Skip to main content
Link to Pressjitsu home page
PricingFeaturesAboutContactBlog
Log in
PricingFeaturesAboutContactBlogLog in
Pressjitsu-WordPress-CDN-benefits-tips

6 CDN Benefits for WordPress + Helpful Tips for Taking Advantage Now

Avatar of Maddy OsmanMaddy Osman
Categories
Performance
Post Date
Dec 2nd, 2020
Image Source

When it comes to your website, website speed is an important consideration. According to HubSpot, about half of customers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. Even a 0.1-second delay can result in 7% fewer conversions. 

Website speed is crucial if you want to convert potential customers and provide a better user experience to your visitors. There are different strategies for speeding up a slow website, but one of the least understood is the use of a content delivery network (CDN).

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • What a content delivery network is
  • How a CDN works
  • The benefits of using a CDN for WordPress
  • What to look for in a WordPress CDN
  • The best CDN for WordPress options
  • How to set up your chosen CDN on your WordPress website

What is a WordPress CDN?

Content delivery networks, or CDNs, deliver web pages and content to users based on: 

  • Geographical location
  • Origin of the web page
  • Content delivery server 

A CDN is composed of servers all over the world that store and distribute your content. Each of the servers in the CDN network is called point of presence (PoP) or edge server.

With a CDN, instead of using your website server’s resources to deliver content, you can use a CDN PoPs closer to the destination. The closer a CDN – or its PoP – is to the user, the faster the website loads.

CDNs are best for static content, or files that do not need to be touched once uploaded on your website. The reason for this is simple: Static content remains the same no matter where the user accesses it. Static content includes stylesheets, JavaScript files, images, and video streams. 

Dynamic content, on the other hand, can change based on factors like:

  • Location: Shipping fees and discounts 
  • Time: Time-sensitive content, like discounts
  • User: Personalized recommendations 

How a Content Delivery Network Works

CDNs shouldn’t be confused with WordPress hosting – a WordPress CDN won’t replace your web hosting company.

Additionally, content delivery networks aren’t recommended or necessary for all websites. For example, if your website focuses on local customers and doesn’t get a lot of traffic, using a CDN won’t offer any significant improvements to your website speed.

But, if your website is focused on a global audience and you receive a lot of visitors and traffic, a CDN for WordPress can greatly improve your website’s performance.

When you choose a hosting provider for your website, the hosting company often has physical data centers in multiple locations worldwide. Your website’s files are on the physical servers in these data centers.

For example, suppose you select a U.S. data center. In that case, your visitors from Europe, Australia, or any other part of the world will end up waiting quite a while to receive content and be able to see and interact with your website.

The further away the web hosting server is from a visitor’s location, the longer it will take to transmit the data. This is known as latency. Latency describes the time and or delay involved in the network data transmission.

The higher the latency, the longer it will take for your website to load for visitors who are far away from your web hosting server. 

That’s where a CDN comes in.

Thanks to its global network of servers, a content delivery network can reduce latency. A CDN takes a massive load off your web hosting server by serving your website from the edge server (or PoP) that’s closest to each visitor. 

Your website loads faster, and your web hosting server doesn’t have to work as hard as it would without a WordPress CDN. 

Benefits of Using a CDN for WordPress

1. A Content Delivery Network Increases Your Site’s Availability

2. A Content Delivery Network Helps Your Website Load Faster

3. A Content Delivery Network Gives Your Website a Performance Boost

4. A Content Delivery Network Improves Your Website’s SEO Ranking

5. A Content Delivery Network Provides Additional Website Security

6. A Content Delivery Network Reduces Bandwidth Costs

One of the most common reasons for using a CDN is to improve your website loading times. However, there are other benefits to implementing a CDN.

1. A Content Delivery Network Increases Your Site’s Availability

Typically, the more traffic a website receives, the more servers it needs to deliver content. Once you have a CDN, your website servers don’t have to work as hard because all that website traffic won’t even enter your server. 

Instead, it will be delivered from the PoP’s cache, which means that there is more available power to deliver your content with fewer servers. Furthermore, if one CDN server goes down, your website traffic will be dynamically routed to another server.

Availability pertains to how much time your website is accessible and how long the server takes to respond to user requests. 

Many CDNs also offer storage for your content, including images, blog posts, and videos. As long as your content is stored on your CDN’s cache, the content delivery network will continue to deliver it to your visitors – even if your website’s hosting servers aren’t working. 

2. A Content Delivery Network Helps Your Website Load Faster

Your server’s geographic location plays a significant role in how fast data is transmitted between the server and your visitors and how fast your website loads. 

Your website will load faster with a CDN for WordPress, and it won’t crash during a sudden surge in traffic, either. This is especially true when you combine a CDN with caching. 

