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What is a CDN & Why You Should Use One

website speed

The acronym stands for Content Delivery Network, but CDN is much more than what these three words propose. Sure, it uses networks to quickly deliver your content to visitors and users, so you can consider it a bridge between your business and your clients, but CDNs also elevate the Internet to a whole new level of usability and accessibility.

A content delivery network or CDN is an interconnected system of computers which provide internet content rapidly to users by duplicating your website or parts of it on multiple servers, using the one nearest to the visitor for quick access.

Content delivery networks host mostly static assets, such as: audio and video content, images and text. They do this by storing multiple copies of your web content on servers around the world. The more servers a CDN has, the better for your users, because content can be stored closer to them.

MaxCDN connection map

Benefits of Using a CDN

Good content delivery networks can have lots of servers all over the world which allows for efficient and reliable content delivery, protecting you from traffic surges, internet shortages and hackers. When a user wants to see your website, the server nearest to that user is dynamically determined and your content served. The result is a fast and reliable browsing experience along with several other benefits:

  • Higher SEO rankings
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • More visitors, leads, customers and sales
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Taking load off your hosting
  • Minimizing down times

Customer Satisfaction & Conversion Rates

Everyone likes speedy websites. People often associate the quality of your products or services with the quality of your website. They tend to leave websites because of slow navigation, so if your website is not up to speed, your visitors will judge your services and products accordingly.

By thinking about satisfying people when they browse your website, you’re sending a clear message that you care, that your products and services are worthy of their attention. This creates a bond between your brand and your customers, who are more likely to return for more.

A way to make browsing your website enjoyable is to make it as fast as it can possibly be. There are two things you can do to achieve this:

  1. Implement web performance best practices
  2. Integrate a CDN with your website

Web performance best practices optimize your website code, payload size, browser rendering and make it mobile friendly.

Content Delivery Networks complement this with optimizing round-trip times, load times, minimizing DNS lookups, maximizing bandwidth, ensuring copies of your website are served in case of blackouts or server/hosting failures, etc.

Once you’ve got satisfied visitors your website is more likely to make conversions. Visitors become potentials leads, leads turn into customers and you make more sales.

SEO Rankings

Search engine optimization is a method of creating websites that are easily comprehendible to Google and Bing. Although search engines try hard to see the web the same way you and I do, they’re just machines and require some extra help.

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Search engines & people love CDNs

Since it’s in everyone’s interest to have more accessible and usable Internet, search engines have included page speed as one their factors for determining a websites’ value. It’s a well known fact that optimized sites are favored by both Bing and Google.

By signing up for a CDN, you’re making sure your website doesn’t get left behind. Search engines will reward you by putting you higher in their result pages and people will reward you by coming back and making conversion.

Take Load off Your Hosting & Minimize Downtimes

Large businesses that expect multitude of visitors, users or hits at the same time, can benefit from using CDNs that can send their content to each of them without any delay or time-out. Large latency variations when streaming videos and audio files are minimized while bandwidth is maximized.

A CDN is also a fail-safe system which allows your content to live even if severe Internet blackouts occur. You can consider it a real time backup system that always has the latest version of the most important parts of your website – your content.

But, the main feature of a CDN is that it delivers your content instantaneously by significantly decreasing the load time of your website. Here’s a more technical explanation of how CDNs actually work.

How do they do it? – Content Delivery Networks

Every CDN consists of large number of servers. When you integrate your website with a CDN, you then select which content gets copied on all those servers.

Imagine someone in Europe trying to access your website hosted in the USA. The content of your website is delivered from the nearest server also located in Europe and not from your hosting company. This makes your website load noticeably faster, since it decreases the physical distance data has to travel.

Content Delivery Networks speed

A CDN will usually host all your static files like videos, audio content, photos, CSS, JavaScript, PDF and other large files. The dynamic content remains on your server, because it gets updated often. This data split reduces the load on your hosting server and saves you bandwidth, saving you money while enabling faster load times.

You can use several online tools to measure your website speed from different locations (before and after using a CDN). Here are the two most used:

These tests use real browsers (IE and Chrome) and at real consumer connection speeds. They also provide you with some suggestions on how to further improve your website performance.

Distributing your static content using a content delivery network ensures fast load times and reliable connection between your customers and your online business. The power of CDNs is in their interconnectivity and servers that are always close to your visitors.

Don’t lose out on sales and profit because of the poorly optimized website. A CDN brings your products and services closer to your customers. Fast loading times decrease bounce rates, increase conversion rates and provide a joyful browsing experience people will remember.

