Geo targeting tools give a Web master the opportunity to display specific content or perform a specific behavior based on the geographic location of the visitor. The visitor’s geo location can be determined in a couple of different ways, but a primary tactic is to determine the IP Address and perform a lookup to make the best guess of the location. Location data can include city, province or state, country and more.
Another means for determining the user’s location is by latitude and longitude. This approach is more easily employed in the mobile world, although in some ways it can be extended to the desktop world as well.
The geographic location data can be pulled in from local database lookups or through the API of a data provider. Many data providers, such as MaxMind, provide both databases and APIs, with free and paid options for each. Google is an example of a source that offers an API, and has the ability for precise location lookup by latitude and longitude.
A couple of things you will need to make the most out of the geo targeting technology include a good IP to location database and a powerful tool to make this database work with your website. This will streamline the process of targeting your ads and content to users in specific geographic locations, or whatever your intended purpose. One of the criteria you should pay attention to when selecting a data provider is the accuracy of the data you get. While no database can have the accuracy of 100%, many free ones claim to have as much as 99.5%, while the commercial ones reach up 99.8%.
Popular Data Providers
MaxMind is a popular option for many advertisers and webmasters. It provides several free GeoLite IP databases, ranging from 37% to 94% in accuracy, depending on the country. Its subscription-based GeoIP Country database is a more precise alternative with 99.8% accuracy on a country level, but it comes at a price of $50 for the site license and $12 for updates. Monthly and annual billing options are always available, and so is a single batch lookup.
Google GEO API
While Google doesn’t provide a downloadable database, it has several tools to help you look up geo location data. You can do this with the help of Google Geocoding API or Google Maps Geolocation API. The first one will allow you to use up to 2,000 queries a day, while with the second one you can go up to 100,000 although you’ll need to pay for anything above the first 100 daily queries.
IPInfoDB has five free geo location databases, starting with just a basic country one, and up to a more detailed database including city, region, time zone, zip code, latitude and longitude. The number of records it provides and their accuracy is limited, however.
IP2Location is a premium data provider with a wide range of options, starting with a country only DB1 option for $49 a year, and moving all the way to an extremely detailed DB24, priced at 1,849 a year and including details such as time zone, area code, weather, elevation, ISP, domain, usage type and more. The provider claims to have a high accuracy of more than 99.5% on a country and around 80.0% on a city level. It offers free trials for every type of its databases, but if you find these too pricey to buy, a free alternative is available. IP2Location Lite has more than 98% accuracy on a country and close to 60% on a city level. You get one million records with a free option, while the paid version will give you as much as four million.
Popular Geo Targeting Tools
Once you get your IP data collected, you will need a great tool that will put your information to work for you, such as a PHP script or a geo targeting plugin. Here are several ideas worth considering.
MaGiKS Geo Targeting
MaGiKS Geo Targeting Scripts for WordPress and PHP (this is my solution) provide a couple of software packages that allow users to display location-based ads for their website visitors. MaGiKS Geo Country Bundle costs $47 and allows you to choose what content and ads your website visitors from different countries will see. My Geo City Plus package, priced at $67, gives you a wider range of possibilities, where you display content based on the visitor’s city, state, province and country. Both of the bundles come with a WordPress plugin and a PHP5+ script for various CMS systems such as Joomla and Drupal. The great thing about these scripts is that they come with detailed instructions, which means you can easily figure them out no matter how much experience with geo targeting you have. Both scripts also come with a 60-day money back guarantee and free lifetime upgrades.
WP Country Based Content is another good tool, although it is only limited to WordPress webmasters. The license costs $8 and allows you to customize your WP website’s content to specific countries. You can choose to either hide or display certain types of information, depending on the location date obtained from the visitor’s IP address. The scale of this plugin is not as large as that of MaGiKS, but if you are just beginning to use geo targeting for your website, it might be a good starting point to test how the technology works.
CPAClickz.com provides traffic optimization and geo redirection tools for webmasters. It is a free open-source script that lets you target visitors based on their country codes. You can not only set redirection URLs, but also add custom weighing for each of them. For example, you can have half of your Canadian traffic go to URL No. 1, 40% to URL No. 2 and the remaining 10% to URL No. 3. The website has an instructional video, making its geo redirection manager easy to use.
Geolify is another geo targeting script, which allows its users to create dynamic location-based content and redirects for their websites. Its Geo Java tool is a piece of code that helps you determine the locations of your website visitors and use this information for your geo targeting campaigns. You can sign up for the service for free and get a script with your unique ID.
To sum it up, there are several paid and free geo targeting tools out there, each one of them offering its own features and capabilities.