You’ve heard the horror stories, haven’t you?
Nobody wants to be an online victim.
But, what can you do about it?
Well, there is one simple way that’s cost effective and can be set up in minutes.
All you need is a VPN that securely encrypts your internet activity and keeps you safe from the threats of the online world.
What Will I Learn?
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.
Without getting too technical…
A VPN exists to protect your information, your identity, and your location.
Not only does it keep you safe from hackers and online crimes, but you can also use it for some fun things as well (more on that later).
Let’s say you’re sat in your local Starbucks working on your laptop, hooked up to their internet. Their free WiFi is what you’d call a public network.
And it’s easy for hackers and other people to get hold of your data while you’re on it.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a VPN when you connect to any free Wifi when you are out and about. That includes your phone, tablet and laptop!
Because all it takes is for someone to install a freely available android application like this one-
And in a click of the button anyone can steal your passwords and logins for any website you visit. That includes Facebook, Gmail, PayPal, Amazon – literally anything that requires a login.
But by connecting to a VPN all of your data becomes encrypted and hidden from the prying eyes of strangers.
How does it do this?
Well, it encrypts all of your internet activity and channels it through private VPN servers that are 100% secure.
You can also use a VPN to trick the connection into thinking that you’re in a different part of the world entirely. You could be sat in New York but appear to be in Tokyo when browsing.
That feature also carries on into different uses, too. You can use it to dodge geo-restrictions – such as YouTube Videos or On Demand Streaming – to allow yourself access to services from other countries.
I have friends who live outside of PayPal regions that use a VPN to make payments through Australia or America.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to always use a VPN when connecting to any public or free WiFi source.
Which Is The Best VPN?
The best VPN in my opinion is IPVanish. I have tried many different VPN providers over the years and IPVanish is hands down the best VPN for a number of reasons.
Not only is it quick and easy to setup, but it’s also amazingly fast and doesn’t slow down your connection at all unlike many VPN providers I have tried.
It is also comes with clients for all of your devices including Windows, Mac OSX, Android & iOS so you can secure everything easily.
I’ve recommended it in different articles in the past, and now I’m going to strongly urge that, if you have a choice between IPVanish and another VPN, you choose IPVanish.
They market themselves as the fastest VPN on the planet and in my experience I’ve found that to be true. While there may be an occasional lapse in speed, there is rarely anything worth noting.
You will also receive access to over 40,000 different IPs on over 700 servers in over 60 countries. That is, by far, the best VPN access you are going to find.
To put that into perspective, if you were to use a new IP address every day for the rest of your life, you’d have to survive for the next 109 years to use them all.
As an SEO I’ve found this access to so many services truly invaluable. I’ve been able to create local listings on almost a street-level, by targeting with precision through these servers.
It’s also opened up revenue stream in lots of different countries, by being able to efficiently build niche affiliate sites that rank in countries I’ve never even been to.
All by being able to see the true search experience of search and adjust accordingly.
But one of my favorite features which is unique to IPVanish, is that they help you block:
- Unwanted Marketing: You can block banners and ads that you don’t want to see, all in just a few clicks.
- Deep Packet Inspection: Stop your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from finding out deep data about your usage and clamping down on your internet speed.
You can get access to IPVanish right here.
Which Is The Best Free VPN?
The best free VPN service is TunnelBear because they give you 500MB of secure encrypted data to use each month without any location restrictions.
It works a little bit like a mobile data plan and once you use up your 500MB of data they cut you loose which can be frustrating..
But if you tweet the TunnelBear team they’ll raise that to a 1GB of data per month for free. So, you can get a good few hours of VPN coverage each and every month.
And even with the free version you can access their servers in:
- The UK
So while it is fine for general web browsing, it isn’t much good for anything else.
Tunnel Bear is mostly for the protection of your data and so that you can take advantage of some of the fun stuff you can do with a VPN (which you’ll read more on later on).
Also you don’t get any way near as many server locations to choose from as you do with IPVanish. That stays true even if you upgrade to their Premium version, too.
If you’re just looking for casual protection serving the net, or just want to use it for when you access your bank details in a coffee shop, then 1GB should be more than enough.
