What A CDN Can Mean For Your SEO

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Almost everyone has heard of the importance of site speed, even the average blogger with lackluster technical skills. In a previous article we did a comparison between two domains and found speed was the likely signal pushing one site above another in mobile searches. Google wants to provide sites that users will actually use. You may have the absolute best content but if it takes over 3 seconds to load your page its a big problem for ranking. Each 1 second delay reduces page views by 11% Each 1 second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16% Each 1 second delay decreases 7% of conversion rate For a store doing $100,000 a day a 1 second delay means $2.5 million in lost sales. Google uses page load speed to help determine your sites rank. CDNs are great resources to speed up your page speed load times. Think of it like this[Find Out More]
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Almost everyone has heard of the importance of site speed, even the average blogger with lackluster technical skills. In a previous article we did a comparison between two domains and found speed was the likely signal pushing one site above another in mobile searches.

Google wants to provide sites that users will actually use. You may have the absolute best content but if it takes over 3 seconds to load your page its a big problem for ranking.

  • Each 1 second delay reduces page views by 11%
  • Each 1 second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16%
  • Each 1 second delay decreases 7% of conversion rate
  • For a store doing $100,000 a day a 1 second delay means $2.5 million in lost sales.
  • Google uses page load speed to help determine your sites rank.

CDNs are great resources to speed up your page speed load times. Think of it like this … if you’re a pharmacy and you have one location for the whole world people are going to have to travel great distances for your products. But if you open a pharmacy in every state people can just go to the nearest location to get all of your webpages and no one has to travel that far. This is a CDN a Content Delivery Network.

The expense of having 50 servers in 50 states is likely too much for most websites. A CDN steps in and provides the infrastructure for us to share with others.

Here are a few common questions site owners ask in regard to CDNs:

  • “What is a CDN?”
  • “What are the benefits of a CDN?”
  • “Do I still need to purchase hosting if I have a CDN?”
  • “Does my site need a CDN?”

We’re going to go over what a CDN is and thoroughly explain the important role this technology plays in the modern web.

We’ll also briefly touch base on the differences between your web server and a CDN before placing our focus on who does and does not need this technology implemented on their website.

What is a CDN?

Here’s the technical definition of a CDN, or at least a paraphrased version of it. A CDN, which stands for Content Delivery Network, is a global network of servers that deliver content to visitors of a website based on where that visitor is located.

You need to understand how regular web hosting works in order to understand this definition as well as the importance of it. In a typical web hosting environment, all of the traffic running to your website gets sent to your host’s web server, the one you installed your site on and the one that holds its data.

This often results in a slower website for all visitors as that single server struggles to stay afloat among the surge of traffic it receives on a regular basis. It can even leave your site vulnerable to DDoS attacks. Why is this bad? Here are a few quick facts to help you understand the importance of having your site run as quickly and reliably as possible:

  • Google made site speed a ranking factor in as early as 2010. [Source: Search Engine Land]
  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 40% of consumers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • 52% of online shoppers state quick page loading is important to their site loyalty. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]
  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. [Source: Kissmetrics via Akamai and Gomez.com]

This, obviously, leads us to our next question.

What are the benefits of a CDN?

The most obvious and most important benefit of a CDN is an increase in site speed for all users of your website no matter where they’re located in the world. When you implement a CDN on your website, you’re distributing access to it to what are known as “proxy servers” located all around the world.

Let’s say the web server you purchased from your host is located in New York and you do notuse a CDN. In this environment, a visitor from Australia would need to load all of the static content on your website, which are your images, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files, from New York, which can take quite a bit of time.

If you use a CDN, your Australian user would be able to load that static content from a server that’s closest to them, maybe even in the same country depending on the CDN service you decide to go with. This will allow them to load the page in a much quicker manner.

Your server is orange and other servers keep copies of your site so they are closer to users.

You can see how this works in the illustration above. You still have your “origin server,” which is storing your WordPress installation and database, but you also have your “replicated web-server clusters,” which store your site’s static content. Again, static content are images, videos, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files.

The origin server is located toward the south of North America in the illustration above while the replicated web-server clusters are located in six continents around the world. You can see how the “user” icons demonstrate how users are served static content from the replicated web servers closest to them instead.

