Content Delivery Network & Google Ranking
Is there a ranking effect from using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? John Mueller answers this question.
In a Google Search Advocate office hours video, John Mueller answered a question about whether a CDN can help improve rankings. Mueller provided a thorough answer that discussed page load time and crawling and also addressed SEO.
What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?
A content delivery network (CDN) is a service that delivers web pages via a worldwide network of servers to speed up delivery by having the servers close to the person accessing the website.
A CDN can significantly improve website performance by reducing the number of “hops” a web page must take across the Internet to reach a visitor. A server close to a visitor is less likely to have many “hops.”
Does A CDN Improve Search Rankings?
Is there any ranking advantage to using a CDN versus traditional server hosting? That is what the person seeking Google’s answer wanted to know.
Does using a CDN to distribute a website’s content improve its ranking?
Our website gets a large proportion of traffic from a particular country. We have servers located in that country to get more visitors.
Is it advisable to put our entire website behind a CDN to improve page load times for users worldwide, or is that not necessary in our situation?”
SEO and CDN Impact
A CDN does not have an SEO impact, according to Mueller.
“So, obviously, you can do a lot of these things. I don’t think it would greatly affect Google regarding SEO.”
It is important to note that Mueller explicitly states that he doesn’t believe such a ban would make much of a difference. He reiterates his point as follows:
“The only effect where I could imagine that something might happen is what users end up seeing. And, kind of what you mentioned, if most of your users are already seeing a speedy website as your server is located there, then you are doing the right thing.
If users in different locations are seeing a prolonged result because perhaps the connection to your country is not that great, then that’s something where you might have some opportunities to improve that.
And you could see that as something kind of in terms of an opportunity in the sense that, of course, if your website is prolonged for other users, then it’s going to be rarer for them to start going to your website more because it’s annoying to get there.
Whereas if your website is pretty fast for other users, then at least they have an opportunity to see an excellent fast website, which could be your website. So from that point of view, if there’s something that you can do to improve things globally for your website, I think that’s a good idea.
I don’t think it’s critical.”
CDN and Impact on Crawling
Mueller answered the question about SEO and CDNs by going back to the subject and discussing the benefits of crawling and CDNs:
“Google doesn’t have to see a redirect very quickly or anything like that, but it is one way to grow your website beyond your current country. It might be worth noting that if Google’s web crawling is slow, we can index and crawl less from the website. In most of the websites I’ve looked at, I haven’t seen this as a problem with sites that weren’t extremely large. It might be worth investigating.
So from that point of view, you can double-check how fast Google crawls in Search Console in the crawl stats. And if that looks reasonable, even if that’s not super fast, then I wouldn’t worry about that.”
Bots, both legitimate and malicious, might not be able to crawl a slow or underpowered web server on a shared server environment. That situation might cause the server to give up and return a 500 server response code because the server could not serve the requested web pages.
Many shared hosting environments suffer from poor performance and reliability, and a typical response is to recommend upgrading to a dedicated or virtual server environment. By serving web pages from the CDN rather than the server where the actual pages are hosted, a CDN can reduce the effects of a sluggish shared server.
Read Next: How to Avoid These Five SEO Mistakes That Can Impact Your Google Ranking
Google Ranking and CDN
According to Mueller, using a CDN does not produce any SEO advantages. He noted that crawling difficulties on large sites with “millions and millions of pages” are unfamiliar (i.e., outside of crawling difficulties).
Mueller says that there are many good reasons to use a CDN, but an SEO advantage is not one of them.
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