What A CDN Can Mean For Your SEO

Almost everyone has heard of the importance of site speed, even the average blogger with lackluster technical skills. In a previous article we did a comparison between two domains and found speed was the likely signal pushing one site above another in mobile searches.

Google wants to provide sites that users will actually use. You may have the absolute best content but if it takes over 3 seconds to load your page its a big problem for ranking.

  • Each 1 second delay reduces page views by 11%
  • Each 1 second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16%
  • Each 1 second delay decreases 7% of conversion rate
  • For a store doing $100,000 a day a 1 second delay means $2.5 million in lost sales.
  • Google uses page load speed to help determine your sites rank.

CDNs are great resources to speed up your page speed load times. Think of it like this … if you’re a pharmacy and you have one location for the whole world people are going to have to travel great distances for your products. But if you open a pharmacy in every state people can just go to the nearest location to get all of your webpages and no one has to travel that far. This is a CDN a Content Delivery Network.

The expense of having 50 servers in 50 states is likely too much for most websites. A CDN steps in and provides the infrastructure for us to share with others.

Here are a few common questions site owners ask in regard to CDNs:

  • “What is a CDN?”
  • “What are the benefits of a CDN?”
  • “Do I still need to purchase hosting if I have a CDN?”
  • “Does my site need a CDN?”

We’re going to go over what a CDN is and thoroughly explain the important role this technology plays in the modern web.

We’ll also briefly touch base on the differences between your web server and a CDN before placing our focus on who does and does not need this technology implemented on their website.

What is a CDN?

Here’s the technical definition of a CDN, or at least a paraphrased version of it. A CDN, which stands for Content Delivery Network, is a global network of servers that deliver content to visitors of a website based on where that visitor is located.

You need to understand how regular web hosting works in order to understand this definition as well as the importance of it. In a typical web hosting environment, all of the traffic running to your website gets sent to your host’s web server, the one you installed your site on and the one that holds its data.

This often results in a slower website for all visitors as that single server struggles to stay afloat among the surge of traffic it receives on a regular basis. It can even leave your site vulnerable to DDoS attacks. Why is this bad? Here are a few quick facts to help you understand the importance of having your site run as quickly and reliably as possible:

  • Google made site speed a ranking factor in as early as 2010. [Source: Search Engine Land]
  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 40% of consumers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 52% of online shoppers state quick page loading is important to their site loyalty. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]

This, obviously, leads us to our next question.

What are the benefits of a CDN?

The most obvious and most important benefit of a CDN is an increase in site speed for all users of your website no matter where they’re located in the world. When you implement a CDN on your website, you’re distributing access to it to what are known as “proxy servers” located all around the world.

Let’s say the web server you purchased from your host is located in New York and you do notuse a CDN. In this environment, a visitor from Australia would need to load all of the static content on your website, which are your images, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files, from New York, which can take quite a bit of time.

If you use a CDN, your Australian user would be able to load that static content from a server that’s closest to them, maybe even in the same country depending on the CDN service you decide to go with. This will allow them to load the page in a much quicker manner.

Your server is orange and other servers keep copies of your site so they are closer to users.

You can see how this works in the illustration above. You still have your “origin server,” which is storing your WordPress installation and database, but you also have your “replicated web-server clusters,” which store your site’s static content. Again, static content are images, videos, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files.

The origin server is located toward the south of North America in the illustration above while the replicated web-server clusters are located in six continents around the world. You can see how the “user” icons demonstrate how users are served static content from the replicated web servers closest to them instead.

The impact? Some sites report seeing a decrease of more than 50% in the amount of time it takes for their site to load after implementing a CDN. [Source: KeyCDN]

If you’re still having a tough time figuring out how this technology makes your website faster, think of it like a highway:

  • The main lane is your origin server.
  • The additional lanes are your replicated web servers.
  • The cars are the users visiting your website.

Without those additional lanes, all of the cars on the road need to use the main lane. This will eventually result in a traffic jam as more and more cars fill the lane. Traffic will start to slow before the flow stops altogether after the lane becomes too congested.

If you open those additional lanes, cars will be able to distribute themselves among them rather than relying on a single lane. This will allow them to move at a much quicker pace, and they’ll get to their destination a lot faster than they would have if they were all using the same lane.

CDN Speeding Up

In other words, having your users load static content from a server that’s closest to where they’re located will allow each and every one of them to load your website much quicker than they’d be able to if they were all loading that content from the same server.

I’ve seen this site swing 20 to 30 places in it rankings…and you can over take better content with a faster site if the other site is slow.

Check out some CDNs for your site…

  • Maxcdn
  • Sucuri
  • Swarmify
  • Jetpack – Not recommended
  • Cloudflare – not exactly a CDN but similar
  • keycdn.com
  • rackspace
  • AWS Cloudfront
  • CDN Enabler
  • Cloudinary

We can review some of these in another post soon.

What A CDN Can Mean For Your SEO

Cloud Computing: Digital Ocean vs Google Cloud vs AWS

This may seem off topic but its on topic, technical SEO is imperative … you’re not going to rank number one on Google using Shopify or Wix.  It just isnt going to happen.