The impact? Some sites report seeing a decrease of more than 50% in the amount of time it takes for their site to load after implementing a CDN. [Source: KeyCDN]

If you’re still having a tough time figuring out how this technology makes your website faster, think of it like a highway:

  • The main lane is your origin server.
  • The additional lanes are your replicated web servers.
  • The cars are the users visiting your website.

Without those additional lanes, all of the cars on the road need to use the main lane. This will eventually result in a traffic jam as more and more cars fill the lane. Traffic will start to slow before the flow stops altogether after the lane becomes too congested.

If you open those additional lanes, cars will be able to distribute themselves among them rather than relying on a single lane. This will allow them to move at a much quicker pace, and they’ll get to their destination a lot faster than they would have if they were all using the same lane.

CDN Speeding Up

In other words, having your users load static content from a server that’s closest to where they’re located will allow each and every one of them to load your website much quicker than they’d be able to if they were all loading that content from the same server.

I’ve seen this site swing 20 to 30 places in it rankings…and you can over take better content with a faster site if the other site is slow.

Check out some CDNs for your site…

  • Maxcdn
  • Sucuri
  • Swarmify
  • Jetpack – Not recommended
  • Cloudflare – not exactly a CDN but similar
  • keycdn.com
  • rackspace
  • AWS Cloudfront
  • CDN Enabler
  • Cloudinary

We can review some of these in another post soon.

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On Page SEO Just Doesn’t Rank Keywords like Backlinks

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I wanna share a graphic I ran across online with you today. According to this one if you want to impact your SEO standing all of the On Page Factors combined don’t reach even half the power of the Domains Backlinks and the Page’s Backlinks. I often have clients who comb over their sites day after day tweaking the words on the page with bold or moving them to a header and if they spent 1/4 of that time trying to attract other sites to link to them they’d get 5 times the result. Its one thing to say your the best, its a totally different thing if someone else says your the best. Or if someone says you’re the worst it really doesn’t matter how many times or ways you say you’re the best. It’s logical too…if you meet a person for the first time and they boldly proclaim[Find Out More]
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On Page SEO Just Doesn’t Rank Keywords like Backlinks Web Host, Design, Data and SEO Services Source…

I wanna share a graphic I ran across online with you today.

According to this one if you want to impact your SEO standing all of the On Page Factors combined don’t reach even half the power of the Domains Backlinks and the Page’s Backlinks.

I often have clients who comb over their sites day after day tweaking the words on the page with bold or moving them to a header and if they spent 1/4 of that time trying to attract other sites to link to them they’d get 5 times the result.

Its one thing to say your the best, its a totally different thing if someone else says your the best. Or if someone says you’re the worst it really doesn’t matter how many times or ways you say you’re the best. It’s logical too…if you meet a person for the first time and they boldly proclaim how great they are to you, but someone else warns you that they’re full of it … what are you going to think?

We’ve discussed this a few times in other articles but when looking over the Upwork SEO projects its evident that few people understand this concept. Your page is defined by the link that lead Google to you. Sure working on the headers and img alt tags are useful, but only to support what your backlinks are saying.

Anchor text is the real keyword of search engines. This link to the best upwork SEO profile is more important than anything I put on that page.

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Ultimate SEO And Cloudflare Partners

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Ultimate SEO is proud to announce our partnership program with Cloudflare. As a defacto web host serving hundreds of sites this strategic alliance brings the best hosting security solutions together and integrates one of the most popular internet companies with our hosting solutions. In the coming days we’ll be relaunching UltimateSEO.net as our hosting and network site. Below we’ve included some notes from Cloudflare as well as a video. Us in 90 Seconds from Cloudflare on Vimeo. How CloudFlare increases speed and security of your site This is a guest post written and contributed by CloudFlare.  CloudFlare makes it easy for any site to be as fast and secure as the Internet giants. CloudFlare, a web performance and security company, is excited to announce our partnership with Ultimate SEO! If you haven’t heard about CloudFlare before, our value proposition is simple: we’ll make any website twice as fast and protect it[Find Out More]
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Ultimate SEO is proud to announce our partnership program with Cloudflare. As a defacto web host serving hundreds of sites this strategic alliance brings the best hosting security solutions together and integrates one of the most popular internet companies with our hosting solutions.

In the coming days we’ll be relaunching UltimateSEO.net as our hosting and network site. Below we’ve included some notes from Cloudflare as well as a video.

