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Content Delivery Network and SEO Impact

     
8:05 pm on Dec 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Anyone have experience using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like CloudFlare? Did you see any negative or positive SEO impact?
9:54 pm on Dec 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Our traffic has increased steadily--and sometimes more than steadily--since we started using CloudFlare more than a year ago, so I'd guess that having a CDN hasn't hurt us. I doubt if it's helped us much, although there could be some tiny SEO benefit from quicker serving of pages.
10:17 pm on Dec 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've had the same experience... moved the site to Cloudflare and only see more traffic now than before. Site loads faster, as well.
10:44 pm on Dec 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't use Cloudflare, I use another one, but I haven't seen any problems. Traffic is way up this year across all my sites (though I don't think that's because of the CDN, it's obviously not hurting)
12:08 am on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Offloaded static content (images, css, pdf's, js, etc) a CDN. It has helped reduce page load times in many countries. In theory this should have a positive impact on user experience and thus SEO benefit.
12:26 am on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am currently testing cloudflare cdn with flexible ssl setup with a few of my sites. I observed some traffic hits during the transition. I hope it's not because I didn't setup correctly. (Well google said they are giving small boost, albeit small, I still just had to experiment and see for myself with actual result).

For the ones that experienced positive results, do you have SSL on your sites?

It could be from the https transition or could be other factors. It's hard to pinpoint especially during the past week where serps are shaking quite a bit, and with holiday month. I may have better data when things settle in a couple more weeks.
1:07 am on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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For the ones that experienced positive results, do you have SSL on your sites?


I implemented the CloudFlare "flexible SSL" for our secondary site a while back, just to see what might happen. No problems at all. If there's been any effect (either negative or positive), I can't see it.
2:42 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply's. I've enabled CloudFlare for one of my websites today. I will monitor load times & SERP rankings for awhile and look for any positive/negative impact.

Thanks again.
6:46 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure of the benefits of 'cloud' hosting like this.

When I chose my hosting, I did so partially based on the 'internet' location of the host. I'm colo'ed in a facility that has something like 30 seperate fibre connections. And my hosting co. is peer shared with every major ISP and phone company in the country, as well as Google. People in my country hardly even go to the 'internet' to get on my site, their ISP dumps them right in to my hosts' data center then right to my site.

If I want my site to load quicker, I spend some time on the code, reducing images, jss, whitespace etc.

Hardware is already beyond overpowered, so no speedup there.

CDN's might make sense if you're serving internationally. Otherwise correct me if I'm wrong, but a choice of a decent hosting company should beat any noticeable benefits a CDN would bring.
8:58 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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CDN's might make sense if you're serving internationally


Our site was visited by users in 244 countries and territories last month (according to Google Analytics), and I doubt if that's out of the ordinary. But the benefits of using a CDN go beyond having data centers around the world, and offhand, I can't think of any downsides--in general, or in terms of the "SEO impact" that jebernier asked about.
9:13 pm on Dec 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Our site was visited by users in 244 countries and territories last month (according to Google Analytics), and I doubt if that's out of the ordinary. But the benefits of using a CDN go beyond having data centers around the world, and offhand, I can't think of any downsides--in general, or in terms of the "SEO impact" that jebernier asked about.

My site got visitors from around the world too. I care about only one of those countries. And I can accomplish everything as fast or faster than a CDN, simply by choosing a decent local host.

If serving to England and NYC matters, a CDN might be an option. But if you're in the U.S., you can serve people in CA every bit as fast as people in NYC without a CDN just by picking a decent host.

The idea that a CDN in it's own right would offer any SEO benefit doesn't hold water. There's nothing about a CDN other than speed that makes any difference - and that speed can be got other ways.

The OP seems to think there's something about CDN's that Google cares about. There isn't. Google cares about speed. Deal with speed. And if a CDN gets you the speed, great. But it's not even the first route I would choose.
1:22 am on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My site got visitors from around the world too. I care about only one of those countries.


To each his own. Don't knock the global economy if you haven't tried it. :-)

The OP seems to think there's something about CDN's that Google cares about.


The OP was just asking a question. I'd guess that most people who use CDNs aren't doing it for SEO reasons, but it's not unreasonable for someone to ask about SEO implications before making the switch.
2:35 am on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The OP seems to think there's something about CDN's that Google cares about.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this thread from July 2014, about problems with Google rankings that were attributed to a CDN....

522 errors in GWT - host or content delivery network?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4688593.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I need to say that I'm uncomfortable with where the referenced discussion left things. I think that the issue may be that there is a potential for any CDN to get blocked by a web host and get put on a blacklist. I'm not sure how common an issue this is, and whether it should cause you to be wary of CDNs, or wary of web hosts... or wary of the organizations who decide what should be blocked.

I bring it up because it is something we discussed recently, and it pertains to the concerns here about CDNs.
6:00 am on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I went through the post Robert referenced and it seemed to me JD_Toims hit the probable underlying cause. It left me wondering why the OP felt the 30 or so errors were causing ranking issues.

30 errors on a 30 page site would certainly be a red flag, 30 errors on a 300 page site would need attention, but not really be a "drop everything, we need to fix this" issue. If the site is larger, then 30 errors are not really that significant. I guess what I fail to see is why a smaller site would be using a CDN, if it's a larger site, 30 errors probably aren't enough to affect rankings.
3:08 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I guess what I fail to see is why a smaller site would be using a CDN


A few years ago, the benefits of using a CDN might have been outweighed by the hassle in setting them up and the cost of bandwidth, but CloudFlare has become the CDN industry's killer app. A small site can have caching of static content from a worldwide network of data centers, on-the-fly image optimization for a variety of user devices, more efficient loading of JavaScript, etc. with zero effort. Setup is easy (there's no need to get a degree in computer science or hire a consultant), the cost is minimal, and some or all of that cost may be offset--depending on your bandwidth requirements--by not having to upgrade a hosting package to the next tier.

