Google Analytics May Misrepresent the Location of Your Website Visitors
Don’t know what Google Analytics is? You may be surprised to learn that Google Analytics can tell you where your website visitors are located with thy click into your website. IX Brand SEO Services Company helps small businesses with search engine optimization, online reputation management, and business process improvement. Located in Sugar Land, TX, IX Brand SEO Services works with clients throughout Southeast Texas, including El Campo, Bay City, Palacios, Richmond, Sugar Land, Houston, and Webster. Plus we have clients around the US. Call us at 713-234-6346 to visit about Google Analytics and search engine optimization.
I had a conversation with a client yesterday about how to attract more Internet traffic from Web users in several of the Houston – area communities like Sugar Land, Richmond and Katy. My client had reviewed the most recent Google Analytics report for one of his websites and it showed only a small amount of traffic from those cities and much larger visit counts from Houston. My suggestion in interpreting the Google Analytics report is to be very careful about how you interpret the geographic locations assigned to those site visitors by Google. Don’t assume that Google knows exactly where you and your computer, iPad, or smart phone are located when searching the Internet, and please make sure that you account for that uncertainty in your SEO planning.
I live in Wharton, TX, which is about 60 miles southwest of Houston. As a test, I did a Google search for “doctors” on my laptop, and Google returned a list of doctors serving patients in Houston, not Wharton. I was using my Sprint broadband card to connect to the Internet and the IP address assigned to my use of the card that morning was associated with Houston. Google used that IP address to auto-detect my presence in Houston. This despite the fact that there are many communities (and doctors) located between Wharton and Houston.
Perhaps if I had been using my desktop computer, the IP address assigned to my session might be associated with Wharton. If I’d been using my iPhone to do the search, the IP address might be associated with Sugar Land, which is between Wharton and Houston. The IP address of the Web user is what Google uses to determine the location of that user, and your IP address is generally provided to you by your Internet Service Provider.
As a small business owner, you need to understand this fact in planning your local SEO strategy — especially if you’re located near a major metropolitan area like Houston. You shouldn’t just focus your local SEO efforts on your business location. You need to account for this uncertainty in IP address location assignments by also optimizing for nearby communities.
Some of you are probably saying, “hold on a minute, I use the location in my search phrases.” Some people do that and if you do, you’ll be likely to get search results associated with the location you specify. For example, if you search for “doctors sugar land tx,” your results will list doctors from Sugar Land. You can also specify a location for your searches with Google. However, many Internet searchers don’t take those steps, so it’s wise for your search engine optimization efforts to account for some location uncertainty.
It’s also very possible that even though you specify a search for “doctors sugar land tx,” that Google will categorize your search as coming from wherever your IP address is located. So again, in my search for “doctors sugar land” using my broadband card, Google Analytics would probably show the search as originating in Houston. In interpreting my Google Analytics results, I need to view the geographic location information as inexact.
I know this can get confusing so if you have any questions about local search engine optimization or interpreting your Google Analytics results, please contact me. My phone number is 713-234-6346.
Are you using Google Analytics? How is it helping your business?