It's no longer a secret that when you conduct an Internet search, the browser you're using is most likely keeping track of your searches and using that information to target adverts to you directly. Let's imagine you're in the market for a new kitchen table. Following your online search for kitchen tables, you're likely to encounter adverts for kitchen tables in your social media feed and in your Google browser. So, how does this take place? Your queries might be linked to your computer's IP address, allowing search engines to pinpoint your exact location. To put it another way, it notices that you're seeking for kitchen tables from a computer with a specific IP address and from a specific area.
While you may find this type of ad targeting to be useful, you should be aware that websites that sell kitchen tables may be notified that your IP address was used to search for a kitchen table, and these companies may use this information to display different information just for you, such as an increased price for the kitchen tables you are viewing.
To avoid this, there are a few different methods available that allow you to hide or fake your geographic location from search engines, which is referred to as "geo-spoofing."
Searching in a Google Chrome incognito window is one way to achieve this. This allows you to do private searches in Chrome on any of your devices. While Chrome will not remember your browsing history, cookies, or information put in forms, your internet activity will not be concealed from any websites you visit or from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) - you will still be able to download files and bookmark websites.
Consider using a VPN to geo-spoof your location if you want a more secure option (Virtual Private Network). A VPN alters your IP address to make it appear as if you are browsing from a different place, in addition to keeping your website searches confidential.
Keep in mind that if you use a VPN to hide your location when searching, there will be a little fee associated with it (either a monthly or quarterly fee).
Follow these steps to set up a VPN for geo-spoofing:
- Select a virtual private network (VPN) service.
- Install the VPN on your computer by downloading it.
- Connect to a VPN server in the country where you'd like to conduct your search.
- When the VPN server connects, your computer's IP address is masked, and you appear to be in the country you chose in the previous step.
For simulating a geo-location, certain VPN services allow you to select a city. Nord VPN, for example, has remote servers in more than 60 countries, and you can choose a server from a certain nation or area. This is beneficial if you are traveling outside of the United States and are in a country where certain websites are blocked; by connecting to a VPN based in the United States, you will be able to access the content you require.