Why You Should Be Using a CDN (To Smoke The Competition)

As you are meandering down the blogging road and focusing on providing your visitor with valuable content, you probably don’t stop to think about your website speed, right?

Well, you should.

Site speed is one of the factors that determine whether Google likes you or not.

And we all want Google to like us.

You don’t want your site visitors to have to wait and wait for an image or a video to download. This could cause them to abandon your site, and never return.

Optimizing your images, JavaScript and CSS may not be enough anymore to achieve the best possible load times.

So, what else could you possibly do to make your blog faster than your competitor?

How about a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

This is an option you probably haven’t implemented yet and could be the tool you need to smoke your competition.

So, what is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

A CDN is a network of servers in different locations around the World that allow for faster and more efficient delivery of your media files across the web.

A CDN maintains copies (cache) of your media files (images, JavaScript, CSS etc.) that reside on your host’s server such as HostGator or BlueHost etc. The cache is located at different points across the network to ensure the quickest possible delivery to your readers.

Why do you need a CDN?

Everyone is demanding faster load times when surfing the web, they are impatient and don’t like to wait.

If you have a geographically diverse visitor base, then a CDN is a great option. You can improve the user’s experience by serving your files from a closer location.

A faster site will have an advantage over a slower site in the world of SEO. Google uses response times as a means of ranking your site. So, a faster site may keep you from being penalized by Google.

Sites that really benefit from CDN’s are:

  • Sites with large media files such as video and image files
  • Those that rely mainly on podcasts and other streaming music
  • Hard working bloggers with heavy traffic (you may wish you had a CDN if you ever have content that goes viral)

How does a CDN work?

By having multiple servers located throughout the world, your media files can be “served” up from closer locations to your site visitors.

Further, by allocating files to different servers, you avoid all your visitors trying to access the files from the same server at the same time.

As an example, let’s say your servers are in Arizona. If you get a visitor from New Mexico, the files are traveling only a few hundred miles and will only take a fraction of a second.

But, if the visitor is in say, London, the load time for visitors there could be a lot slower.

The image below illustrates how a CDN disperses your content to other servers in the network to better server visitors further away.

Is setting up a CDN difficult?

This depends on how comfortable you are with server terminology. It will require that you direct your DNS to their servers. Most CDN providers will say you can set it up in minutes but it will usually take longer.

Most time will be spent learning new terminology and how your DNS is set up. But, this is a good thing, if you have a website, you should get familiar with how things work under the hood.

Is a CDN right for you?

Yes. Unless your primary visitors are from the same geographical location or you are a local business.

That being said, it is a good idea to test your site speed before you sign up for a CDN service.

You may find that your site speed won’t be helped by a CDN service and other measure may need to be taken.

Where can I find a CDN service?

Conclusion

There are a lot of benefits to using a CDN and they are growing in popularity. If you find that a CDN isn’t right for you now, there are alternatives.

If you are using WordPress, you could use a caching plugin to speed up page delivery. They can be a bit complicated and some have issues with other plugins, but if you know what you are doing, they work well.

Whichever method you choose, speed is your friend and Google will love you for it.