For those of us playing buzzword bingo at home, the word cloud might as well be the free space in the middle. Everything seems to be “in the cloud” today, but what does that mean exactly?
Cloud-based services might be the buzzworthy term of the year, but that doesn’t subtract from how useful and important they are. For example, take a cloud-based content delivery network (CDN). These amazing services help to serve content from a wide range of sites to people all around the world at breakneck speeds.
So what is a Content Delivery Network?
In its simplest form, a CDN is a service that uses multiple servers in a variety of geographical locations around the nation or world to improve the speed and quality of streaming content. In other words, they are servers that make it so that everyone gets the same speed and quality of download.
Files are stored on servers that are spread out over a given area so when a user connects to the site, he or she receives their content from the closest server. The result of this can be speeds that are significantly improved in regard to load time.
What Does Speed Mean for Your Site?
Speed is very important when it comes to a webpage. First, users will only wait so long for a page to load before giving up and moving on to the next site. A wait time of just 400 milliseconds can mean the difference between someone staying on your site or going back to the search results and looking for something else. A page load time of 10 seconds sees a nearly 40% page abandonment, no matter what the content on the page is.
This means that all that awesome content you have on your site to attract readers and up your page views can ultimately drag your load times down and cause people to go running from your site. Many sites host their images and other media files on the same server as the site itself, which, over time as traffic increases, can slow load times to a standstill and kill off possible visits and business.
The second way speed is important for your site is Google. Most web search traffic comes from this search giant, and Google only likes to show the most relevant results possible. This means that part of Google’s search algorithm includes site speed. The faster your site is, the better it will show up in search results.
Speed is one of the most important aspects of running a website, and a CDN works to help you with that exact issue, along with a few others you didn’t even know you needed.
Different Options in CDNs
An example of a content delivery network aimed at website owners and operators is KeyCDN. KeyCDN uses cloud-based servers to position content around the world to make it faster and more accessible to a wider audience, ultimately helping your content get seen by more people.
As quoted from KeyCDN’s site:
“KeyCDN is a powerful and easy to use Content Delivery Network (CDN) made to satisfy the needs of a website owner. A Content Delivery Network (or Content Distribution Network) is a system of strategically positioned servers around the globe. These servers maintain and accelerate your content. The main goals of a CDN are about speed, scalability and high-availability. A request from a user will always be routed to the nearest point of presence (POP).”
In short, they make it so your content is more reliable and faster to load and download.
Is a CDN Right For You?
If your site has steady traffic and a growing following, or if you host a large number of media files, then a CDN is definitely right for you. Smaller blogs and personal sites may be fine with slower loading content and download links that can go down with the site, but bigger sites with products that are sold as downloads need a CDN to not only give them the speed they need, but to give security and better uptime for download links and media files that are accessed outside of the main site itself.
As well as speed and security, you get the ability to easily move your site from one service to another, and to grow the storage and location of your media without altering your website hosting itself.
Basically, if you’re reading this, a CDN is probably a good fit for you and your site. If you’re interested in learning more, checkout industry leaders like KeyCDN for more information on what content delivery networks are all about.