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Should You Use A Content Delivery Network?

Should you use a Content Delivery Network? They (CDNs) have been around for years and offer an interesting upside, yet there aren’t a ton of businesses out there using them. With an increased focus on website loading speed from both web design companies and Google, whether or not your business would benefit from a Content Delivery Network is a good topic for discussion.

What is a CDN?

A content delivery network (CDN) provides alternate server nodes for users to download certain website resources for your site such as images, CSS files or JavaScript files. In some cases this can save a lot of bandwidth depending on where your users are located in comparison to the location that hosts your site.

The content delivery network hosts your files on a network of servers around the world rather than from just one or two locations. Ideally the servers are geographically split up to allow maximum coverage across a wide area. The main server regularly updates edge servers around the globe with updates to the cache of files.

For example, if you have a host located on the west coast of the U.S. and use a CDN, your users from Europe will download files from the server that is closest to them. This can save a lot of time depending on the site as the majority of page load time is related to retrieving this type of content so the shortest distance between the user and node means less distance for the data to travel.

Why would this be important?

The primary reason to use a content delivery network is speed. Website loading speed is very important for a number of reasons:

  • User Experience – People do not like to wait around for a website to load. We don’t use dial-up anymore. The internet has grown up and users have grown with it which means increased expectations on how fast things should be and generally disappointment or annoyance when those expectations aren’t met. The 3 to 5 second mark for a total site load is where you need to be to stay competitive.
  • Google Rankings – Site speed and customer satisfaction are both used as signals in overall ranking for pages and sites. Why risk lowered rankings simply because your users are on the other side of the globe from your web hosting?
  • Better Ads – Ads are one of the biggest culprits to slow load times. A shorter distance between the server and user will get the data there faster allowing ads and the entire site to load more quickly which will increase ad revenue.

Do I need to use a CDN?

Not every site will benefit from a CDN however some would benefit tremendously. Here are some questions that should help you decide if you should use a content delivery network:

  • Where are your users coming from? If you have a lot of visitors from a wide range of geographies then you should consider a CDN.
  • What type of content does you site have? Sites that have lots of images per page would benefit from a CDN.
  • How many visitors do you have? If you site has thousands of visitors per day or more then there is more pressure on your server to deliver data to them which could be reduced if spread out over more nodes.
  • Do you update or upload a lot of media files regularly? If you do then that increased frequency puts a heavier load on your web server.

The bottom line is that you should use a content delivery network if your site meets one or more of the above criteria and you can afford it. The added speed will increase customer satisfaction and rankings while being too slow could affect both of those aspects negatively. At the end of the day customer satisfaction is often related to conversion factors so anything you can afford to do to make customers happier makes a whole lot of sense.

Be sure to check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.


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