But, I wouldn’t use it to stream because it’ll run out after around 10 minutes.
However because free VPNs do restrict your access…
I’d recommend that you don’t use them.
For example, my first experience with a free VPN was ZenMate. After a week-long free trial of premium I was only able to access servers in a handful of locations:
Which is great if you just want the security benefit of hiding your IP address for a short period of time. But, I don’t need to find local search results, or test geolocations, from Hong Kong or Romania, so the free version is a little lost on me.
So, I’d strongly recommend that you don’t use a free VPN.
They are never a replacement for a paid VPN and for the small cost per month, the level of protection you can’t really put a price on.
As someone that uses a lot of public WiFi, a paid VPN like IPVanish has been a highly valuable tool at the core of my work.
But I also see it in the same light as having a seatbelt in my car or wearing a helmet on a motorbike. It’s an essential you can’t quite do without.
Whichever you decide to use, let’s look at how you can get it set up…
How To Set Up A VPN Network Easily
In general, setting up Virtual Private Network’s can be done easily.
Most providers will have a guide showing you exactly how to set up their VPN in a few easy steps.
VPN’s are available on most operating systems and smartphones, but for the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to focus on the setup for Windows.
You’ll find that the setup process for all Operating Systems is similar and will only require a few minor tweaks depending on what you’re using.
We’ll also be following the process for setting up IPVanish as a VPN because I’ve done it so many times for other people I’m really familiar with the system.
But, again, you’ll find the process quite similar regardless of your provider.
Step #1: Download Your VPN Tool
As I said earlier, I highly recommend IPVanish for this. It’s the tool I personally use for all of my VPN needs.
But if you already have a tool in mind, go ahead and find the download page for that.
That’ll prompt you download and install a .exe file so you can run the VPN software from your desktop. Alternatively, if you’ve downloaded a browser-only VPN, it’ll add to your extensions.
When prompted be sure to make sure the VPN has permissions to make changes to your computer. This is what will allow you to mask or change your location and IP address.
Remember this is a security focused program, so don’t be worried about letting it have access.
Step #2: Get To Know The Basics Of The Tool
Once downloaded the program should load on its own. And will probably do so every time you start your computer from here on out (unless you set it to do otherwise).
In the first tab, the Dashboard tab, It’ll show you all the details about your current VPN connection (if you are connected)-
In the next tab you’re going to find a list of all the available servers through IPVanish.
They can be ranked in different orders such as Ping time and the order they were used last.
If you don’t touch them, they’ll be ranked in order of distance from your location.
You can also select which location you would like to connect to via a zoomable map-
In the fourth tab, Settings, you can access all of the settings for your IPVanish tool.
You can take a look here and see if there are any changes you want to make. But, should you need to change any settings I’ll let you know throughout this article.
Okay, once you’ve taken a tour of the tool, it’s time to make your IP vanish. (See what I did there?).
#3: Mask Your IP Address
Now is time to get connected! This is really simple.
Just press the grey ‘Off’ button in the top right corner or the green ‘Connect’ button in the bottom right corner and you’ll be connected instantly-
And that is all there is to it!
Your internet connection is now encrypted, secure and protected against hackers or people trying to hijack your passwords.
What I really love about the IPVanish tool is that you can choose from so many different servers, locally and internationally.
For example, if you’re based in New York, but you want to help an SEO client boost their local listings in Chicago, you can head to a Chicago server and see what’s happening there.
Just double click on any of the servers to be connected instantly!
5 Fun Things You Can Do With Your New VPN
Once you have your VPN up and running, you can use it for some really cool different things, too.
If you want to catch up on your favourite TV, get cheaper plane tickets and hack YouTube, then you’re going to want to pay attention to this section.
#01: Stream Your Favorite TV Shows From Anywhere
If you enjoy watching your favorite TV shows online, you’ll often find that they’re geo-blocked.
For example, if you were to try and watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, you’d see this message:
But when you swap your IP Address to show from a UK server, you’ll be able to access all of their programming:
This works if you want to watch TV from other countries, too. You can access programs from anywhere in the world as long as your provider has a server there.
