Introduction to GT Metrix and to CDN
At Rablab, one of the first things we do when a client comes to us for SEO is run a GT Metrix analysis to see how well, and above all, how long it takes for the site to load.
Nothing very special so far, you will tell me if you have some knowledge of SEO. But as my grandmother used to say, “The best jams are made in old jars”.
Because yes, even if our team of experts stays informed of the latest web marketing trends, year after year, to propel your websites to the top of the ranking, there are “good old ways” that remain the same!
GT Metrix analysis is one of them. And we are going to focus on a task that we often put in our to-do list after a technical scan: setup a CDN.
What is a CDN?
CDN is the acronym for “Content Delivery Network”. To fully understand how it works, a good picture is worth a thousand words:
In summary, most current hosts are not cloud based (with a few exceptions like Cloudways, which we recommend). This results in your site being loaded on a physical server located at a given location.
Each time a visitor connects to your website, a request is made to your server, which then returns the content.
Problem: All of the bytes that make up your page have some distance to travel, depending on where the visitor calling your site is.
The longer the distance, the longer it takes for your site to display the web page. It is even more critical if you are doing international business, since in this case, the distance increases.
However, a longer loading time increases the rick of visitors bouncing from the navigation prematurely.
It’s a fact that consumers are quickly impatient these days. If Neil Patel points out in his excellent article “How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line”, it’s not just to grab more traffic.
Also, Google’s algorithm takes into account the speed of your site to determine its ranking on SERPs. For example, a slower site will tend to rank behind its top competitor in terms of load times.
The benefits of the Content Delivery Network
This is where setting up a CDN like Cloudflare is a great way to turn the tide.
To get an overview, Cloudflare provides you with a network of servers, different from your physical server, that store copies of your site.
When a visitor connects to your website, from anywhere in the world, the closest server automatically delivers your content.
Much faster than without CDN.
If we had to summarize this by a statement, that would be:
CDN = less distance to cover = site that loads faster = very good chances of decreasing the bounce rate and keeping visitors longer = more conversions.
Now, let’s not pretend that this tool is a magic bullet.
The weight of your pages is also important to consider.
The lighter they are, the faster your site will load. And that doesn’t rule out the need to have a solid content strategy on your site for the sake of your SEO.
But since the success of organic ranking lies in a sum of more or less important details, you might as well put all the chances on your side by installing a CDN.
This is where you tell me “OK great, but how to install a CDN?”. And that’s precisely the moment I answer “Keep reading the article, it’s coming!”.
NB: GT Metrix allows you to check if a CDN is installed on your site:
If the grade is at “F (0)” in front of the recommendation “Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)” it is likely that you do not use any.
Otherwise, the recommendation should be displayed as this:
How to install a CDN like Cloudflare?
Two things to know before you start!
1 – Cloudflare is by far the most popular and efficient CDN in the world. Just take a look at the map of its server network :
2 – This CDN has the isf offering very powerful features in its free version. And as one of our SEO experts often says “when it’s free, it’s better”.
Therefore, why not use it!
Create a Cloudflare account
In order to speed up the loading time of your site, first go to the Cloudflare site and create an account.
Once the account has been created, you only have to add your site by clicking on the “Add site” button:
Then, select the “free plan” and confirm.
Setting up Cloudflare
Cloudflare will then search for all the DNS records linked to your site:
Click on “continue” and you will obtain the two Cloudflare DNS addresses that you will need to set up on your hosting account instead of your current DNS.
If you are using the WordPress CMS, then we recommend that you go to the “page rules” section and create the following two rules to exclude your backend from Cloudflare performance features (You can even add these rules before changing your DNS).
Be sure to replace onlinemediamasters.com (in the example) with the URL of your site. Let us assume that the URL is “your site.com”:
– rule 1: your site.com/wp-admin*
Repeat the operation with the second rule:
– rule 2: your site.com/*preview=true*
Testing your CDN setup
Once your DNS updated, count 24 hours for the propagation to take place. Confirm the success of this task by driving a new Gt Metrix test !
NB: in theory, you can adapt the rules to the URLs of any backend or CMS.
What to do if you are not comfortable to install a CDN yourself ?
If you have a geek friend, ask them for advice. If it’s for your company’s website, send this article to your IT department.
Otherwise, you can always contact us. At Rablab, we are familiar to this procedure, and we have already set up CDNs for many clients as part of our successful SEO strategies.
The ball is now in your court. Do not hesitate to write to us with any questions, it will be our pleasure to answer you quickly.
- What is a CDN?
A CDN or “Content Delivery network” allows a network of servers from anywhere in the world to provide a uniform and optimal loading time of your site to your visitors.
- Which CDN to choose?
At Rablab, we recommend Cloudflare. This CDN is easy to install on any site and allows you to obtain great results in most cases. Check out our tutorial in this article to install it yourself.
- How to measure the performance provided by a CDN?
The excellent GT Metrix tool allows you to compare your pagespeed before and after setting up your CDN. Make sure that the “Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)” metric is in the green in your report.
- What if you need help installing your CDN?
Contact us! We are able to build an SEO, SEM, or SMM strategy for you. We may include the CDN setup for your site in our assignment.