To CDN or not to CDN, that is the question ...

  • 12 August 2021
  • 8 replies
  • 113 views

Userlevel 6
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Let me kick off the discussion.   My servers are all UK-based. I only implement a CDN for websites that need a global reach.  For those that are just targeting a UK (or even EU) market, I find little, if any, benefit of using a CDN for optimization purposes and have even found some CDN’s can actually slow things down.  This assumes using good, fast hosting and recognising that sometimes a CDN can “mask” poorer performing hosting and there may be good security reasons for using a CDN.

One question remains unanswered though.  When Google is gathering lab data for page speed insights,  where does it poll from?  Even Google have not been able to answer this one, so far!

Do you routinely use a CDN and, if so, why?

So, let the discussion commence … :)


8 replies

Hello Nigel,

so google moves more and more to “we use the users data” - meaning: If possible, google looks at how different people with different devices and setups manage to load the website in question. (this comes to full effect when you have a couple of thousand hits per month)

So if your audience is really just from UK or EU (like my customers are as well) there will be little to no benefit for a CDN (in my opinion!)

But if you have a portion of your traffic from other countries, this can change.

 

In my opinion, CDN´s are worth only if these 2 criteria are matched:

  • Website is in English
  • Website offers information and does SEO optimization that will target global keywords

So for example, the local Burgeshop with local SEO will not see a big increase with a CDN.

However, the producer of Software, Music or another product that is widely known and with general SEO will see improvement with a CDN because a portion of the traffic will come from Australia, UK and USA/Canada - so you are essentially all over the world with that content and the CDN is actually improving website performance.

Userlevel 1
Badge +2

Totally agreed with @Solution-Work 

If the local business don’t require international audience, there are no point of using CDN. Website properly optimise and fast hosting are more important.

PSI score is just a suggestion. Just like advise from doctor. I have some client’s site that is getting 10+ for mobile, but they still rank very well, couple of their keywords still remains number 1, don’t see any impact on their site.

This is very interesting video from Google about page speed.

 

Userlevel 1

I  agree that a CDN can mask a bad hosting and even slow down a bit your website depending on the location of your host and CDN pop, but I always use and recommend using it, specialy for security reasons and to save resources from your host. 

Let’s say you have a news website, is pretty common random spikes of high traffic, a CDN can save your site from going down in this case, the same can be said for a store that do influencers campaign, without the need to spend much money on a complex scalable hosting.

 

Here in Brazil, a very large country, a CDN can help to  provide a consistent speed and user experience for everyone. 

Cloudflare recently announced new POP’s here going to 35, i’m really excited about this

 

So, To CDN  🚀

Userlevel 4
Badge +1

I do like using Cloudflare for the additional security benefits. It is nice to have the IP concealed, and even at the free version you get a handful of firewall rules.

As for potential performance drawbacks, I think that is going to be highly dependent on the exact set of networking circumstances (checking the ping, traceroute, etc).

One question remains unanswered though.  When Google is gathering lab data for page speed insights,  where does it poll from?  Even Google have not been able to answer this one, so far!

 

@Nigel Hancock I just ran a Pagespeed Insights test on one of my sites located in San Francisco and it was visited by IP 66.249.84.245. A visual traceroute identified that as in Mountain View. (btw the bot for Pagespeed is identified by “Chrome-Lighthouse”, in case you want to search your logs for it. Perhaps if other people check their logs we can get a better sense of the range of locations they use. I read some posts online where people in other parts of the world claim that it is always US based. That said, for ranking purposes they are going to rely on aggregated real usage data.

Userlevel 3
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My conclusion was also that if your host is local and your users are local, a CDN is redundant. There are also other issues at play in Australia. Our big ISPs don’t peer their network with Cloudflare which results in your local traffic being routed via overseas. So you would only want to use Cloudflare in Australia if majority of your user base was overseas 

So you would only want to use Cloudflare in Australia if majority of your user base was overseas 

This is interesting - thank you very much for this information. Don’t have customers in Australia, but it is in any way good to know.

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I’ve tested several CDNs (even the really expensive providers) and have only seen them slow down the site. I’ve done the quick test with Google Pagespeed as well as leaving it there for 30 days and having Google Search Console re-validate everything. I know it must work for some sites or CDNs would cease to exist, but I haven’t had any luck with them. 

Userlevel 2

With the right hosting you don’t need a CDN - we just use very fast hosting and don’t complicate matters

 

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