SomeCDNs even incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to manage caching servers and improve your website loading time. 

3. A Content Delivery Network Gives Your Website a Performance Boost

The performance boost is one of the primary reasons why website owners opt for a content delivery network. According to various studies, websites that use a CDN have higher conversion rates. 

A Moz study found that sites that load in one second or less have 150% higher conversion rates than websites with loading times of five seconds or more.

But that’s not all. 

Websites with a CDN also have lower bounce rates. A study by Pingdom showed that websites that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while those that take longer to load have a 38% bounce rate. 

A content delivery network can also boost performance with a reduced time to first byte (TTFB). TTFB refers to the time the user has to wait before they receive the first byte of data from the server. TTFB is one of the metrics that search engines like Google pay attention to and use to rank websites based on speed. 

The higher the TTFB is, the more likely there is a problem with the website’s server, which means it will take longer for your website to display for your visitors. 

A CDN also offers significant speed savings with GZIP or Brotli compression and the use of the HTTP/2 protocol. WordPress CDNs use GZIP compression to reduce your website files’ size, including stylesheets, HTML, and JavaScript files. 

Brotli is another compression algorithm developed by Google. Brotli can reduce a file’s size up to 26% more than GZIP and other compression methods. 

However, Brotli is not yet available on all content delivery network providers or supported in all browsers. As such, CDN servers that use Brotli compression will fallback to GZIP if a website is loaded in a browser that doesn’t support it.

Lastly, for websites that receive a seasonal boost in traffic, as is the case with e-commerce stores, a WordPress CDN prevents the server from overloading and crashing. This is due to load balancing, which divides the incoming traffic between several servers. 

4. A Content Delivery Network Improves Your Website’s SEO Ranking

A boost to your website’s speed will also improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). 

Page speed is one of Google’s ranking factors. If all other factors are equal, a faster-loading website will rank higher than a slower website. 

Faster loading times can also help decrease the bounce rate as visitors will be more likely to stay on your website if it loads faster. However, bounce rates can also be affected by poor website design and content. 

A CDN for WordPress also impacts your website security. Google prefers websites that have SSL certificates. However, having an SSL can slow your website down. A CDN can counter the impact on latency by speeding up the implementation of HTTPS. 

5. A Content Delivery Network Provides Additional Website Security

Since PoP accepts the incoming traffic to your website, CDNs have a secondary function of providing an extra layer of security. This is important for larger, more popular sites that are targets for hacking attempts. 

CDNs have a built-in feature that can filter out bad traffic from good traffic and they can connect your website to servers all over the world. This means it’s less likely your website will go down due to a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.

Another point in favor of WordPress CDNs is that they connect your website to servers all over the world. This means it’s less likely your website will go down due to a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. 

A DDoS attack happens when too much incoming traffic floods a server, causing the website to crash. 

When you run your business through your website even a minute of downtime can significantly impact your conversion rates – not to mention your brand reputation. 

Many content delivery network providers offer security benefits as add-on services, including:

  • Protection against DDoS attacks
  • Protection against bots
  • Firewalls

6. A Content Delivery Network Reduces Bandwidth Costs

A content delivery network lets you offload resources, so your server doesn’t get overwhelmed during a traffic spike, causing you to go over your hosting plan’s limits. 

But traffic spikes aren’t the only thing that can cause an overage charge in your hosting bill. 

Hotlinking is another problematic practice, where a third-party website displays images from your website by directly linking to it. If the website in question receives a lot of traffic, this could rack up your hosting bill. 

CDN providers offer an easy way to enable hotlink protection which protects you from going over your allotted bandwidth limits. 

What To Look For in a WordPress CDN

Now that we’ve covered what a CDN is, how it works, and the benefits of using it, let’s talk about the features to look for in a content delivery network. 

1. Data Center Location

Data centers are servers based in various locations on the content delivery network. Your chosen CDN provider should have multiple data centers in the areas where most of your website visitors are coming from. 

2. Network Quality

In terms of network quality, make sure to check: 

  • Latency: Latency should be low because this indicates faster loading times.
  • Bandwidth: Ideally, the bandwidth should be consistent. 
  • TTFB: TTFB should be low as this indicates your website will load faster.

3. Availability

Most providers for CDN for WordPress guarantee 100% availability. This is possible because they have a large network of servers. However, make sure your chosen content delivery network provider has automatic redirection in place if one server goes down. 

Also, check the network usage for any CDN you’re considering. An overcrowded network can slow down your website, defeating the purpose of adding a content delivery network. 

Additionally, your CDN provider should have a strong presence in areas where your website visitors are located. Proximity matters a lot when it comes to improving the speed of your website. 

