Digital marketers apply a great variety of tools during their daily workflow. They collect and analyze data from many different sources, as well, they create many types of content for enormous variety of platforms (vlogs, blogs, webpages, all forms of social media, podcasts, flyers, emails, and more).

So, digital marketing teams are always ready to find new tools when necessary. But there's one tool that not all marketers are aware of – and that's a VPN (virtual private network). When most people think of a VPN, they tend to imagine someone getting around government restrictions, surfing the Dark Web, or torrenting their favorite music. VPNs can be used for all of that, but they can also help digital and SEO marketers with their everyday jobs. Here's how a VPN is important in this industry.

More Secure Data Management

Digital marketers may handle a lot of sensitive company information in online spaces as they work. It's important to keep this information safe and free from the risks of hacking, malware, and other problems. That can be a difficult challenge when marketers have to keep bouncing back to public platforms like YouTube and Instagram. You can’t house everything in a secure data silo.

VPNs provide the ideal solution here. Marketers can use VPNs while working to make sure that no company data is accidentally exposed to online threats or theft. It's extra risk management that the whole company can practice. Security is beneficial for all types of marketing content.

Better Remote Working Conditions

Digital marketing involves significant amounts of remote work – people staying at home, freelancers working on certain projects, and other cases where marketers are always on site. The problem is, at-home Internet connections are not safeguarded the same way as ones in offices. This may become a trouble when working with valuable data (say, private information about customers that could be at risk on an unsecured network). The ideal solution here is a VPN that both the remote working marketer and the business can use to protect their data.

Taking VPNs Into Account for Particular Industries

For some industries – for example, building services – VPNs don't yet make a mark and aren't something marketers need. But for other industries that are online in nature and primarily sell online services or products, VPNs are becoming a growing factor in how people browse or shop. It's important to acknowledge, that there is a portion of online traffic that isn't easy to measure in order to inspect the impact of VPNs on specific types of businesses.

VPNs may also help people save money by avoiding things like price increases. On certain websites the prices may become higher or lower depending on the user’s location, or because websites can tell you are visiting more frequently. That’s why marketers should also recognize the impact of VPNs when it comes to recommended prices.

Location Isn't Always What It Seems

A growing number of people use VPNs to switch locations when they are browsing. VPNs employ thousands of servers around the world. They allow users to specify their location or server so it looks like they are coming from the location of their choice. VPN makes it easy for anyone to change IP address to US location if they want to access content available to U.S citizens only.

Users do this for all sorts of reasons since switching locations can:

  • Help to avoid regional locks: Some sites may restrict content based on user location, either because they have to follow certain laws or because of licensing deals. A VPN helps people get around these regional locks and consume content where it's available.

  • Examine different prices: Many large companies offer different prices in different areas. They do it by switching to local currencies without adjusting for currency differences, or by setting higher prices for certain areas (with greater incomes or demand). VPNs allow users to explore prices from a variety of locations and find the most cost-effective options.

  • Avoid tracking: Using VPN, users make it more difficult for governments and web services to track where they are coming from, which protects their privacy.

But this causes a couple of side-effects that marketers must recognize. First, location data may not always be what it appears to be. If records say that a dozen interested customers logged in from Germany to look at products last month, it could have been a group of people with VPNs using a German server – and it's important to recognize this possibility. Second, users will see local SEO from the server they are using. In other words, if the browser thinks that someone is logging in from New York City, they are going to see information for restaurants and services around NYC, instead of where they really are. So, local SEO won't really impact them.

Viewing Local SEO from Different Locations

Marketers can also dig deeper and look at SERP and SEO results based on location. This is very helpful when analyzing how effective SEO is based on the region. For large companies that are marketing in different countries or different areas, there are a lot of advantages. Marketers may find that their local SEO ranking is very good in one region, but very poor in another.

Helping with Competitor Analysis

Marketers can also benefit from using a VPN when browsing competitor websites and gathering competitor information. There are three important reasons a VPN should be used in this situation:

  • Ad accuracy: A VPN can't really block cookies from tracking users. But, it can stop other types of internet tracking that enable targeted advertising or personal recommendations. This may not sound like it matters in competitor research, but it's very important if a marketer wants to know where a competitor's ads are shown. A VPN prevents any confusion about these points by curtailing some types of ad tracking.

  • Regional results: If a competitor is in another city, state, or country, it may be difficult to accurately judge how good their local SEO is, or if their ads are showing up on popular user platforms. A VPN allows marketers to look at the competitor and their ads as if they were a customer right next door, which provides more accurate results.

  • Keeping Marketers' Own Analysis Clean: Speaking of ad analysis, marketers face a peculiar issue when using tools like Google Analytics and other SEO analysis platforms: Their own work can skew results. When they look at their own ads but don't click on the ad, that reads as one user that was exposed to ad content but didn't react, lowering the ad's click-through score. A similar issue creates problems when viewing brand web pages and other content. There's no easy way out of this – except using a VPN to mask actions marketers take and leave the results as pure as possible. This works especially well for marketers that end up visiting their own pages frequently to see how they look or how they are performing.

Utilizing Certain Types of Link Building

Link building on websites works best if marketers link content to the most authoritative, professional sites possible. Google recognizes the quality of links and that factors into how pages are ranked. However, there's a problem with that these days – many authoritative sites, especially news sites, and journals, block people from visiting articles and copying URLs after one or two visits. This makes it hard to build links for larger projects, but in many cases, a VPN can help fix this issue. A VPN can make it look like the marketer is coming from different locations, allowing them to continue using URLs that would otherwise be blocked.

Better Security When Traveling

Some marketers are always on the go – and that carries risks. These marketers frequently have to connect to airport, hotel, and venue Wi-Fi networks. These wireless networks are common targets for hackers looking to steal data and spy on users, because they don't always feature superior security. A VPN will encrypt data and make it difficult for hackers to interfere or see what users are doing. This helps to keep marketers and their devices safe, as well any data they are working with when traveling.

Written by
Christopher Nichols, Outreach Manager of Strictly Digital
October 2019