Why did my site get more out-of-state traffic in 2022?

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Posted on by Zach Billings
Categories: Automotive SEO, High Performance, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Did you start getting a lot of out-of-state traffic in 2022? If so, were you wondering why?

Well, you could have attracted out-of-market traffic via blog articles that are informational (as opposed to transactional). As we’ve discussed in recent weeks, this means blog articles that attract people who want to learn more about things like towing capacity, or trim levels, or oil change intervals.

However, the more universal reason that dealers experienced increases in out-of-state traffic in 2022, is because of a traffic anomaly; more specifically a nuance of reporting in Google Analytics caused by none other than Apple. Yes…THAT Apple.

Private Relay Feature

In May of 2022, Wikimotive discovered a whole lot of traffic suddenly coming to our dealers websites from out-of-state. We looked for patterns (which were admittedly hard to find) and we started to see a commonality: that the out-of-state traffic seemed to cluster into the same time zone as whichever store we were looking into.

For example, if it was a store in Atlanta, GA we saw that a lot of the traffic was clustering into the eastern time zone. Furthermore, the sudden inflation was coming from New York. Why New York? Well, if you were to set the time zone on your Phone within the eastern time zone, New York is the default geographic assignment whether you’re from Boston, Atlanta or any city on the east coast.

This discovery led back to us finding that Apple’s new private relay feature was actually deliberately obfuscating the location of users and spreading it around the time zone that they had set within their iPhone; and in general, it still is! In fact, if you’re an iPhone user you can go into your Settings right now to find the Private Relay feature, and a description of what it’s doing. But the bottom-line is that with Apple’s really strong iPhone market share, a lot of traffic by percentage has been, and continues to be misreported as coming from out-of-state (when in fact it really is in-state). You can read more about our findings, here.

How to Reconcile This

The way to measure around this within your analytics is simply to focus on what traffic comes from all the locations and states within your time zone. At the risk of oversimplifying things, you can more or less call that “in-market traffic”.


  • High-quality informational content can attract out-of-state traffic.
  • Many increases in out-of-state traffic in 2022, were caused by Apple’s new private relay feature.
  • By obfuscating the location data of iPhone users, much of your in-market traffic may have simply been misreported as out-of-state.