What is a CDN?
A Content Delivery Network is a set of servers placed across the world. If you have used shared hosting for your website, it means that your data center is specific to one location only. If a visitor far away from your data center is accessing your site pages, it will take them long to load the pages.
CDN solves this issue by fetching the information from the nearest server, and that’s why they are always mentioned whenever site speed is discussed. Types of content delivered by CDN include text, graphics, software, scripts, media, documents, live stream data, social networks, etc.
Take the example of the popular streaming website Netflix. Once they upload a popular episode or movie, thousands of user flock towards the site to watch it. It won’t be possible to cater to this traffic unless you have a solid solution like a CDN.
CDN also provides alternative servers when you have to download resources saved on the site. When a user submits a request to download a resource, the nearest server will initiate the download.
Now, lets come to the most obvious question: what’s in it for me?
If you are still posting content, running the website, doing inventory and uploading media on the site, what magic will the few extra dollars of CDN do?
More importantly, what about all the hosting plans available on the internet for as cheap as $10/month?
Here’s the most comprehensive answer to these questions:
By speeding up the content delivery process, you make the user experience better for each of your website visitors. It leads to other benefits like happy visitors, more customers and more conversions.
Let’s look at all these benefits in detail:
It is the year 2019 and situation is different, compared to ten years ago. A web page of today is running several complex scripts, server requests and heavy media files and content. This makes it difficult for the servers to present this information faster (in seconds!).
To make dissemination faster, CDNs work to put less stress on the servers and keep content flowing smoothly. A massive file transfer can easily take place with a CDN and video streaming websites wouldn’t have thrived across the globe had it not been the power of CDNs.
Big names like Facebook also use content delivery networks to cater to billions of people around the world in milliseconds.
Reduced page load times
As mentioned above, CDN reduces page load times and unlocks an array of benefits for the user. CDN fetches information from the nearest node and requests don’t travel far to get completed. Once a request is received, the time to load a page also reduces significantly.
It doesn’t matter if you run a personal blog or an ecommerce store, you will benefit from this feature the most in terms of healthy traffic. However, a CDN cannot make up for a poorly optimized website. So, if you have broken links and bad landing pages, a CDN can’t give your website an escape from these situations.
Bottom line is, a CDN makes some site resourced load faster and improve the speed by some margin, so some people love to avail this benefit and solve many issues in one step.
Your usual web hosting might not be able to handle the frequency of visitors and eventually it will fall back, sending your page requests into a dark abyss. Holding the resources for a shorter time period will lead to lower bandwidth consumption.
Saving the bandwidth would put lesser load on the origin server and you will notice a reduction in costs from your host.
If you are a passionate business owner who wants the best tools for their website, a CDN is a great choice. When you are constantly updating your web assets, the CDN preserves the integrity of these data assets. For example, if you change your CSS or Java files on CDN, the changes are instantly reflected on similar servers across the network. It preserves the integrity and consistency of your data.
Good for SEO
Do you know that Google takes into account page loading speed as a ranking factor?
The faster your website pages, better it is for SEO. Google will prefer to rank your website if it loads faster, and any poorly loading competitors will fall back. Moreover, Google indexes photos the most on a website page and with a usual hosting plan you can’t afford to put more photos on your pages because they reduce load speed.
Thus, image utilization also becomes easy and images from your pages are picked up by Google to show higher in SERPs. How? By hosting your images on the CDN.
Upload all photos on the CDN and then they will load faster. Most news and blogging websites use this strategy. You can also take bigger risks like including GIFs in the pages and more videos. If you have any confusion or doubts, Google has a website speed tool which determines CDN and non-CDN image load speeds.
The myth around high cost of CDN will be busted once you get going with a CDN. It is true that big fish like Facebook and Netflix are surviving with CDN, but it does not mean that you will pay a fortune to get the same service.
CDN service providers have also evolved the service over the years, and there are custom plans for websites of all sizes. There are also options where you can only host the images and nothing else. Therefore, you shouldn’t put CDN and high costs in the same equation because technology has put an end to the question of high costs.
In the long run, CDN is cheaper for your site. They take sixty percent of the site load and reduce the bandwidth. They also get you more visits from people around the world.
Peak time security
The worst thing that can happen to a website during peak traffic hours is to snap and get crushed with the load. It will never happen to you with a CDN. Even if one node fails or responds slow, there is always another node nearby that will take the load.
Your website will stay up and running during the most complicated hours and it only reflects well on you as a business/blog owner.
Security against DDoS attacks
DDoS attacks occur when an attacker pushes a heavy load to your server and makes it crumble. This can take your website down for a long time.
CDN servers provide security from DDoS attacks by shielding your origin server from such attackers. As a node fails, the other comes up to run the site and no pressure is exerted on your origin server. Since the data is decentralized, attack on origin servers will shift to edge servers which protect your website.
A pro tip is to integrate SSL with your site which means that the attacker can’t hold your site elements for long even if they are held hostage.
All these benefits increase the user experience points of your website. Better speed, more security and lesser load means that your website has more time to host potential customers.
Many customers will leave a site if it does not load in under 5 seconds, and you can successfully avoid this mishap.
Think of it, with every second you improve, you get more visitors, more feedback, higher ranking and improved UX.
Don’t be confused in choosing a CDN for your business or blogging website. 2019 onwards, people expect lightning fast websites and no excuses. You can’t bring a visitor back if they have bounced off your site.
Be it a blog, a streaming site or an online store, options are available for all sizes and costs as per your need. Moreover, many CDN services also provide a free trial so you can test the waters before diving in. just Google, do your research and find the most suitable match. It is suggested to go for a custom option, rather than going for something which is not a one-size-fits-all.