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Understanding Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Content delivery networks are traditionally used to solve page loading issues associated with the geographical distance between a user and a host. This is achieved by caching files closer to the user. When a user requests a URL on a website, for example, the CDN automatically routes to the nearest “edge node” for access through a fast, local connection. Cloudflare’s CDN, for instance, addresses this by caching content in 200 cities across the world as shown below.

The Performance, Security, and Reliability Benefits of a CDN

In addition to hosting solutions, there are other reasons to utilize a content delivery network:

1. CDNs speed up your website.

Studies have consistently shown that faster sites improve bounce ratesconversion rates, and overall user experience – independent of fixes to other outstanding issues like page design, layout, text, and images. Factors like page weight, network conditions, and hosting locations all impact page speed and are addressed by CDNs.

2. CDNs reduce bandwith costs.

Because a CDN serves static, cached content to the user’s server, not yours, you are less likely to exceed the limits of your hosting plan. 

3. CDNs add scalability.

When your website is requested by multiple users at one time or experiences heavy traffic spikes in certain periods, CDNs help you scale quickly and efficiently to avoid costly downtime.

4. CDNs improve security.

Firewalls are put into place to protect against attackers, for example, that try to direct massive traffic to your website to overload and bring down servers. CDNs disperse that traffic across multiple servers to neutralize the problem.

The SEO Benefits of a Content Delivery Network

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, has gone on record saying that content delivery networks are great for users when set up properly. Here are a few of the SEO benefits.

1. Improved loading speed of your website.

Your website loading times are very important – affecting everything from bounce rates, dwell times, and conversion rates to the overall user experience on your website. In fact, page speed is a critical ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm for many reasons. Pages that load slowly encourage visitors to leave the site, which can be quite costly. The faster your website loads, the happier users will be and the higher Google will rank your pages in the SERPs.

2. Improved network security.

A CDN sends your media files in HTTPs even when your website lacks SSL encryption. This protects you from “man in the middle” attacks and ensures the safety of users on your website. HTTPs is another key ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm.

3. Faster image indexing.

Google ranks images based on a number of factors including loading speed. 63% of of Google image searches turn into site traffic. So if you rely on similar quantities of image traffic, a CDN could really benefit you as Google is able to crawl them more often and index them faster with these processes in place.

4. Protect against downtime.

If your site is down when Search Bots attempt to crawl it, Google has noted that it may be temporarily pulled from the results. This is why service interruptions such as getting DDoSed during peak website activity times can be so damaging to a business. CDNs protect against these downtime risks and preserve your search rankings.

Understanding Edge SEO

The capabilities of CDNs are evolving in the realm of search engine optimization. Consider, for example, the technical SEO framework of “Google’s Perfect World” where websites are built for the optimal Search Bot experience. There are at least three pillars to consider.

1. Dynamic Rendering

2. Fast Page Loading Speeds

3. Structured Data Markup

However, by incorporating a CDN into your strategy, a fourth pillar can be added to this framework: Edge SEO.

Edge SEO is a new field of technical SEO that relies on serverless technologies, like Cloudflare Workers, to execute Javascript as it passes through a CDN without impacting website infrastructure. This opens the door to create a “middle ground” of SEO implementation processes.

To illustrate, as requests and responses are sent between users and your server, they are captured and modified “at the edge” – a layer sitting between the user and your website. Here, changes are made to the HTML, CSS, Javascript, and HTTPs and the modified code appears to the user and bot as if it were the main codebase.

Example Uses Cases for Edge SEO

  • Implement dynamic rendering
  • Implement structured data markup
  • Modify HTTP header responses
  • Implement redirects
  • Modify robots.txt files
  • Overwrite existing metadata and body content
  • Add image alt attributes

The Benefits of Edge SEO

The main benefit of Edge SEO is the ability to implement technical SEO initiatives in a more frictionless manner.

Normally, you would go through the arduous process of asking your development team to make technical SEO changes. A recent Moz study, for example, showed that a majority of SEOs don’t see their recommendations implemented until 6 months after the fact. With serverless technologies, like Cloudflare Workers, marketing teams can make changes agnostic of issues like tech stack, developer ability, or long lead times.

In many cases, implementation of this ground-breaking initiative requires a simple DNs change. Likewise, many of the aforementioned use cases require easy 1-click deployments without any development team involvement.

Standard Edge SEO Features of the Huckabuy – Cloudflare Partnership

Huckabuy’s Cloud runs in 200 cities around the globe, utilizing the Cloudflare network to optimize websites for indexation by Google. Known as “edge delivery,” this network allows any visitor to communicate faster with your website regardless of their location. Huckabuy Cloud integrates with your website through DNS entry, which direct visitors to our software servers.

Huckabuy Cloud currently offers the following Edge SEO capabilities

1. For robots, Huckabuy serves a special version of your website that has been dynamically rendered. This version is immediately available at edge and updated regularly to expedite entry into the search engine index. There is no faster method of communicating with search engines on the market.

2. For users, Huckabuy leverages Cloudflare to enhance your page speed through compression and minification of your content. This content will be cached as directed by standard header directives.

3. Finally, for any user content that is not suitable for caching, such as private or authorized pages, Huckabuy Cloud upgrades those connections to your origin servers in real-time, opening the use of HTTPs, HTTP2, and intelligent network utilization to maintain low-latency and secure communication. 

Additional Benefits from Huckabuy Cloud

1. SSL (or HTTPs management)

Your website is secure and delivered using the fastest and safest protocol: HTTPs with optional HTTP2. In order to serve this, we create an SSL certificate for you at no additional cost. Additionally, edge servers can optionally terminate SSL, which provides flexibility on your origin server via HTTPs or HTTP.

2. DDoS Protection

Modern attackers can use your availability against you by sending large amounts of traffic to your website. With Cloudflare running under our hood, you will be protected from these types of threats by the best in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CDN?

A CDN (content delivery network) is a geographically distributed network of servers that work together to deliver Internet content more quickly and efficiently, no matter where you are in the world.

What is Edge SEO?

Edge SEO is a new field of technical SEO that relies on serverless technologies to execute code as it passes through a CDN and create a “middle ground” of SEO implementation processes – all without impacting website infrastructure.

What is CDN SEO?

CDN SEO leverages the benefits of a content delivery network to facilitate SEO initiatives such as improved page loading speed, website security, and faster crawling and indexing by Search Bots.

Does every CDN offer Edge SEO capabilities?

Check with your current CDN provider. Not every CDN offers functionalities similar to Cloudflare Workers.

Are CDNs good for SEO?

Yes. When implemented correctly, CDNs offer a number of critical SEO benefits including improvements to page speed, website security, and indexation.