• December 18, 2011

    The Big Deal About Geo Targeting

    Geo targeting is the method of determining the geographical location of a visitor to your website for the purposes of creating a unique experience for them. If you have an online business that has an international audience, or you want to extend your profile to appeal to visitors from other countries, consider identifying your key markets and create alternate versions of your website. This way, a customer living in Japan will be able to visit your site without necessarily having to read English.

      Self-Serve and Full Serve
    There are two different types of geo targeting when it comes to websites: self-serve geo targeting, and full serve geo targeting. Self-serve sites leave it up to your website visitor to decide what kind of an experience they want to have. There are many sites that feature a front landing page that asks the user to enter their country of origin, or preferred language. Once they make their selection, they're taken to a language-specific version of your website. Full serve sites, on the other hand, identify the user's IP address to give them indication of the visitor's country of origin.
      Local Geo Targeting
    Geo targeting can work on a much smaller scale as well, and doesn't necessarily require you to have five different versions of your website to appeal to your five biggest international markets. Websites can also make use of automatic geo targeting to cater the website experience for visitors depending on what part of the country they're in. For example, if your website is an online storefront for a nationwide chain of donut shops, geo targeting your visitors based on their IP address can create region-specific layouts that advertise your shop's nearest locations without entering any information. This works to facilitate repeat visits and increased business, as the website visitor leaves with the perception that they were able to find the information they were looking for quickly and readily on your site.
      The Challenges of International Geo Tracking
    Geo tracking can be accomplished through software programs that identify the website visitor's IP address, or simply by asking for a visitor's country of origin or language preference. But in reality, that's the easy part. What's not so easy is pulling off a site with an "international" feel and not coming across either ignorant or insulting--in which case you may as well have just kept things honest, simple, and in your native tongue. One of the biggest challenges of creating a website that will appeal to an international audience is being able to make it appear seamless and natural. For this reason, it's critical that if you're a native English speaker and you've decided to redesign or partition your website to cater visits from customers in India, you should work closely with a native Hindi speaker--don't make the kind of careless mistakes that could serve to drive international business away rather than attract it.