What is CDN? How does it Impact Your Business?

Content Delivery Network or CDN has been around since the 90s. However it has only in recent years been adopted by businesses world wide. The change is mostly due to CDN becoming more affordable. And because business owners are seeing a major difference in page load speed for CDN vs. non-CDN websites. According to Builtwith, nearly 25 million top websites use CDN, including Facebook, Netflix and Amazon. Probably the main reason so many sites use CDN is because both web developers and hosting companies advocate the CDN technology to business owners. In fact most hosting sites explain in detail what is CDN and how you can implement it for your website.

Let’s look at what is CDN to fully understand this unique technology that can influence your business website or eCommerce store.

What is CDN

Think of CDN like a piece of pie that you ordered. If you are sitting at the counter, you will probably get the pie sooner, but if you are sitting way back in a booth, your pie will have to travel some distance before it reaches your table. Now imagine if your booth wasn’t even in the same restaurant, but in another state, continent, country.

This simple explanation is the basis of how the content delivery network works. CDN is nothing more than a network of relay servers that are strategically located around the world. Each of these servers have a copy of your website with static content. When a visitor from London, UK visits a California, US website, the browser makes a request to the server closest to London if you are using a CDN. So if there is a relay server in Scotland, then the static copy of the website is sent to the visitor from Scotland, rather than from the US.

What is CDN

What is CDN? A server system that keeps track of all the connections without needing a Post-It board.

Why use CDN

Websites nearly ten years back had fewer content to load, with web pages on average having only 702kb against the massive 2400kb or more of today. The significant difference in web page sizes is because websites these days have more high-resolution images and videos. And even though web developers use different methods to try to bring down the page load speed, CDN is faster and easier to use.

Most CDN servers now also come equipped with SSD drives. These Solid State Hard Drives (SSD) are 20 times faster in data retrieval than conventional servers. Which helps further in decreasing the page load speed. Along with this CDNs also provide file compression and image optimization features that enables content to be loaded faster.

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What is CDN Useful for

High traffic sites like those in the healthcare sector or education always use CDN. Besides these, business sectors that profit mostly from CDN are those working in the advertising, media and entertainment sector where videos and images are prominent in content. Along with these online gaming sites and sites that live stream videos also benefit from a workable CDN. Another area where CDN is most helpful is in eCommerce where content is always fluid with tons of product images and also product videos. Once you know what is CDN useful for, you can use the technology for small to medium and even large enterprises.

Where to Setup CDN

Now that you know what is CDN, you are ready to start using CDN. Most hosting companies will provide detailed instructions on how to setup the CDN on their server. Some elite companies however have their own brand of CDN that is proprietary like Aspiration Hosting’s in house CDN.

CDN plays well with most programs. Programs like Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal, Joomla and Laravel all can use the CDN functionality. If you need help there are plenty of plugins available as well. Most setup involves changing the DNS records and domain name servers.

How CDN Impacts Business

CDN is designed to alleviate the burden your server faces on a daily basis. As your business grows, more and more people will make demands of your server, which will in time create problems. With CDN, businesses are allowed to grow without fear of repercussions. Let’s see some of the reasons businesses love using CDN for their websites.

What is CDN

1 out of 3 people will visit your Competition if your Website loads slowly. (Loadstorm.com)

High Conversion Rates

It isn’t just about bringing people to your website. You also want them to stay and explore further your business and hopefully buy something. However if your website doesn’t load under 2 seconds, every second of delay will cost you 7% reduction in conversions. For Amazon this could mean nearly $1.6 billion loss every year. CDN makes your pages to load faster, giving you an edge of 7 to 12% over slower loading pages.

Boosts Search Engine Rankings

Google expects both desktop as well as mobile websites to load under 2 seconds. And Google as well as other search engines have openly said they give priority to websites that load faster. Using CDN helps you get a 20% increase in organic traffic. With nearly 14% increase in page views.

Keeps Visitors Happy

Ever had to wait in line at the bank or at Starbucks. How did that make you feel, probably a bit grumpy. Well about 47% of people will not engage with a website that loads slowly. You only get 5 seconds to make your visitor happy before they shun you. According to Loadstorm, 1 person in every 4 will close your website even before you can make an impression, if your web page lags.

What is CDN

CDN gives you an extra layer of protection against DDoS attacks.

Safeguards against Attacks

One of the best advantage of using a CDN is how you can lower your chance of being crippled by the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Because of the way CDN is setup, all the servers on the network are routinely scanned for malicious code. If a server does become compromised, your content is safe, because only a cache version of the content is available to the malicious code. Your original website is secure.

Lowers Operational Cost

The internet gives you a global exposure. In the past to decrease page load speeds, business owners had to setup their websites on multiple locations. However with CDN, you no longer have to incur the expenses of multi locations websites. You can also easily setup different pages that will show up on different devices or locations. This is a big boon for small and medium businesses that want to serve people worldwide, while keeping within their budget.

Gives Scalability

Even though the more people that visit your website is a good thing, it can cause problems with your server if there are too many concurrent requests. Waiting even for half a second can cause 26% frustration in people. So you can imagine what will happen when your site suddenly goes offline. CDN gives you scalability so that no matter how many people visit, your servers never exhaust their resources and cause page errors like “Site not Found”.

What is CDN

CDN Analytics helps you determine the areas where your content is strongest, and also point out the weak links.

Helps with SEO Analytics

Search engine optimization is an important aspect for every business. With CDN you get real time load statistics, places your visitors came from, which pages was most visited and other relevant information. All this helps you create content personalized according to your visitors.

Saves on Bandwidth

Bandwidth is used whenever a visitor comes or goes from your site. For people whose hosting plan comes with unlimited bandwidth, this isn’t an issue. However if your plan gives you limited bandwidth, then CDN can immensely help reduce the server requests to your main server.

Ensures Reliability

Uptime guarantees are great, but servers are after all machines. Things can go wrong, and this delay in service can cost your thousands in sales. However the way the CDN is setup, you can always get a server that will provide a cached version of your website without any delay, no matter the location. This assured reliability of always having your website online gives business owners a peace of mind. Especially true for eCommerce stores where you can keep on selling, even while you are asleep.

Conclusion

CDN is the smart alternative for businesses. And no matter the size of your business, CDN impacts your website in ways you never thought possible. Now that you know what is CDN, you can easily test the speed of your website using tools like GTMetrix, and Pingdom. Experts recommend doing a before and after test, to make sure the CDN is working properly.

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