Audience engagement is one of the biggest concerns for website owners. Whether it is a blog, news site, or e-commerce store, there is a constant fight for attention, with many other distractions threatening to take your visitors away. Chartbeat conducted a test that found 55 percent of visitors spent a maximum of 15 seconds actively on a page. With so little time to maintain attention, ensuring you are fully involved with engagement factors is vital.
One of the many factors that will help with engagement is fast loading times. Even a brief wait can be catastrophic for a site, with visitors not typically willing to wait around. A content delivery network (CDN) is a great way to prevent lags in speed, allowing you to cater to visitors across the globe.
What is a CDN?
A network comprises a large number of servers located around the world, delivering content to visitors based on their location. The closeness of the server to each visitor ensures they are delivered the content quicker than if they relied on a single server in a distant location. For a visitor, there should be no obvious indication a CDN is begin used, though, with operations taking place in the background.
Each CDN server receives a cached version of a page, while there is also a communication with the original server. This structure allows a visitor to see the cached page, but any updated and uncached elements can also be received. The CDN can also protect a site from interruptions if there is an unexpected rise in visitors.
What Are the Main Benefits of a CDN?
The benefits for most users will include, speed, reliability, security, location, analytics, and price. Site speed, as mentioned, is achieved by the proximity of the server to the visitor. Reliability can be found with an established company that is used to serving many large businesses. Greater security comes from using a vast network that can prevent DDOS attacks and similar issues. Location can be a factor if you are targeting specific areas around the world. Analytics is vital for businesses trying to understand who their visitors are. Finally, most CDN services are extremely affordable compared with trying to set up your own network of servers.
Which Companies Offer CDN Services?
There is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a CDN. The principles of the service might be similar, but there are various elements that could determine which provider is right for you.
CloudFlare is probably the most recognized service, with 100 data centers across the globe. Prices vary depending on the level of service and security you require, but they have a popular free plan that many small websites use.
Incapsula also offer a free plan, with the option of upgrading for more support and security features. The content caching features allow you to target static areas of your site for caching, while dynamic areas are monitored to assess the frequency of updates.
Google offer a CDN service, available with a free trial and charging based on bandwidth usage. The service operates from 70 global sites, using a single IP address regardless of the location.
Rackspace sell various cloud hosting services, with a CDN among them. They operate from over 200 edge locations around the world, also charging based on bandwidth usage. Rackspace also lets you control site access, allowing you to block IP addresses and referring domains.
A CDN is only one of a number of factors that will help your site operate effectively. A quality CDN, though, is a simple way to offer a fast service to users regardless of their location. You can create the best content in your niche, but if there are problems accessing it your visitors might not engage. Best of all, you can access a basic service for free, so even the smallest site owners can benefit from fast content delivery, with the option to grow as your visitor numbers increase.