Why Everyone Should Be Using a Content Delivery Network

The web is constantly evolving and people are demanding and expecting more and more from websites when they go searching for information. We live in an inpatient age where people get frustrated even if a page even takes more than a couple seconds to load.

57% of online consumers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. — Web Performance Today

Nothing is more infuriating than a slow loading website!

slow loading website
Src: Lazy View – A jQuery Plugin

And that is where a Content Delivery Network comes into play. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of servers (known as edge servers) located around the globe that store copies of your website’s assets, such as your images, CSS, Javascript, etc. The edge servers then deliver the assets to your visitors based on the closest geographic location.

So let’s say you live in Seattle, WA and you are visiting a website that is hosted by a company down in Dallas, TX. Normally you would experience latency while that site is retrieved over that distance. But with a CDN, copies of the assets are already stored at a POP (point of presence) located in Seattle, WA, and therefore are served up much faster, decreasing latency and load times.

content delivery network
Src: What is a Content Delivery Network?

Below I dive into the reasons why everyone, from top Fortune 500 companies to affiliate marketers, should be using a Content Delivery Network in 2015.

Why You Should Be Using a Content Delivery Network

1. Traditional Web Hosts Can’t Keep Up

Like I explained above, traditional web hosting companies, no matter how great they are, will always have a physical disadvantage. There will always be latency based on distance, and therefore a CDN is needed to cut that out. Why do you think Starbucks, eBay, and all the big websites load fast no matter where you are at? It is because they are taking advantage of content delivery networks.

According to BuiltWith, out of the top 10k websites, 48.3% of them are using a content delivery network.

top websites using content delivery network

I ran a test of a WordPress site with and without a CDN so you could see the difference. This is on my test domain https://perfmatters.io. It is hosted on a Vultr VPS, running PHP7, paired with server pilot. Which is a match made in heaven combination, I highly recommend it. For the second part of the test, I am using KeyCDN.

Digital Ocean without CDN

I ran the test multiple times and picked the average. As you can see with Digital Ocean and no CDN I got a 612ms load time. Note: Pingdom does not yet support HTTP/2 as they are using Chrome 39. I will be updating this post again with tests from WebPageTest.

digital ocean without cdn

Digital Ocean + KeyCDN

I then deployed KeyCDN with their free CDN Enabler plugin. Ran the tests again and as you can see I got a 378ms load time. That is a decrease in load times by 56.64%!

digital ocean with cdn

2. CDNs Won’t Break the Bank

Unlike what many people think, deploying a CDN is not expensive. This blog used around 35GB of CDN traffic last month, with a little over 45,000 visitors. And with KeyCDN I only paid $1.40($0.04/GB). If you don’t have as much traffic as I do you, you could easily get your CDN costs under a $1 per month! And a coffee at Starbucks costs $4.97. So do the math.

cheap cdn

Is $1 a month worth implementing a CDN and gaining a 56% speed increase? Um, ya. Also, KeyCDN offers even cheaper prices, all the way down to $0.01 per GB if you are a larger enterprise customer.

3. Performance Benefits

One of the most important reasons you need a CDN is from a pure performance perspective. The shorter distances to users reduces latency and minimizes packet loss.

Also if you choose a provider like KeyCDN, you can take advantage of the new HTTP/2 protocol. The team at HttpWatch saw speed increases of 20% when comparing HTTPS vs SPDY/3.1 vs HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 is a protocol designed for low-latency transport of content over the World Wide Web. —  Ilya Grigorik

4. Easily Deployable on Every Platform

CDN’s can be deployed on almost any platform in just a matter of minutes! KeyCDN for example, has over 20 CMS integrations:

wordpress cdn

  • WordPress (25% of the internet is now running WordPress, that is 1 out of every 4 websites!)
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • Typo3
  • PrestaShop
  • Magento
  • Craft
  • Kirby
  • OpenCart
  • vBulletin
  • PyroCMS
  • b2evolution
  • Perch
  • IPBoard
  • Github Pages
  • concrete5
  • MODX
  • Kentico
  • Grav

So there are no excuses, even if you aren’t a tech savvy person the integration guides are super easy to follow.

5. SEO Advantages

One of the biggest SEO advantages to using a CDN is because of speed. Google loves fast websites and takes this into consideration with its ranking algorithm. Fast websites also usually always have longer time on page durations and lower bounce rates. You should always be optimizing and testing your website’s speed.

