Getting your website to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) is tough. The task is even more daunting if you aim at markets beyond your home country.

No matter what the various WordPress or AI content creator plugins promise, it’s a big job. However, you can rank high if you do your keyword research correctly. The key is to stay anonymous throughout the process to develop your keyword strategy based on pure, unbiased data.

Why Does Anonymous Keyword Research Matter?

Every time you connect to the internet, your IP address gets logged. As you surf websites or search engines, they store the device’s MAC address, details about your device, and cookies in your browser. The aim is to identify you as you move across websites and log your activities and interests. Advertisers then buy this information to show you their products and services, hoping to sell something to you. PPC adverts are just one example of using people’s internet habits to get more leads and sales.

Looking for the right keywords doesn't have to take out much of your time

You carry your internet identity and history with you wherever you go. That means your location, browser history, browser settings, search history, and the trackers and cookies stored in your browser will influence search results. Even your operating system’s language settings can make a difference.

International SERP Rankings Are Always Biased

Imagine someone who lives in India and searches for “spice sellers.” His search results will look vastly different from those of someone living in the US, even if they use the same keyword.

The implication is that even if a website owner achieves the top search results for a given phrase in one country, his site might be invisible in other countries.

That’s good and bad news for someone trying to optimize his website for international trade.

When Is the Default Google Bias Good?

Let’s take the case of an Indian spice merchant’s website. Usually, people who live in India are likely to click on search results from the Indian Country Code Top-level domain, or ccTLD (which happens to be .in). Google learns from their actions, browser settings, and search history. It will guide most Indian locals’ searches for “spice sellers” to websites ending with .in.

If the .in website owner is happy to focus on the Indian market, he can expect Google to gradually redirect most Indian Googlers to his .in site.

When Is the Default Google Bias Bad?

If the spice merchant is a wholesaler or exporter of Indian spices who wants to expand his business to the US, Google’s default behavior would sink his business. That’s because Google gives a high value to searcher’s “normal” location.

India’s local Google search is optimized to provide the most localized search results for India’s residents. At the same time, Google search in the US is optimized to highlight American companies for their local users.

So, what is the next step for our ambitious spice merchant? How will he ever know what keywords to use in his keyword planning and strategy? Using a VPN to supercharge his search for a non-biased keyword list and content strategy is the answer.

What Is a VPN for SEO?

As we’ve seen, your location, browser settings, cookie load, and search history always influence keyword searches. Fortunately, a virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that masks your identity on the internet.

First, Google and other search engines don’t get accurate location data for particular queries. It’s because the VPN changes your IP location to your chosen country. Secondly, advanced VPNs have an additional feature that blocks cookies and trackers that can reveal your internet activities and history. Thirdly, a VPN encrypts your internet connection. It protects your data from people who snoop around to find out what you’re doing. Fourthly, it also adds a layer of protection against many types of malware and attacks by hackers.

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A VPN, used with a few other precautions, is one of the best ways to conduct accurate keyword research and improve your website’s international SERP rankings.

How to Stay Anonymous for Keyword Research

Let’s return to our enterprising Indian spice merchant. He knows Indian fine dining is making waves in New York and Los Angeles. He wants to reach people who value authentic, unadulterated, fresh spices.

To do unbiased, accurate keyword research, he must trick the browser into thinking he lives in New York or Los Angeles.

  • Step 1: Use your VPN to connect to a server in New York or Los Angeles (or a nearby city in the same country as your target). It will show your browser that you are actually located in the city where the VPN server is. When you do a keyword search, the VPN will ensure that the search results reflect accurate search results from the VPN server location.
  • Step 2: Use a dedicated browser. Don’t use your “regular” everyday browser. You must escape from your search history. Download a different, privacy-focused browser for your keyword research. Use something other than Google or Edge, as both browsers have indelible deep knowledge about their users. Use Firefox, Brave, Tor, Epic, or Vivaldi.
  • Step 3: Don’t sign into any of your accounts. If you need access to your Bing or Google webmaster tools, first do your research anonymously, then plug the results into your Google account.
  • Step 4: Clear your cookies and cache. Remove and delete all cookies and cached content, choosing “delete all-time history.”
  • Step 5: Go incognito to prevent the accidental activation of cross-session browser cookies.
  • Step 6: Use tracker blockers. Install your VPN’s tracker blocker browser extension to outsmart trackers that pursue you as you search. Beware of so-called tracker blockers that only exist to harvest your browsing history even while they “block” trackers.
  • Optional step: Use Duck-Duck-Go as an intermediary for your Google or Bing searches. Duck-Duck-Go hides your identity from search engines. It produces results from Google and other search engines but strips the searcher’s identity from the request. It doesn’t follow you across the internet to figure out what other stuff you like. For the best results, you may add a ccTLD like .com .in or a city name to your search parameters, as Duck-Duck-Go also strips your location details from keyword searches.
  • PRO Tip: Use a separate computer or laptop for keyword research to further reduce built-in search biases.

Arm Yourself With More SEO Knowledge

Now that you know how to stay anonymous when doing keyword searches, the next step is to do the keyword research and prepare your keyword lists. In our next posts, we’ll give you more pro SEO tips about how to do market and competitor research, generate keyword ideas, and assess keyword relevance. Meanwhile, stay up to date with our blog!

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