How A Content Delivery Network Can Save Your Life!

by Chris Maloney
Published 12-1-2015

Ok, so maybe that's a bit extreme. I don't expect a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to REALLY take a bullet for you. I mean, it does step in the line of fire for you, but more on that later. Many people don't even know what a CDN is, so I'll be starting with that first. After that I'd like to explain how it can benefit you from a technical standpoint, and then I'll make my big finish describing how that can help you SEO-wise (pssstt...that effects your bottom line). 

CDN - One More Acronym to Remember

On the most basic level, a CDN efficiently delivers the contents of your website to the web browsers of your users. Or, if you'd rather hear it from Webopedia

A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.

I was explaining what a CDN does to a colleague of mine, and their response was, "Wouldn't that slow down your website?" And I guess I could see why a person might think that. After all, a CDN plays the role of middle-man and every user for your website has to go through them first. And we all hate middlemen don't we? We'd all rather skip the middleman and get the info straight from the source!

But what about electricity? There isn't just one powerplant that powers every home in the world...far from it. There is a geographically distributed network of power plants, power lines, and transformers to efficiently deliver the electricity to where it needs to go. When you have a single web server located in a datacenter in Omaha that is expected to serve up your website to users across the globe, that's just like having a single powerplant. 

So What On Earth Does That Do For Me?

I'm sure you've been on a website that's sluggish and slow to load. There might be countless images, poorly written code, or just a ton of external scripts. What does it make you want to do? At the very least you'll be wanting to navigate elsewhere, but generally speaking you're probably not dying to be a customer of theirs. 

A CDN makes sure your website is delivered and performs as snippity snap as possible regardless of where your user is located on the planet. There are many items on the checklist for optimizing a website, and most of the time it's a very intrusive process. Hooking up a CDN is the easiest way to whip a tired old website into better shape since it only takes a few minutes to get it up and running.  Using a CDN on a modern site is even better. 

In addition to higher performance, you can enjoy other benefits such as: 

  • 100% Uptime - Even if your originating server goes down, the CDN will continue to deliver the cached files to your users. Score!
  • Blocking Hackers - Since a CDN sits between your users and your server, the CDN can block out potentially malicious code and activity which is a HUGE plus. A CDN is also a fantastic line of defense against DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. 
  • SSL Certificate - Most CDN solutions will give you SSL for your website on paid plans. This alone can pay for itself since a SSL certificate can easily run you $100+ per year. 
  • Analytics - Most people use Google Analytics to get a user head count and understand what users are doing on their sites.  A CDN can provide additional user data as well as just provide a 'second opinion' for your numbers. 

OK, So My Website Will Be Faster and More Secure. Big Whoop.  

It's not just your users that enjoy fast websites, Google likes it too. It's been known and accepted for years that faster sites also perform better in search results. So that's the big kicker that business owners just can't ignore since higher rankings mean higher dollars for most folks. 

The good news is that all of our SEO plans include a Pro membership to Cloudflare. We find that it's just that important, and you might too some day.