In Google’s Office-hours Hangout recorded on 3 June 2022, Google’s John Mueller discussed whether using a Content Delivery System has any impact on a website’s search rankings. The question was put up by one of the viewers who stated that a lot of web traffic comes from a specific country and that their website is hosted on a server located in that country. And continued to ask if putting the entire website behind a CDN would help improve page speed for the users and thereby its search rankings. Mueller’s response to it was as detailed as one would expect and apart from discussing CDN at length, he also highlighted issues such as page speed, crawling, and related SEO issues. Let’s have a look at how the discussion went down.
First things first, what is a CDN?
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers and their data centres that are geographically distributed to help content distribution with minimum delay. In other words, if your user is trying to access a page from your website from Australia then having a server there will minimise the page load time for that user. So, the closer the server is to the user trying to access a page, more likely it is that he or she will be able to access it without glitches. If that increases the speed with which a page loads, it also means reduced bounce rate for that particular page. And that definitely helps improve your website’s overall search rankings in the long run.
So, does CDN improve a website’s search rankings?
Here’s what the viewer asked.
“Does putting a website behind a CDN improve ranking? We get the majority of our traffic from a specific country. We hosted our website on a server located in that country. Do you suggest putting our entire website behind a CDN to improve page speed for users globally or is that not required in our case?”
To which Mueller replied.
“The only effect where I could imagine that something might happen is what users end up seeing. And, kind of what you mentioned, if the majority of your users are already seeing a very fast website because your server is located there, then you’re kind of doing the right thing.
But of course, if users in other locations are seeing a very slow 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 really slow for other users, then it’s going to be rarer for them to start going to your website more because it’s really annoying to get there.
Whereas if your website is pretty fast for other users, then at least they have an opportunity to see a reasonable 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.”
Going by that, using a CDN might not have a direct effect in improving your search rankings, but it pays well to do something like that just to grow by improving your website on a global level. Nobody likes to come back to a website that’s really slow. It might not be critical to your search performance but it is, in fact, a really good idea. You might also want to switch to a different server in a particular country if the users there are experiencing slow page load time when accessing your website; there is a further chance of improvement there.
Does CDN affect Google’s crawl speed?
That’s another aspect Mueller shed light on and is something that states about the potential benefits of using a CDN.
“It’s not something that matters in terms of SEO in that Google has to see it very quickly as well or anything like that. But it is something that you can do to kind of grow your website past just your current country.
Maybe one thing I should clarify, if Google’s crawling is really, really slow, then of course that can affect how much we can crawl and index from the website.” So that could be an aspect to look into. The majority of websites that I’ve looked at, I haven’t really seen this as a being a problem with regards to any website that isn’t millions and millions of pages large.
So from that point of view, you can double-check how fast Google is crawling in Search Console in the crawl stats. And if that looks reasonable, even if that’s not super fast, then I wouldn’t really worry about that.” concluded John.
An improved search ranking might not be one of the reasons to use a CDN but there are multiple SEO advantages of using one, as John clarified. Watch John Mueller’s full response to question at the 02:50 minute mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.
Source: Search Engine Journal