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Content delivery network is easy to set up no matter which platform you’re using. Be it WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento or a custom solution, it will take you just a few minutes to sign up and configure.

Why You Should Use a CDN

Seems like every website owner has become obsessed with page speed lately and with a good reason. Google and all other search engines want to provide their users with the best experience possible when browsing the web. That’s why they use page speed as one of the ranking factors in search engine algorithms.

You should do the same and provide great browsing experience to retain your visitors and customers, giving them what they need in a timely manner. Page speed has serious implications on:

  • User experience
  • Conversion rates
  • SEO rankings
  • Website quality


CDNs Improve User Experience

In various studies regarding user experience, majority of users complained about slow loading websites. Your visitors don’t know or care about the effort it takes to produce and maintain websites, so they expect them to load in under 2 seconds. It’s what folks are willing to spend, so you can make your unique business proposal to them, by using text, images, audio and video content.

More than one third of people will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Imagine the number of visitors and potential clients you lose, just by not serving your content in a reasonable time frame.

Amazon has calculated that a page load slowdown of just 1 second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. Google has calculated that by slowing its search results by just four tenths of a second they could lose 8 million searches per day.

A CDN boosts your page speed and contributes to the increase of your conversion rates. Remember that for every second you shave off of load time, you strengthen customer confidence and trust in your brand. A few seconds can make a lot of difference.

If your visitors browse more of your content at a faster pace then they’re likely to:

  • Remember your brand better
  • Find what they need and enjoy your site
  • Make a conversion and become your clients
  • Make an order and purchase if you run ecommerce
  • Spread the word and bring more potential customers
  • Trust you in the future and subconsciously connect with your brand

Implementing a CDN on your website, you’re sending a message that you care about user experience and user satisfaction. Your visitors will thank you for it, by coming back and staying loyal to you.

Content Delivery Network &Conversions

A recent study by KISSmetrics shows that while most website owners focus on the functionality and aesthetics of their eCommerce solutions, people care more about how fast they can switch from an item to an item, how fast reviews load, how quickly they can get to their points of interest.

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Check out this infographic for a great speed vs conversions comparison. Mobile users are a little more patient than the ones using desktops, but the general rule is that a 1 second delay results in about 7% decrease in conversion rates.


Content delivery networks can significantly speed up browsing experience for both desktop and mobile users, thus increasing your ecommerce conversion rates.

CDNs Improve Page Rank

Should you care about increasing Page Rank through Page Speed? Website speed is just one of over 200 signals that take part in ranking your site. Search engines are trying to emulate real people, doing real searches in real life browsing situations. As their algorithms become better, the speed becomes an increasing ranking factor.

A CDN is a server network around the world which has a copy of your content, so when someone tries to load your website, the CDN delivers files from the closest server. The same thing happens to Google bots that regularly crawl and index the internet. If they can load your website faster, then more of your content will be indexed and better ranked.

You can check your website’s speed and get suggestions by using Google’s PageSpeed Tools.

There’s a reason why Google Analytics now expands the functionality to include Site Speed, Page Load Times, DNS lookup, Speed Suggestions, User Timings…

As a result, Content Delivery Networks have become popular with websites that want to rank higher or have a lot of traffic and want to take load off their hosting and send data without a hitch to their visitors and search engine bots.

CDNs and Website Quality

People have often associated speed with quality. Implementing a content delivery network on your website and increasing your page speed you are making a statement and boosting your credibility.


Content delivery networks make your websites more:

  • Enjoyable to browse (fast browsing)
  • Fault tolerant (in case of internet blackouts)
  • Effective (using the nearest servers to your visitors)

All this improves user experience, so you may notice a decline in bounce rates on your site and an increase in page views.

Undoubtedly, one of the best and easiest ways to speed up your online business, blog or ecommerce is to use a content delivery network.

CDNs are easy to implement and configure, they’re scalable so you can find plans for both small and big websites and use them as a limited fallback solution in case of hosting problems. Also, all traffic that goes through your CDN is filtered, so it’s your security firewall, as well. It improves the overall quality of your website and Page Rank which makes your brand more credible and more likely to make conversions.

Content delivery networks can do so much for your online presence, so consider using them to help your business reach its full potential.

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1 Comment

  • Avatar for Tina Tina says:

    A truly informative and well wrote article. Does a good job to explain content delivery networks to someone like me who is new to all the technology jargon. I’m looking at starting a blog in the future and this information is very helpful to ensure my website runs fast!

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