An IP address, typically formatted as four sets of digits separated by periods, uniquely identifies each computer utilizing the Internet Protocol to access information over the web. When you are able to identify the IP address of a site visitor, you can derive the person's geographic location and gain further insights into that user. While it may be possible to analyze the server logs generated by the web hosting company for your website to get this kind of information, tools that are specifically set up to track users and log IP addresses can be easier to interpret.
Tracking Web Visitor IP Addresses
A number of IP address geolocation utilities designed to log and track every visitor to your website are available. It should be noted that if a visitor is using a proxy server, the data will reflect the location of the proxy server and not the actual end user.
Providing real-time monitoring, Stat Counter works by adding a few lines of code on your website. Once installed, a comprehensive set of data can be provided about every visitor to your website. When browsing through the list of recent visitors, you can see their IP address, as well as their physical location, their computer's operating system, their web browser, their screen resolution, and their referrer.
- You can configure the counter on your site or opt for an invisible counter instead. The latter option provides greater privacy, as your data is not publicly accessible.
Cost: Ranges from free to $119/month. Stat Counter can be used for free for up to 250,000 monthly page loads with upgrades starting at $5/month for higher page load limits and larger log sizes.
One of the features included as part of the web analytics service from Opentracker is the IP tracking utility. It simply records every unique user to your website and traces their IP address. The insights you gain can help you follow up on sales leads, as you have more information about each user's entire history of clicks, downloads and activity on your site.
- The saved log allows you to browse through historical data to find a specific visitor and go through their entire session history.
- Data saved by Opentracker includes the country, region and city; ISP, provider or carrier; company and organization; display size and orientation; referrer, exit and search term; and browser name and version, among other information.
Cost: Ranges from $19.95 to $129.95/month. The $19.95/month business plan keeps a log of up to 250,000 traffic events each month with unlimited API access and user accounts. This can be further upgraded to the $39.95/month corporate plan or $129.95/month enterprise plan for up to one million or over one million monthly traffic events, respectively.
Trace My IP
Calling itself "the simplest to use website visitor counter and statistics software on the web," Trace My IP works by inserting an image-based tracking counter on your website. There are private trackers that don't display any information publicly aside from the fact that your site is using Trace My IP, as well as counters that publicly display data like page view count, visit count, country count, or visitor IP address.
- There are options to bookmark, tag and assign full contact information to individual visitors. The visitor's IP address is then translated to reveal his or her location.
- Trace My IP will also log visit frequency, browser version, Flash version, screen resolution, primary entry and exit pages, and more.
Cost: Ranges from free to $39.95/month. The free account allows for three simultaneous website trackers and a small traffic log size of only 500, but it does not support the invisible tracker option. Paid plans start at $2.95 and scale up to $39.95/month for more features, larger traffic log sizes, and increased daily page load limits.
Online Geolocation Tools
If you would prefer to look up the geolocation data of a particular user based on his or her IP address rather than using an application that tracks all visitors, there are a number of different tools for that purpose.
A very basic IP address geolocation tool, the IP Search function on IP-Details.com allows you to enter multiple IP addresses (one per line) in a text-entry box on the left sidebar.
- After clicking on the "Find IP Address(es) button" below that field, a basic table is revealed with basic information about each IP address, including the country, network and address.
- Next to this, a button to "View Details" can reveal a Google Map of the IP address location.
The IP address tracking solution by IP2Location is offered in three different forms. You can:
- Purchase the database to integrate into your own software solution
- Utilize the programming API for your own web-based solution
- Choose the hosted solution that will work through the IP2Location website itself.
In all instances, the IP address of a user can then be used to reveal country, region, city, latitude, longitude, ZIP code, time zone, connection speed, Internet service provider, domain name, mobile carrier and more.
Cost: Ranges from $49 to $1,849. The hosted web service costs $49 for 100,000 credits that are valid for one year. The most basic service provides the country code for one credit, while the most robust service provides the most information for six credits per query. Similarly, the paid databases start at $49 for just the countries up to $1,849 for the most comprehensive database.
One of the simplest and most straightforward IP geolocation tools is the appropriately named freegeoip.net. The web service is offered completely free of charge for up to 10,000 queries per hour. There is no advertising on the community-funded website, aside from a Donate button near the bottom.
- A basic search box is located near the top of the page where an IP address can be entered manually.
- Entering the IP address will generate information about the estimated location of that IP address, including the country, region, city, zip code, latitude and longitude, and area and metro codes.
Gaining insight into the geographic location of website visitors can be invaluable for any website owner or manager. When you know where your visitors are located, you can:
- Target your content more effectively to best address the needs of your audience
- Ensure that your sales and marketing tactics are suitably geotargeted to improve your site's overall conversion rate
- Display products catered specifically to an individual visitor's country (with corresponding website coding)
Having the data is only the first step to the process. It's what you do with the data that will determine the best possible user experience.
This critical information can be gleaned from the IP addresses of visitors, but there are alternative solutions that can be used to complement these efforts too. A map tracker can display the geographic location of visitors and Google Analytics can provide robust information about visitor activity. Choose the option that works best for your specific visitor tracking needs.