As an SEO, you may occassionally need to use a proxy IP, whether you are working on multilingul projects or just keeping your identity hidden. So here you are, a quick 10-minute guide to using a proxy IP.
What is a Proxy IP?
There are computers that allow anyone to connect to the web through them, i.e. they can be used as a gateway to the internet. Some of these computers are deliberately left open or run as commercial services while others are left open by accident through poor server administration. The Proxy IP is the address of that computer.
Why Do We Need to Use Proxy IPs?
Several reasons. Maybe you are carrying out multilingual marketing and wish to test your website or PPC advertising from the perspective of visitors outside your country. You may even want to ensure that your material is not available, for example blocking poker advertising from US visitors due to legislation. Sometimes you just want to test on an IP outside your local company network, to ensure your audience have the experience you expect.
Where do we get a Proxy IP?
There are many sources for Proxy IPs, some free and some commercial. As with most things, you get what you pay for. If you are looking for more reliable, high-performance proxies then you should make the jump to paid proxies.These aren’t expensive, a few dollars each per month and this activity becomes much easier. I’d recommend buying private or shared proxies from Proxy-N-VPN.
You can browse the available proxies by country to find the one you want. All proxies are listed in the following format: IP Address:Port Number. Using the first example above, 22.214.171.124 is the IP address and 8080 is the Port Number. Leave this window open and open a new window to enter the details into Firefox.
How to Use The Proxy in Firefox?
In Firefox go to Tools > Options and then click the Advanced tab.
Under the Network tab, in the Connection section, click the Settings button.
Make a note somewhere of your current settings. We’ll want to be able to change these back once we finish using the proxy.
Click the option for Manual proxy configuration. In the box HTTP Proxy enter our Proxy IP address we noted earlier and put the Port Number next to it. Click OK and return to your browser.
How to Use The Proxy in Chrome?
In Chrome go to Preferences > Network and then click the Change Proxy settings button.
This will load the connections window you see in the Firefox example above, for Windows operating systems or the box below on a Mac/Apple operating systems.
Click the option for Web Proxy (HTTP) or Secure Web Proxy (HTTPS) depending on the proxy IP you are using. In the box HTTP Proxy enter our Proxy IP address we noted earlier and put the Port Number next to it. Paid proxies will supply you with a username and password. Click OK and return to your browser.
How to Use The Proxy in Safari?
In Safari go to the main drop down and select Preferences > Advanced and then click the Change Settings button at the bottom of the box. This will again launch the connection settings box you have seen in the previous examples.
Testing the Proxy
Sometimes a free listed Proxy IP does not work. It may have been closed or the computer is currently unavailable. This is the disadvantage in using free over paid, higher-performance proxies. If you can’t get any page or the connection seems too slow, repeat the steps with a new Proxy IP address until it works.
Once you can get any page to load, visit whatismyipaddress.com and see if your IP and location has changed. This is how other websites will now view you while browsing the internet through this other computer.
Important Warning: Please Read.
You must be aware of one key point when using a free or unknown Proxy IP. All data that you send and receive can be intercepted by that computer and stored. Blackhat Hackers (crackers) have been known to set up proxy servers as a “honeypot”, simply to catch sensitive details and passwords from users. So remember the following two rules:
1. Never enter important passwords, credit card details or visit important personal sites, such as your online banking while connected to a proxy. Keep in mind that someone can be watching and logging your activity.
2. Always change back to your default connection when you have finished your session. It’s easy to forget you’re connected through a proxy. Simply reverse the steps above.
Of course paid proxy services from reputable companies will offer a greater level of security but always be aware of these issues when connecting through any proxy IP.
Got to grips with the basics? Download the FoxyProxy plugin for Firefox. This plugin will manage all your favourite Proxy IPs and lets you switch between them from your toolbar. You can categorise your proxies by geographic location, performance or online identity. It even provides automatic proxy switching, based on URL rules or time intervals. Get a package of private or shared proxies from Proxy-N-VPN and manage through this plugin.
** 27 Jan 2007 by Ingorrr one of the artists who make their work under a Creative Commons license at Flickr – thank you!