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.