Make CDN your best friend today
“A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions” – Kissmetrics
One of the most common questions we are asked as a Hosting Provider is, “How do we increase the speed of our websites?” Depending on the kind of web scripting technology being used and the skill of the web developer, there could as many as 50 different parameters that could require tweaking. There a number of optimizations that the web developer can do, but a large part of the latency also depends on various network parameters and basic network fundamentals.
Let’s start from the very basic. What is the Internet? At the cost of trivialising the definition, it is a huge network of computers and servers sending packets to each other through a complex array of routers, gateways and switches. These packets represent the packets of informations and data being transmitted every time someone streams a cat video. In this case, the packets are requested by the cat lover and delivered by YouTube or a similar video streaming service.
The reality of this scenario is a thousand times more complex than this simplistic description, but it serves the purpose of conveying basic understanding of how the internet works. And even from this simplistic representation, it is clear that the fewer number of hops for the packet, or the smaller the distance for the packet to travel, the faster the connection would be.
Every time a user requests for information from a website, the web browser sends a request packet to the serving web server, and the web server responds with the requested data in a few packets. This means data literally has to travel both ways, and pass through all the intermediary switches. Hence, If you own a website, and your user is literally on the other side of the globe, chances are that your website would load considerably slower for that user than for a user in your own country.
Does this mean you have to maintain separate servers for catering to users from different parts of the globe to satisfy speed requirements? Thankfully, the answer to that is NO. This is where CDN is useful.
What is CDN?
CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It is a network of servers or edge locations that can help deliver cached contents to your users. This would would mean that every time your international user requests for information from your site, the request need not come all the way to your hosting server. A major portion of it like static images, videos, JS and jQuery (which are usually the major reasons for increased latency) are delivered from the CDN servers. This means that your user base, no matter where they are located, can experience faster speeds.
Why you should be interested in CDN
- Faster sites are better sites – As already discussed, CDN caches your static content and delivers a much better experience to your customers. After all, you don’t want to lose customers just because they thought your site didn’t load within 1 second
- SEO ranking – Google has been extremely vocal about page load speeds affecting the SEO ranking of websites. Which means the slower your website, the lower your ranking. Here’s the official release.
- CDNs are better equipped to handle traffic spikes – When traffic loads reach millions of requests per second, even the most powerful hosting servers would be put to the test. Without a CDN to serve cached content, all this traffic would have to be absorbed by either overprovisioning your hosting servers or creating an auto scaling group (both of which are considered unnecessary overheads for a Shared Hosting platform)
- Less burden on your Hosting Server – Following from the previous point, in a CDN enabled scenario, 60-95% of the traffic would be served from the CDN servers (depending on the site architecture)
- Free and Easy to start – A number of big CDN providers have free accounts that help you get started quickly with their services. In fact, with both our cPanel and Plesk panels we provide CloudFlare plugins that help you create and configure your CDN service from the web hosting panel itself
It is abundantly clear that CDN technology is here to stay and is only getting easier and easier for website owners to make the jump. When are you?