META: Ever wondered how your devices know where you are and can track your every move? Let’s take some time to find out how geolocation works and how reliable it is.

Ever wondered how your phone seems to know your exact location – or how a website can track where you are in the world and send you targeted advertising? Well, that’s all down to geolocation technology.

Let’s take a look at exactly how it works and see how effective it is!

What Exactly is Geolocation?

So, put simply it’s the geographical location of a device that’s connected to the internet – whether that’s a phone or a computer. How does it work? If you have an Apple device and have ever misplaced it – using the ‘Find My’ feature is a great way of explaining. This uses geolocation technology to nail down the location of your phone (or watch) right down to the room.

Businesses use it for marketing purposes. If you’re visiting a town or a new place, and have something like Foursquare installed, it tracks your movements and will give you options for shops or places to eat out at your destination. It’s a great way to reach a large audience and grow your business with no effort at all.

How does Geolocation Work on an Internet Browser?

When you log on to the internet with whatever your device of choice is it creates a unique identifier for you called an internet protocol address. This allows computers and devices to send and receive information and there are four types of these kinds of IP:

●            Public

●            Private

●            Static

●            Dynamic


Many devices use a dynamic IP address because their IP address will often change based on the device’s location. A static IP with VPN is a good idea for folks who really want more accurate geolocation tracking. Why? Well, addresses can determine the country, region, state, city, and postal code of a person, as well as the time zone they’re in. If you’ve ever used Google Maps to locate a local restaurant or you’ve gone online to look up a place to visit or buy something, then you’ve used geolocation.

How Accurate is Geolocation?

It’s not 100% accurate, as it collects data from the GPS on your device and cellular networks. This means whilst it’s pretty accurate it’s not infallible. For instance, if you’re out in the countryside and pretty much alone, it starts to perform less well – you might make more wrong turns or find the information about your location is weaker. In built-up areas where lots of people are using devices and checking things online, it’s more likely to be better and you’re less likely to drive into a wall…

It only provides an approximation of your location – which means it’s 95-99 percent accurate in being able to recognize your country, but only 55-80 percent accurate in terms of pinpointing the regions you’re in.


Whilst internet protocol-based geolocation is a incredibly valuable for businesses due to the information offered, there are downsides as some personal users might not like the idea of sharing their data with you – this has seen a rise in more people turning to VPNs, Proxies, and other IP obfuscation tools to protect their details and their whereabouts.

It’s a great form of technology that you can use to your advantage, but understandably some people are wary of it. Adopt it wisely and it’ll work well for you.