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There are many changes you can make to your website to improve your SEO ranking but one area many people fail to consider is performance speed ranking. This essentially covers the time it takes your website to load and appear on the screen in front of a would-be customer. Nowadays this will take in a whole range of traditional and mobile devices. Over the years we have seen reports about how the brain reacts subconsciously prompting us to take various actions. Before we take a look at ways in which you can improve the performance ranking of your website let us consider your subconscious reactions.
Research into the human brain has shown that a page load time of 0.1 seconds feels instantaneous, one second feels seamless, 10 seconds begins to stretch your attention span and more than 10 seconds you have gone, left the building, never to return. Even though the human brain would not necessarily switch from a slow loading website in the first 10 seconds, consumers appear to be more fickle with 57% leaving after just three seconds. We have all felt that build-up of pressure as we wait for a slow website to load. Reports also suggest that we have to “concentrate 50% harder” in order to maintain any type of focus if a website is not instantaneous.
Stress, anxiety and in some cases acts of aggression can sometimes take over when you’re waiting for a site to load. It is not difficult to appreciate that when experiencing this type of scenario the visitor will not be coming back.
The latest trend in search engine optimisation revolves around CDN (Content Delivery Network) which is simply a means of improving your website loading times. While this is just one element of improving the customer experience when they land on your website, it is vital. Your website is the first thing that people see and if it is very slow to load they won’t hang around. They will hit ‘X’ on their browser; close the site down and move on to one of your competitors. So, how can a CDN services help your business?
Perhaps the best way to describe CDN is like the traditional cache which your browser uses to store details of websites you visit regularly. As the cache is saved, the site appears almost instantly. Giant leaps when compared to the load time for a website you visit for the first time. It is the same principle with CDN which is a group of server networks around the world assisting both local and international companies. Finding the most suitable CDN service for you can help to improve your perceived uptime and server performance.
If you do not use CDN and, say for example, your host server is based in the USA then everything is rooted through that particular server.
Whether you have a customer accessing from the USA, the UK, Russia or the Far East, they will all be rooted through that one server. Despite great advances in technology, the further away you are from the host server the more likely you are to experience relatively slow website load speeds. It is simply the distance that the data has to travel which dictates this.
For some of the more efficient websites the difference between accessing locally or from a different country will be relatively minor but there will be a difference all the same.
The more images and interactive scripts on a website page the greater the detrimental impact upon website load times.
So, CDN operators have created a worldwide network of servers which can take a cache of customer websites, regularly updated, and deliver them almost instantly even if accessed from a different country to the host server. This is done via host server scripts which detect where you are located and reroute you to the nearest CDN server – thereby minimising load times.
When choosing a CDN service you will need to take into account many different factors. Where the majority of your business comes from, whether you have images and interactive scripts that will impact load speeds and the potential increase in conversion rates. Put simply, the quicker your site loads the more chance of retaining a potential customer and eventually converting them into a revenue stream.
We hear many buzzwords when people are looking to improve their SEO ranking but CDN is more than just a buzzword. It really does have the potential to change the way in which search engines and ultimately potential customers view your website.
Google tends to lead and the rest follow and this is certainly the case with regards to website performance rankings and more specifically website loading speeds. If you take a step back, let us consider the position of the search engines. They want to give their visitors a seamless and enjoyable experience with minimal delays. Therefore, it is fairly obvious that website load speeds will be accounted for in search engine algorithms and directly impact search engine rankings.
It is also worth taking into account the use of mobile devices which have historically led to slower page load speeds under traditional conditions. Therefore, utilising the full power of CDN services could have a material impact upon your mobile device conversion rates.
For those who use Google analytics you will no doubt have come across the bounce rate statistic which can vary widely between different websites and different standards of performance. In simple terms the bounce rate relates to the percentage of people who landed on your website but went no further. They simply land on your page and go within a few seconds.
One of the biggest factors impacting your bounce rate is page load speeds. Quite literally, if the page is not there almost instantly then people will disappear. So, by using CDN services you will be able to improve your page load speed and hopefully retain a greater number of visitors to your website.
As we touched on above, websites with a large number of images will often succumb to relatively slow page load speeds. However, by using CDN services there will be a cache of your website pages already stored thereby vastly reducing the traditional loading time. So, while in the past sites which used many different images often had to find a balance between image numbers and load speeds. This is not as great a problem today. As the CDN servers are constantly updating the caches they hold of your website pages they are always up-to-date.
In effect, you are providing a copy of your host server in the local vicinity of a visitor to your website.
The fact that CDN servers can accommodate an array of different content means that sites can be as basic or as complicated as they need to be. If you require such a service you should speak with your hosting company and discuss your requirements in detail.
The rerouting script used for CDN services is fairly simple. Elements such as your IP address will allow the script to confirm your general location and reroute you to the nearest CDN server. However, this is where CDN services can be even more useful.
If one or more servers in the network is down then you will simply be rerouted to the nearest active server.
If there are short-term issues with your host server then very often visitors to your site will never know because they will be redirected to a CDN server.
In many ways CDN servers can help to give the impression that your website is live 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. The short-term masking of host server interruptions can help to maintain income streams and business flow.
When you take into account improved page load speeds, reliability and the opportunity to incorporate all required scripts and images without any speed impairment, this gives a great impression to visitors. As your page load speeds improve, customers are far more likely to stay on your website which will eventually lead to more conversions. The improvement in conversion rates will often see the additional cost of CDN services paid for by increased sales income. In effect CDN services can be self-financing.
Server performance and uptime will have a significant impact on your website SEO ranking and ultimately customer retention, conversion rates and sales. A fast loading website will entice your brain in, for more information, while a slow one will switch you off. The use of CDN services can significantly improve page load times and maintain the attention of your visitors – giving you a greater chance of securing a sale.
You still need to have quality content, relevant images and any interactive scripts required. However, ensuring your website loads almost instantly around the world will give you more than just a fighting chance of success.