You know what they say about making assumptions – but in the case of tailoring your website for optimized user experience, one particular assumption can make a world of difference. By obtaining location data from visitors to your website, you’ll be able to provide a much more specific user experience.
What Is Geolocation?
Geolocation is a useful tool in web development. Using a visitor’s IP address or their device’s built-in GPS chip, the technology discerns their location when they visit your website – allowing you to customize your site’s content to meet that location.
Why Use Geolocation?
Perhaps the most obvious use for this development tool is for marketing. The growth of mobile search has made a huge impact, and search engine algorithms have long since adjusted to tailor their results for local searchers.
According to one study, 70 percent of customers are willing to share their location information in exchange for something of value to them. Rewards for location sharing might include discounts, loyalty points, and product coupons, among others.
You can use geolocation plugins for all kinds of results. You might include a location-specific weather forecast or embed a Google map; this information could be a great supplement to whatever web content you’re providing.
Improving User Experience with Geolocation
Not all users realize this, but location is incorporated readily into almost all search engine results. Searching for something like “movie times” in Google will automatically turn up results for local theater showings, even without inputting a location-specific keyword. This is especially true on mobile devices, where a user can search for something like “coffee shops near me” in a mobile map app and receive results about what’s in their immediate vicinity.
It’s helpful to give users the option to search locally or remotely. For example, on the job search site StartJobs.net, the homepage automatically features job openings in the user’s local area, effectively cutting out the middleman and offering exciting content that appeals to the site’s target audience. However, users can also input a different zip code if they happen to be looking for a job in a different area. Either way, the user’s experience is made easier.
Other Ways to Engage Users with Geolocation
If you operate a brick-and-mortar facility, one of the best-known geolocation tactics is to register your business with a variety of location-based apps and services. Also called “geosocial” apps, Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google Plus, and others allow users to “check in” when they arrive at an establishment. Users can also check into or tag businesses via social media updates. This is a great way to get some word-of-mouth exposure while also providing an engaging experience for your patrons.
The Takeaway: Geolocation Is Here to Stay
If you’re a small business with a physical store location, it’s time to hop on the geolocation bandwagon. On the other hand, if you offer an online service, geolocation can be a great tool for providing a customized user experience on your homepage or landing pages. Either way, you’re offering new ways for customers to engage with your business, which will make your relationship with them even stronger.