Its also apparently difficult to get solid advice on SEO Hosting from “experts” Best Blog Hosting for SEO is junk … reciting features doesnt make a hosting plan the best…one quote notes that WordPress is already installed with InMotionHosting.com … so what!  Our web servers are preconfigured to install WordPress in every new account as well…it only saves maybe 5 minutes per user but for a web host that time adds up very quickly. But you arent a web host so it’s not that big of a deal.  I’d like to hear about benchmarking tests they may have run to decide who is the best.

Features Aren’t Technical Specs

Unlimited bandwidth…sounds great but what are the limits?  There are limits and these are beyond the hosts control sometimes but for instance …. if someone uses a CAT5 cable instead of a CAT6 everything will be more speed limited and especially if a bottle neck is designed in to infrastructure. Unlimited bandwidth means nothing to me because there are limits … physical limits exist and can’t be avoided.And WordPress preinstalled saves someone 5 minutes but nothing else.  These aren’t important to the Hosting platform.

Cloud Computing: Be Your Own Host

The industry standard in web hosting is cPanel.  No way around it with cPanel your support opinions are bountiful where as dreamhost.com has its own proprietary server software … its no better in actuality its just far less supported by third parties.  Ultimate SEO is hosted on a variety of cPanel servers that were eay to build and deploy, I made them from scratch and with templates but all in all there are 4 AWS servers, 2 Google Cloud Platfrom and 4 Digital Ocean currently powering hundreds of sites including this site.  Cost varies wildly…

Its important to note that your web host is honestly likely run on one of these three services.  Youre sharing their share of the cloud environment.  Why not just skip ahead and be the master of your domain….sure it will cost more than $3 a month … but that $3 a month hosting plan is shit.

A good review between AWS and a traditional hosting provider is AWS vs Blue Host

Amazon Web Services

I don’t even know what I am spending, where and how it is being spent.  AWS charges you for everything little thing and no matter what steps you might take it may seem like rising project costs are simply unavoidable.  There platform to work within is NOT intuitive and it will require some play time to remember that you have to leave the virtual server’s configuration area to select an IP address  ( that will cost you money…each ip address, not talking about bandwidth I’m just saying the number ) and then return to that original area to associate it.  Dont even think about swapping hard drives and knowing what is attached t what unless you are prepared to write down long strings of numbers and letters.

AWS does provide greater flexibility than the others on options beyond just a virtual server…but unless you plan to send 100,oo0 emails a day to people you wont benefit from their email service … as an example.  Technical SEO wise I’d give AWS a D overall. Infrastructure and computing power is an obivous A+ but its how you interact with that that weighs the grade.

Poor navigation and the nickle and dime pricing is absurd.  Want to monitor your usage so you can understand your bill?  Monitoring costs more…its ridiculous.

They do offer reserved instances and I loaded up on those but still my costs never decreased.  AWS is so hard to understand billing wise that IT Managed Service Providers will offer free excel templates to figure out your AWS monthly costs.  Think I’m being over the top?  Check out this calculator form sheet by AWS to forecast your expenses.

Heres something crazy…why my April bill was 167 but AWS forcasts it will be $1020 in May I have no idea.  I’m not adding servers…

AWS costs are high and unpredictable

AWS costs are high and unpredictable

Google Cloud Platform

Is easier to use and wrap your head around but it is considerably more expensive than either of the other options. For this simple reason…they receive an F. The additional costs come with less options and less features than AWS.  Billing is more transparent and you can understand why your bill is what it is at least.  But Google also makes unilateral decisions for you like blocking smtp and ssh access.  Sure its more secure but it makes email and server maintenance a nightmare.  Documents like this Connecting to Instances make it seem like not a big deal, but these wont allow you to move a file from your computer to the server like SFTP would.

They are expensive, offer less and needlessly shot you in the foot with their restrictions.  Thats why I stand by the F as an overall grade.  Now infrastructure capabilities … A+ no doubt about it.

Digital Ocean

I received no compensation or thank you from anyone for writing this … Digital Ocean is my B+ graded cloud solution.  Its the cheapest, and they don’t seem to charge you a fee for tools that are required for the main product to function, unlike AWS and their static ip addresses.  They have the least ability and options outside of a virtual server.  If you want a database server thats in the works unless you can use Postgres. Thats limiting, but it is also not important if you’re just running a few web servers that will already have MySQL installed on them anyhow.

Digital Ocean is the no frills, no surprises, cloud computing option.  The reason I have so many servers is because I am migrating everything off AWS and Google Cloud to Digital Ocean…it’ll be cheaper.  A lot cheaper…

cloud computing cost comparisons

cloud computing cost comparisons

Thats right… $20 vs $121, $177 and $120 from AWS, GCP and Azure.  I didn’t really consider Microsoft Azure just because I have reservations moving into their sphere or control where every thing you need to do is addressed by yet another Microsoft product that usually has little imagination in it.

Test out a server in each environment and I think you’ll quickly take to the Digital Ocean option.

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https://ultimateseo.org/digital-ocean-aws-google-cloud/