As you might have heard, there’s this new web animal taking the world by storm. It’s called CDN. The question is,” Are SEO and CDN friends or foes?” In case your boss decided to implement it on your site, but you don’t really know how and if it may influence your site’s rankings, you’re reading the exact right post, because it explains if there’s anything to be afraid of from an SEO standpoint. Plus you’ll learn what tools you can use to implement CDN if you’re running a WordPress-based website.
What is CDN?
First things first. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. The general idea is that if a visitor accesses your site from Australia and the actual server with your site is located right here in Brooklyn, round the corner, it may slow down your load time, but if copies of your site are stored on multiple servers (in our case somewhere near Australia), it will drastically improve your site’s load time if you load the images (css and js files as well) from the nearest location that has a copy of your site. That’s very important to use CDN if you run a media heavy site with a slew of images, videos, css and js files.
Other than the proximity of the server, CDN is also a positive thing in terms of the amount of requests the same server receives when it loads a webpage. If we draw an analogy with a restaurant, CDN is lling hiring more waiters so that they can serve your clients both fasters and efficiently. In our case, we have servers across the globe instead of waiters and instead of beverages and snacks they serve websites.
You can learn more about the technical side of things in the screencast by Kumar Cholera.
Here’s the link for his presentation (slideshow files).
SEO Reasons to Do That
There’s no direct negative influence on your site’s rankings if you decide to use CDN, but consider the following. Load time is a getting a more important ranking factor nowadays and CDN makes your site load faster. See the connection? So, CDN has an impact on your site specifically because it speeds up your site’s load time. And that may be the reason why your boss decided to start it all.
The truth is, you are not actually supposed to worry about that whatsoever, because Google guys themselves said the following in regards to CDN implementation,”We generally do not treat sites hosted on CDNs any differently…” So. let it be so.
If you start using CDN for your site, nothing will change both for the user and the search engine bots. So, no cloaking issues here. . They’ll see pretty much the same code. And that’s exactly why it should not cause any SEO issues.
I’m saying it should not, because it may have negative consequences if you put it into practice in the wrong way. Here’s what I mean. In case you just load images, videos, css and .js files from appropriate CDN servers, you’re good to go and you have nothing to worry about. If you do all the above-mentioned plus you use different hostnames, you may land in hot water, because you need to specify which exactly hostname should be taken as the main one. You can do it, for instance, with the help of setting rel=”canonical”.
What about IPs
One of the factors that Google uses for geolocation (though it’s not a primary one) is the IP of your hosting server. Since CDN allows to deliver your site from the server that is the closest to the user, it means that your site will be loaded from all sorts of IPs from all over the world. So, strictly theoretically, there’s a chance that Google will get confused and – judging from one of your IPs’ location – start thinking that your site is catering to the audience in France (because that IP is a French one, for example). It’s actually fat chance that it’ll happen, but if you wanna be on the safe side, you should specify which country your site is for in your Google Webmaster Tools settings.
Again, that sort of Google confusion is not a big chance whatsoever, because Google uses other factors for geotargeting such as the TLD (top level domain) of your site (.com, .fr, .de, etc) and the country you’re getting most of your links from.
CDN Plugins for WordPress
You can find a bunch of CDN WordPress plugins in the WP Plugin repository. I’ve come up with a few that I consider best:
Where is SEO Headed
As you can see, SEO nowadays requires all sorts of knowledge in adjacent disciplines. It’s not enough just to know strictly SEO (onpage and offpage) in this day and age. You’re supposed to know the basics of virtually everything your site deals with, ranging from web design to web server scripting.
So, the bottom line is that you should not worry about setting up CDN for your site. As long as you are not using multiple host names, you’ll just have to specify the country that your site is for in your Google Webmaster Tools account. And you’re good to go.