If you are going to implement or already have implemented CDN on your website then you should read the following CDN SEO tips to keep your site on top of SERP.
Every business wishes to be on top of the SERP rankings. And while they optimize their on-page factors, site speed comes as a crucial consideration.
Google offers a crucial weightage to a site speed factor when compiling its page results. And here is where CDN puts up an appearance.
CDN bridges the distance between the main server and the user’s location. It hosts your site assets on globally-spread servers to minimize the response time for user requests.
CDN is one of the surest ways to increase your website speed. A faster loading site enhances your SEO performance.
But are you optimizing your CDN to maximize its SEO value for your business?
7 Best CDN SEO Tips to Boost your Rankings
1. Ensure that your CDN Exists on your Subdomain
Are you unknowingly linking out your SEO value to your CDN provider’s domain?
It is a common mistake that businesses make while employing CDN.
They use the CDN provider’s subdomain to install their CDN services. This subdomain may look similar to – yoursitename.cdn.com.
Here you use the CDN provider’s subdomain to install the CDN services. And therefore, the SEO value of the resources hosted on the CDN passes down to the root domain- cdn.com.
The right practice is to create a custom domain in your DNS. The custom domain acts as your site’s dedicated subdomain to host your CDN service.
A preferable subdomain for your site can be – cdn.yoursitename.com
A majority of the CDN service providers allow the installation of CDN services on your site’s subdomain.
When the CDN service provider installs the CDN on your site’s subdomain, it becomes a proprietary service.
Now all the SEO value passes down to your root domain- yoursitename.com.
Therefore, you can now expect an increase in your site’s authority and SEO power.
You do not have to share your SEO value with your CDN service provider. And you can capitalize upon the perks of installing a CDN, i.e., increased site loading speed.
2. Use Webmaster Tools to Prioritize Your Target Location
If you wish to draw tangible results from your SEO, you probably have a defined target audience. And that means you target your content to specific geography.
That said, you must inform the search engines about your geographical target location. And here, you can use your search engine webmaster tools.
If you use a CDN without informing Google about your target location, your CDN provider’s IP address is likely to use it.
And this can fade your SEO performance in your desired target location.
Moreover, ensure that you follow the geo-targeting guidelines of these tools. Compliance with these guidelines helps you witness better SEO targeting and local SEO performance.
3. Define Consistent File Names and Paths when Employing CDN
When you employ CDN, you host some of your site resources on a new CDN server. And this is most likely to change the name or path of your files.
Consider you have a gif image on your page, and its path is – yoursite.com/asset/image1.gif
Now, as you employ CDN, the CDN provider may change this image’s name. He can name it something like –
cdn.yoursite.com/assets/image001.gif or cdn.yoursite.com/images/image1.gif
Unless he follows the pre-CDN file name, it will show a 404 error. And you may have to redirect them to the original path.
The 404 errors and increased redirects will cost you considerable delay in response time. Moreover, you are putting your user experience and SEO at stake.
Isn’t it questioning the main objective of using CDN in the first place?
If yes, the right way to avoid any such issues is to follow your original naming conventions.
If your pre-CDN file name is yoursite.com/asset/image1.gif, your post-CDN file name must be cdn.yoursite.com/asset/image1.gif.
This practice negates the changes of unwanted 404 errors and redirects with CDN.
4. Escape Duplication Errors with Rel=Canonical Tags
Some businesses use CDN to reduce the number of HTTP requests on their servers. CDNs help them reduce the server response time by hosting or caching many site assets.
Meanwhile, some businesses also host their entire site on CDN. They use their site’s subdomain to install the CDN and host a copy of their site on this network.
Now, for instance,
You have a page on your site – yoursite.com/SEO-services, then you will have its equivalent page URL on CDN as – cdn.yoursite.com/SEO-services.
Both these URLs target the same page, and this is a content duplication issue. It is most likely to impact your site’s SEO and can attract a penalty.
You also need to understand that this duplication issue can span site-wide.
And therefore, the right fix to this duplication error is the rel=canonical tag.
Use this tag to mark the original (pre-CDN) page – yoursite.com/SEO-services as canonical on the post-CDN page – cdn.yoursite.com/SEO-services.
Implement the rel=canonical tag across all the site pages that you hosted on the CDN server.
This action will tell Google to index your original pages instead of the CDN-hosted pages.
Google now transfers all the SEO value to your original site pages and retains their link equity.
5. Choose a Secure CDN Provider
While optimizing your site’s speed, you wouldn’t want to compromise on its security.
Moreover, Google lends the top-ranking positions only to secure sites.
A majority of businesses rely on firewalls and antivirus security standards. But the right CDN choice can further help them enhance their site security.
Popular CDNs employ robust hardware and offer seamless functional scalability. Moreover, they ace at battling DDoS attacks resulting from harmful malware.
Your CDN diverts a significant part of your server traffic. This reduces the risks of server breakdown during peak traffic times.
Further, the CDN acts as a bypass between user requests and the server. That said, if there are any malign requests, they do not directly pass to the server. And this mitigates the risks of server-crashing or getting hacked.
