What is a proxy? A proxy is the means of changing your IP address. It's like your best friend in school who you asked to ask your crush if she (or he) "liked," liked you. It's basically another computer that you can use to access different web pages.
Why would you want to do this? Why do you need a proxy? A proxy is a very effective way to protect yourself from spyware. Let's make this really simple. When you came here today, your computer asked my server to access this web page. Permission granted. If you lived in the US and this website was accessible to Aussies only, then you would have been denied. So you work around this problem by using an Australian IP address (thanks to your proxy).
When we Google keywords, our search results are influenced by the region we live in. So if you are marketing to people in China but you live in the US, your Page Rank could be very different. Or perhaps you are running an ad campaign that differs according to region. An English version for some counties, a Chinese version for China. Unless you lived in China or were using a proxy, you would never be able to preview your Chinese advert.
Or perhaps your competition knows your IP address and they have blocked access to prevent you from spying on their website, checking out their prices, for whatever reason.
Maybe you've been banned from Squidoo for breaching some rule you didn't know about. Maybe you need multiple Twitter accounts, one for each website you own. If you create 10 Twitter accounts from the same IP address they will ban all of them, assuming that they are there for the sole purpose of spamming the public.
Same goes for creating multiple Facebook accounts, Gmail accounts, accounts at social bookmarking sites, Ezines, Hubpages, YouTube - create two accounts on the same site and they will forever be linked together by the same IP address. If you ever find yourself in Google's sandbox one day, you might find that they hit many more of your sites than just the one causing trouble because they're all linked in together.
Then there's the safety side of the equation. Ever wondered why you have to log in to view some YouTube video's? That's because they are gathering demographic data about YOU. Where in the world you are, which video's you like, sometimes your age & gender...all sorts. That info is sometimes sold, rented or given to a third party to create more targeted ad campaign to weasel you out of your hard earned money.
It is NOT impossible to trace your IP address back to your STREET address!
Identity theft is becoming a serious problem and using a proxy creates another fire wall in your security system.
There are other benefits of learning about and using proxies. Like using Facebook at work - many large companies ban employee's from particular sites because, well, you shouldn't be on them at work! So a proxy will let you work around these barriers. This includes the kids/teens tying to bypass parental securities. Don't let your kids read this, will you!
In recent months, we've had a theme each month. We've had Getting To Know Google Month, How-To Month and this month we're going to be learning some stuff that is a little bit more advanced AND a little bit shady.
LET ME MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR. We will not be learning blackhat marketing. I will not teach you how to shoot yourself in the foot. Blackhat tactics are notorious for getting you unbelievable results one day and de-indexed or sandboxed the next. That's NOT what we're doing.
But I do want to teach you how to think outside the square and use the resources you have on hand for purposes other than their original or intended use. It's not wrong. But it would void your warranty!
So as you join me this month, we'll be learning about some Internet Marketing tactics and tools that fall into the grey area and in order to safe guard yourself when you do these things, you'll want to use a proxy. I will be explaining the different types of proxies soon but suggest you get started right now and do a little research of your own. Start at Wikipedia if you like and when the sun comes up tomorrow, I'll be making a post about the different sorts of proxies and where you can get them, how to use them and much more. Stay tuned, you do not want to miss this month.