In today’s digital age, the response time of a website, particularly for e-commerce sites, is critical. If your site fails to load quickly, it can damage your brand’s reputation. Worse, potential customers are likely to abandon your site and move on to a competitor’s. While using a well-designed WordPress theme and optimizing your content, such as images, videos, and PDFs, are essential for a successful site, there is another powerful method that can significantly enhance your WordPress site’s speed: implementing a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
In this article, we will discuss how a CDN can help you improve your site’s performance and enhance the user experience.
What is a CDN
When you subscribe to a basic hosting package, your site is usually hosted on a shared server, which means it shares server resources with thousands of other sites. This may result in slow site speed during peak traffic periods, such as the holiday season or Black Friday. However, large e-commerce sites usually use dedicated servers, which are exclusive to their site. Nevertheless, these servers come with a much higher cost, and network engineers are required to configure and maintain them.
The geographical location of your visitors is another critical factor to consider. For example, if you are based in the USA and have opted for a USA host but your e-commerce site sells French products to customers in the US, visitors from Los Angeles will experience slower load times compared to visitors from Nice due to the distance between the server and the visitor’s location. To solve this problem, a CDN can be useful by storing your site’s content on servers located around the world, ensuring that visitors from different geographic regions experience similar load times.
And the CDN in all this?
The CDN is not another mode of hosting; rather, it is coupled with your hosting to increase access to its resources. Being a global network of servers, it can distribute your content faster around the world. Do you now understand how it works?
Do you need a CDN?
Now that it’s clearer how a CDN works, you need a CDN for your site if:
- You have a lot of traffic and the response time of your shared server is constantly bad
- Your server is located in a country far from your visitors.
Here are some tools to help you find out if you are affected:
Google Analytics :
Log in to your Google Analytics account and go to Audience > Geo > Location. Here, you will be able to see which countries your visitors are coming from. Make sure to select a period of at least one year to get accurate results.
It is a very handy tool for checking CSS and JS files, as well as the current performance of your website. Try fixing the mentioned points without a CDN, and determine if you require one.
If you feel like you need a CDN, here is a summary of its benefits:
- Reduce a site’s response time when the user is away from the main server
- Reduce the cost of bandwidth since the amount of information that comes from the main server is reduced
- Improve your SEO: a fast site is now a very important criterion for natural referencing
- Increase your site’s level of security: DDoS attacks are less powerful and some CDN providers allow you to set up advanced firewalls.
How to install a CDN
If you believe a CDN can improve the performance of your WordPress site, let’s learn how to set it up. It’s important to note that many CDNs offer a free plan with acceptable features for small sites. If you notice a boost in sales, you can upgrade to a premium plan for additional options.
The simplest solution for installing a CDN on a WordPress site does not require a plugin; instead, you can use a “reverse proxy.” This means that the CDN delivers all of your site’s content and only calls on the original shared server when dynamic content is needed. To apply this method to your WordPress site, you simply need to make a small change to your DNS settings.
The DNS information you need to enter can be found in guides specific to the CDN you’ve chosen. Once you have this information, just copy it to the hosting zone / DNS zones at your host.
Let’s look at how the reverse proxy works, the origin server being your host’s server.
As we have seen previously, the CDN server is the server that is closest to the visitor on your website. When an Internet user connects, they contact this DNS server. The DNS server then sends a request to your origin server if there is any dynamic content. The origin server responds, and the CDN server then displays the complete content to the visitor, which includes both static and dynamic content.
You can also install your CDN using a WordPress plugin. These plugins rewrite the address of static content so that it is delivered by the CDN server. It will therefore be necessary to create a subdomain.
The reverse proxy method is also used here so you will also need to modify your site’s DNS slightly. This will allow the cdn.yoursite.com address to become the official address of your CDN.
So, there are several CDN plugins, but one of the most commonly used is CDN Enabler. It is compatible with KeyCDN, MaxCDN, and Incapsula.
Download and activate the plugin on your site. If you are unsure of how to install a plugin, please seek assistance
Then you just enter your subdomain URL and that’s it!
There you go! We hope this article is clear and that you have understood everything about CDNs. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below. Also, feel free to share your own feedback.