What's IP Geo Blocking?
Simply put, an IP Geo Block limits access to your website from a certain restricted region that you define. This allows you, the webmaster, to either completely block certain countries from visiting your website or change the content based on a user’s location. Yes, you could even go as far as showing Visily from SEO Russia something we’re sure he doesn’t want to see!
For example, if you are a company that does business only within Australia, and you notice you are getting a lot of malicious traffic from China, you might think about Geo-blocking China to avoid those types of behaviours.
How Do Geo-Blocking Plugins Work?
Before you go eliminating the entire world from visiting your website, it’s important to understand exactly how this functionality works. Geo-blocking works by identifying the IP address of the user, which can then be used to determine the physical location where that user is accessing the internet from. From there, you match that IP and region against a rule-set to decide if you want to show the user the standard content. Alternatively, you have the option to show that user different content, no content at all or redirect elsewhere.
IP Geo Block Use Cases
Other than the obvious (less spam) blocking ranges of IP addresses come with additional benefits. Take a look at the pros and cons of eliminating entire countries from your website.
1. Additional Security:
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. If a country is renowned for spam, it’s likely also to be renowned for even shadier internet antics. By blocking these nations from visit your website, you’re also blocking them from obtaining access to your websites files. It’s not a foolproof solution, however, hackers often look for easy access to websites. Therefore, if they can’t even load your website to begin with, they may stop trying.
2. Google Analytics Data Integrity:
If your website regularly receives traffic from countries you don’t do business with, your Google Analytics data at a top-level will be inaccurate. Without filtering out results specifically for your own country, all metrics will be on tilt (other than traffic, of course). Remember when Google Analytics told you that your website was converting like an absolute monster? How many of those are actually real enquiries and not spam forms? Perhaps you have an outdated web design after all!
3. Licensing Agreements:
One of the most popular use cases for using a geo-block is licensing. If you licence content from a media provider, you have most likely gone through the legal hurdles to gain access to that content in specific regions. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon you to make sure only those regions are shown the material. The ability to block visitors by country becomes very appealing in this case. Many large companies like Netflix, for example, are using their version of a geo IP block to limit content shown based on location.
Other use-cases for IP Geo-Blocking also include redirecting users to country-specific content and GDPR privacy content. We’re fairly confident there will be more too!
Best Countries To Geo Block
According to Spamhaus.org, the world’s worst spam enabling countries can be whittled down to 10 culprits. However, from experience of incessant spam, there’s a few more that should be added to the list. Take a look at the top countries that we would recommend blocking from your website. Remember, make sure you don’t do business with these countries. Because that would be awkward.
As of March 2020, the world’s worst spam haven countries are:
- The USA.
- Hong Kong.
- The United Kingdom.
If you block each of these countries, yet still receive lots of contact form spam, there’s still a solution. By using a contact form plugin such as gravity forms, you can log the IP addresses of the spammer. Within the ‘Entries’ section of Gravity Forms, simply select to show IP addresses and then check the location of this address online. If there’s a growing trend of spam from IP addresses that originate from a country not on the list above, be sure to add them to the blacklist too!
IP Geo Block Plugin Roundup
To wrap up, the IP Geo Block plugin delivers far more than just stopping spam. It’s a plugin worthy of featuring in your war chest towards better user experience, data integrity and country specific content. But, be careful. The last thing you want to do is eliminate actual customers so use with caution!