Google knows where you are, and it can tell anyone else who asks. The company uses your IP address to determine your location and other details about you. It’s not just Google that can figure this out either; any website or app on your phone or computer can do the same thing if they want to.
IP addresses are not quite private
You might think that your IP address is a private way of identifying you. But in fact, this is not the case. Your IP address can be tracked and used to trace your web activity. Even if you are using a virtual private network (VPN), there is information saved based on your IP.
How does google know where your IP address is located?
Google uses a database of IP addresses to determine location. In order to do this, they need the IP address of both you and your internet service provider, or ISP.
The short answer is that your IP address is usually associated with the Internet connection you are using.
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a unique string of numbers used to identify a device on the internet. If you have ever looked at your computer’s settings and seen an IP address listed there, then you already know what one looks like. A typical IP address might be 192.168.1.1 (for example). An IP address identifies only one device in a home network.
IP addresses don’t always match up with physical locations. They can also refer to routers or other equipment that routes traffic through networks without specifying which devices each packet goes through on its way to its destination.
But how does it know exactly where or which Internet connection to associate with your IP address?
The answer is that your ISP will tell Google that the IP address is located in a specific area. In fact, they have to do this in order for Google to show you location-based results in the first place. ISPs don’t keep track of every single website visited by their users (though some do). Instead, they use a method called geolocation data to find out which physical location associated with an Internet connection belongs to a particular IP address.
There are a couple of ways the location can be identified.
If you’re using a computer as your internet gateway, then it’s a lot easier to determine your location. This is because a computer has its own IP address that isn’t shared by many other computers. Google can ping your computer and see which IP address responds. The data from that response will tell it what country you are in (and sometimes even more specific information).
This doesn’t work for mobile devices though because most mobile phones share the same physical connection with hundreds of others at any given moment. It would be impossible for Google to figure out exactly where your device is located if all they have is an IP address from somewhere within its range of possible locations.
Knowing the location of an IP address isn’t always possible.
Knowing the location of an IP address isn’t always possible, though. It depends on the ISP and your Internet connection.
If you have a dynamic IP address, it can’t be located because it changes all the time.
If your ISP assigns individual computer users fixed addresses instead of dynamically assigning new ones each time they connect to the internet (which is more likely), then yes—your location can be found by triangulating against other servers geographically close to yours. This way, they can narrow down where on earth those servers are located. This method is known as geolocation and services like Google Earth use this method extensively when identifying locations based on their latitude/longitude coordinates.