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Should I Invest in a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for SEO?

Content MarketingSearch Engine Optimisation

Maximizing your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) is critical, especially if you want your target audience to find you when they search for certain keywords. Alongside creating engaging content and ensuring that your website doesn’t include any broken links, you can increase SEO in another way: investing in a content delivery network.

Not sure what a content delivery network is or where to start in choosing one? Let’s explore why investing in a CDN sooner rather than later is a good idea for your business.

CDNs explained

Think of a CDN as a collection or network of proxy servers and data centers that provide greater availability and performance for website content like images, video, and more. Normally, that type of content takes up a lot of bandwidth, so your website might load more slowly than average when a visitor stops by to consider making a purchase.

If you use a CDN, you’ll enjoy greater bandwidth since all the content will have multiple pathways to visitors’ computers. It’s far superior compared to using a single server for all your content service and delivery needs. This makes a CDN a promising choice if you’re looking to upgrade or relaunch your online business or revamp your SEO strategies. 

How can a CDN help with optimization?

But how does this relate to SEO? In short, SEO relies on a few major factors:

  • Content viability and authority
  • Keywords
  • Website page experience

That last factor is how a CDN can impact your SEO for the better. Google’s algorithm is so sophisticated that it knows when a website isn’t a smooth, user-friendly place to visit. If you use a CDN, visitors will find that all your pages load much more quickly. Because this improves your SEO, your website will then rank higher for your target keywords.

This is an advantage because many people will click away from a website if it doesn’t load within a second or two. A CDN can improve your web page performance so much that your website even becomes good for mobile traffic, which is about half of all traffic on the Internet these days.

Of course, it’s important to make sure you have a knowledgeable developer to assist with CDN implementation – you don’t want any mishaps to occur as you integrate your CDN into your existing architecture. In many cases, a freelance developer can be cheaper and just as professional as a full-time team member. For example, an experienced self-employed developer should cost around $60-$80 an hour, which is less than many developers employed by larger firms or agencies.

What to look for in a CDN

While having any type of CDN working for your benefit is a good idea, you’ll need to look for a few key factors to make sure you choose a CDN provider that is ideal for your needs. Specifically, you’ll want to target:

  • Peak hour performance. Peak hour performance effectively measures how well a CDN network facilitates traffic from important sources during the busiest times for your website. Make sure that your CDN is pressure-tested during your peak hours to ensure that it will work for your website over the long-term.
  • Last-mile and end-user DNS response time. This effectively measures how quickly page content loads for your end-users. If it doesn’t load fast enough, there’s no point in using a particular CDN provider. Note that other things, such as an optimized UX design, also impact page load times.
  • Connecting time. Make sure the CDN provider you plan to use has good connectivity time, no packet loss, and low latency. 
  • Cache hit/miss ratios. This attribute will be displayed on your CDN control dashboard. Make sure you don’t see a lot of requests returning to their origin, as this indicates that traffic isn’t reaching your site as needed.
  • API integration capability. When you invest in a CDN, it’s a good idea to find one that can integrate with API tools needed for your site. This will allow the CDN to grow with your business and your website as it becomes more complex or sophisticated.
  • Network size. Good CDN providers will have a diverse network of servers in many different countries to provide maximum reach and minimum load time. 
  • Price. In general, the more content you need to load, the more expensive your CDN solution will need to be so you can gain access to more servers. If you have a medium-size business, expect to pay around $200 or more in monthly costs. Don’t go below this or you run the risk of using a cheap CDN service. Meanwhile, enterprise-level businesses will usually receive custom quotes from CDN services.

CDN implementation issues to watch out for

Getting a CDN is a good idea, but you’ll want to make sure that it works with your web pages properly so that you can start using the CDN ASAP. With that in mind, watch out for a few common CDN implementation issues:

  • Your network provider blocks your CDN. Only a few network providers will block your CDN, but keep an eye out for this problem regardless as it will impact whether your page content loads quickly.
  • Your CDN needs a developer for custom integration. This may require hiring a freelance developer as explained above, consulting with an expert, or going with an agency that can do it for you.
  • Your CDN experiences traceroute issues. If your CDN uses a geo-mapping database from a third-party organization, your end-users might be assigned incorrect IP addresses. This should be worked out when you first start using your CDN and test it for efficacy, but it can crop up down the road as well.

In addition to all these factors, keep in mind that running a CDN will also cost your company in addition to your normal web hosting and maintenance costs. So you’ll need to budget for starting and maintaining a CDN plan over the long term.

Ultimately, it’s vital that you ensure your CDN is implemented correctly and that it doesn’t make your website slower (the opposite of what you’re using it for!). If you fail to check for these issues, you could cause your customers to click away in pursuit of another website. As Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada notes, 78% of online shoppers report that they will not buy from the same site again if they experience website loading issues.

Do your research, check for these issues, and make sure your CDN is integrated and implemented perfectly.

Final Takeaways

In the end, it’s a good idea to invest in a content delivery network to increase your website’s SEO rankings, improve your site’s viability for mobile users, and make it an overall more responsive place for your target audience.

Without investing in a CDN, you won’t be able to place lots of media content on your site without slowing down the user experience. This could turn away your core customers and significantly impact your scalability. As your business grows, investing in a CDN will become an even better idea so you can automate and scale your operations to the benefit of your bottom line.