At its core, a content delivery network (CDN) simply has one main objective: to ensure your website operates quickly and efficiently. A CDN improves page load time, in order to improve SEO and improve the overall user experience. In simple terms, that is what this all boils down to. Why, then, are CDNs so often bogged down with myths and misinformation? Let’s set this CDN record straight.
Setting the facts straight: getting up to speed with CDNs
As previously mentioned, a CDN is a network of servers around the world that store your website’s content in order to more quickly and efficiently load your website for your users. The closer an end user is to a server, the faster that server will work. Thus, a CDN redirects each user to the server closest to their specific location. Not only does having a network of servers load your website faster, but it also enables load balancing and distributing traffic across your servers in order to keep any one of them from becoming too overwhelmed.
This multiple server environment also helps to protect your website from the influx of malicious traffic caused by DDoS attacks. In terms of malicious traffic, advanced CDNs can even protect your website from bots that intend to spam, for example, your comment sections, forums with links, or even scrape your content to place it on other websites.
As far as the content delivery aspect of these networks operate, all CDNs cache your website’s static content in order to deliver faster to your users. Advanced CDNs will also cache dynamic content while it remains unchanged on your website. A CDN is invaluable for overseeing how your website’s resources are used in terms of managing multimedia content.
CDN myth #1: the oldest and biggest CDNs are best
Today, technology is all about being young, new, and advanced. So, why would older CDNs be the go-to method of delivery? You see, these well-known legacy CDNs were excellent in their day and served businesses well. However—that was in their day. The internet is vastly different today than it was just one year ago, let alone 15 years ago when these CDNs were originally put into place. Your CDN needs power, flexibility, and thoroughly modern infrastructure and networking techniques. Legacy CDNs may recognizable by name, but unless they’ve overhauled and modernized their entire networks, costing them millions of dollars, that name isn’t going to take your website very far.
CDN myth #2: a CDN will reduce the number of website visitors
It seems a bit odd that a technology that prides itself on improving user experience would somehow manage to reduce the number of visitors your website is receiving. However, in reality, a CDN is sending a log to the server with every request received by the website. Perhaps the CDN’s visitor log may show a lower number of visitors to the website than in actuality. Rest assure, this is simply the result of a CDN not being configured correctly.
CDN myth #3: CDNs are difficult to implement and configure
Given that the truth behind myth number 2 involves the incorrect configuration of a CDN, you may be questioning the truth behind this myth. However, you need to realize the motive behind CDN companies that charge expensive fees for set-up and installation. It is beneficial to these companies to make CDN configuration appear to be far too complex to be handled in-house, and thus you are locked into using their services alone. This is the year 2015. You shouldn’t be locked in to recurring professional services to simply use the technology your website depends on.
CDN myth #4: the shared IP environment of a CDN will hurt SEO
Perhaps many of these myths aren’t exactly myths, but are essentailly outdated information. While there was a time, well over 15 years ago, when the internet wasn’t overrun with websites and each could have their own IP, that time is long gone now. Even the head of Google’s Webspam team dispelled this myth long ago, as reported by CDN service provider, Incapsula, in their piece on SEO, CDNs & Cloud Security. The only time sites will be penalized for being on the same IP is if some of the sites are marked as spam.
In truth, CDNs will only improve your SEO. Google loves fast page load times, sites that users spend more time on, and sites that aren’t being link-spammed or having their content scraped by malicious bots.
CDN myth #5: the more servers a CDN provider owns, the better
On the surface, this myth makes complete logical sense; however that doesn’t make this accurate whatsoever. Yes, a CDN uses many servers around the world in order to deliver content faster to users near those servers. So, you might think, the more servers, the faster that content is delivered.
This was once true, but the race to buy up servers around the world has been rendered obsolete by an efficient and inexpensive technique known as peering. Peering is a process in which connected resources on the internet are shared in order to ensure that content always finds the best possible path from the server to the end user. Instead of owning endless server boxes, today’s CDNs optimize their servers to peer with as many networks as possible, thus having a massive number of routes available for delivering content.
The ultimate truth: your website needs a CDN
A CDN will speed up your website, improve SEO and improve user experience. This keeps users on your site longer, which will ultimately lead to more conversions. The best CDNs will even offer some level of site security. With the advanced features offered by leading CDN service providers, some including self-service capabilities and 24/7 support, you truly need to consider putting a CDN in place.