Us in 90 Seconds from Cloudflare on Vimeo.

How CloudFlare increases speed and security of your site

This is a guest post written and contributed by CloudFlare.  CloudFlare makes it easy for any site to be as fast and secure as the Internet giants.

CloudFlare, a web performance and security company, is excited to announce our partnership with Ultimate SEO! If you haven’t heard about CloudFlare before, our value proposition is simple: we’ll make any website twice as fast and protect it from a broad range of web threats.

We power more than 400 billion monthly page views – more than Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Apple, Bing, eBay, PayPal and Instagram combined – and over 1.2 billion monthly users regularly pass through our network. We’re really glad Ultimate SEO has partnered with CloudFlare.
Faster web performance

CloudFlare is designed to take a great hosting platform like Ultimate SEO and make it even better.

We run data centers [link to http://www.cloudflare.com/network-map] strategically located around the world. When you sign up for CloudFlare, we begin routing your traffic to the nearest data center.

As your traffic passes through the data centers, we intelligently determine what parts of your website are static versus dynamic. The static portions are cached on our servers for a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours before we check to see if they’ve been updated. By automatically moving the static parts of your site closer to your visitors, the overall performance of your site improves significantly.

CloudFlare’s intelligent caching system also means you save bandwidth, which means saving money, and decreases the load on your servers, which means your web application will run faster and more efficiently than ever. On average, CloudFlare customers see a 60% decrease in bandwidth usage, and a 65% in total requests to their servers. The overall effect is that CloudFlare will typically cut the load time for pages on your site by 50% which means higher engagement and happier visitors.

Broad web security

Over the course of 2011, CloudFlare identified a 700% increase in the number of distributed denial of service attacks [link to http://blog.cloudflare.com/2011-the-year-of-the-ddos] (DDoS) we track on the Internet (see the chart below). As attacks like these increase, CloudFlare is stepping up to protect sites.

CloudFlare’s security protections offer a broad range of protections [link to http://www.cloudflare.com/features-security] against attacks such as DDoS, hacking or spam submitted to a blog or comment form. What is powerful about our approach is that the system gets smarter the more sites that are part of the CloudFlare community. We analyze the traffic patterns of hundreds of millions of visitors in real time and adapt the security systems to ensure good traffic gets through and bad traffic is stopped.

In time, our goal is nothing short of making attacks against websites a relic of history. And, given our scale and the billions of different attacks we see and adapt to every year, we’re well on our way to achieving that for sites on the CloudFlare network.

Signing up

Any website can deploy CloudFlare, regardless of your underlying platform. By integrating closely with Ultimate SEO, we make the process of setting up CloudFlare “1 click easy” through your existing Ultimate SEO cPanel dashboard. Just look for the CloudFlare icon, choose the domain you want to enable, and click the orange cloud. That’s it!

We’ve kept the price as low as possible and plans offered through Ultimate SEO are free. Moreover, we never charge you for bandwidth or storage, therefore saving you tons via reduced bandwidth costs.

For site owners who would like to take advantage of CloudFlare’s advanced offerings, we also offer a ‘Pro’ tier of service for $20/month [link to http://www.cloudflare.com/plans]. The ‘Pro’ tier includes all of the ‘Free’ tier’s offerings, as well as extra features like SSL, full web application firewall and faster analytics.

We’re proud that every day more than a thousand new sites, including some of the largest on the web, join the CloudFlare community. If you’re looking for a faster, safer website, you’ve got a good start with Ultimate SEO, but the next step is to join the CloudFlare community [link to https://www.cloudflare.com/sign-up].

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Easiest Tools To Speed Up WordPress Site Load Times For SEO

In a previous post we noted the difference speed can make in search engine ranking.  The same content delivered in different ways was listed on the same domains but in different positions between desktop and mobile indexes.  Site Speed Affects Ranking In this post we’re going to review two less popular ways to speed up your site and we’ll mention the popular ways.  There’s a reason why Ultimate SEO uses slightly different processes for page load. Often people download plugin optimizers and add page cache plugins to speed up their sites.  Caching is important and serves as one of the best methods of speeding up a site, but there are several points in which you may decide to cache content and where you decide to make that choice does matter. Here are is a very simple diagram of a site and users who are asking that site for content.  In […]
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Speed: Page Load – Technical SEO Out Ranks Most In Mobile

