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What is a CDN and what are its benefits

What is a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A CDN (also known as a Content Delivery Network) is nothing but a group of edge servers which are geographically distributed across different parts of the world and are used to cache static content (like images, JavaScript, CSS, etc) present on websites. They are typically used by website owners to make their content load faster for people accessing their websites from across the world.

Almost all web developers, website testing & optimization tools and SEO specialists suggest you to make use of a good CDN for your blog. This is especially true if you are using GTmetrix to test and assess your website’s performance with Google PageSpeed and YSlow. By using a content delivery network, you can improve your Page Speed and YSlow score right away. Also, you can easily get 100% score on YSlow recommendation ‘Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) YSlow’ warning when using a CDN.

How does a Content Delivery Network work

Before we dive into the details and reasons on why you should use a CDN for your blog, I’ll try to explain to you how a CDN basically works. Almost all bloggers have got their sites hosted with large shared web hosting companies like SiteGround or Bluehost. These hosting companies have got their servers (data centers) located in specific locations only. For example, SiteGround has got servers in Chicago (US), London (UK), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Milan (Italy) and Singapore only. I chose my blog’s primary server location as Singapore when signing up because I thought most of my traffic will be from India but now, the majority of my blog’s traffic comes from the USA.

Now, whenever someone from the US, Mexico or Canada enters my blog address in their browser’s search bar and hits enter, their browser sends a request all the way across the Atlantic ocean and the African continent to my web server located at Singapore, which is present in the Asian continent. So, just imagine the latency (delay) involved in sending the request to my web server and then getting back the results to the client browser present in the US, Mexico or Canada. I do agree that it is not going to take more than a few seconds for it to load my site completely but still, website loading speed matters very much when you want to rank your content higher than your competitors in search engine results page (SERP). Google loves websites which load their content quicker than sites which take a while to load their content. Moreover, a faster website means your readers will love your website and will come back more often. Returning visitors are good for your website in terms of SEO.

Content delivery networks on the other hand, unlike traditional web hosting companies have got multiple data centers across the globe. Cloudflare, the popular CDN platform backed by Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm and a few other companies has got more than 120 data centers across the globe with 28 data centers in the US alone. They make use of technologies like anycast routinglighttpd web servers and Border Gateway Protocols to deliver the static content from your website’s hosting server to its edge server networks that are spread across the globe.

Now, whenever a follower visits your blog, only the dynamic content is loaded from your site’s hosting server and other static content like images, CSS and JavaScript are loaded from the CDN’s nearest edge server. Once your static content is cached in one data center (edge server), it is automatically replicated to other data centers too. This greatly reduces the latency and thus closer the person is located to the data center, faster will be the page load time. Moreover, it helps you to cut your website’s monthly bandwidth usage quota if you are on a limited shared web hosting plan.

Benefits of using a CDN for your website

Though there are many benefits of using a CDN, everything cannot be summarized over here. I’m just going to share a few important advantages of using a CDN for your blog.

The first and foremost benefit is that your blog’s page speed will vastly improve which will ultimately help you rank your blog posts better in search engine results page (SERP). It is official that Google favors web pages which load faster and provides users with a seamless browsing experience. That is, you should not make your organic visitors (people who stumble upon your blog from search engines) wait greater than 3 seconds for your web page to load completely unless it has got a full-sized infographic or multiple images (tutorials, reviews, etc). By reducing the time taken for your web pages to load completely, you will be able to reduce your blog’s bounce rate too.

Since the CDN caches all the static content from your site and delivers it from their powerful servers, it definitely helps speed things up on your server’s side. Your web hosting server will now be able to handle 4X more traffic than normal because static content like images, CSS and JS which take up the large chunk of any web page’s size is now cached at multiple data centers across the globe. So, next time your blog post goes viral, you needn’t worry about your server crashing or going offline.

Content Delivery Networks helps you reduce your dependency on your hosting server’s resources (CPU and disk usage) for delivering content to your readers. Too much load on your web server is not a good sign for a healthy website and CDNs help with this. Moreover, if your blog is hosted on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or a dedicated server where you are charged monthly for bandwidth usage, this one is a boon for you.

You will now be able to provide your mobile visitors with faster page load times and they will thank you for it. They will definitely love your site and may even feel compelled to go through many of your posts. Trust me, no one likes websites which take more than three seconds to load (my blog loads under 2 seconds). This will definitely help you boost your SEO value as Google ranks websites higher in the search results page if they load quicker than the competing sites.

Which CDN to choose for your website

If you are convinced with the benefits of using a CDN for your blog, you must now be looking for a good and reliable content delivery network. If you are low on budget, you can go for Cloudflare. I have been using their free CDN service ever since I got myself interested in web performance and optimization. Cloudflare is suitable for all types of websites, be it a personal blog or a large business website with millions of visitors. Other CDN recommendations include KeyCDN, Amazon CloudFront, StackPath and Akamai.

Suggested next reading – How To Properly Setup Free Cloudflare CDN (Detailed Tutorial)


Thus I hope this article helped you in understanding what a content delivery network is and why you should use a CDN for your blog no matter how big or small your site is. So, what CDN are you using? Do you like Cloudflare? Got any other free or premium CDN suggestions? Drop them in the comments section below.

8 thoughts on “What is a CDN and what are its benefits”

  1. I was reading your article on WooCommerce for WordPress and noticed that you had mentioned SiteGround for hosting as well as Cloudflare for CDN which I happen to use both of them for my e-commerce site.
    I also use Namecheap as the registrar for my domains, so it was kind of cool to read that I was doing something right for once!!! One thing I wanted to add though was that SiteGround also offers free SSL certificates for all your hosted sites and unlike the staff over at Namecheap (who I used to host with too), SiteGround staff members are actual IT geeks, so they are very savvy and progressive as far as safety and security goes.
    Their customer service has been five stars, (although I must admit has fallen a half a star down in the 2 years that I’ve been with them- which I suspect is due to their rise in Popularity)
    They offer a free plugin called the SG Optimizer (I believe is on but requires that you host with them)
    -It offers dynamic caching, force SSL and keeps you upgraded to the latest PHP Version. (However I have read there are other plugins that do the same, but perform much better than theirs does which kind of sucks)
    – Lastly, they have a Cloudflare feature built into their panel so you could activate and monitor all your Cloudflare site’s stats at once through (WordPress or not WordPress) and they give you a discount price for any Cloudflare upgrades.

    Jordan W.
    (WP, WC, SG, NC, Website owner)
    Hope this helps!


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