Accelerating websites is extremely important. Faster websites mean satisfied customers. PageSpeed becomes significant for rankings . — Matt Cutts

slow website loading
Src: Meme Generator

How fast is your website? Use a website speed test tool to determine if you need to spend more time on optimization. Generally aiming for 2 seconds or less is a good goal to aim for.

Also by optimizing your website to load faster it will increase the frequency in which Google crawls your pages. The faster Google crawls your pages, usually in turn means the sooner your content will be indexed and show up in SERPs.

Then there is Google image search. By serving your images from a CDN you ensure that Google can access your images faster.

6. Security

A Content Delivery Network can provide additional security. Since 80%+ of the traffic is being served through the CDN provider, most will mitigate DDoS attacks for you on their edge servers.

CDN’s also provide additional features such as secure token. Secure token allows you to generate secured links with an expiration time. After it has expired people can no longer access that content.

All CDN’s allow you to implement SSL certs, just like you would with your standard web host, ensuring encryption between both the edge server and your origin server.

7. Scalability

With a CDN provider it is much easier to scale up and down due to traffic spikes because most of the time, this load is actually the responsibility of your CDN. And in the end this puts less load on your web host (origin server) and helps minimize any downtime.

Let’s take my website again for an example of offloading traffic. In the past 30 days, my website has used a little over 12 GB of traffic on my web host.

bandwidth website

Now if we look at my CDN provider, KeyCDN, I used almost 35GB.

bandwidth cdn

This means the content delivery network is handling 74% of the load. Hopefully that gives you an idea of how much more traffic is actually traveling through the CDN as opposed to my web host (origin server).

8. Reliability

cdn reliability
Src: Imgflip

Nothing is worse than your website going down or being offline due to technical difficulties. With a CDN requests to your website are always routed to the nearest available POP. If one happens to be down, it simply passes the request onto the next one. This creates redundancy to ensure less downtime and a pleasant web experience.

9. Lower Costs

A CDN requires almost zero management on your part, which means you can use that time on other things. Most people pay their web hosts based on bandwidth. As we saw earlier, a CDN will take over 70% of that bandwidth. And a CDN should always have much cheaper prices on bandwidth when compared to your web host.

You can also use additional features such as Origin shield. Origin shield is basically an extra caching layer you can enable which reduces the load even more. KeyCDN actually provides Origin shield for free.

Another way to prevent costs from going out of control is by enabling hotlink protection. This basically refers to restricting HTTP referrers and preventing others from embedding your assets (images) on other websites. Some of you may of heard of the recent Huffington Post fiasco. An author on the Huffington Post copy and pasted images from the Oatmeal’s website, which in turn accrued him a bill of over $1,000 from AWS. The owner of the Oatmeal ended up replacing the images so that readers of the Huffington Post article would see it (clever). But this is why it is always important to enable hotlink protection, otherwise you might end up with an outrageous bill.

huffington post cdn hotlinking

10. Better Conversion Rates/Sales

If you want an easy way to increase your conversions and sales, make sure you have a fast website! Let’s take a look at some of the stats.

A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. — Kissmetrics

If you were able to increase your website by 3 seconds, that means an approximate increase of 21% in conversions!

57% of online consumers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. —  Web Performance Today

If your website is taking longer than 3 seconds to load it could be dramatically affecting your sales!


If you haven’t looked at deploying a CDN, now is the time to do so! There is a reason that almost 50% of those top 10k websites are using a CDN, and that is because they want to stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of all the benefits that a Content Delivery Network has to offer. It doesn’t matter whether you are a large corporation or a small blogger, everyone can benefit from faster content delivery speeds!

Here is a summary again of why you should be using a CDN:

  1. Traditional Web Hosts Can’t Keep Up
  2. CDN’s Won’t Break the Bank
  3. Performance Benefits
  4. Easily Deployable on Any Platform
  5. SEO Advantages
  6. Security
  7. Scalability
  8. Reliability
  9. Lower Costs
  10. Better Conversion Rates/Sales

There are many Content Delivery Network’s to choose from, I personally recommend KeyCDN. Got any personal CDN experiences to share? I would love to hear about them below in the comments.

author bio
Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on Twitter, subscribe to my newsletter (once a month), or buy me coffee.

6 thoughts on “Why Everyone Should Be Using a Content Delivery Network”

  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned from your experience of using CDN. I think it’s very important for a blog to load fast.

    It’s awesome that such a small investment can bring so many improvements to a site.

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  5. Hello Brian,

    This is a very interesting article. I didn’t know CDN have that many advantages and I couldn’t agree more. Been using CDN for 4 months now. Have you heard of CDN77? I personally can recommend them.

    Do you think CDN can have that much impact on conversions?


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