Therefore, choosing a secure and robust CDN has a significant say in your SEO performance.
6. Define the Pages that You Wish to Store on CDN
You do not want to keep Google bots or visitors waiting while your site loads. And that is a befitting reason to employ CDN.
However, setting up the CDN for the right pages is significantly crucial.
You might want to host the entire website on CDN, but it isn’t always the best practice.
And so, you must cache the static and most frequently visited pages of your site. These can be your main service pages or product pages that attract high traffic. Moreover, the content on these pages is not likely to undergo frequent changes.
When you host these pages on CDN, their response time reduces considerably. Here, these pages are retrieved from the nearest CDN server instead of the main server.
You can modify the HTTP header to define the time for how long the CDN holds these pages.
Meanwhile, host the other dynamic pages like payment, delivery, etc., on the main server.
This practice ensures that you save a significant amount of site loading time.
7. Utilize CDN’s Image Optimization Capabilities
Would you care about investing time on a site or content with no images? Or would you buy from a site offering no product images?
The obvious answer is ‘No.’
You need media elements (images and videos) to complement the UX of your site. But, media files generally hold a larger storage space and slow down your site.
Therefore, you need to optimize and compress the media files on your site.
CDN comes to your rescue here. It enables automatic image optimization and compression while keeping the image quality intact.
The CDN brings forth several image format options and compression ratio options. So, whenever your page is rendered through a CDN server, images are already optimized.
That said, you can witness a significant improvement in the site’s performance.
However, image optimization through CDN only works on pages cached on the CDN. And the pages that are hosted on the main server might still need optimization.
Therefore, if you have image files on your dynamic pages, you also need to optimize them. You can use image compression plugins for the same purpose.
Will CDN Affect your Site’s SEO?
CDN or Content Delivery Network has a far-reaching effect on your site’s SEO. It optimizes your content availability and minimizes your site’s response time to a user request.
So, a CDN enables caching or storing a copy of your site assets on its global servers (POPs).
When a user requests a page, the CDN renders this page from the POPs closest to his location.
You host your site in the US, and a user requests your site from his location in Europe. In this case, your US-based server will have to send all this data across the distance to Europe.
The larger the distance is, the longer will be the site loading time.
Now, in the case of CDN, your site assets are already loaded on the global POPs.
This significantly reduces the site response time and the overall site loading time.
Google’s Page Experience update considers page response time an important ranking factor.
And therefore, a CDN-powered site performs better in the SERPs.
Google also recommends a page load time of up to 1 second or less for the mobile platform.
While it would be hard to achieve this metric, CDN helps you get a little closer to it.
Moreover, a CDN site ensures faster content availability owing to the asset store. A CDN server also automatically optimizes the images on a site without degrading their quality.
This further compliments your site’s SEO value by enhancing the experience of your site.
CDN SEO FAQs
Q1. What if I Install CDN and Witness Some Negative SEO Effects?
Ans. A CDN or content delivery network brings positive SEO value by improving the site’s speed. But, it may attract negative SEO effects only if there are some CDN installation inaccuracies.
Some CDN setup mistakes include:
- Installing the CDN on the CDN provider’s subdomain: This can pass your site’s SEO value to the CDN provider’s root domain.
- Employing CDN services and caching a duplicate version of your site without adding the rel=canonical tag can attract content duplication issues and negative SEO for your site.
- Not defining your target geographical location: In this case, Google will interpret your site’s target location based on the CDN server’s location.
Q2. Which CDN SEO Tips are Crucial for Your Site’s SEO Performance?
Ans. Here are the top CDN SEO tips that you must include:
- Ask your CDN provider to install the CDN on your site’s subdomain. This approach ensures that the SEO value from your CDN-hosted pages passes to your site’s domain.
- Follow the same file name conventions for your CDN subdomain as well. This ensures that there are no 404 errors and unnecessary redirections.
- Define your target location using Google and Bing webmaster tools. It tells search engines where you wish to rank, or they may use your CDN’s location as your target location.
- Use rel=canonical tag to tell the bots to index your original pages instead of the CDN-hosted duplicate pages.
- Use the automatic image optimization feature of your CDN.
Q3. My Developers have Optimized My Site’s Speed. Do I Still Need a CDN?
Ans. There are some more factors that you must consider. These include:
- High-traffic Sites: If you have an e-commerce site that attracts huge traffic peaks, you might need server clusters to support them. A better way to manage these peak traffic limits is by employing CDN. It bypasses the traffic, so it doesn’t bombard your main server. Moreover, CDN is a much more economical solution than server clusters and networks.
- Speed and UX: CDN helps you manage latency by caching the assets of your site. Therefore, each user enjoys a better site experience irrespective of his location. This has a BIG effect on your site’s SEO power.
- Security: CDN is adept at blocking DDoS attacks and malign hacking attempts. Your server lies behind the CDN server, and so malware attacks do not reach your server.
- CDN Features: Many popular CDN services offer crucial site optimization features. These features include image optimization, geo routing, automatic redirection, A/B testing, etc.