Meaning if you want to get ahead on an American TV show that hasn’t come out where you are yet, you can pretend you’re in the States while you watch it.
However you will find that most free VPN providers throttle video playback and you may experience a lot of buffering, that’s why I use IPVanish to avoid all of those problems.
#02: Book Cheaper Plane Tickets
Did you know that airfare is often cheaper if you book it from a different country?
Not just because of a currency exchange either (although that helps). It’s been found that airlines will make their fares cheaper in their home country.
For example, MapHappy found that if they booked flights to Cartagena from the USA from their Columbian site, they were able to save anywhere between a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
It makes sense that AirFrance would promote their cheapest fares in France. Swissair in Switzerland. And British Airways in Britain.
Leverage this the next time you’re looking for a long-haul trip.
#03: Immerse Yourself In A Language
Language Learning can be hard when you’re not surrounded by the language each and every day.
But, you can do a virtual immersion by tunneling through a country that speaks the language.
Let’s say you’re learning German. By setting your VPN to Germany, Switzerland or Austria, you’ll be able to see German Language results through search engines. (For some you may need to swap your settings).
This’ll also give you access to other language perks, like YouTube. If you go on there and look at the Trending section you’ll find all the top videos in the language:
So you can be sure you’re getting every exposure to the language without any additional effort.
No excuses to not practice now, eh?
#04: Use Spotify While You Travel
Spotify has been part of my everyday life for a while. But it’s not available in every country, which sucks when you’re traveling.
Having a VPN can allow you to jump back to a country where it is available and access all of your favourite tracks.
Alternatively, if it’s not allowed in your country, you can use a VPN to gain access to a country where it is available.
#05: Unlock Hidden YouTube Videos
YouTube has become pretty crafty in recent years. Instead of showing you a video and then telling you it isn’t available in your country, the results just no longer show up.
I discovered this once when I was desperately searching for a video to show a friend while I was abroad. And, it was only when I returned home that I found it to show to them again.
For example, if I search for BBC through YouTube on my local servers, I get this result that doesn’t show too much:
But if I search for it through an English VPN server, I’m able to see many more results and the geo-blocked videos become available to watch:
If you’re really looking for something that is specific to a country – or that you know is only allowed in that country – set up your VPN to bypass it and take you to where you (virtually) need to be.
How To Use A VPN For Digital Marketing
The biggest benefit of having a VPN in digital marketing is that you’re able to mask your location. This can be of use to boost SEO and affiliate marketing. But how?
If you’re an experienced marketer, your head might already by bubbling with ideas about what you can do once you have this ability.
But if you’re new to the marketing game, you might not be so sure. If that’s you, don’t worry, because we’re going to go through what that means right now.
We’re going to look at this from two different perspectives:
- An SEO Professional (or Agency)
- An Affiliate Marketer
But, if you’re in a rush, jump to the section that fits you best.
How SEO Professionals Can Use A VPN
No two users have the same search experience.
While there are similarities, there will always be exceptions and differences that are tailored to whoever is searching.
And these differences are intensified the further from your location you go.
Even if you search for the exact same keyword, you’ll often find a completely different set of results. For example, if I route my VPN through London and search for plumbers I get this result:
And if I then route it through a server in Canada, I get this result:
This creates a problem if you are, for example, a London based SEO agency working with a client in Toronto that wants to improve their local SEO rankings. Why?
Well this difference in rankings makes it hard for you to track the local listings effectively. Because, even if you were to search through Google.ca you’d never see an accurate result.
A VPN is the magic bullet to solve this problem.
Your VPN tells the search engine that you are, in fact, in that location and are making the same searches a local person would.
It’s like being an Undercover Cop, only with less risk of death or going Donnie Brasco.
You can then forge a better educated and more effective SEO campaign based on more accurate data.
And, you can see local paid advertising listings, too. If your client asks for some help on the paid advertising side of their business, you can again, use a VPN to assess the situation and make educated decisions related to ad copy and targeting.
