Awareness about site load speed has increased considerably in the last couple of months and whenever I suggest my clients about using some CDN (Content Delivery Network) service to further speed up their websites, I get bombarded with many questions from them. Most of the clients want to know the benefits associated with the use of CDN services such as MaxCDN Akamai, CloudFlare, Amazon CloudFront, CDNetworks and EdgeCast just to name a few. They also want to know if there are any SEO benefits behind enabling CDN services on their site because it involves some monetary investment.
CDN or content delivery network is a strategic placement of distributed server systems (known as data centers) based on some advanced caching mechanisms to create a replica of a site at many geographical locations spread across the globe to reduce the network latency.
One of the most frequently asked question is – How CDN improves page load speed and site SEO ?
This post is an attempt to answer the question not only to my clients, but also to many other knowledge seekers who are looking around to find a relation between CDN and Page Load Speed, also if there are some SEO benefits associated with CDN services.
Lately, I have seen an upsurge in the market demand for improving site load speed, specially after Google officially declared page load speed as one of the many factors used by their search engine algorithms to rank a site on their search results page against the relevant keywords searched. Now, site SEO is directly related to the site speed. This fact is motivating more and more site owners and web masters to get their sites optimized for speed. Site speed optimization is one of those dynamic markets which keeps on changing with every passing moment.
I optimize WordPress sites and I have witnessed lots of changes in the speed optimization techniques during my professional tenure as a WordPress site speed optimizer. Initially, I used some cache plugins to speed up WordPress sites. (Even today, I use some of the best WordPress cache plugins to improve site speed.) Later on, I also moved my personal site to dedicated WordPress hosting service WP Engine in my quest to offer my users a fast site loading experience at blazing fast speed. I want Internet to be as fast as Google.
Even after hosting my site on WP Engine, I realized that there was something still missing on my site. It was also responsible for pulling my site’s page load time down on speed meters and not letting the page speed scale up as desired by me. Looking at one of my speed test reports performed at webpagetest, I noticed the absence of CDN support on my site. It was the time when I thought of powering my website with a CDN support. Researching the growing market of many CDN service operators, I did my own cost benefit analysis and got hooked with MaxCDN.
MaxCDN was easy to setup on my WP Engine installation. I even did a post on How to setup MaxCDN on WP Engine to help other users who wanted to follow a DIY guide to set it up themselves by following some easy and simple steps. Basically, CDN is a network of distributed systems that heavily relies on some advanced caching systems to create replicas of a website at the servers spread in different global locations.
CDN is like creating many alternate routes to allow alternate destinations present a replica of your website. Now, a question arises – Why do we need a replica of a website supported by CDN ? The answer is – It is all related to network latency. We all know Internet is fast, but still there is certain time lag required to fetch site content from the server on which a site is hosted. Whenever a request to load a site on an Internet browser is initiated by a user, the content has to be pulled.
The distance between the user’s geographical location and the server’s geographical location becomes important. Lesser is the distance between the server and the user, faster is the site speed. More is the distance between the server and the user’s computer, more is the time lag in pulling the website from its host.
As the distance increases between the server and the user, network latency time also increases which results in an increased page load time. No doubt, there is a strong impact of web host server on site load speed, but still this web server is present at a single geographical location and has no control over the distance between its geographical location and the user requesting the page.
Network latency is directly dependent on the distance between the server’s geographical location and the user’s geographical location. Content Delivery Network aims at improving network latency behind pulling a website from its host server so that the site’s static content can be quickly served to the users, without causing much delay.
In order to reduce the network latency time, the concept of Content Delivery Networks came into action. The idea was to create many web host servers at different strategic locations across the globe so that a user trying to load a site gets the site content served from a server located in the closest proximity. It helps shortening the route between the user and server, quite similar to creating an alternate route to support shortest distance algorithms pull data from the closest server.
It was also a challenge to keep all these servers updated with the fresh copy of the site without any failure. Advanced caching algorithms made it easy and simple for CDNs to keep a replica of the original website at different servers used in content delivery network system. Placing servers at different locations may also create a problem of duplicate content, if not handled properly by CDN service providers. It may be harmful for site SEO, but the implementation of canonical headers improves site SEO, rather than harming it.
No doubt, most of the CDN services are offered as a paid option, although CloudFlare offers some basic CDN services absolutely free of cost. It is good for sites experiencing small load traffic, but for public websites experiencing millions and billions of hits per day, CDN becomes a necessity to provide a seamless smooth site experience to the users.
CDN also becomes a necessity for sites loaded with heavy audio and video files, specially audio and video streaming websites.
Increased site load speed brings some direct as well as indirect benefits to the site owners and Webmasters. Direct CDN benefits include fast site speed, fast page speed, low site load time and low page load time. One of the most important indirect advantage behind enabling CDN support for sites results in an improvement in site SEO.
Google believes that fast Internet is the right of the global citizens and in order to support their philosophy of fast Internet, they have even included page load time as one of the many factors to pull a site on Google SERP against the relevant keyword search. It simply means that keeping all the other factors common between the two competing websites, the site with a lower page load time will be placed on top of the other website on Google search page. In a nutshell, we can say that CDN support improves site SEO.
CDN services are also considered beneficial from security point of view. Websites with CDN support are much more secured against frequent site failures. CDN based websites are not dependent only on a single server, rather CDN supported sites are based on a distributed system. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong with one server, your site never goes down but opens up from another server supported by your CDN service provider. Sites on CDN support experience less (almost none) downtime.
Doing a cost benefit analysis of the investment made in CDN services and its ROI, ROI has always turned out a good figure. Many studies have also proved that faster loading websites have helped site owners improve their business revenue as well as profits. Moreover, if your site takes more than 3 – 4 seconds to load, there is a high probability of losing a customer who will never return back to your site ever again. A lost customer/client can be detrimental to your business, multiplying to create a ripple effect.
I have myself experienced a considerable improvement at my own site’s page load time after getting MaxCDN support for content delivery network system. Looking at an upsurge in the bandwidth, number of websites, audio-video content, an increasing number of Internet users and an increasing demand in mobile based site content, the importance of CDN services are increasing day by day.
You can also have a look at my speed optimization case studies to learn some tips and tricks about WordPress site speed optimization. A look at my site speed portfolio can give you an understanding about site speed’s behavior based on different web host setup and other speed optimization support services.
I am always ready to help speed up websites suffering from slow site speed. Please feel free to email me your site speed optimization queries. You can also hire my services on oDesk for your commercial site speed optimization. I would be happy to realize Google’s mission to make Internet as a right for one and all.
In order to offer a tribute to our valuable readers, we talked to MaxCDN for providing a discount of 25% on their CDN services to our readers and they have agreed for it. Thanks MaxCDN for your kind gesture to our readers, highly appreciated. You can simply Check out MaxCDN now! to claim your discount on the wide range of CDN services offered by MaxCDN.
Post Editor : Ashutosh Kasera