Proxies are basically little digital gateways that allow internet traffic to pass through them and servers can be set up to play the role of a middle man between you and your intended internet destination. Using proxies can provide you with some anonymity and lots of people use proxies for a lot of different reasons. Some countries ban certain websites from their version of the internet and people in those countries can use proxies to bypass those restrictions. Some download sites may only allow one download an hour from your computer so a few users switch proxies after every download to get around this limitation.
95% of internet users have no need for proxies and therefore either don’t know about them or never think about them. Two years ago I never used proxies but now that I’ve been involved with SEO work I pay for 15 private proxies each month and use countless other “disposable” proxies. The crazy part is that’s chump change in the SEO world where proxies are often bought and sold by the hundred. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m up to that I need all of these proxies, I’ll explain.
The first piece of SEO software I bought was SEO powersuite. I still use the Rank Tracker program every day to track my website’s rankings in search engines. For my wife’s main website I track her position for 92 terms in 3 different search engines every day. When I first started using Rank Tracker a full report took around an hour. The downside was that oftentimes when my wife or I would try to use Google later in the day it was making us enter in a captcha for every search we wanted to do. Google frowns upon the use of automated tools to do keyword research and all of the activity coming from our ip address was making them place our ip on a short term (few hours) “slow down” list.
After a few days of that I ponied up a whopping $2.50 a month and bought my first private proxy. That could possibly be the first time in history that someone bought one proxy by itself but they were willing to sell it so I bought it. The proxy didn’t affect the speed of my rank checking one bit and it saved me from upsetting Google from the ip address that we used for our day to day browsing.
A few months after that several of the search engines starting changing a few things to make life more difficult for those trying to use automated tools. SEO Powersuite did a great job adjusting to the changes like they always do but the changes did make the process quite a bit slower. What used to take one hour would now take several hours. And that was just for one site! The answer was to either grow more patient (not going to happen) or buy more proxies. I upgraded my private proxy service from 1 proxy to 5 proxies and uploaded them into rank tracker. Now instead of checking one ranking at a time per search engine I could check 5 different rankings at a time per search engine and for all intents and purposes it looks like the requests are coming from five different locations. This took the process back down under an hour and all was right in the world.
A few weeks ago I was doing a large amount of keyword research for a friend and my queries were taking quite a while to run so I grabbed ten more private proxies from a different source. I put those into rank tracker and raised the number of processes from 5 to 15. What was taking an hour now consistently takes 8 minutes. Now I’m starting to see why people make such a big deal about proxies 🙂
In my post tomorrow I’m going to talk about the different types of proxies and why you need to make sure you’re using the right proxies for the right job.