Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller answered a question in an SEO-office hours video about whether a CDN can improve ranking.
Mueller responded with an in-depth answer that discussed page speed, crawling and also addressed SEO.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network, (CDN) is a service that provides a worldwide network of servers that speeds up delivery of web pages by serving them from a server that’s located close to the site visitor person trying to access a web page.
The closer a server is located to a website visitor the less “hops” the web page needs to take across the Internet to reach that visitor.
That means a CDN can significantly improve web page speed.
Does A CDN Helps Search Rankings?
The person asking Google a question wanted to know if there was any ranking benefit for using a CDN versus the traditional server hosting.
The question 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?”
CDN And SEO Effect
Mueller answered that a CDN doesn’t have an SEO effect.
“So, obviously you can do a lot of these things.
I don’t think it would have a big effect on Google at all with regards to SEO.”
Although Mueller says he doesn’t think it would have a big effect, he does circle back to this point and clarifies it.
Mueller continued his answer:
“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.”
CDN And Effect On Crawling
Mueller circled back to the issue of SEO and this time addressed the issue of crawling and the benefits of a CDN.
Mueller continued his answer:
“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.”
A slow or underpowered web server, particularly on a shared server environment, might not be able to handle heavy crawling by bots, both legit and malicious.
That kind of situation on a shared server may result in the server giving up and responding with 500 server response codes because the server is unable to serve the requested web pages.
I have seen this happen on a shared server where the host recommended upgrading to a dedicated or virtual server environment.
A CDN mitigates the effects of a slow shared server by serving web pages from the CDN and not the server where the actual pages are hosted.
CDN And Google Ranking
Mueller’s answer indicates that there isn’t any kind of SEO effect from using a CDN.
He did say that difficulty crawling a site is not a common issue (outside of large sites with “millions and millions of pages”).
There are many good reasons to use a CDN but an SEO advantage is not one of them, according to Mueller.
Watch Mueller Answer Question About SEO Effect and Using a CDN
Video at the 2:50 Minute Mark
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, June 2022.