Okay, that’s a VPN from the perspective on an SEO, now let’s look at how Affiliate Marketers can best make use of it.
How Affiliate Marketers Can Benefit From A VPN
Being active in affiliate markets around the world can really help to boost your income. And, it’s not often something you think about.
If you take a look below, you’ll see that there are some big international affiliate markets outside of the USA:
Having a VPN can allow you to tap into income streams, and find offers, that would usually be hidden from you.
For example by using a VPN, Colin Klinkert, the owner of SERPed, has been able to create niche sites in France and rank them with ease, without being fluent French.
He was able to target people and create an income stream from an otherwise closed-off market.
And you can benefit from the same tactics.
Using the tips from the SEO section above, as well as being able to:
- Analyse different landing pages
- Look for country-specific affiliate offers
- Network with top affiliates in different countries
- View local advertising and creative banners
Different nationalities tend to respond to different styles of marketing. The approach that works in one country, won’t necessarily work in another – even if the offer is virtually similar. So you can also ‘hack’ copywriting in that respect.
Using a VPN you can see the creatives shown to the local audience, and then easily break down what approaches you need to take, so that your creatives resonate with the audience you’re going after.
VPNs also help you deal with the challenges associated with reviewing international landing page offers. It may be the case that your affiliate network provides you with the ability to run international offers.
However, the actual company behind the offer might only want traffic from specific locations to see that landing page– and so they may automatically redirect people trying to view the landing page from the ‘wrong’ location.
Odds are, you want to see a landing page before sending traffic to it – even if there is data suggesting that the page is producing great results. But with the redirect being active, it’s hard to do this.
If you have access to a VPN, you can mask your location and view the landing page as if you belong to the target audience.
Now you can check out the landing page, and see if it’s any good.
On a slightly unrelated note, it’s also worth noting that a VPN can help you manage multiple accounts more easily too.
If you find that is easier to manage your affiliate marketing efforts, with the help of multiple accounts, then you can essentially use a VPN to help you with this. It helps you do this by masking your I.P.
For example, you can sign up to all of the best survey sites with a VPN.
If I try to access SwagBucks from my current location then I just get redirected to a blank white screen-
But if I enable the VPN and connect to a UK server I see this-
That’s the nuts and bolts of how you can use the tool for Marketing.
How A VPN Secures Your Digital Marketing Activity
In digital marketing, a VPN helps secure your activity if working while travelling.
If you’re in a cafe or airport, there’s a possibility of a hacker being nearby.
They can easily gain access to sensitive information – think bank details, client accounts and sensitive documents – through public networks.
The encryption (you can see a diagram of how that works below) keeps it safe.
But it also helps if you’re active in the Marketing (or any) community. If you’re commenting on forums, or something similar, people may be able to track your other online activities using your I.P. address.
Using that information, they might be able to negatively impact your campaigns.
With a VPN, however, people can only really identify server locations, and not your actual IP address, making it easier to hide your footprints.
It is also worth mentioning that a VPN will help protect you from getting banned if you’re frequently visiting particular websites.
That’s because security systems can sometimes ban your IP if you’re sending too many server requests – with a VPN you’re less likely to trigger such an event.
This makes it easier to conduct research activity, without raising any ‘red flags’ that could damage your ability to run campaigns.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, by now you’ve got a clear idea of how a VPN can help you be safer on the internet and give you brilliant SEO and Affiliate benefits.
But, just to be sure, here’s a quick recap of everything that we covered…
- What is a VPN? A VPN is a private network that keeps you safe online by using encrypted, safe to use, servers.
- Which is the best VPN? IPVanish is my personal favorite and the only VPN that I recommend.
- Are there good free VPNs available? TunnelBear is a good fee VPN, but I strongly suggest you use a paid service.
- What are the Digital Marketing benefits? Not only does it keep your business data safe online, but you can also create more accurate SEO campaigns and find new affiliate offers.
- What other fun stuff can you do? Stream TV and Music from blocked locations. Find cheaper airfare. And, use it to help you learn a language.
How do you use a VPN to make yourself safer online?
Have you discovered any fun stuff you can do with it?
Let me know in the comments…