In this post I am going to talk about the benefits of using a VPN for SEO purposes as well as a few other cool things that it comes in handy for. A good VPN is pretty cheap these days so I am going to conduct a review on the service that I personally use, and that is ‘Hide My Ass‘
Here is what you will learn in this post:
- What is HMA
- What is a Virtual Private Network
- Reasons for using a VPN
- Why I chose HMA
- Servers Locations
- Advanced options
- Other cool uses of HMA
What is HMA?
HMA stands for ‘Hide My Ass‘. They offer a Virtual Private Network service so that you can hide or use a different IP address other than your own. Using a VPN service has many advantages and I’ll be covering all of them in this review.
I started to use HMA a couple of years ago for SEO purposes and I continue to use them today. I noticed that it had become quite popular with my readers when I started to receive affiliate commission, which you can see in my Traffic and Earnings reports. I mentioned that I use HMA on my post about building private blog networks. I do this to hide my footprint, and from the feedback I have received it seems a lot of you are now using it too.
Before I Start: As I mentioned just, I receive a very small affiliate commission should you go onto purchase the HMA service through one of my links. I just wanted to be up front with you from the start and wanted you to be aware that I did this post for the sole purpose of providing a good honest review of what I believe to be a very good service, I did not write this for the sole purpose of getting affiliate commission, so if you choose not to click the links that’s cool, if you do then it’s much appreciated 🙂
What is a Virtual Private Network
A virtual Private Network, otherwise known as a VPN, provides a private network that can be shared across a shared or public network. Without getting technical, the VPN service like the one I am reviewing enables you to connect to the internet using an IP address other than your own.
Here is Wikipedia’s explanation incase you were interested….
So basically, you can be located in the USA and pretend that you are actually accessing the net from the UK, or anywhere else in the world.
This of course has many advantages:
Reasons for using a VPN
1) Hide your Identity – The main reason I started to use a VPN was to build Private blog networks. When building my PBN I didn’t want Google to see that all of my sites were built from the same IP address, because this is a pretty obvious footprint!!
There for a signed up to HMA so that each time I built a new site I would use a different IP address and therefore keep my identity and location unknown, or in other words, so it didn’t appear that I was building all of the PBN sites myself!
2) Online security: Accessing the internet on public wifi can be pretty dangerous. I remember watching a TV program not long ago where it showed how easy it was for criminals to set up a fake public wifi and then take all of your sensitive information from you without you even knowing. Bank details, codes, the lot!! pretty scary I know.
Luckily a VPN can act as a security barrier when accessing public wifi. When you connect through your VPN it will encrypt all data sent and received, thus making it impossible for anybody on the public wifi or internet to steal your personal data.
3) Watch TV abroad – I soon discovered this after I started using my VPN. When I am abroad I can’t access some UK tv, especially things such as Sky go because it automatically identifies your location before connecting, and if you aren’t in the country you are supposed to be in it will not allow you to watch anything.
Therefore I set up a VPN on my iPad or iPhone so that when I connect to my sky app, it thinks I am still in the UK 🙂
I also do this when accessing betting sites!!
As I travel quite a lot the cost of the service is with it just for this reason.
4) Downloading dodgy stuff – Not that I advocate it or ever do it ,but if you were to to download something that maybe you shouldn’t, then a VPN can protect prying eyes!!
5) Local SEO – Another great thing about changing my IP to a different location is that I can perform local SEO checks from areas that I don’t actually live in. We know that Google provides different results depending on your location. So it comes in very handy when I am working on a clients local site. I just fire up HMA and change my IP to their city!!
Why I chose HMA
Now I am going to come on to the actual review. There are many VPN services out there but I chose HMA, mainly because of there great looking site and number of features. But lets take a closer look at what HMA has to offer:
They currently have 678 servers in 189 locations across 91 different countries, with a whopping 85,763 IP addresses. Now that’s enough for anybody!! I mainly use servers in the UK and USA, but there are plenty to choose from.
One of the biggest problems people face with VPN’s is the speed of the connection. When i first started to use HMA I did notice a slight decrease in speed. But when I switched between different server locations I found that some were a lot quicker. When I am in Spain I have no problems streaming TV on my iPad, so that is good enough for me.
Here are some results of a speed test performed by vansp.com:
From what I have experienced. The speed of the HMA servers are much faster than free VPN’s
You can actually test the fastest servers directly in your HMA panel. like I have done here:
Works on all devices
When using HMA on your desktop you will have a nifty piece of software that you can open to use the VPN, however HMA gives you the option of using their service on all of your devices without having any software.
If for example you are using your iPhone then you just go into settings, click VPN and follow the instructions provided by HMA to set up your VPN connection. Your phone then saves these details for future use.
Update: I have just found out that HMA now have an app so it’s even easier to connect from your devices:
Not perfect but probably the best
Im not going to bang on about how brilliant this service is, because it’s not perfect. For example, there are times when connecting to some servers is slow or they are full, so we have to re-connect to a different one. Only takes a few seconds but can be slightly annoying!
HMA log your activities, on questioning them on what exactly they log, they informed that it is only the times you connected and they do not monitor traffic or the websites you have visited.
So Is a VPN good for SEO?
I’d say it sure is. Nobody really knows what Google actually tracks when we are online. Some people believe they monitor absolutely everything we do. So using a VPN makes your surfing a little more private and safer.
It’s also great for changing your location when try to access restricted content in other countries. As I said earlier, It’s great when working on local SEO sites and when building out PBN networks.
Do I have my VPN connected all of the time?
No I don’t, but I do use it regularly and for the cost I feel it’s good value and well worth the investment. For as little as $6.55 per month, Im not complaining
I hope you enjoyed this short review