How Does IP Address Geolocation Work?

IP address geolocation is the process of uncovering an online user’s geographic location based on the IP address of their computer or mobile device.

IP address geolocation is a useful tool for businesses that rely on the insights provided by knowing where their users are located in the world. Through an IP address alone, a company can determine not only in which country a user is located, but also the state, city, and postal code-globally.

Using this information, businesses can serve up localized content and targeted ads, as well as help to prevent online fraud, amongst many other beneficial applications. And while it’s clear that IP address geolocation is a useful tool for a range of businesses, it’s less clear exactly how the service works.

Here, we’ll breakdown what IP address geolocation is, explain how it functions, and delve further into some of its practical applications.

What is an IP Address?

An IP address, short for Internet Protocol address, is a unique numerical label that identifies a device on the internet. IP addresses are typically provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) whenever a device connects to the internet. Each ISP usually has a range of IPs from which they ascribe to users in a certain area as they connect to the internet.

From just an IP address, businesses can learn unique insights regarding the user to whom the address is associated, including geographical location, demographic data, connection type, and proxies.

How IP Address Geolocation Works

When an internet user uses their computer or mobile device to access a webpage, their IP address is shared with that webpage through a coding script. For example, if a website is built using PHP, the PHP script: echo `Client IP address: `.$_SERVER[`REMOTE_ADDR`]; can be implemented so that when a user requests access to the site, their IP address is shared with the page.

IP address geolocation then uses IP-to-location databases to determine which IP range (again, provided by ISPs) the provided IP falls within. Then you can determine in which geographic location that IP range is used, thus determining the approximate location of the user. Using this information, one can determine such information as the country, state, and city in which a user is located. However, ISPs tend to shuffle IPs through a few users within a certain area, which means IP address geolocation can never be 100% accurate.

How Precise is IP Address Geolocation?

The exactness of IP address geolocation is based on the ability of the service that the client is utilizing. While some services may be able to locate an IP address to within a certain country, others are capable of locating an IP to within a few miles of the exact location.

NetAcuity from Digital Element has the power to track an IP with an accuracy rate of 99.99% at a country level, 98%+ at a regional level, and 97%+ at a city level—globally. Therefore, if you need to geotarget an entire country or a ZIP+4 area, NetAcuity is the solution for you.

In addition to being hyper-accurate, NetAcuity is privacy-sensitive and neither gathers nor displays any personally identifiable information regarding a user.

Practical Uses of IP Address Geolocation

When a user connects to a company’s website, said company then has access to that user’s IP address. As previously mentioned, this allows the company to access such key insights as the user’s geographic location, demographic data, connection types, proxies and more.

These insights are incredibly beneficial to a range of industries as they allow companies to do things like target advertising, localize content, enhance analytics, manage digital rights, prevent online fraud, and other valuable applications.

Industry-Leading IP Address Geolocation Solutions

Digital Element is proud to provide the most accurate and granular IP address geolocation solutions in the world. Through IP address geolocation, we provide our customers with invaluable consumer insights through location targeting, proxy detection, VPN identification, and a host of other IP-based data points.

These IP solutions are utilized by the world’s leading brands, helping them to gain key consumer insights and a competitive advantage. Check out the range of practical applications provided by NetAcuity that you can use to give your company a competitive advantage.

Want geolocation tailored to your business needs? Our experts are here to help:


Query over 35,000 IPs per second, ensuring you always get the data you need, the instant you need it.


Accuracy rates of 99.99% at a country level, 98%+ at a regional level, and 97%+ at a city level – globally.


No personally identifiable information is ever gathered or stored, helping you stay GDPR compliant.


Our solutions cover 99.9999% of all seen IP addresses worldwide and work – even if a device’s GPS is turned off.

Ready to discuss your use case with one of our experts?

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