Will A Content Delivery Network Benefit A Website’s SEO?

The use of a content delivery network aka CDN has become increasingly popular with web publishers over the past couple of years. A CDN will spread your website's static files to multiple servers located throughout the globe. This allows you to efficiently cater to your visitors and give them the quickest page loads by serving the static files from their closest server location. Page speeds are becoming more important than ever as traditional Internet surfers have become less patient and are known to frequent websites whom perform the best. If you are running an e-commerce site, speed is even more important in terms of customer conversion rates. Amazon calculated that for every 100ms it takes for their web page to load, their conversion rate dropped by 1%.

Does A CDN Help Search Engine Optimization?

Since Google has started incorporating site speed into their search rankings, the short answer is yes, a CDN will help you rank better. The faster your site is, the better it will look in Google's eyes. But it is important to keep in mind that Google will take many different criteria into consideration and your site's content is still king. Even the fastest site in the world would rank poorly if it does not have proper meta tags and lacks quality content. According to Matt Cutts, a Google Engineer, only 1% of search queries changed when site speed was incorporated into their ranking algorithm. Another thing to keep in mind is though a CDN will drastically increase the average web page's speed, there are additional factors that can affect page speed including image optimization, caching, code minification, CSS sprites, external requests, and much more.

If The SEO Benefit Is Minimal, Should I Still Invest In A CDN?

In my opinion and from my personal experience, I would definitely say the SEO benefit is significant enough to invest into a CDN for your website. Any advantage you can have over your competitors will help you in terms of SERP positions. The SEO benefit is one reason to pull the trigger on a CDN, but the benefit you will be bringing to your site's visitors is the largest factor that warrants a CDN subscription. The web is becoming ultra-competitive as more and more sites are launching everyday. It is survival of the fittest and as society gets used to better technology and faster loading web pages, more people are going to expect our sites to keep up with the fast performance or be left in the dust. Since a CDN can be setup for $50/year for most people, it seems to be a no-brainer in my book.

It Seems Like A CDN Is Worth It, Which Do You Recommend?

If you are running your website using WordPress (like us) then I would highly suggest looking into MaxCDN which is one of the most popular and affordable CDN services currently offered. MaxCDN can be easily configured via popular caching plugins like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache and their support is incredibly helpful in answering any questions you may have or helping you get your CDN properly setup. MaxCDN is also very cost-effective due to its competitive pricing structure. Most websites will benefit from the ‘Starter' plan which gives you 1TB/year for $39.95 (get 25% through this link). If you're unsure how much bandwidth you'll use, I can say that 1 TB is plenty of bandwidth for the average website and should be suitable for your needs. Taking this into consideration, it will only cost you $39.95 (less if you use the 25% coupon) per year to gain all the benefits of a CDN. Best of all, MaxCDN offers a 30-day money back guarantee so if you don't experience any noticeable speed increases or simply are not happy with their service, you can receive a full refund within 30 days of signing up.

  • The great thing about CDN is that it does give SEO benefits, and pretty quick (which is unknown for SEO). The trouble with some Content Delivery Networks is that you're restricted to the a global network, you can't focus it on the countries which you need it the most – therefore your spreading your budget thinly and wasting it on hits from countries you know aren't going to buy.

    At CDN.net we allow you to make the decision to go global, or tune your coverage based on your conversions and performance in those regions. Not to mention global coverage comes in on avg about $12/TB.

  • It may seem that CDNs have a minimal direct impact on SEO performance, but a boost to a sites web performance will have many other positive impacts on any site. The ultimate benefit is an enhanced end user experience, which will yield better engagement and conversion rates. A better performing site (relative to a competitor site) will most likely attract more users and generate more traffic. In return, there are more opportunities for content sharing and link backs… these are indirect benefits that CDNs will have on SEO performance.

    You have mentioned some good CDN providers for smaller static sites. I would also like to point out that there are more global enterprise level CDNs like CDNetworks and Akamai (just two examples of many), that provide a greater global reach and can accelerate non cachable web content (e.g. shopping cart). As for which CDN solution is better, that really depends on the type of site that is being accelerated. Smaller static sites may not need a large CDN like CDNetworks or Akamai, and smaller CDNs may not be sufficient for sites that intend to reach a global audience. If speed is the only thing that matters, larger CDNs typically have a far better global performance.

    None the less, CDNs is a critical element to successfully providing a great end user experience… which Google and most major search engines are encouraging. There may not be huge direct impact, but it will yield a great deal of indirect search benefits and better performance.

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