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Why IP address geolocation outdoes
HTML5 geolocation

geo location
5 minutes

IP address geolocation is a powerful tool many organisations use to determine the location of their users. If this sounds sketchy, rest assured. Standard applications of this data include customising price information to match local currencies and detecting and blocking malicious hacking attempts.

While this is fairly standard knowledge, what many don’t realise is that there are a number of ways in which location data can be sourced. IP geolocation, which refers to location data extracted through a user’s unique IP address, is one of the most popular.

HTML5 geolocation, on the other hand, is another method that relies on user permission and coding to find a user’s location.

At present, there’s much debate about which, between the two, is the better option for sourcing geolocation. In today’s post, we show you why IP address by geolocation will always remain superior.

IP geolocation databases


IP address geolocation is far less intrusive and is more sensitive towards user privacy

To really understand this claim, knowing how HTML5 works is important. Unlike IP geolocation, where unique codes are discovered using an IP database, HTML5 requires operators to obtain permission from users before they embed the tracking code into their browser.

Understandably, users are likely to be wary about being asked to share their location with geodata providers, even if it’s Google.

IP address geolocation, in many instances, reveals only a user’s city, which, for most businesses, is sufficient for their marketing purposes. HTML5, on the other hand, reveals information like street address, which many users will certainly not be too comfortable with.

Certain browsers may not support HTML5’s geolocation A

Here’s another reason why you may want to stick to IP address geolocation - HTML5’s API may not be supported by all types of browsers. Understandably, only HTML5 browsers will be able to yield geolocation data to those seeking it.

While the list of compatible browsers is by no means limited, you run the risk of not being able to source location data if particular users are using outdated software.

HTML5 requires an active internet connection

Another reason why HTML5 tends to fall behind is that it requires an active internet connection in order to yield geolocation data.

In the absence of an internet connection, you may get lucky if the cached location is stored on the browser by the API that’s being used. Unfortunately, that data represents the last valid location that was calculated by the API.

IP address geolocation, on the other hand, is tracked through a user’s IP address, which is stored in large IP databases. This means that even when a user is disconnected from the internet, you will still be able to detect their location.

This makes the latter a much more reliable source of geodata.

Users need to grant permission before HTML5 geolocation can be provided

Here’s another kicker. As mentioned before, HTML5 geolocation can only be extracted if users grant geodata providers permission to extract their location data.

This can make life very difficult for any business relying on this method given that many users may not be willing to part with this information. Especially since HTML5 has the ability to zero in on a location as precise as a street address.

IP geolocation data doesn’t run this risk since marketers will go to an IP database to gather this information, without the involvement of the end user. Even though some may balk at this, it’s important to remember that this method of data collection, for the most part, allows businesses only to see which city a user is in.

IP address geolocation is a safer and more reliable source of geolocation data

All in all, it’s safe to assume that IP geolocation is, by far, a better way to extract the locations of website visitors.

While you may sacrifice a certain degree of specificity when it comes to this method, HTML5 possesses certain limitations that, for the most part, aren’t worth the level of location accuracy it is known for. Ultimately, it’s always best to go for a method that protects end users, respects their privacy, and is convenient for you.

Gathering IP geolocation is just the start. Use location data to give your users a personalised website experience they won’t forget.


17th April 2019

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Chad T. - Web & Digital Media Director

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