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Boost Your Website with Content Delivery Networks Understanding Content Delivery Networks and their benefit to your website is crucial to the success of your business.

By Jacob Loveless Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you have ever considered using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for your website, you've probably encountered the question of their impact on organic search rankings. Some people are convinced storing a copy of your website on an external server is bad for organic search rankings, while others believe it helps increase page load time and user experience.

This article breaks down CDNs and how they solve website problems and benefit your business.

Understanding website problems

In order to improve the user experience, Google prioritizes websites with fast load times and considers website speed as one of its most important ranking factors. According to Google, when a website's page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the probability of a visitor bouncing away from the page increases by 32%. A high bounce rate means people are not spending enough time on your content.

A good way to fix this is through "lazy loading" images, which defers the loading of images on a page to a later point when those images are needed. Minimizing CSS and JavaScript are also helpful, but none of these solutions fix a primary cause of poor site speed: server location.

For example, let's say a company has its servers in Europe. There's a high probability someone in Norway will have faster access to the website than someone in North America. The farther a web visitor is from your server, the longer it takes for them to access (view, read, or download) your content. This is why we need Content Delivery Networks.

What are Content Delivery Networks?

Content Delivery Networks, or CDNs, are geographically distributed servers working together to aid in the fast delivery of website content. This process works by caching your website's static content (text and images) and storing it on several servers across the world. Essentially, CDNs work together to deliver fast web content.

With a CDN, when a user requests your web page, the nearest server receives it and sends back a copy of the page to the user. Therefore, there's a reduction in time between request and delivery as the website doesn't need to fetch content from the origin server, which could be oceans away.

Apart from faster content delivery, CDNs help optimize your content for search engines by constantly updating your cached content and removing duplicate content. This ensures the version of your website is the same across all servers.

Related: 7 Website Hacks to Help You End Lackluster User Engagement

Benefits of using Content Delivery Networks

1. Faster page load speed

Consumers don't like waiting more than 5 seconds for a website. Every additional second after that results in a drop in conversion rates. Additionally, 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from a business.

If your website takes a long time to load, people will leave. By using a CDN, the copies of your website are stored on servers around the world. This way, visitors can access it from the nearest server and increase your website's page load time while reducing the delay between server response and user action.

2. Reduced bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit a single page on your website without visiting other pages or without taking an action, such as clicking on a link or making a purchase. According to Google, a page load time above 10 seconds influences the chances of visitors bouncing off your website by 123%. Common reasons for high bounce rates include terrible content, bad design and poor user experience.

Slow load times are also a contributing factor. You can fix this by using a CDN to cache your website and serve it faster to visitors. Additionally, you can use a CDN to work on other areas of your website — like optimizing your images and creating quality content — to reduce bounce rates.

3. Increased dwell time for user experience optimization

"Dwell time," also known as "time on site," is the time it takes for someone to return to the search engine after visiting your website. To Google, this time reflects the user's experience interacting with your website. Therefore, the longer someone spends on your website before going back to the search engine, the better. To increase your dwell time, use a CDN to optimize your on-demand web assets for visitors as soon as they land on your website.

4. Better image optimization

Because websites have difficulty rendering visual assets, images are one of the main causes of poor organic rankings. Using a CDN converts your images into a better format, like WebP, making them easier to store on the edge server. This results in your website having a quicker load time and better user interaction.

Related: Improve Your Conversion Rate and Increase Revenue With These User Experience Design Essentials

Using CDNs for Ecommerce websites

Ecommerce aims to break location barriers by making goods readily available to everyone anywhere in the world. To make this happen, every second matters. Walmart found that for every one-second improvement in page load times, its conversion rate increased by 2%, with the highest conversion occurring between page load times of 0 and 2 seconds.

Considering ecommerce businesses aim to serve a global audience, delivering an excellent website experience becomes a priority as it impacts the business's bottom line. By using CDNs, businesses can deliver a wonderful omnichannel experience across all points of sale on the web, irrespective of their location.

Related: Launching a Website? Here Are 5 Common Intellectual Property Pitfalls to Avoid.

CDNs offer reliability over traditional approaches to ecommerce as they handle traffic better. This protects your online store from crashing during periods when there's a high surge in traffic, such as during the holiday shopping season.

Additionally, the foundation of CDNs makes them a good investment for ecommerce businesses, especially if faced with a security breach. Since most of the website's content is pre-cached, cyberattacks on the store would have little to no effect on the back end, thus protecting personal consumer data such as account logins and credit card information.

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Jacob Loveless

CEO of Edgemesh

Jacob Loveless is the CEO and co-founder of Edgemesh, a next-generation web acceleration company.

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