When you click around the web or connect to any online service, you can be identified by your IP address. Click this link to view your current IP address. A proxy IP address is shown when you don’t connect directly to websites or services but go through 3rd party computer, acting as a hub.
As a technical SEO, you need to understand the basics of IP addresses and more importantly how to set up a Proxy IP. This is an essential skill to have in your toolbox and you don’t have to be a hacker to master it.
What’s in this guide
- What is a Proxy IP?
- Why Use a Proxy IP?
- Where do we get a Proxy IP?
- How to Use an IP Proxy in Firefox?
- How to Use a Proxy in Chrome?
- How to Use a Proxy in Safari
- Testing the Proxy
- Important warning when using proxies
- Managing Proxies
What is a Proxy IP?
There are computers or servers that allow you to connect remotely to the internet, in place of you connecting directly. They will act as your proxy or representative, therefore you will have a proxy IP address shown to the world. These gateways may be running as a commercial service. Some gateways are wide open through poor security and administration. The proxy IP is the address of that computer that you use to connect to the internet.
Why Use a Proxy IP?
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 to users from certain geolocations, to comply with local legislation or just make your advertising more efficient. 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 proxies, 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 become much easier and safer.
I’d recommend buying private or shared proxies from Proxy-N-VPN. I’ve had many proxies from them over the years and been happy with the service.
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.
How to Use an IP Proxy in Firefox?
In Firefox go to Firefox dropdown menu and then click the Preferences option. You’ll see the part we need at the bottom of the page, in the section called Network 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. You probably want to set the proxy to be used for all protocols, both HTTP and HTTPS connections as many websites are moving to use HTTPS these days.
How to Use a Proxy in Chrome?
In Chrome go to Preferences > Network and then click the Change Proxy settings button.
How to Use a 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. Aside from the security aspect, performance is the major negative in using free or public 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 when using proxies: 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. Black-hat 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, ever 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.
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? Then you’re ready to consider a proxy manager. These will manage your proxies and allow automatic proxy switching, based on URL rules or time intervals. For Chrome, I’d recommend the Proxy SwitchyOmega plugin. For Firefox, the Foxy Switcher is a good option.