IP address as a digital fingerprint

How Does Your IP Affect Your Internet Browsing

When you use the internet, you’re assigned an IP address. While many of us aren’t even aware of this, and IP is just a term you come across when troubleshooting internet connectivity issues, it actually plays a much more significant role than we realize. Have you ever noticed how Google shows results for your area? Or have you wondered why your friend in the UK has different shows on their Netflix? This and more are all linked to your IP.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at IP addresses and the effect they have on your browsing experience. We’ll also briefly look at how businesses can use tools like a Google Search API from Smartproxy to broaden their SERP research without being limited by their IP.

What Is an IP Address?

IP stands for internet protocol, and it’s a unique identifier that’s assigned to each network connection. Similar to street names, your IP can be used to identify you and carries a lot of information that it provides to websites and search engines to improve your browsing experience.

IPs are managed globally by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA provides the IPs to local Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), and in turn, they allocate the IPs to Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other end-users.

Your IP is essential for connecting to the internet, and without it, you won’t be able to make a connection. In essence, IP serves two main functions. The first is identifying the users or host. The second is facilitating communication between the host and the web server they’re accessing. Without an IP, this communication wouldn’t happen.

IP and Geo-Location

IPs are assigned in a very specific and chronological way. As such, your IP address is directly linked to your location, known as your geo-location. This makes restrictions based on your location possible. An example of geo-restrictions is streaming services offering different shows in different countries. For instance, in the US, you might have shows that aren’t available in the UK or other countries.

Geo-restrictions aren’t only limited to streaming services. Certain websites, especially government ones, prefer to restrict access to only citizens within that country. Similarly, when you use a search engine, the first results you’ll see will be related to your area or location. Your IP address and location are intrinsically linked and have a direct effect on what you see online.

This can be a problem for businesses when trying to expand to other markets. It’s difficult to do research if you only see local results. In this case, using a Google Search API is a good solution as it enables you to conduct SERP research without IP and personalization affecting the results.

How Does Your IP Address Define You?

In order to facilitate communication with web servers, your IP needs to share certain information with those servers. This information can include your name, location, and ISP details. Your location can reveal your city and zip code and might sometimes show a street name. However, it’s very rare for the locational details to be 100% accurate and often won’t show unique details such as the street or unit number and telephone details.

Your IP address can be tracked to build up a unique online identity or digital footprint. In this way, search engines learn about your preferences and are able to customize your search results based on your previous activity.

How Do Your IP and the Internet Work Together?

Search engines are becoming more intelligent thanks to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). While we’ve seen this happening over the last few years, it’s really taken off recently. With browsers and search engines becoming more competent, they get to know your preferences and browsing behaviors. This means they’re able to anticipate what you want when you search the internet and deliver those results. And all of this information is tied to your IP.

Think about it, have you ever made a search for a vague topic, and the results that come up are directly associated with things you’ve looked at in the past? Or perhaps you open your news page, and instead of seeing politics, the topics are all related to interests you’ve researched in the past.

What Is Content Localization?

Localized search results

Content localization has a major impact on how we use the internet now. Everything from the language used to where the website is hosted affects the localization. Search engines are also placing a much higher value on localization. This started to take form in 2011 after Google updated its algorithm with the Freshness update. Improvements continued to be made over the years, and more recently, the Hummingbird and Pigeon updates focused more on localized content.

These updates to the algorithm mean that Google will show you relevant content based on your search query, user intent, and location. This means that your IP, and the location associated with it, will determine what Google shows you.

Final Thoughts

While your IP doesn’t give away any of your truly personal information, it does include things like your location (the country, at the very least). It shares this information with search engines and, in doing so, affects the results you see. Your IP and the importance of localized content mean that you’re more likely to see results based on your location.