As a digital marketer, you’ll be constantly faced with a plethora of challenges, from attaining accurate data on your competitors, keeping track of PPC adverts, and forming the most effective marketing strategy for your business.
So, if you’re getting ready to launch a new campaign or looking for better ways to research how well your business is ranking in search results, there’s one tool all digital marketers should disregard at their peril: a VPN.
So, what is a VPN?
A VPN (known as a Virtual Private Network) works to protect your online activities by encrypting internet traffic and tunneling it through to a remote server which then allocates a new IP address.
When connected, you’re effectively disguising your true location, thanks to your new IP address, and now appear to be surfing the web in an entirely different location, anywhere in the world.
Many VPN providers offer thousands of servers from different continents making it possible to unblock geo-restricted content found on sites like Netflix, YouTube or Spotify. VPN’s can even help to bypass government implemented firewalls designed to censor social media and news outlets, even in the toughest of regions such as China.
Better still, VPNs also encrypt your internet traffic so your ISP cannot see which sites you visit, and also further secures your data with strong encryption, keeping it safe from opportunistic hackers and snoopers.
How can this benefit an online marketer?
For digital marketers, a VPN can do a lot more than simply than allow you to kick back and enjoy that unblocked Netflix movie on your work break, it is, in fact, a powerful tool that can enhance every facet of your marketing strategy and edge yourself in front of competitors.
Here are the top benefits that a VPN can bring:
1. Improve Your SEO Marketing Strategy
The ability to change your location and trick Google into thinking you’re actually somewhere else in the globe couldn’t be more valuable.
Perhaps your game plan involves placing appropriate ads alongside organic search results using Google Ads. Normally, you would simply use the Google Ad Preview tool to observe your current PPC campaigns and also plan new campaigns accordingly by being able to view top keywords that are used in various locations.
However, if you’re targeting a market beyond your current location you may run into difficulties when attempting to find clearer search engine results pages (SERPs).
For example, if you reside in the US and you want to find out more about how to optimize your SEO for the UK, a VPN can help you out here by allowing you to connect to a UK server and masking your current location. This essentially tricks Google into thinking you’re a web surfer from the UK, giving you more accurate and localized search results than what Google Ad Preview would have provided.
Now you can truly discover: who occupies the first position; which keywords rank higher in certain locations; what SEO tactics your competitors use to approach a market; or even monitor your current ad campaigns from your customer’s point of view in any location in the world.
2. Avoid Censorship and Unblock Restricted Content
Various countries around the world have varying degrees of censorship and how they enforce it.
China, for example, is notoriously strict when preventing access to sites and services such as Netflix, YouTube, Google Maps and What’s App. The Chinese government has by far the strongest firewall there is; access to content which is deemed to be a threat to their citizens is massively curtailed.
Digital marketers visiting or working remotely in the region could find their business activities severely disrupted; therefore, purchasing a quality VPN will be a top priority before jetting off.
However, The Great Firewall of China doesn’t make using VPNs a smooth ride; certain protocols used by VPNs to connect to the internet – like IKEv2 and OpenVPN – are strong and trustworthy, but can experience connectivity issues at times. There are few VPN providers who can successfully penetrate China’s firewall, and that list can change anytime as the government frequently seeks to strengthen its restrictions.
Besides censorship, a less serious issue is often encountered when sites such as YouTube restricts their video content to certain regions. Thankfully, a simple switch to a new IP address will resolve that issue. Afterward, you’ll be able to view untainted search results; view localized adverts; and observe the trends in order to target that particular region.
3. Improve Your Link Building
A widely used method in digital marketing is link building. Whilst Google’s search algorithm frequently changes, the tactic of creating strong backlinks has remained as important as ever.
However, you’ll encounter certain websites which restrict users when creating multiple links and even if a user tries to create multiple accounts to avoid this, the website also tracks the IP addresses of each computer which creates a roadblock.
To get around this, a VPN comes to the rescue as it provides many different IP addresses allowing you to create multiple accounts undetected.
4. Protect Sensitive Data And Encrypt Internet Traffic
Every internet user is aware of the existence of Cyberattacks, and the theft of identifiable personal information is big business. Whilst large corporations may often be the victims of massive data breaches, so too are small to medium-sized businesses.
For the internet marketer, securing your personal and client’s data should be as important as any other factor in your business model. There are numerous preventable mistakes that can occur all of the time and are often costly to the reputation and survival of a business. A VPN can offer protections that give you peace of mind.
When using a VPN, your internet connection is encrypted making it impossible for your ISP to collect and store information about which websites you visit. The same goes for hackers and opportunistic data thieves who are more likely to be satisfied with targeting unprotected web surfers. VPNs often use the standard AES-256 encryption method, as there is yet no evidence indicating that data encoded with this method can be decrypted.
However, changing your IP address is not the only benefit when it comes to security. To further enhance your protection it’s highly recommended to opt in to using a VPN’s very own DNS Leak Protection. This is because every time you type a URL in the address bar, your computer sends out a query to a DNS server in order to fetch and display the correct website content you’re asking for.
So, if you’re simply using your ISP’s default DNS servers, you are still exposing a fraction of valuable data unnecessarily, and it’s most likely being collected and analyzed by your ISP.
Finally, the best VPN providers also never collect logs of your internet activities or the pages you visit; therefore, you don’t have to worry about your information being stored and analyzed for any nefarious purpose.
5. Travel And Work Anywhere In The World
Working remotely and maintaining adequate access to the internet unhindered needn’t be a headache it once was. However, there are still some security hazards to confront.
Connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots – particularly those that don’t require a password – can be a risky practice. Whether it’s free or paid Wi-Fi services found on public transport, cafes, or even hotels, hackers can indiscriminately hoover up data from unsuspecting web surfers.
Such tactics are known as man-in-the-middle attacks where hackers can even spoof a real Wi-Fi network. Once a user connects to such a network they can then be monitored or even directed to fake websites. This means that you’re at risk of exposing your passwords to any accounts as well as the sensitive content contained within. Unless, of course, you’re using a VPN provider. Here you can shield your data with strong encryption making it impossible to decrypt and thwart the attempts of data thieves.
6. Bypass Google’s Search Query reCAPTCHAs
One of the main pitfalls every internet marketer intends to avoid is being flagged by Google. It doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your marketing plan, but things can quickly become cumbersome if you’re constantly being required to verify you’re not a robot to Google reCAPTCHAs. This can happen after conducting too many searches too quickly.
However, when utilizing a VPN, it’s business as usual; you’ll no longer find those nuisance verification processes cropping up every few minutes. A VPN will allow you to alter your IP address so Google won’t recognize that those multiple searches actually came from you.
7. Remain Anonymous To Your Competitors
Online competition is fierce, and you need to stay in front of your competitors.
A VPN can help disguise your presence as you dutifully pay a visit to your competitors website and observe their strategies. But if they catch on that a particular IP address belongs to you, it may lead them to discover who you are, and perhaps even copy you.
Even Google may latch on to your activities, and their algorithms may not be too impressed if they see certain tactics they frown upon, such as buying backlinks.
So covering your tracks is vital to move ahead in this market.
Many online marketers have still yet to realize the potential a VPN has for their marketing business. A VPN is clearly a tactful tool that offers online marketers a competitive advantage whilst providing an extra layer of security at the same time.
Whatever your marketing goals, the benefits of maintaining privacy while browsing, avoiding falling foul to Google’s algorithm, and protecting your data from prying eyes are surely worth the extra slice of your marketing budget.