy.

Why You Need a User’s Geolocation

Commercial geolocation databases are critical for businesses with an online presence due to the following applications.

Region-Specific Landing Pages

Businesses need to display appropriate product and service information to visitors to increase conversions & sales and improve SEO rankings organically.

Also, you might want to A/B test your landing pages based on the city/region level. This application requires data from IP lookup databases.

A keyboard with a red geotargeting button to signify IP geolocation targeting

A keyboard with a red geotargeting button to signify IP geolocation targeting

Serve Targeted and Localized Ads

Serving targeted ads is a great way to boost sales as a publisher, content creator, or business.

Online ad networks usually handle this aspect and take a share of the ad revenue from their customers.

However, if you want to serve the ads independently on your website, IP geolocation databases will increase the ad value on your website.

A graphical image indicating ad targeting

A graphical image indicating ad targeting

Localized ads use the same targeting feature but with less focus. Usually, they ensure you get the language and currency correctly.

Region-Specific Content Customization

The right and politically correct content differ according to region. So you need to get the location information right if you want your content to have a meaningful impact and high conversion rates. For instance, ensure it has the correct currency adjustment, wording, and maps.

Digital protection is essential for businesses with legal liabilities for delivering content licensed to use in specific regions globally. You might have encountered videos on YouTube or Twitter with the message “this video is not available in your region/country.” Without data from IP-geolocation databases, availing this content to unlicensed areas will result in massive fines.

A video unavailable message on the screen

A video unavailable message on the screen

Traffic Logs

Traffic weblogs are critical for e-commerce businesses because they enable the creation of dashboards containing information about your users. This data includes where the visitors come from and login attempts.

For instance, a business in the US or Canada might notice multiple login attempts from countries where they don’t provide any services. This data might suggest hackers or spammers want to gain access to your system, and you can block these regions.

Regulatory Compliance

Some countries have strict compliance protocols for websites serving their people, and you’ll only be able to detect visitors from those areas using IP-to-GPS translation. One of the most recent regulatory compliance is GDPR for EU users. So you can tailor websites to users from this region to abide by these rules, then leave the rest as they were to avoid changing the web experience.

A summary of GDPR user protection regulations

A summary of GDPR user protection regulations

Other applications include the following.

  • Minimizing credit card fraud
  • Pre-populating country codes on forms

How To Find a User’s Geolocation

You can obtain a user’s approximate location using these two ways.

Free IP Geolocation Databases

As the name suggests, these databases cost nothing to query but might not be as precise as the paid options.

So they are ideal for development purposes or if you have a tiered business model providing low and high IP geolocation accuracy services at different prices.

The concept behind geotargeting

The concept behind geotargeting

And if API-based, the databases might have low bandwidth restrictions, which limits the number of requests and increases the probability of unavailability.

Some of the free IP geolocation databases include:

Premium IP Geolocation Databases

Paid services are always better because there is an incentive to give you better service. So you can expect stable APIs (with clear limits, predictable uptimes & zero limits/restrictions), dedicated support, and more precise data. The services have varying price points, so you might want to check the following to determine the best one for your business.

Wrap Up

As you can see, IP geolocation databases are critical for online-based businesses because they provide user location data for several purposes. We recommend non-paid databases for prototyping & development and paid databases for more precise real business applications.

So compare the features and prices of the databases listed above to determine which is better for your needs.

And drop a comment below if you need further guidance on integrating the IP location service into your website.

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