Improve Website Speed & SEO With Content Delivery Networks (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.
Apart from these 3 primary factors, many CDNs also provide additional features such as website caching, user tracking and highly resourceful security precautions.
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.