About the Author (Guest Post): Cassie Phillips is a writer and blogger making her way up in the SEO and technology world. She takes a particular interest in online security and the latest ideas, and hopes that you find some useful tips to take home from her posts.
Success in the SEO world means more than just finding the data that will put your (or your client’s) website first. You need to be constantly active in your search for new ideas and tools that will allow your website to stay on top of the search rankings.
This is a competitive business, and everything must be taken into consideration.
Virtual Private Networks
Something you should take into consideration before all of the other inevitable (and probably useless) things you’ll try is a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a service that’ll connect you to an offsite secure server.
The connection is encrypted to keep your data safe, and the server masks your IP address and makes it look as though you are browsing the internet from another location. They’ve become extremely popular to consumers and people are now starting to realize their SEO potential.
Here are the reasons SEO professionals (and many others) should use a VPN:
Protection on Public Networks
Public networks are the bane of any online professional. They’re nearly always unprotected and while they may seem convenient and attractive at first, upon closer inspection they’re riddled with danger in the form of hackers looking to intercept personal information using simple “sniffer” programs.
Such setups rarely cost more than $100 for a hacker, making this a common occurrence. Try to imagine what would happen if your private business or client information got stolen. Nothing is safe, including your passwords.
Due to the nature of the attacks, strong verification measures won’t be enough. A VPN is your only real way to safely use these networks because they encrypt your connection on the public network.
Your SEO research and data will be safe from hackers, and they won’t even know you’re an online professional in the first place.
Imagine sending a discrete and secure package of solid gold through the mail and then sending a package of transparent glass filled with gold next to it. That is the difference you’re dealing with.
Worldwide Access to the Internet
Government censorship and regional restrictions are major problems for someone who needs to work with the internet every single day.
Too many websites we use are blocked by oppressive governments around the world, and too many of us are travelers to ignore the issue. Being stopped from using vital tools puts us at a major disadvantage, but fortunately the VPN lets us get back on our feet.
Since a VPN masks the user’s IP address in such a manner that they appear to be at the server location, all a user has to do is select a server outside of the jurisdiction of the censorship. China might censor your social media use, but the United States won’t.
You might not be able to watch Netflix after the end of a long day in a foreign land due to regional blocking, but a VPN will let you appear to be in Texas if you want to, making the restrictions a moot point.
To do that, check out this great post showing how to unblock Netflix with a VPN.
Getting a Different Perspective
You can use a VPN to change your effective location and access the blocked-off parts of the internet, but have you thought about using it to access the parts of the internet you normally can access?
This sounds redundant, but search results will not be the same in two different countries (or even two regions in a large country). If you’re looking to target a specific regional market, a VPN can be an invaluable tool in getting inside the head of your target audience.
What websites seem to be succeeding the most for your keywords?
Do certain tactics just drop flat?
If you have the time, you can even use a VPN to make some comparisons in the field, so the speak, seeing if there are any trends you can take advantage of. There are likely tools and reports that already do this for you on some level, but they can be rather expensive.
There also is nothing like being able to look at things through your own eyes and pretend that you are an average user looking to solve a particular problem. A VPN shifts the focus of everyone, including yourself.
A One-Click Vanishing Act
True anonymity on the internet is worth a great deal. You don’t want overzealous competitors tracking your every move online or other organizations collecting data on you and using it for themselves.
You deserve better as an online professional, and a VPN prepares your vanishing act for you as long as you aren’t shouting your identity from the top of the online mountain.
That way you can sit and wait to see what an online environment is like before you bull-rush into the breakables department.
Most forms of tracking use your IP address, and since a VPN masks it, you can stay hidden when performing your SEO research. Your footprints when looking for sites to buy links on or contact will be useless and confusing to anyone who looks at them.
If you ever start to worry, you can switch to another server and start all over again. As a general rule, you won’t find another privacy tool that is as cheap as most VPNs ($10 a month is around the standard).
The VPN is a tool with many uses, so why not try it with SEO? Privacy and security have never been a disadvantage on their own, and the access it gives you is unparalleled for the price.
I use one myself when looking for new angles to try. If you find it a waste of time and want to put it into the recycling bin, you can move on without it without difficulty. Experimentation is the key to success.
So do you have any thoughts on what you could use a VPN for? Do you use one already and have success (or failure) stories to share with your fellow readers? Please leave a reply below so that we and other readers can converse with you on this interesting tool.