What Is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? And What Does it Mean for Your Site?

You may not be a techie at heart, but modern technology makes it vital to stay abreast of current trends. In this high speed, technology driven universe, what you don't know will hurt you and you must race to keep up.

CDN, or in other words a Content Delivery Network, is "a network of geographically distributed servers which caches the static content (CSS, Javascript, Images and other static components) of a website or blog" according to Wikipedia. In laymen's terms: a CDN speeds up the time it takes for your website to load when visitors click on your page.

With today's desire for rapid speed, a majority of website visitors have no patience for slow loading pages. If you have an e-commerce website, or a website that sells an digital product or service, a slow loading page could result in a loss of potential customers and visitors and could greatly harm your SEO rankings.

Here's how it works:

Typically, websites and applications operate out of a single physical location, yet your site's content - images, text and video - are globally accessible. But does location have an impact on the performance of your site? For example, if a website's servers are in California, will people in Texas receive the content faster than people in Virginia or New York?

The answer is, yes.

The farther customers are from a company's data center, the slower the application loads on that customer's website, resulting in a frustrating and inconsistent user experience, decreasing your chances of an increase in blog or site traffic.

A novice might install a caching plugin to optimize his or her website. That alone will not solve the problem - you have to fully optimize your website in order to experience lightning fast loading speeds. This is where a CDN is vital.

One of CDN's benefits is that it improves the page loading speed of a particular website in a region where the CDN node (server) is located. Whenever the server of that CDN is located, visitors in that region will receive fast loading speeds for that website.

This is more important than you think. Search engines now penalize sites that load too slowly and broadband penetration has created unprecedented traffic jams. Fast connection times do little good for viewers, if the content delivers slowly. Users with high-speed connections often experience choppiness, loading lags and poor quality, especially when viewing live events or if they are located far from the hosting servers. CDNs minimize latency issues and maximize available bandwidth for each viewer.

Here's another major advantage of CDN: it's cheaper! The decreased expense is because CDN saves on bandwidth, rack space, power, and cooling Since the CDN provides the configuration and hardware, you save money and the headache of maintaining that infrastructure.

A simple Internet search will reveal CDNs that you can use with your website regardless of its degree of complexity. Finding a suitable CDN solution does not need to be a complicated process. But it is a recommended process if you are looking to improve your site's overall functionality.