The technical definition of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) describes it as a global network of servers that have been set up for the purpose of delivering Internet content at the fastest time possible.
Using a CDN makes it possible to transfer these assets quickly so that the Internet searcher can receive Internet content right away. The biggest companies in the world use a CDN – Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix.
If these giants use a CDN does that mean small and medium scale business owners need them too?
The Importance Of Website Speed
The best way to understand how a CDN works and why it is important is to look at how your web hosting service provider does its job.
In order to make your website accessible to the public, you have to set up its assets on the server of your web host. However, the traffic going to your website is not the only traffic the server is dealing with.
There are other websites that are hosted on the server. The amount of traffic that goes to these websites on a daily basis will affect the amount of time it takes for your visitors to access your website.
You can read more about how a web host platform works in our article, “How To Choose Your Web Host”.
Does your business website need a CDN?
Put yourself in the shoes of the Internet searcher who decided to click on your content. It has been 10 seconds and your page has not loaded yet on his smartphone. On the Internet, 10 seconds is an eternity.
People are willing to wait 10 minutes for their cup of coffee, fall in line for 2 hours to get a movie ticket, and even camp overnight to get first dibs at the latest iPhone.
However, when it comes to the Internet, if they can’t access your content within 3 seconds, 40% will abandon the search.
Consumers are less patient on the Internet because they know there are other websites they can go to if they have a hard time accessing a particular website. In the real world, they can’t just cut in line so they can get their cup of coffee.
They do have the option to leave and visit another coffee shop. Chances are, they would rather wait “patiently” rather than take another drive or walk a block and go through the entire process of queuing for their orders.
In the age of digital technology, consumers have control in the palm of their hands. If they can’t get what they want in a few seconds, it will be “goodbye” to you and “hello” to your competitor. Therefore, website speed is very, VERY IMPORTANT!
If you still need more convincing on the importance of site speed, we have listed below other data and information that should leave no doubt in your mind:
- Google included website speed as a ranking factor in its search algorithm as early as 2010.
- 47% of Internet searchers expect a website to load in under 2 seconds.
- A 1-second delay in website loading time can affect your sales conversion rate by 7%.
A CDN can help Internet searchers access your website faster. With a CDN, any issues you have with website speed will be a thing of the past. And it does not matter where your visitors come from.
How A CDN Improves Website Speed
Let us assume your web host’s server is located in Denver, Colorado and you do not have a CDN.
If an interested customer from London wants to access your content, he would have to load all of your assets from Colorado which in the reality of the Internet, would take a good amount of time.
Based on statistical evidence, there is a 40% chance the customer from London would have abandoned the search.
Now, let us assume you have a CDN – how would that change the experience of the visitor from London?
Keep in mind the technical definition of a CDN:
A GLOBAL network of servers that have been set up for the purpose of delivering Internet content at the fastest time possible.
With a CDN, the customer from London would be able to access your website from the server that is closest to him. Depending on the CDN service provider, the server might even be in London.
According to a study by KeyCDN, the use of a CDN has improved the loading times of websites by 50.31%.
A good analogy would be to think of a CDN as additional lanes in the information highway for your users to get to your website.
If there was only one lane open, as more users try to visit your website, that single lane would get jam-packed. The traffic will make your website more inaccessible to potential users.
However, if more lanes were opened up, other visitors will use those lanes to get to your website. With less traffic, your visitors will be able to access your website content much faster.
The end result would be better User Experience and consequently, happier customers.
Thus, having a CDN will allow your customers to load your content faster. In a highly-competitive industry, a CDN may be the difference-maker between you and your competitor.
The Other Benefits Of A CDN
In addition to improving your website speed, there are other benefits to using a CDN:
1. Website Security
It is not just your followers and customers who will visit your website. Just like the neighborhood convenience store, your website will attract unsavory characters who want to steal valuable goods such as user data and other forms of confidential information.
Hackers will find ways to intercept transmitted data or infiltrate your website by setting up shop – illegally – on your server.
A CDN can defend your website from these attacks. The network can prevent hackers from compromising the web host’s server where your assets are located and stored.
Assuming that a hacker was able to find a way to bring down one server, there are other servers within the CDN that will continue to attend to the needs of your website visitors.
2. May Lower Cost of Web Hosting
When your website is generating a lot of traffic, it will use up a lot of your available bandwidth.
By using a CDN, you can offload some tasks to the other servers and reduce the strain on your bandwidth. It may lower the cost of your web hosting services.
However, there is a cost to subscribing to CDN service. You will have to factor in the cost when deciding to avail of CDN for your business website.
To clarify, getting a CDN does not mean you do not need to subscribe to a web host service provider.
Think of a CDN as complementary to your web hosting platform. It will enhance the service and give your followers a better User Experience (UX).
Conclusion – Do You Need A CDN?
As you have just read, a CDN provides the following key benefits for your business website:
- Enhances Site Speed
- Tightens Up Site Security
- Improves User Experience
Should these benefits automatically clinch your decision to get a CDN?
Before making a decision, here are a few factors that you need to consider:
1. Does Your Website Experience Heavy Traffic?
Websites that currently experience heavy traffic will be under constant threat of downtime. Definitely, if your website is generating a lot of visits, reward your users with better User Experience by getting a CDN.
2. Are You Anticipating Business Growth or Expansion In the Near Future?
If your studies show that your business is maintaining its growth trajectory, it would be a good idea to invest in a CDN now. Also, if you are planning to launch a new product or service, a CDN will guarantee its accessibility to interested customers.
3. Does Your Website Use a Lot of Media?
High-resolution images and top quality videos are popular forms of content for website visitors. They are particularly effective in delivering your message to the audience.
However, they will consume a big chunk of your bandwidth. Using a CDN will certainly contribute to better user experience as your website visitors have to load all of your images, videos, and content.
4. Where Are Most Of Your Visitors Coming From?
If your website attracts a vast international audience, then, by all means, subscribe to a CDN service provider. The global distribution of its servers will allow them to access your content faster.
However, if your website caters more to a local audience, a CDN would not be that beneficial to them.
If you are seriously considering a CDN service, give us a call and we will give you a free 30-minute consultation. Tell us about your business and we will advise you if a CDN service is needed for your website.