As for the effect on search traffic, I can only say that our Google organic traffic has gone up by about 250 percent since we started using a CDN. If using a CDN is hurting us, the damage hasn't been apparent.

Not everyone needs or will benefit from a CDN, just as not everyone needs or will benefit from a CMS or a shopping cart. To repurpose a line from Karl Marx, "to each according to his need."
4:08 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've never bothered looking at this before so decided to check it out, blimey, who pays those kinda fees? Am I missing something? It seems incredibly expensive.
5:17 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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$20 a month is incredibly expensive? Not from where I sit.
5:27 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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+$5 month for each site or:

$200 per month for each website.


I'll stick where I am.
5:53 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I guess what I fail to see is why a smaller site would be using a CDN


My sites are definitely smaller sites in terms of number of pages (usually under 1k) but I have really bursty traffic where it's not unusual to have 6000 simultaneous users (per site) pounding on the databases at any given time. My CDN costs me $9/month in off-peak months and about $300/month for two peak months, and that's for all the sites combined. As far as I can tell, it does seem to give me some performance improvements, so I'm sticking with it. The host is great, and we would probably be fine without it (we have been in all years previous to putting it in) but it's a small amount of money that I don't mind spending on better performance.

I tried CloudFlare for a bit when I was having some severe bot issues, but it wasn't much help for that and was significantly more money than the place I'm using now, so I didn't stick with them. Also I'd heard apocryphal stories of issues with ad delivery.
6:14 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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CloudFlare is free on my VPS account at GreenGeeks hosting.
8:01 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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RedBar, I doubt if many smaller sites are buying the $200 Enterprise package.

As for "+$5 a month for each site," that's $5 a month for each additional site that uses CloudFlare (more specifically, the CloudFlare Pro plan).

Finally, if you're cheap or poor, you can use the Free plan and get the basics (plus a few bells and whistles) for nothing.
10:41 pm on Dec 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Some people may be jumping into this without having a good understanding of what's involved. I don't use a CDN, and doubt that I ever will, if for no other reason than that I would give up some control over my sites' performances to another company in addition to the host. I like to have as much control as I can.

Another problem is that using a CDN adds another layer of complexity, hence more opportunities for something to go wrong. I like to keep things simple. In this case there's less chance to be hurt by someone else's mistakes.

My sites are already very fast because of the way I design and code them. Any improvement in loading speed from a shorter geographic distance would be a minor benefit at best.

My advice is to make sure you understand how it works before you jump into this.
1:25 am on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My sites are already very fast because of the way I design and code them. Any improvement in loading speed from a shorter geographic distance would be a minor benefit at best.


Nice post. Sometimes I forget that I still consturct sites for people who may be at the end of the line in Africa, yes, I mean that sincerely since I have a major supplier on the end of one of those lines still using dial-up since nothing else exists.

I/he test(s) my sites regularly for speed and we seemingly have no problems.

As for "+$5 a month for each site," that's $5 a month for each additional site that uses CloudFlare


Yep, and I have quite a few extremely specialist niche widget sites with with very expensive products, some only having 20/30 pvs per day. Yes I can afford the $5 but there is no necessity since my host's servers have been ranked in the top 3 in the UK for almost 10 years.

For single/double sites, maybe Cloudfare/etc are ok, for multiple sites, say more than 10, then I wonder if they're justifiable?

Does anyone have any hard info on this?
2:27 am on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have 12 in CDNs at the moment.
4:39 am on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In the context of a discussion on CDNs, errors and site size, my statement was:

I guess what I fail to see is why a smaller site would be using a CDN, if it's a larger site, 30 errors probably aren't enough to affect rankings.


I have one site using a CDN, I'd do it with others if there was a justifiable reason and Netmeg illustrates one very good reason. I'd never use a CDN thinking it would provide some sort of SEO impact.
8:24 am on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My website has international traffic and has struggled repeatedly in the past when bursts of traffic have overwhelmed the (repeatedly upgraded) servers. On numerous occasions I discussed CDNs with my hosts and was told "don't complicate things".

A few months ago, on someone else's advice, I set up the Cloudflare $20 plan and this is the first holiday season in six years when I haven't been pulling my hair out in despair. Pages load faster than ever before, and (so far) we haven't had a glitch.

Best thing I have done, best $20 a month I have spent.
12:30 pm on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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As most people here, once we moved to Cloudflare, things got way better, even the traffic coming from Asia is running quite smooth. Best investment ever if you ask me.
12:44 pm on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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CDN (Content delivery network) has very important role to play in SERP, but not directly. If website has CDN enabled, website content is accessible to users in less time. And Google has made it clear in the past they are giving priority to website having better load time.
2:18 pm on Dec 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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To those who have seen big improvements from using a CDN. Is it mainly due to geographic factors? Or is it because your websites were overloading your servers during busy periods?
6:56 am on Dec 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle

SmallP joined in 2006 but in the 8 years or so since then has only posted 8 times a year. But now, within days, there is a Cloudflare rave review.

Nutterum, with 25 posts since August is also saying Cloudflare is the bomb.

I don't quite know what to make of reginafashionist.

You can make of it what you like, but those don't really strike me as individual independent assessments.
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