But what’s most important to speed is how a CDN handles traffic routing. If it’s done in a roundabout way, you won’t see many improvements. You can get a good indication of how a CDN routes traffic if you consider the relative proximity of their data centers.

4. Other Considerations

The above factors are the most important aspects to assess when it comes to choosing a WordPress CDN. 

However, there are a few other things to look for which include: 

  • Real-time monitoring:Your chosen content delivery network should be able to capture the data from the user’s browser and check the latency and the bandwidth. You shouldn’t have visitors informing you that they can’t access your website.
  • Support: If your website goes down, you want a provider that you can call immediately so they can get your website back up as soon as possible.
  • Cost: The overall monthly cost for your CDN should fit within your budget. Keep in mind that it’s more expensive to transfer data to Asia

The Best CDN for WordPress Options

When it comes to WordPress CDN providers, there are a lot to choose from. What’s more, most of them offer a free trial so you can give each provider a try and see which one works best for your website. 

The best CDN for WordPress options include: 

  • StackPath (formerly MaxCDN)
  • Cloudflare
  • CloudFront
  • KeyCDN
  • Fastly

StackPath (formerly MaxCDN)

StackPath (formerly MaxCDN) is one of the most popular WordPress CDN providers. It’s available as a standalone service or as part of the StackPath Edge Delivery packages. Some of StackPath’s customers include Sectigo (formerly Comodo Security), PBS, and BuySellAds. 

StackPath can be integrated with WordPress by using the W3 Total Cache plugin. 

Key Features of StackPath:

  • EdgeRules feature lets you customize asset delivery, security, and SEO. It includes customized caching based on a set of rules, 301 redirects, and URL signing 
  • Instant Purge removes content from the cache with just one click
  • Private SSL certificate and real-time analytics
  • DDoS protection, service monitoring, and custom web application firewall

Best Content Delivery Network for: Businesses and organizations looking for a straightforward CDN to improve performance without changing hosting providers.  

Price: StackPath plans start at $10/month for the CDN-only bundle, which includes 1TB/mo of bandwidth, unlimited requests, a free private SSL certificate per website, and access to global PoPs.

The Edge Delivery bundle starts at $20/month and includes origin shield, a free private SSL certificate per site, network-layer and application-layer DDoS Protection, and unlimited CDN requests and rules.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a well-known CDN provider that supports both dynamic and static content. Big names like Garmin, IBM, Shopify, and Zendesk use Cloudflare’s CDN services so you can rest assured that your website will be in good hands. 

Cloudflare’s content delivery network has over 200 data centers and many popular WordPress hosting providers have Cloudflare integrated into their control panel. 

Cloudflare can be integrated with WordPress through its own Cloudflare WordPress plugin

Key Features of Cloudflare

  • API-first approach lets you easily automate workflows and control how content is cached and purged
  • Page Rules feature lets you specify particular behaviors for individual URLs, including what gets cached and for how long
  • Argo Smart Routing intelligently routes content on the fastest path and balances the traffic load on multiple origins

Best Content Delivery Network for: Companies doing most of their business online and want to be able to customize their CDN functions.

Pricing: Cloudflare offers a free plan which is geared towards individuals and websites that aren’t business-critical. The plan includes DDoS attack mitigation, global CDN, and email support. 

Paid plans have several tiers:

  • The new (as of this publication) Automatic Platform Optimization plan costs $5/month for users on the free plan (included with all paid plans) and is geared towards WordPress users who want to optimize for Google Core Web Vitals.
  • The Pro plan costs $20/month and is geared towards professionals and bloggers. It includes DDoS mitigation, global CDN, enhanced security with Web Application Firewall (WAF), lossless image optimization, cache analytics, email support, and automatic mobile optimization. 
  • The Business plan costs $200/month and is geared towards small businesses that want to speed up their website. The plan includes everything from the Pro plan as well as 24/7/365 chat support, 100% uptime SLA, CNAME set-up compatibility, PCI compliance, and the ability to use your SSL certificate. 
  • The Enterprise plan includes everything from the Business plan as well as prioritized IP ranges, 24/7/365 phone support, named solutions engineer support, and role-based account access. This plan is best suited for mission-critical applications. Contact Cloudflare directly for a quote. 

CloudFront

CloudFront is a CDN service by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is one of the most cost-effective options on this list. CloudFront was built on a secure and reliable infrastructure that allows for fast speeds. 

CloudFront is used by companies like Slack, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Canon. 

You can use the W3 Total Cache to integrate CloudFront with your WordPress website. 

