What Is Geotagging?

And why should we geotag our web pages?

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Geotagging or geocoding is a way to add geographical metadata to photos, RSS feeds, and websites. A geotag defines the longitude and latitude of the tagged item or it defines the location place name or regional identifier. It can also include information such as the altitude and bearing.

By placing a geotag on a Web page, website, or RSS feed, you provide information to your readers and to search engines about the geographical location of the site. It can also refer to the location that the page or photo is about. So if you wrote an article about the Grand Canyon in Arizona, you could tag it with a geotag indicating that.

Modern websites rarely offer explicit geotagging. In most cases, geolocation services are managed either through image metadata (e.g., on Instagram) or through claimed addresses in tools like Google, Bing, or Yelp.

How to Write Geotags

The easiest way to add geotags to a Web page is with meta tags. Add other meta tags that include the region, placename, and other elements (altitude, etc). These are named "geo.*" and the contents are the value for that tag.

Another way you can tag your pages is to use the Geo microformat. There are only two properties in the Geo microformat: latitude and longitude. To add it to your pages, simply surround the latitude and longitude information in a span (or any other XHTML tag) with the title "latitude" or "longitude" as appropriate. It's also a good idea to surround the entire location with a div or span with the title "geo". For example.

Who Can (or Should?) Use Geotagging?

Geotagging web pages is ideal for retail sites and tourism sites. Any website that offers a physical storefront or location can benefit from geotags. And if you get your sites tagged early, they are likely to rank higher in geotagged search engines than your competitors who scoffed and didn't tag their sites.

Web pages with geotags are already in use in a limited format on some search engines. Customers can come to the search engine, enter their location and find Web pages of sites that are near their current location. If your business is tagged, it's an easy way for customers to find your site. And now that more phones are coming equipped with GPS, they can get to your storefront even if all you provide are latitude and longitude.

Protect Your Privacy and Use Geotags

One of the biggest concerns about geotagging is privacy. If you post the latitude and longitude of your house in your weblog, someone who disagrees with your post could come and knock on your door. Or if you always write your weblog from a coffee shop 3 miles away from your house, a thief might figure out you're not at home from your geotags and rob your house.

The nice thing about geotags is that you only need to be as specific as you feel comfortable with being. For example, the geotags listed above in the meta tags sample are for one location. But they are for the city and around 100km radius around this location. You might feel comfortable with revealing that level of accuracy regarding your location, as it could be nearly anywhere in the county. You might not feel comfortable with providing an exact latitude and longitude of your house, but geotags don't require that.

As with many other privacy issues on the web, many feel that the privacy concerns surrounding geotagging can be easily mitigated if you, the customer, takes the time to think about what you do and don't feel comfortable with. Location data is being recorded about you without your knowing it in many cases. Your cellphone provides location data to the cell towers near it. When you send email, your ISP provides data about where the email was sent from and so on.

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Kyrnin, Jennifer. "What Is Geotagging?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-is-geotagging-3467808. Kyrnin, Jennifer. (2021, September 3). What Is Geotagging? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-geotagging-3467808 Kyrnin, Jennifer. "What Is Geotagging?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-geotagging-3467808 (accessed March 30, 2023).