CDN and SEO

CDN and SEO

Chances are, you considered using CDN for your own site or your client suggested doing so, but you’re not really sure if CDN and SEO are compatible and safe to use. You don’t really want to lose any rankings just because you or your customer decided to take the next gimmicky bait. There are a lot of CDN hosting providers out there that offer really decent services. Since people like sites that load really fast and Google officially considers site speed a ranking factor, you want to do whatever possible to make your site loads fast. That’s exactly why you may want to consider using CDN for your WordPress site. Here’s why.

How CDN Works

First off, let’s see what CDN is. Imagine you have a site which is physically stored on a server in California. And people from all around the world visit your site. That means if a person from London visits your site, he or she should still load the site from California. Wouldn’t it be great if a copy of your site could be placed on a server closer to London?

That’s exactly what CDN does. If you use CDN, it means your site is being copied across multiple servers around the world so that your visitors can load your site from the server closest to them. So in our London example, your site might be stored on a server in, say, Dublin and load way faster for your British audience.

Since copies of your site are stored in multiple places, your site loads faster wherever your visitors access it from. Again, that means your users won’t be left hanging over while waiting till your site loads. Though we still talk about split seconds you win this way, site visitors are extremely impatient in our day an age. So it really matters …

CDN map

If your site doesn’t load in a split second, you may lose a few potential clients for sure. That especially holds true if you have a highly-trafficked site. The more visitors your site gets, the slower your site loads, but if your site is housed on multiple servers all over the world, the load is distributed across those servers and your site is virtually never down.

Possible SEO Issue

Though CDN is a great idea in general, there are a few caveats and issues that you might stumble upon while using CDN on your site. Since your CDN servers house your CSS files, JS files, images and videos, search engines may give credit to the CDN servers rather than your site.

Long story short, you can lose Google juice just because you place your unique content on a separate server (CDN). Odds are, search engines will consider content on CDN servers genuine whereas what you have on your site can be considered merely duplicate. Ouch!

How to Stay Safe

Luckily, it’s not the end of the day and you can easily take care of all the CDN-related issues if you configure your CDN settings right. Here’s how:

  1. Use your own subdomain for CDN. That means your should store your CSS files, images and other files not on a third party domain but on, say, cdn.mydomain.com where mydomain.com is your root domain. Doing so allows you to show Google and other search engines that the content is on your root server and you should be credited for all the stuff that is on that subdomain (cdn.mydomain.com).
  2. Keep the same filenames and path structures to your files. That will make it possible to easily implement CDN. Here’s what that means. If a url of one of your imags before implementing CDN was mydomain.com/images/image1.jpg, now it should be cdn.mydomain.com/images/image1.jpg but not dn.mydomain.com/cdnimages/image1.jpg or dn.mydomain.com/images/image2.pg
  3. Add your CDN subdomain to Google Webmaster Tools so that you can define your target country. That will also help with ranking your site in that particular country.
  4. Use rel=canonical. You especially want to do that if your whole site is on your CDN server (not just CSS, images, etc). Using canonical allows you to specifically define which version of your site is the main one and which is just to support the main one.

Bottom line

If you take into account all the nuances and tweak your site appropriately, it should be totally safe to use CDN for your site. So now you know that CDN and SEO are compliant and what exactly you’re supposed to do in order to make sure that you don’t lose your keyword rankings.

Did you have any search engine related problems while implementing CDN on your site?

About The Author

Vitaliy Kolos

Coming from tech support background, Vitaliy Kolos is into tons of web stuffs: WordPress SEO (his forte), web design, web development, inbound marketing and everything in between. Other than that, he's an avid audiobook reader and insatiable digital nomad.

  • Richard Heckel

    A few months ago, I had a lot of back and forth with a customer who wanted to migrated his site form one hosting to another. The problem was he was using CDN. Instead of migrating the site within one-two days, I had to waste like up to a week. And all of that just because he was using CDN.

    • Thanks for your comment, Richard. It goes without saying that things may get a bit complicated, but it’s totally worth it because CDN can drastically improve your site performance around the globe