I’d like to thank SEO Success Tips for featuring this post on their site. I’ve found their articles and tutorials to be an in depth source of information on a wide variety of SEO topics. I’m particularly fond of this tutorial on How to Drive Free Targeted Traffic to Your Site. It’s a great source of information that could save you some serious money on tools you may not actually need.
Internet marketing is a cutthroat business. There are millions of sites out there to compete with, and finding a way to make yours stand out is a constant battle. There are multitudes of tools available to SEO specialists, and many of them are free, but most of them require at least some basic understanding of how SEO works to get started.
It’s a broad concept, and like anything else on the web, the bar is always getting increasingly higher. You have to stay on the cutting edge of the tools available to you to beat out the competition.
One seriously overlooked tool that many content developers are just beginning to understand is the personal Virtual Private Network (VPN). Unlike other tools designed for SEO specialists, the VPN combines a deeper look into search engine patterns with an incredible layer of cybersecurity.
How Does a VPN Work?
A VPN is an online subscription service that gives you security over public networks, as well as access to blocked content. The easiest way to understand a VPN is to picture a tunnel in the internet that simply redirects your traffic.
When you sign up for a VPN, you get access to a worldwide network of servers. After downloading the software, you just choose a server location from what is typically a drop down menu, and click “connect”. From there, your IP address is hidden, and your traffic is routed through the server you’ve chosen.
In addition to this, a VPN will also simultaneously encrypt your connection. This is always done automatically, though you can sometimes choose the strength of the encryption in the VPN software’s settings. The stronger the encryption, the slower your connection could be though, so if you’re doing something that eats up a lot of bandwidth online, you may want to keep it pretty minimal.
Does a VPN Cost Anything?
Like a lot of online services, there are typically stripped down free versions available of VPNs. What you’re going to run into here though is that, for the most part, these VPNs are designed for pretty minimal use. They either have really low bandwidth limits, or a data cap, or a trial period on them.
In addition, a free VPN is typically some pretty primitive, unintuitive software. The old adage “You get what you pay for” is in this case pretty accurate. For some temporary use on trips or something, a free VPN may suffice, but ultimately as an SEO tool, you’ll want to spring for a paid version.
Now, I say “spring”, as if you’re going to have to fork over some ungodly amount of money for one, but really, even paid VPNs are just ridiculously affordable. Most are only around $5 per month, and even the really comprehensive ones don’t usually go past $15. With all that, you can expect to cover at least two devices, get unlimited bandwidth and access to some pretty sizeable networks, which is ultimately going to result in a fast connection.
How Would I Use a VPN With SEO?
Now onto the heart of the matter. VPNs secure your connection and hide your IP address, but where is the application with SEO specialists? It’s mind-blowingly simple, but the answer lies with the VPN’s ability to hide your IP address and connect you to a remote server.
VPNs make powerful online marketing tools because they allow you to access servers in pretty much any part of the world. What this means is that when you connect to these servers, you literally see what those people in that country see when they get online.
If you’re marketing an ecommerce site, business or blog to an international customer base, there is no easier way to get an inside perspective on what your customers are seeing than by using a VPN. Tools such as AdWords tell you a lot about traffic patterns, but you can get an idea of what’s geographically relevant to your customer base quickly and easily just by using a VPN.
The Cybersecurity Side of VPNs
Aside from marketing your content, a huge part of your work also needs to involve making sure you website is protected from hackers. This of course involves a large amount of diligence on your part with keeping plugins and software up to date. The older a version you’re using, the longer hackers have to find a way to infiltrate and insert malicious code.
Aside from the typical measures you take to ensure your website (and reputation) isn’t compromised, you also need to be mindful of where and how you’re accessing the internet to conduct your business. Most of us are well aware of the dangers of using public WiFi. It’s easier than ever for someone to intercept your connection and steal your login information, compromising both you and your customers.
Since VPNs encrypt your data, they can actually protect you on any network, no matter where you are. Once connected, everything you do online is completely secured with what is usually military grade encryption. Many VPNs also include a feature of auto-disconnect, which means that if for some reason your VPN fails, any online processes are immediately halted to prevent your data from being exposed.
Keep Government Surveillance at Bay
Another nice perk of a VPN is that handy IP address blocking it does. Your IP address is kind of like your online driver’s license. It’s attached directly to your internet-enabled device, and anything you do online carries that code with it. It’s how government tracks down suspected terrorists and criminals.
While that’s all fine and good, all it does for us law abiding citizens is creep us out, and ultimately allow a big brother state of surveillance to go unchecked. Since a VPN hides your IP address, you never have to worry about your information being tracked by anyone and that includes pesky advertisements.
Work From Anywhere in the World
Perhaps one of my favorite things about working online is that I get to take my work anywhere with me. It doesn’t matter when; it doesn’t matter where. All I need is my laptop, and I never have to miss a paycheck. Being able to telecommute is a huge perk, but it’s still something that comes with a few drawbacks.
For one thing, not everywhere in the world has access to the same sites and services you may be used to using with your SEO work, and that can be a real problem. It’s not just things such as Netflix and Pandora. When you go to places such as China and the UAE, an incredible number of sites are actually blocked completely, due to government censorship. Things are so heavily restricted and controlled that China even blocks the real Skype and has their own version so that they can monitor every conversation.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, many countries actually have bans on VoIP communication services, and that includes Skype as well. This isn’t because of government censorship, but actually due to telecommunications companies in those regions that hold monopolies on their industry. If they can keep free services blocked, they can keep 100 percent of the population as their customers.
As irritating as all of this is, it is just sadly the norm in a lot of places around the world, and more often than not, if you’re going to a place with these kind of content restrictions in place, you’re going to find that filter circumvention tools such as VPNs are also blocked. For this reason, it’s extremely important you download a VPN before you go. Once you have the software, you can use it on any internet connection, but you won’t be able to access these sites in areas where they’re restricted.
Since VPNs hide your IP address and give you access to a worldwide network of servers, you can literally access any site that is available in the location you choose. So if you’re in Beijing, but choose a server in New York, you’ll be able to access any sites or services available in America, and your connection will be completely anonymous, private and secure.
Add a VPN to Your SEO Arsenal
It’s not something that’s immediately apparent, but as VPNs become increasingly more mainstream, their applications with internet marketing are becoming more recognized, and developers are taking advantage of the multi-faceted perks of these programs.
VPNs are affordable, easy to use, work on any device and can be used anywhere in the world. You can hide your content from hackers, use public WiFi securely, protect yourself from government tracking, work remotely and never have to worry about content restrictions overseas. Many of these services actually offer trial runs, so check out a few VPNs and see if you can find a free trial to get you started.