A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers located all around the world. These server nodes work by caching website content like images and CSS (which are less likely to change so often) in order to provide faster response and download times for the end user.
By using a CDN, when your website visitors visit your website, the request locates the nearest node to the user to deliver the content statically. Due to the shorter distance and reduced latency, users will experience your site in the fastest possible way. This not only enhances the user journey but can also improve your SEO, which we’ll explore later in this article.
Why do I need a CDN?
The main reason why your website needs a CDN is to provide a better user experience by speeding up your website. We all know speed matters; if your website doesn’t load quickly, you could be sacrificing traffic and conversions.
When you sign up for web hosting your web host may offer a selection of regions you can choose from as to where your server will be hosted. If the majority of your website traffic comes from East Coast USA, you’re going to want to choose the server closest to that location to offer faster speeds.
However, if you select an East Coast server but your users are coming from Europe, they may receive a slower website experience. This isn’t a desirable outcome, which is why it’s recommended to use a global CDN.
By using a CDN, your European visitors wouldn’t have to request data from a server thousands of miles away. Instead, they could retrieve data from nearby, e.g. London, UK, thus enjoying faster loading times. I hope this is making sense!
Reason #1: Faster Performance
So, we know now that using a CDN is a great way to improve the speed of your website, especially for users who aren’t closely located to your web server’s location. However, I think it’s important to explore this area in a little more detail, discovering exactly why speed is so important.
Here are some important website load time and speed statistics for you to ponder:
- Only 15% of websites operate within an acceptable Page Speed (Unbounce)
- When your website takes 5 seconds to load, 37% of visitors will bounce (Pingdom)
- 70% of customers say a slow website can negatively affect their decision to buy (Search Engine Journal)
- A one-second delay in page load time will drop conversion rate by 7% (Small SEO Tools)
- 3 out of 4 top factors for Google rankings fall under the category of user experience (Social Media Explorer)
- 25% of sites in a 2018 study could reduce their website size by more than 250KB by compressing images (Google)
Reason #2: Reliability
CDN architecture actually makes your website more reliable. When requests to your website are made, a CDN routes the information to the nearest node. If one of these is experiencing downtime, it will pass the request onto the next one, and so on.
This creates less potential downtime for your website, meaning your website visitors can always enjoy a reliable experience. There are very few web hosts who can guarantee 100% uptime, most providers offer 99.9% like SiteGround and often exceed SLAs.
However, if you don’t want to risk any frustrating downtime or other third-party software and apps risking your website, a CDN can provide more reliability and stability for your website and its users.
Reason #3: Security
Website security should be a priority for any type of website, especially for businesses and online stores. There are some seriously concerning cybersecurity statistics we’ve discovered in 2020, and I honestly can’t see things improving any time soon, especially during the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Now, more than ever, websites should be seeking better security options. CDN providers like Cloudflare provide free SSL certificates and secure tokens. By enabling an SSL on your website, you’re adding an extra layer of encryption to ensure your website is secure. When a customer enters their personal details or payment information into your website, they can be reassured their data will be kept safe.
Not only does this provide a better user experience, but your website’s SEO will also benefit from showing search engines like Google that an SSL is in place.
Reason #4: Conversions
According to Portent, website conversion rates drop on average by 4.42% with each second of load time. And they’re not the only ones who have shown that fast websites result in better conversions. 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.
A webpage that loads in 2.4 seconds has an average conversion rate of 1.9%, this drops to 1.5% at 3.3 seconds, and less than 1% when a page loads in 4.2 seconds or more.
Reason #5: Traffic Spikes
When you sign up for web hosting, you may need to decide which type of plan to choose based on bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the rate of data transfer between your host’s server and your website visitors. Some hosts place restrictions on bandwidth whereas others like Hostinger’s Premium plan include unlimited bandwidth.
If you receive a steady flow of traffic to your site each month, you may be able to get away with choosing a plan that offers, say, up to 10,000 visitors worth of bandwidth per month. However, if you get a spike in traffic, many hosts will actually penalize you, incurring extra costs and in some cases, suspend your website.
Around 80% of your website’s static content is cached which weighs quite heavily on your server. If you use a CDN, you’re taking a huge load off the server, meaning you can hopefully avoid the issue of exceeding bandwidth limits, resulting in no downtime.
Reason #6: SEO
Site speed was originally introduced by Google as one of their signals in their search ranking algorithms back in 2010, and honestly, not much has changed on the front since then.
We know that speed is important to our website visitors, but it’s also an incredibly prominent ranking factor when it comes to SEO. You can leverage a CDN to use on your website to help it load faster. In order to test this, you can use a website speed test tool like GTMetrix.
By speeding up your website, you can encourage Google to crawl your website to index pages more quickly. Although there’s no exact science as to how long this takes, we know that better-optimized sites and well-designed sites will incur fewer issues when being indexed.
The Best CDN Providers
Amongst many other reasons, speeding up your site and reducing loading times is one of the best reasons to use a CDN on your website. Whether you’ve built your website yourself using a website builder, hired a web developer, or use WordPress, here is my recommendation for the best CDN providers of 2020:
- Cloudflare: Cloudflare is probably one of the most popular CDN providers for blogging websites, small businesses, and enterprises. Cloudflare offers a free plan with unlimited bandwidth with over 180 data centers across the world. It’s easy to set up and you can monitor its performance from a simple control panel.
- KeyCDN: KeyCDN offers multiple plans to suit a variety of customers, including pay as you go plans so you only pay for what you use. KeyCDN can be easily integrated with WordPress and offers real-time reports, DDoS protection, and 24/7 support at no additional cost.
- Rackspace: Often better known for its dedicated server hosting, Rackspace also offers a CDN service that can help improve website performance, including eCommerce sites. Rackspace’s CDN is a little more complicated to use in comparison to some others, but it does cover 200+ centers worldwide and boasts a powerful cloud infrastructure.
This means you can create a more pleasurable user experience by offering your website visitors faster loading times, better security, and a more reliable website. As well as benefiting your users, a CDN can improve your website’s SEO, allow you to better manage traffic spikes, and boost conversions.