What Exactly is a Content Delivery Network or CDN?
CDN is short for Content Delivery Network which is a network of edge servers that deliver cached static content from websites to users based on the geographic location of the user. CDN’s, are not a web hosting substitute. It is an additional network of servers for certain static file types only.
Normally, when someone visits your website, they are directed to your hosting provider’s server. Your server is located in 1 location. For example, JA Publications is hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’re not using a CDN, all of your website’s users are hitting this one server. If you have a site that gets lots of traffic, this can overload your server and cause the site to perform slowly and even crash the server.
User’s proximity to your web server has an impact on page load time. By deploying your content across multiple geographically dispersed servers, you can make your pages load faster from the user’s perspective. This is when a CDN comes in handy. In simpler words, the closer the CDN server is to where your user is, the faster the user gets the content. A good CDN, will have edge servers located all over the world and close to populated areas.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) Help Speed Up Your Site
Content Delivery Networks & SEO
Page speed is a ranking factor by most search engines. If your site is performing poorly, this usually hurts your ranking meaning that if two sites are tied for first place, the faster site wins. When you’re setting up a CDN, make sure you use a properly configured robots.txt in your pull zone to avoid duplicate content penalties. Also, specifying the origin IP address is not a bad idea either along with using SSL. I recommend MaxCDN. They have great customer support and very fast edge servers. How to setup the actual zone or CDN for SEO is beyond the scope of this post, but you can find an article here on how to setup your zone properly for SEO.