MetaLocator has the ability to automatically detect the location of your visitor based on IP address or mobile device location.  This article focuses on the IP-address Auto Find used when a web site visitor uses your Interface.

To enable AutoFind, set your interface's "Data Settings" > AutoFind User and Display Results setting to "Yes".  Beyond that basic setting, there are other options to consider.  Remember that now your users will have a different experience based on their detected location.  These additional settings are important to consider:

  • You may want to update the AutoFind Search Radius.  This determines the furthest away a location can be to be included in the AutoFind.
  • If you are also displaying the Location Search Field (postal code search).  You will want to ensure that the default AutoFind Search Radius matches the default radius chosen for the Location Search.  To do that, first ensure your chosen AutoFind Search Radius  is one of the options listed under "Form Settings" > List of Distances, and secondly that Default Distance  is set to that same number.  This will ensure a consistent radius when displaying auto-found results or subsequent searches.
  • You may also reduce the number of search results displayed by default, which is set under "Data Settings" > Maximum number of Results Per Page of Search Results.  Generally speaking, lower numbers work better when using AutoFind since users are often only considering the nearest handful of locations.
  • There is a feature under the "Advanced" settings group called "AutoFind User".  This feature detects the user's location, but does *not* perform a search using that information.  This should *not* be used at the same time as AutoFind User and Display Results.  This allows for the population of the verbiage that states "Approximately X Miles from your location" without affecting the other search options.

There are a few pitfalls when using AutoFind that are not always obvious.  Consider:

  • A given user may not have locations within your chosen radius.  This results in an appearance that looks much like when a search returns no results.  Be sure to set your radius high enough to account for your geographic distribution.
  • IP Address location detection (and web-based location detection) is an imperfect solution.  Not all IP addresses are known, and many have incorrect location information associated with them.  Expect roughly 85-95% city-level accuracy.
  • If you need to test a certain IP address, you can add a URL parameter to the end of your preview URL as follows to force a certain IP address:  &_ip=96.127.150.50  

 

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