Speed and Performance are the foundations of a successful online business. A website that takes a long time to load loses customers like dropping flies. If your website takes more than three seconds to load, you may lose nearly 50% of your visitors. More than 75% of customers say that if they are annoyed and dissatisfied with a website’s performance, they will not return to it again.
Such stats are alarming and eye-opening and force you to consider the options available for boosting your website’s speed and performance. One of the first things that you should consider is a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
What is CDN?
A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a collection of servers that are located strategically around the globe. They are used to host and deliver copies of your website’s static and dynamic content, such as images, videos, and CSS. Most hosting providers serve the content of your site to users from a single location.
While users can be from different places around the globe, a single delivery system increases the burden on the server and reduces delivery speed, increasing the site loading time. A faster loading time means higher conversions, higher ad revenue, and lower bounce rates.
How does a CDN Work?
A CDN uses a collection of servers it has at its disposal and fetches files from the server nearest to the user. When you rely only on your host, the data takes several communication hops while going from the user’s system to your server. When you use a CDN, it ensures that the data reaches the user from the server that is closest to him.
This reduces the time taken by the data during transmission, which is known as latency.
For example, your site may be hosted out of the United States, and users logging in from Europe will experience a higher loading time than those in the US without a CDN network. A CDN network will have a server in several key cities in Europe, such as London or Madrid. A user logging on from Europe will, therefore, experience faster loading speeds and be satisfied with your site’s performance.
Like latency, another factor responsible for the loading speed of your website on a browser is TTFB. The Time To First Byte or TTFB is simply a measure of the time taken by a web browser to receive the first byte of data it has requested from the server. The longer the browser takes to collect the data, the longer your website will take to load. A CDN reduces the Time To First Byte significantly due to the availability of multiple servers in different locations; when the content is sent from the server nearest to the user, it loads faster and performs better.
Who needs to use a CDN?
Using a network of servers located worldwide will help you deliver your content faster and impact your website’s response time. While users may not appreciate a site loading milliseconds more quickly, they will be brutal to a site that takes over a couple of seconds. But does your business need a Content Distribution Network?
A CDN is beneficial if:-
Your Website has A Global Audience
Check the demographic reports and data available for your website to determine where your website gets the highest traffic from. Suppose you’re hosting from the US, and the majority of your traffic comes from Asia and Australia. In that case, a CDN will be an excellent performance-boosting addition to your website, as you would be able to cater to users from across the globe more efficiently.
Your Website has Lots of Images and Videos.
A CDN helps in boosting your site’s loading time by caching and storing images and embeds. It also distributes your assets to reduce latency, and a right CDN optimizes your content for mobile phones and tablets. Fast-loading photos that are resized and optimized for mobile greatly enhance the user experience of people logging in from mobile devices.
Your Website has a Large Traffic Spike
If a piece of content on your website, be it a blog post, an image, or an interview, goes viral, there will be a massive spike in incoming traffic. People from all over the globe will be clamoring to access your website, and if you aren’t prepared for such a surge, your site may end up crashing.
A Content Delivery Network balances the site requests across the multiple servers at its disposal, which prevents your website from crashing. You can accommodate more visitors at the same time by spreading them across various locations and servers.
3 Key Benefits of a Content Delivery System
The three major benefits of using a CDN are:-
- Speed and Performance Boost
- SEO advantage
- Additional Security
- Speed and Performance Boost
This is the primary reason for using a Content Delivery System. CDNs ensure that your site has a faster loading time, leading to higher conversion rates and decreased bounce rates. Users tend to spend more time on a site that loads quickly and are likely to come back to that website, which means increased revenue.
- SEO Advantage
Since 2010, Site Speed has been a factor in Google Rankings. It is no secret that everyone prefers a site that loads instantly. Faster sites mean happier customers, positive reviews, higher conversions and sales, and increased traffic. While the extent to which Google values Site Speed is not determined, there is no doubt that if your site is faster than your competitors, you can rank higher than them in the search results.
- Additional Security.
Many CDN Options provide additional security by allowing users to implement Web Application Firewalls or WAFs on the servers. These firewalls help in stopping DDoS attacks on your website. They also allow you to generate secure links that expire after a certain period to access the content.
When your site’s content is not limited to one host server and is distributed on various CDN servers across the globe, it also helps prevent your website from crashing. A significant localized traffic spike can be distributed evenly across servers. If a specific server goes down, your site remains up and running while fixing the issue.
CDN Service Providers
There are many CDN service providers, some that offer the service exclusively, and some security plugins with an integrated CDN service. Plugins like Kinsta and Jetpack have a CDN that can be enabled by a single click. Others like Cloudflare are CDN specific and therefore provide a more focused service.
The best CDN Providers for WordPress in 2020 are:-
Cloudflare started by providing WordPress security, but the team’s focus shifted rapidly towards boosting a site’s performance without compromising on its security. This is what sets Cloudflare apart as their dedication to safety has made it one of the most trusted options for a Content Delivery System.
Cloudflare has a global presence and servers at many significant hubs and cities and an automatic static content caching. The service can be started with a free trial and has an easy setup.
Amazon Cloudfront was founded in 2008 and is a powerful option that is backed by a global brand. Cloudfront can store a massive amount of data and images in its servers, which reduces load time and has a large number of high-end servers at its disposal.
Amazon Cloudfront also protects your site from DDoS attacks and absorbs the additional load coming to your site. You can also manipulate the graphics of the dashboard, and there are options for providing a custom SSL Certificate. Their plans are priced according to where you are and where you’re sending data too.
KeyCDN allocates servers dynamically so that people can access content faster and with greater ease. It is an HTTP/2, and iPv6 enabled Content Delivery Service. Kinsta has also partnered with them to develop their CDN.
Users can get on-board with a free trial, and KeyCDN allows users to create multiple zones using hotlink protection, and custom expires headers.
Steps to Set Up A CDN
Although there are multiple plans and service providers available in the market, setting up an account is similar across platforms. Before setting up your account, you should go through this article.
The following steps need to be followed if you’re setting up your account:-
1. Sign Up to A CDN Service of your choice and select a plan based on your needs.
2. Create A Pull Zone- You need to specify the URL from where the CDN will pull it. The zone needs to have a name, and the URL will be of the site you wish to be linked to the CDN.
3. Change The Provided CDN URL- A CDN service provides you with a randomly generated URL before transmitting your content. It is advised that a person should edit the DNS settings and rename the URL provided. If, for example, the default URL is treeui32.cdn.com, you should change it t a subdomain of your site like domainname.cdn.com. This makes it easy to manage and also helps in indexing content.
4. Redirect your assets- Change the non-CDN URLs your site is pointing too with the CDN URLs.
A Content Delivery System or a CDN is one of the easiest ways to significantly enhance your site’s performance. It increases your site speed and provides you with security against your website crashing and a DDoS attack.
A CDN makes for a better user experience and a must for brands with a global presence and traffic coming in from all parts of the world. Faster sites mean happier users who are more likely to return to your site and recommend it to friends. Thus, a CDN boosts not only your website but also your business.
Let us know your thoughts and experiences of using a CDN in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to WP Uber today for more exciting articles, updates, and news.