If you’re looking for ways to make your WordPress website load faster in order to deliver a more enjoyable experience to your users, and reap all the benefits associated with that, then you might have come across the acronym CDN, or content delivery network.
Content delivery networks essentially host much of your website’s content on servers that are distributed around the world. The advantage of this is that when a visitor reaches your website, the content can be loaded from the data center that is nearest to them, improving the time it takes for the page to load.
So whether you are selling items from your website, or you just want to offer the best user experience possible, utilizing the services of a CDN could very well help you achieve your goals.
How Does a CDN Service Work?
The CDN service will copy the static content of a website to their distributed network of servers that are located in data centers around the world. Then, each time a visitor accesses a page on your website, that content will be loaded from the server best located to deliver the content in the quickest time possible out of all the available options.
After choosing a CDN service provider, you must configure your website to connect to their servers. However, after this initial setup, there is nothing more to do on your part as the CDN service manages the distribution of static files to their servers. They also take care of calculating and connecting the visitor to the appropriate data center which will deliver the optimum page loading times.
Who a CDN Isn’t For
If your website doesn’t have much content or a global reach, then there may not be a real need to make use of the services of a content delivery network.
Local websites that cater to a specific geographical location may be better off finding a web host with a data centre in their target area. While users based anywhere can still access the website, those in the core geographical area will experience a faster loading website.
Alternatively, if your website doesn’t include lots of content, especially large media files, the services of a CDN may be not offer the best return on your investment if you are yet to upgrade your web hosting.
Things to Look For When Choosing a CDN Service
Here is a check list of points to consider when shopping around for a CDN service that can speed up the delivery of your website’s content:
How Distributed Are Their Servers
The more you know about your visitors and where they are based geographically, the better equipped you will be when it comes to choosing a CDN.
If the majority of your visitors are based in the US and the UK, then ensuring any potential CDN services you shortlist have data centers in those locations is a must. Alternatively, if there is no pattern to where your visitors are based and you have a truly global audience, then seeking out a CDN that reflects this should be a priority.
How Do Their Pricing Plans Work?
Typically CDN services charge by the amount of data or bandwidth your website will use, although this isn’t always the case. While it’s relatively easy to work out how much disk space your website will need, establishing the amount of bandwidth it consumes is less straightforward, especially when trying to take fluctuating traffic levels into account.
This can make forecasting the cost of a CDN more hit and miss than it could be. However, as the best CDNs will offer flexible plans that allow you to switch from one tier or level to another as your needs grow or diminish, you can avoid paying for more bandwidth than you need or use.
Do They Provide Support for WordPress?
If your website is built using WordPress, or another CMS or publishing platform, then checking any potential CDN supports that software is vital. While many will, some may provide more integration than others. This can include tailored services and compatibility with popular caching plugins, such as the popular and free W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache plugins.
These plugins make it very easy to integrate a CDN with your WordPress website, as well as having many other benefits. This makes support for them, or a similar option, well worth looking out for when selecting a service provider.
Best CDN Options for WordPress Users
Now that you know what a CDN is and how it can benefit your website, as well as some things to look out for when selecting a service, here are some options that you might want to take a closer look at.
MaxCDN includes great support for WordPress, including integration with the W3 Total Cache plugin. In fact, to get a better idea of how this service would work with your website, you can view their setup tutorial for WordPress and W3 Total Cache users.
MaxCDN offer a free trial and with prices starting from just $9 per month, this is an affordable way to increase your site speed.
CloudFlare is another popular choice amongst WordPress users. Recognizing this, this CDN have made their service as easy to setup for WordPress websites as possible, and have created their own plugin for doing so.
CloudFlare offers more than just a content delivery network service, however their paid CDN plans start at $20 per month and they don’t charge based on how much bandwidth your site consumes. They also have free plans available for light users.
WPPronto previously operated under the name of WPCDN which should give you some idea of the services they specialise in.
The company now offers WordPress hosting with integration with CloudFlare CDN at the heart of their hosting plans. Prices start from $20 per month, which includes hosting for one WordPress website on a solid state drive, and unlimited CloudFlare CDN bandwidth. You also get access to a team of dedicated WordPress support experts and multiple layers protection to keep your site secure.
Hopefully you can now see the value of using a CDN to host some of the content from your website.
If this sounds like a service that your website would benefit from, then the above recommendations offer some great plans to suit a range of websites, from fledgling blogs, though to revenue generating websites and online shops.
If you have any questions about content delivery networks or other forms of web hosting, please leave a comment below.