Content distribution network ⇒Content delivery network ⇒ Network Content Delivery ⇒ CDN
When you talk about what factors are important or not in SEO, you discover that every professional has his opinion and experience, that there are many myths and legends but also many demonstrated truths and indisputable factors.
Today I want to refer to one of those indisputable factors: speed and its effect on SEO.
When performing a Web audit and a WPO (Web Performance Optimization) job the speed of a web response is one of the main factors to measure.
Especially we will look at metrics as critical for positioning and usability as the TTFB (Time to First Byte) or what takes a site since we make a request until the first byte of information reaches our browser.
It is easy to see that it is not the same one or another metric, Load Time (LT), is what takes the page to be loaded to be usable by the browser.
I make this distinction of metrics because when we look for how to improve the speed of our blog we will find three basic tips: to look for a quality hosting, to activate gzip compression and optimization of the programming code.
All of them are true, but we must clarify that, for example, activating gzip compression will not improve a bad TTFB, but it will improve the LT.
In our eagerness to explain things in a simple way, we can make people fall into misunderstandings, and every solution is usually more complex than we think.
Undoubtedly, another advice that you have given to improve the speed of your blog in WordPress is that you install a cache plugin. And it’s true, but a badly configured cache plugin can be even disruptive.
Recently a client asked me for help to configure one of these plugins, in particular the well-known W3 Total Caché.
After successfully configure the plugin, we come to a section of its configuration that despite being the main feature of this, is the least used. This plugin is easily integrable with a CDN.
The funny thing is that I rarely see this section configured and many times I confirm that not even the users of this plugin know what a network content delivery is.
Well, that’s the reason why I’ve decided to write this article.
Not all websites are blogs, not all blogs are made with WordPress, so, we will not try today the correct configuration of the plugin W3 Total Caché, but we will talk about using a CDN, regardless of how your web is programmed.
Which CDN do I choose?
There are many CDN services, check cdn providers comparison at spacecdn.com and the main factors that you should consider when choosing yours should be the cost and physical location of the servers.
I will dig into two CDN services in particular, Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront, even though services like MaxCDN, CacheFly or Liquid Web are examples of good premium CDNs.
Both Cloudflare and Cloudfront have the possibility of free use, despite being Premium services and offering all their capabilities in their mode of payment.
Both are high quality services but represent very different services both in their operation and in whom they are oriented.
The Amazon service is a CDN of classic structure, with some difficulty of configuration but with many more possibilities of adjustment and pure performances.
It is the service I recommend when the knowledge or technical support needed to make it work properly is at our disposal.
Cloudflare is not a pure CDN service as such, but it is a CDN that despite working perfectly working on its own, is fantastic to complement other CDN services like Amazon.
In fact, this is clear to see that in the options of the plugin W3 Total Cache there is place for the simultaneous configuration of both services.
In my case, I decide for each project which CDN service is the most appropriate and when to use the two is advisable.
The main difference between them is that CloudFlare automatically optimizes what should be cached and what not, whereas in CloudFront you are the one who specifies what content and under what circumstances it should be cached, hence its greater power but greater configuration difficulty.
My advice: If you just want to improve the speed of downloading a website and that the contents are available as close as possible to whoever visits you, surely with CloudFlare you will have more than enough.
Other advantages of a CDN
When using CloudFlare you are not only using a CDN service but, for example, automatically and without any action on your part, you are also protecting your web from DDos (denial of service) attacks.
And all this with a control panel where we are told when and from where the attack came.
This control panel is a fantastic traffic analysis tool that complements Google Analytics and has a large number of applications to integrate with other third-party applications.