How can a content delivery network help your website?

By Andy Boland 5th January 2023
What is a Content Delivery network - Graphic of person on laptap with map of the world and places connected with dots
If you’ve been looking to set up a new website or move your current website to a new hosting provider, you may have come across the option to use a Content Delivery Network or CDN as part of the web hosting package.

This can greatly improve the speed of your website, and provide lots of other benefits without you needing to do anything.

CDN's have been part of the Internet for more than 20 years, and most web content is now delivered using them, including major streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.

They work using a simple principle - by storing (or ‘caching’) multiple copies of your site at key locations across the Internet, they move your content physically closer to your audience. This reduces the distance it needs to traverse, speeding up its delivery.

What are the benefits of a CDN?

  • Increased visitor retention - if someone visits your site and the homepage takes too long to load, then they’re likely to go elsewhere and not come back. Reducing this load time, or latency, is one of the key benefits of a CDN, helping you retain more of those visitors.
  • Improved search engine ranking - page loading speed is a factor in how your site is ranked by search engines, so anything you can do to improve loading times will have a positive impact on your SEO.
  • Reduced costs - you’ll use less bandwidth with your hosting provider if the content is being delivered by the CDN’s servers. This bandwidth usage can be a factor in how much they charge you, so a CDN will save you money in the long term.
  • Improving your site’s performance - the server network that makes up a CDN is highly optimised to deliver web content as quickly as possible. They typically comprise high specification servers with fast solid state drives. Where required, they will also employ compression techniques to reduce the size of files to further improve performance.
  • Reducing downtime for your site - if your traffic peaks or your hosting provider has a problem, access to your site could be slowed or compromised. A CDN reduces the risk of this by distributing the load across its own network, so your site will still be available even if your hosting provider is experiencing an issue.
  • Improved security - a CDN can increase security by mitigating denial-of-service attacks (where an attacker floods your site with traffic to intentionally slow it down or take it offline), preventing vulnerability hacks, and stopping brute force attempts against your website login pages and more.

Are there any downsides to using a CDN?

The obvious one is the additional cost to your hosting package to get access to a CDN, but given the huge benefits they provide to your site visitors, this cost should be considered very good value. This is particularly true if your site features lots of video, images or complex functionality that could make it slow to load on the first visit, driving your audience away.

Another factor to bear in mind is, if your site’s content gets updated regularly, you’ll need to monitor it to ensure your visitors are seeing the latest updates. Remember that CDNs store a copy of your site, so an update to a particular page may take a while to ripple out across the CDN's servers. CDN providers do give you control over what they will cache though, and how long for, so you will have control over how quickly the key content is refreshed.

In summary, CDNs are an essential part of the modern web, where more and more of your potential audience have access to high speed Internet and expect sites to load almost instantly every time. Where available, you should definitely look to take advantage of them to improve your overall customer experience.

Talk to us today

Let SimpleClick review your website and provide you with the assistance you need to meet your business goals.

Call us on 0844 736 2747 or email [email protected].