What is a Content Distribution Network?
In the world of web performance and optimization, content distribution networks (CDN) play a vital role in the delivery of content. A content distribution network consists of a group of servers that are strategically placed across the globe to deliver cached static content to CDN website visitors. These servers pull static assets from the origin server (such as CSS, JS, image files, etc) and cache a copy of them allowing visitors to retrieve the information from the nearest server.
As distance plays a major role in latency times, having a distributed cluster of servers that each hold cached content from your website helps increase page speed for users globally.
7 Reasons You Should Be Using a Content Distribution Network
Content distribution networks are useful for a variety of purposes. Here is a list of 7 reasons why you should consider using one.
- Reduced latency and improved website performance
- Helps improve SEO
- Cheaper than you might think
- Traffic spike & downtime protection
- Increased security & DDoS protection
- Easy integration
- Better user experience
As previously mentioned, using a content distribution network helps reduce website latency since the Points of Presence (PoPs) cast a wider global net than just the origin server itself. When a user makes a request for a particular resource, it will need to make fewer network hops when retrieving the cached resource from the CDN server compared to the origin.
KeyCDN’s edge servers also support HTTP/2 allowing content to be delivered even faster over HTTPS. With the use of parallelism, header compression, and being fully multiplexed, HTTP/2 users have seen some impressive results.
See our HTTP/2 Statistics article for more information.
Google announced on their webmaster central blog back in 2010 that website speed would begin to affect search engine rankings.
Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.
A faster website achieved through the use of a content distribution network will help directly improve SEO. Since Google’s ranking algorithm takes website speed into consideration, the faster your website is, the better chance you have moving up in the SERPs. Read our article Website latency with and without a content delivery network which reveals that the average latency time (tested from 10 locations) was reduced by 73% when using a content distribution network.
Some may think that using a content distribution network is going to be expensive and thus isn’t worth the cost. However, that’s simply not true. Using a CDN is really quite affordable for the average blogger. Using a content distribution network is a sound web performance investment that offers enormous payback.
When you consider the cost of CDN bandwidth is lower than that a traditional hosting provider, this can result in big savings. For even more bandwidth protection you can enable Origin Shield which enables an extra caching layer, further reducing the origin server’s load, as well as Hotlink Protection to restrict HTTP referrers.
Whether you’re expecting (or not) a spike in traffic, a content distribution network can help mitigate any downtime that you may otherwise occur. Depending on your current hosting plan, the server may not be able to properly handle a large spike in traffic, thus rendering your website inaccessible.
A CDN can help avoid that issue. Since your website’s static content (which often accounts for 80% or more) is cached on the edge servers, this takes an enormous load off of the origin server. With the majority of resources now being delivered via the content distribution network, your origin server doesn’t have to work as hard.
This enables your website to be much more scalable with minimal effort. There is no need to increase your hosting plan to require more bandwidth, which will in turn save you money.
Added security is another benefit of using a content distribution network. Many CDNs now have the ability to mitigate DDoS attacks either manually from the dashboard or by default via the CDN provider themselves. KeyCDN mitigates attacks automatically giving customers piece of mind that their websites are not at risk.
Other security features include secure tokens and the option to enable SSL.
Secure tokens allow you to define a time period for which a url can be accessed. This allows users to specify how long a url is accessible before it expires and returns a 403 forbidden to anyone who tries to access it after expiry.
SSL is also a very important security feature that is offered by content distribution networks.
The primary goal of the TLS protocol is to provide privacy and data integrity between two communicating computer applications. – Wikipedia.com
Enabling SSL on a CDN allows for a secure connection between the edge servers and the user accessing the content. KeyCDN offers shared SSL, custom SSL, and Let’s Encrypt SSL options depending on your preference.
With an array of integration possibilities, from CMS integrations to framework integrations, CDNs are widely compatible. The integration process with a content distribution network is in most cases very easy and straightforward. KeyCDN has already documented the integration process for a number of content management systems and frameworks and is continuously adding more.
These easy-to-follow integration guides will walk you through the process. In the event there doesn’t happen to be a particular integration guide for your use-case you can always use the custom CDN integration option.
With each of these reasons, the overall goal of using a CDN website combination is to ultimately offer a better user experience to the visitors. With the most obvious benefit being speed, website owners can benefit from a lower bounce rate, a higher clickthrough rate and for e-commerce sites, better conversions.
According to loadstorm.com
46 % of users will not return to a poorly performing website.
74% of users will abandon after waiting 5 seconds for a mobile site to load.
These numbers are quite significant to anyone who runs a website, whether it be a large e-commerce store or small personal blog. Without acceptable page load times, visitors will not only abandon the site but there will also be a greater chance that they will not return.
There’s no doubt that using a content distribution network can certainly help speed up a website that delivers content to users in various geographic areas. As we’ve outlined, using a CDN website combination offers many other benefits besides improving performance. However, bridging the gap between the distance of your visitors from the source of information they are accessing remains one of the most important aspects and is beneficial for all parties.