Geo-blocking is a practice used worldwide, and it practically prevents users from accessing information in certain parts of the world. Running an online business such as an eCommerce site means offering your products and services to customers around the world. However, geo-blocking will limit its reach and prevent a portion of potential customers from accessing the site or offer.
That’s why it’s a good idea to find some type of workaround and access customers in every corner of the globe. So stay with us, and we’ll explain what geo-blocking is, how it works, and what it means for your business.
What is geo-blocking?
Geo-blocking is a common practice on the internet which involves obstructing access to websites and content based on location. Since every internet user has their unique IP address, the servers can quickly identify the origin of each address and block their access using a restricting protocol. Governments and businesses widely use this method all over the world.
The system of geo-blocking allows website owners to block access to users from a specific area. It allows websites to create, upload, and share content only to particular groups of users. Every time a user sends a request to access information, the server checks their location. If it originates from the right area, the content will be available to them. If not, it’s blocked completely. That makes it easy for site owners to control who sees their content.
How this creates issues for companies
The biggest problem with geo-blocking is that it limits access to information, effectively taking the word “world” out of the “world wide web”. It’s also a discriminatory practice that limits the use of the internet based on location. As you can already guess, that has some adverse effects on online businesses.
Losing a part of the markets
Let’s say that you’re running an eCommerce website and you want to sell your products to customers all over the globe. However, since the server is in a data center in one part of the world, some other areas won’t have access to your site due to geo-restrictions. In other words, you will lose a portion of the market and, of course, income. In addition, geo-restrictions exist due to different laws and rules in certain parts of the world. Therefore, the only way to gain access to that area is to align your business with the local regulations.
Easy to bypass
Proxies are the most effective and popular methods of bypassing geo-restrictions. For example, let’s say that a user from the US wants to access content in Brazil. They simply get a Brazilian proxy and appear as any other user from this country. Geo-restrictions are merely a waste of time and money.
Advantages of accessing geo-restricted content
Geo-restrictions are not always a bad thing, but they can also get in the way of running an online business. For example, international companies and online companies that offer their products and services to customers all over the globe often need to conduct market research in certain areas to optimize their offers. Here’s a quick overview of the advantages of accessing geo-restricted content.
1. Competitor analysis
Introducing a new company or product to a local market isn’t easy. The most crucial factor is understanding the local laws and tuning in the offer with the local prices. That’s why it’s essential to see how competitors get things done, to make sure that you present your request in the best way.
2. Market analysis
Market research is essential for good decision-making when running an online business. You want to tune your offer so that it looks and feels appealing to the buyers. You can’t do this without being in tune with the current demand of the market.
Ways to unblock locked content
There are a few different methods internet users can use to bypass geo-restrictions. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.
Proxies are the best method because they allow users to mask their original IP address with one that belongs to the geo-restricted area. In addition, they include IP addresses from all over the globe, so you can simply switch the area you want to appear you’re from (remember the example of the Brazilian proxy above).
VPNs work similarly to proxy services, but they don’t allow you to change the IP manually, and they are not as flexible as proxy servers.
3. Tor browser
Tor is a particular type of browser that uses the so-called onion technology. It routes every user by default, making them appear like they are connecting from another location. While that’s great for security reasons, Tor is very slow and clunky.
Geo-restrictions often get in the way of growth and sales. As a business owner, you can use multiple methods to access restricted content and find helpful information to help you tune your offer with the local regulations.
Taylor is a freelance SEO copywriter and blogger. His areas of expertise include technology, pop culture, and marketing.