Cloudflare might affect your SEO, and I have a positive impression of their services. They offer some of the fastest DNS services over the Anycast IP, along with efficient WAF, DDoS protection, CDN, and more. Now, let’s focus on the aspect of speed.
3X Slower for the Google Bots
Here’s the crawl statistic for a website belonging to one of our users. It appears that Google bots took longer when Cloudflare was active. This is because Cloudflare operates as a proxy, meaning that if you’re not using the HTML caching feature of Cloudflare, they will request the page from the origin server. You can see the detailed information from this link.
I’m talking about bots, not users
As seen in the crawl stats, bots are spending ~3X more time to download a page from Cloudflare. But that does not mean to slow down users 3X; there was no significant difference in page speed score on the Google Analytics report. Probably, Google bots also use Anycast IP so they can crawl from the origin server without affecting geographical boundaries. (ignoring latency between Google datacenters and your origin server)
About the setup
When we talk about the speed, various configurations can affect the results. So I want to share notable configurations about the example website.
- It doesn’t use Cloudflare for HTML caching
- It was well optimized on server side and WordPress side. (Thanks Powered Cache :P)
- The origin server was supporting HTTP2, which means faster connection between proxy server and origin server, as negativity two times SSL termination.
You might want to disable Cloudflare’s proxy feature to see the impact. You can still use Cloudflare as a CDN, just have to add new CNAME and enable the proxy functionality for the record.
I’m not an SEO expert, and can’t advise anything about the SEO. I just found the stats are weird and wanted to share, thanks for reading. If you try to disable/enable, please let me know the results 😉