The increasing international web of convoluted privacy laws as well as the levels of junk traffic and cyber problems from specific geographic regions make geo-locking a website a strong consideration for U.S. publishers. Leading U.S. publishing consultant, Eric Shanfelt, explains more…
From legal compliance and ad performance, to hacking and copyright risks, here are 6 reasons why regional publishers might want to block international website traffic.
- Blocking international website traffic simplifies your website legal compliance and cookie notification. You only need to concern yourself with the laws in the country or countries you specifically serve. And international privacy laws are becoming increasingly complex.
- It reduces the chances of your website being hacked since most of that activity originates from overseas. Yes, there are still cyber attack that originate from inside any given country, but by geo-restricting your website traffic, you reduce a large percentage of potential attacks.
- Blocking international traffic reduces the chances of your content being scraped and reused without your knowledge. Just today, a publisher that I work with discovered all of their site content was being scraped and used without their knowledge or permission on another website.
- It reduces the chance of fraudulent credit card purchases on your subscription order forms. We have seen this happen with some of the publishers that we work with.
- Blocking international traffic can improve your advertising effectiveness and CTR since international traffic is not as likely to click local ads.
- It reduces the number of junk email and spambot signups you get from your website.
While people can circumvent website geo-restrictions by using a VPN, the vast majority of people won’t go through the trouble.
Publisher concerns about blocking international website traffic
Publishers are sometimes concerned that blocking international traffic could reduce their web metrics (users, pageviews, visits, etc.). Check your own analytics. Most publishers would only lose 5-8% of their traffic by geo-limiting site visitors. Besides, that’s traffic you don’t want on your site anyway for all of the reasons above.
There is also concern that blocking international traffic could negatively impact your search engine optimization. According to Google’s John Mueller, it won’t. Just don’t block the United States as the most popular search engines, including Google, mostly index sites from the U.S … and be sure to not block Googlebot.
I want to stress that this is NOT an anti-global stance. Blocking international website traffic is simply a practical way to manage and mitigate risk for regional publishers. I would not recommend this strategy for publications that serve a global/international audience.
But if you’re a B2B or consumer publication that only serves people within a specific geographic region, it’s definitely worth considering blocking international traffic from your website.