A Case Study of SEO Metrics And Rank Here is a recently added FAQ to the Ultimate SEO FAQ section. Let me show you how important it is…. Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in the mobile search on the right?  Consider these metrics Realtor.com = Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108 Zumper.com = Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830 In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search? Site Speed Test on GTMetrix Realtor.com Fails Speed Zumper.com Passes Speed So in this example we clearly see a more popular site beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed.  And we cant discount this as … well its only important in mobile.  In case you […]
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Speed: Page Load – Technical SEO Out Ranks Most In Mobile Web Host, Design, Data and SEO Services Source…

A Case Study of SEO Metrics And Rank

Here is a recently added FAQ to the Ultimate SEO FAQ section.

Let me show you how important it is….desktop vs mobile search results

desktop vs mobile search results

Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in the mobile search on the right?  Consider these metrics

Realtor.com = Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108

Zumper.com = Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830

In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search?

Site Speed Test on GTMetrix

Realtor.com Fails Speed

site speed

site speed

Zumper.com Passes Speed

page load

page load

So in this example we clearly see a more popular site beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed.  And we cant discount this as … well its only important in mobile.  In case you missed it…

60% of searches are mobile

60% of searches are mobile

Now when we consider the facts above lets also dispel people’s over fascination for keywords and text optimization and position of frequency of words, the content length …. on-site SEO, the SEO of the 1990s as I call it… both sites present the same content to the desktop and mobile versions they just differ wildly in the speed.  What are some of the reasons?  Realtor.com decided to present 16 rows of 3 images of homes to visitors while Zumper shows 4 rows of 1 image …. and then additional rows load as you scroll down.  Lazy Load and 1 image vs 3.  Thats how they keep their requests to about a third of the realtor.com page.

What Are Requests?

I’d suggest you think of requests as if they are shots from a gun at your head.  You need to avoid them!  Less shots is a lot better…

Requests are literally requests of the server before the page can load.  If I make a page with one image on it that is one request.  Lets say I decide to replace that image with a slider with 5 slides, now I have 5 requests … the same page area but that cool feature increases the trips required of a computer to quadruple!  Lets say now I add social media icons to the page … Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and an email icon …. small and just up in the right corner.  That social media addition just added 5 more requests.  Think about all the things on your page, they don’t all come together in one big Amazon package with a smile…. they are shipped to the computer individually.  Now I have one page with 1 request and another with 10 and the initial difference isn’t much…that slider only displays one image at a time.

Latency And Requests

Servers don’t respond instantly…they take a little while to think and retrieve the requested resource and then it has to travel the distance from the server to your computer…may be at the speed of light, but light still takes time.  This time is called latency.  50 milliseconds is a good latency.

If both servers in the FAQ had a 50 ms latency.  We can assume that the

Realtor.com server will take 50 ms x 301 requests = 15050 ms or 15 seconds

Zumper.com server will take 50 ms x 134 requests = 6700 ms or 6 seconds  

I hope this explains why you want to limit requests, and prioritize speed as much as you focus on keywords.

Ways To Decrease Requests

Do you need separate images?  On ultimateseo.org I wanted to show my COMPTia certifications.  I have 4 icons … I combined them to make one image.   Thats 1/4 the requests but no change in user experience other than a quicker site.

technical certifications

technical certifications

Lazy Load

Lazy Load also helps speed up the initial page load time.  If “below the fold” you have a lot of images on a page … the page needs those images still to finish the load unless you institute lazy load which essentially tells the computer to load an image only when it is coming into view.  This makes sense likely if you have 300 images on the page and plenty of them are scrolled far down….but all in all I’m on the fence on Lazy Load.  I ran speed tests on the homepage of this site with Lazy Load on …. 3 tests results 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.9 seconds.  I turned off lazy load, and reran the test and got 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.7 seconds.  So technically the site loaded faster with Lazy Load off….keep in mind it take a bit of thinking for the server to implement it. This helps speed up a site drastically if there are a ton of images spread vertically…but not much in a normal page.  What are the full implications on SEO when a site is crawled?

Its suggested by “Ask Yoast” that Lazy Load is fine for SEO and the images are rendered as Google scrolls down the page and indexes the content.

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