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Improve Website Speed & SEO With Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

Website Loading Speed CDN

In 2010, Google announced that they would be looking at website speed as a contributing ranking factor. As a direct result, content delivery network (CDN) providers have shed much light on how websites can be served faster by using their services. In this post we're going to be looking at how using CDNs improve website speed and ultimately how it all ties together with SEO.

How a CDN Helps Improve SEO

A CDN is a network which works to serve content at a faster rate. This is achieved by serving the requested website through the closest location to user visiting the site. So why use a CDN and how does it affect SEO? Here are the 3 main points to consider:

1. The Ranking Factor: When using a CDN, website files are hosted on multiple data centres across the globe. Instead of users loading web files solely through the main server location, the website is served through the closest networking centre - effectively reducing response times. As mentioned, search engines such as Google factor in website speed when determining rankings, and good use of a CDN will certainly play a part in assisting the rise of ranking.

2. The User Experience Factor: Users are typically known to browse away from websites which load more than 2 seconds. Keeping this thought in mind your general perception of slow loading websites may have just escalated very quickly. If you think your website is suffering from slow loading speeds, I highly suggest you run your site through either GTmetrix or Web Page Test to identify potential bottlenecks and fix them. As a result from increased website speed, visitors are then able to browse efficiently without frustration of waiting or been interrupted.

3. The Conversion Factor: Users are known to perceive faster websites as trustworthy sources and slower websites as unreliable or untrustworthy. This comes into play when a website is selling a product or service and requires the user to make payments online. The feeling of making an online transaction from an untrustworthy source may lead the user to feel unsafe or unwilling to making a purchasing decision and may result in abandonment of the transaction.

Conversion Rate By Page Loading Time

Apart from these 3 primary factors, many CDNs also provide additional features such as website caching, user tracking and highly resourceful security precautions.

Popular CDNs

There are both free and paid CDNs available. Most free CDNs will come with various restrictions and limitations, whereas paid CDNs will offer different types of pricing plans. Below are 3 of the most popular CDNs available for small to medium websites and potentially even enterprise websites.

  • CloudFlare (Free & Paid): CloudFlare allows for both a free or paid service and is considered to be one of the best free CDNs available on the market today. With extra features such as website caching, WordPress integration and security functions, this network would be perfect for small-medium businesses looking for a free and reliable CDN service.
  • MaxCDN (Paid): One of the most popular CDN services up to date. MaxCDN offers many different pricing options and have a 30 day money-back guarantee. Their prices are possibility the lowest on the internet which make them extremely affordable for businesses that possess low amounts of traffic but are serious about improving their website speed.
  • Amazon CloudFront (Paid): Amazon CloudFront is a CDN service offered by Amazon, the world's largest online retailer. Their CDN service has been around for years and is offered through a pay as you go pricing plan. This may work out better in favour for websites who have very varied traffic figures through a day to day basis. You basically pay for the bandwidth you use and not a cent more.

Prior to purchasing a CDN, I highly recommend you conduct a page analysis through Google's PageSpeed tool. Record the score and original site speed and then implement your chosen CDN to witness new improvements.

Feel free to share your experiences with CDNs and how they've helped improved your website speed and web rankings in the comments below.

About

Daniel Law is a Managing Director of Big Vision SEO, a Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing firm based in Sydney, Australia. His Big Vision is to shape how small-medium size businesses market themselves online - one client at a time. Follow him on Facebook, and Twitter.

6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Improve Website Speed & SEO With Content Delivery Networks (CDN)”

  1. Jan-Willem Bobbink May 27, 2013 at 6:53 am

    You forgot to add http:// to the cloudflare link :)

  2. Stewart McGrath May 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Daniel

    Great article. It is good to see some considered discussion about he benefits of website speed.

    I would caution that implementation of a CDN in and of itself may not be a panacea for website speed. If implemented incorrectly, some CDNs can slow down your site; and some CDNs are much slower than others particularly for users in locations such as Australia.

    Having a website which works well with the correct CDN for your users is the key. Often we see developers choose a CDN based on how easy it is for them to sign up rather than what is best for their users. In addition, there may be some key changes required to a website to make it work effectively with a CDN.

    We agree though that for a website with the best CDNs correctly implemented and a site which is optimised for CDN, the rewards are immense. We have seen customers achieve 30% revenue increases as a result of page speed improvements.

    Cheers
    Stewart

  3. William V. May 29, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Great overview on the benefits of CDNs, Daniel!

    Web performance directly impacts any web entities’ bottom line. Like your post had suggested, poor web performance leads to a poor end user experience, which ultimately has a negative effect on sales and conversion. Google and major search engines are all about promoting and providing the best end user experience.

    CDNs may not be the ultimate ‘silver bullet’ solution to solving all web performance issues, but it is a critical component. As websites become more global and users become more impatient, every milliseconds can equate to millions in potential revenue lost… especially with time sensitive transactions (e.g. financial trade). The performance of any site operating on a single / or limited number of servers can be jeopardized by traffic and distance. CDNs can easily resolve both issues through load balancing and caching the site on its entire cloud network.

    You have listed some great CDN providers for SMBs. I also wanted to point out there are also enterprise level CDNs like CDNetworks ( I am an employee here) and Akamai. There are multiple differences and more value added services provided by enterprise level CDNs that are not offered by smaller providers, but the two primary differences are global performance and dependability. Bigger CDNs provide bigger global networks that can deliver web content virtually anywhere with up to !,000% improvement in performance. A larger network can easily scale and limit the chances of a complete outage.

    There is no on single CDN that is the best, it all depends the nature of the site that needs the performance boost. Performance do vary between different CDNs, but the difference in milliseconds may not be as important for a blog vs. an ecommerce site. Global reach may not be of any value to site that serves a local audience. I would even recommend that smaller static sites do some research on free CDN plugins that are already integrated with their CMS (e.g. jetpack for WordPress).

    Cheers.

  4. Daniel Law May 29, 2013 at 9:41 am

    @Stuart

    I agree Stuart. CDNs also need to be implemented properly to attract the right type of gains. A good review of the website before CDN implementation would be most beneficial in most cases.

    @William

    Thanks for your comment William, everything you mentioned is very accurate. I would also recommend new webmasters trial free CDNs first before making that leap onto paid or even enterprise CDNs.

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