What is a Content Delivery Network?

The use of content delivery networks (CDNs) is increasing rapidly. The global traffic generated by content delivery networks in 2020 was estimated to be 140 exabytes per month that is expected to cross 252 exabytes per month by 2022:

data generated by cdns per month

For reference, an exabyte consists of 1 billion gigabytes. This will give you an idea of how big the CDN industry is.

However, most marketers (and businesses) don’t know a lot about content delivery networks and how they work. As a marketer, you must know what is a content delivery network, why it is essential, how it is linked to content marketing and SEO, and how it works. This article explores the ins and outs of content delivery networks from a marketing perspective.

What is a Content Delivery Network?

A CDN is a network of geographically dispersed global servers that work together to provide fast content delivery to users over the internet. The assets (HTML pages, content files, images, videos, etc.) are stored and cached in different servers across the globe.

The content to users is served based on their location. The content from the nearest location is served to the user which improve speed and website performance:

cdn speed difference

CDNs power a fairly large portion of web traffic today. Several websites including Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, and others.

How Content Delivery Network Works?

The way how a CDN works is quite simple and it silently operates at the backend. Just like when a user accesses a website, the hosting company serves the website to the users, hiding all the technicalities and backend processes, same is the case with a CDN.

There are two types of servers in a CDN:

  1. Origin server: This is the original server that contains the original copy of your website. It is your hosting server.
  2. CDN server (or cache server): All CDN servers are connected to the origin server and store content. These servers are provided by the CDN company you are using.
how content delivery network works

The backend process of a CDN works something like this:

  1. The CDN servers copy and store content by connecting with the origin server. They automatically update the cached copy of your website and assets as soon as you make any changes.
  2. When a user accesses your website, the CDN checks the nearest cache server to fulfill the request.
  3. The content is served immediately from the nearest server without sending a request to the origin server.

The content delivery network simply puts copies of your content at several servers across the globe for the fast delivery of content to the users.

Why Use Content Delivery Network

Any online business that has a website needs a CDN especially if it targets a global audience. For example, if you own a blog that doesn’t target a specific geographic location, you’ll receive traffic from all parts of the world. When you are receiving global traffic, using a CDN makes sense for all the following reasons:

1. Improved Website Load Speed

Website load time plays a significant role in conversions, engagement, and SEO. The page speed is a Google ranking factor which means a slow website will be pushed down the SERPs by Google.


Because it ruins the user experience. People don’t like to wait for a website to load. They need it fast. A whopping 59% of people only wait for 6 seconds for a website to load – else, they’ll leave:

website load speed statistics

According to Google, the majority of people bounce after 3 seconds. Not to mention that a mere 100-millisecond delay in load time can reduce conversions by 7% and 71% of marketers say that slow website speed is hurting their conversions:

website load speed stats

The solution?

A CDN is the best solution to a slow website because it improves website load time significantly. The data needs time to travel over the internet. When a user accesses your website, the request travels in the form of data, reaches the server, and the server sends the assets back to the user. It is known as latency:

what is latency

CDN reduces latency by serving content from a nearby server to the users. And the time difference is quite significant which improves your website load time. It loads quickly improving engagement, ranking, and conversions.

2. Improves Content Availability

In the absence of a CDN, your content is hosted by a single server. In case of hardware failure or a technical fault, your website will become inaccessible. The same is the case with traffic surges and undersea cable problems.

If you are using a CDN, your website will be accessible in all such cases since it is cached on several servers across the globe. If one server fails or crashes, the next nearest server will start entertaining user requests. 

A CDN works much better than hosting servers and origin servers in case of hardware failures, technical issues, undersea cable problems, and traffic surges.

3. Bandwidth Consumption Reduction

Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer on a given path. A single server can entertain a limited number of requests depending on its bandwidth. When the bandwidth is exceeded, requests will be delayed leading to an increase in load time.

A content delivery network reduces bandwidth consumption and optimizes it by its network of servers. The load from the origin server is shared by a network of cache servers that reduces bandwidth consumption of the origin server.

This significantly reduces the amount of data an origin server has to provide leading to a decrease in bandwidth cost. Hosting companies charge websites based on bandwidth. If you have a large website, you’ll need a lot of bandwidth from your hosting company that will cost a lot per month.

Switching to CDN doesn’t just reduce and optimize bandwidth consumption but it reduces bandwidth cost too.


A content delivery network is a must-have for every online business whether big or small. It isn’t an add-on rather a necessity. Importantly, CDNs are very cost-effective. You can check out CloudFront and Google Cloud CDN to get an idea of the pricing structure. If you have a small website with average traffic, you can use it for free.

Once you’ll switch to a CDN, you’ll notice the difference immediately in website speed. In the long-run, CDN is fully scalable and secure than your origin server. In fact, CDN adds an extended layer of security by saving your origin server from DDoS attacks

You get everything and miss nothing when by switching to CDN. Do it now.

Featured Image: CloudFlare

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