Key Features of CloudFront

  • 217 PoPs (205 Edge locations and 12 regional edge caches) in 87 cities across 44 countries
  • Customizable for specific application requirements
  • Built-in protection features, including AWS Shield Standard
  • Custom SSL certificate using AWS Certificate Manager

Best Content Delivery Network for: Organizations using otherAmazon services, including S3 and EC2

Pricing: CloudFront has a free plan that offers 12 months of free 50GB data transfers out and 20,000 HTTP or HTTPS requests. On-demand pricing starts at $0.085/GB for the first 10TB (in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Europe, and Israel). 

KeyCDN

KeyCDN serves six continents with about 90,000 zones although it focuses its services primarily in Europe. This WordPress CDN provider has over 30 data centers and is used by companies like GoDaddy, Intel, and Discourse. 

WordPress integration is possible through the Cache Enabler plugin and KeyCDN has detailed instructions for configuring and integrating the plugin. 

Key Features of KeyCDN

  • Unlimited HTTP and HTTPS requests
  • 24/7 support
  • DDoS migration, bad bot blocking, and two-factor authentication
  • Free and custom SSL certificates
  • HTTP/2 support
  • Restful API support
  • Powerful dashboard for management and real-time analytics
  • Anycast technology helps route traffic more effectively

Best Content Delivery Network for: Businesses and organizations that receive a lot of international traffic to their website.

Pricing: KeyCDN has affordable pricing that starts at $0.04/GB for the first 10TB ($4/month) in North America and Europe. It also offers a free 30-day trial. 

Fastly

Fastly is available as a standalone service or as part of Fastly’s Edge Cloud platform. Its list of customers includes Stripe, BuzzFeed, and Github. Fastly has data centers all over the globe although most of them are located in the U.S. 

What sets Fastly apart from other CDNs for WordPress on this list is that they have focused on placing fewer, more powerful PoPs in strategic locations around the world. Their servers use Tier-1 SSDs and their team focuses on speed first and foremost. 

Fastly can be integrated with your WordPress website through a dedicated Fastly plugin.

Key Features of Fastly

  • API-first platform lets you control your content delivery network and make changes instantly
  • Powerful dashboard with real-time logs
  • Instant Purge and batch purging with surrogate keys and 150 milliseconds purge time

Best Content Delivery Network for: Businesses and organizations most concerned with increasing website speed overall.  

Pricing: Fastly starts at $0.12/GB for the first 10TB in North American and European regions (billed at $50/month minimum). They also offer a free trial for up to $50 of traffic.

How To Set Up Your Own Content Delivery Network

Once you’ve chosen a WordPress CDN provider, it’s time to set it up on your website. The exact setup process will vary slightly from one provider to the next, however, there are a few basic steps you need to follow. 

1. Sign up for a CDN for WordPress service

2. Backup your website files. If you have a WordPress website, consider using a WordPress backup plugin

3. Install and activate the CDN plugin. Alternatively, you can use a caching plugin. W3 Total Cache is a free plugin, and WP Rocket is a premium plugin with more features.

If you’re using W3 Total Cache, go to Performance > General Settings > Enable CDN. Choose your CDN service and save changes. 

4. Click on the CDN tab and choose which files you want to host on the CDN. Save your changes when you’re done.

5. Create a pull zone. This is where the CDN will pull content from. To do this, log into your CDN provider’s dashboard, name the zone, and enter your website’s URL. 

Optional: Create a push zone that will be used for files above 100MB (i.e., videos you plan to store on your CDN). You’ll need a third-party client to do this.

6. Create a custom URL. CDNs often come with long URLs, so most people opt to redirect this to their subdomain so it matches their website. This is an optional step so feel free to skip it. If you decide to create a custom URL for your CDN, edit your DNS settings to create a CNAME that points from your website’s subdomain to the CDN-generated domain.

7. Test your new URL. Take the web address of an image or video and replace it with the CDN URL. If everything is configured properly, the image or video will load from the CDN’s URL.

8. Clear the cache. Remember that the CDN caches website elements so if you make any changes, they won’t be reflected immediately. This is why clearing the cache is necessary whenever you make changes to your website. 

Content Delivery Network Best Practices

Now that your CDN is configured, there are a few best practices that can help you make the most out of your CDN. 

Keep Your CDN Cache Updated

The CDN’s primary function is to cache content to reduce page loading time. Content will benefit from staying in the cache as long as possible so that the page will load faster. 

It’s also worth noting that Google PageSpeed scores penalize users that don’t set a long cache time for content. With that said, it’s also important to control the length of time that the content stays on the CDN and how you force it to update when it changes. 

To update the CDNs and avoid delivering stale content from CDNs, Akamai suggests using new origin names as much as possible. Simply add version numbers to the origin name rather than just uploading the same object name and overwriting it. You’ll also need to update the links on your website to reflect the new object name and delete the old object when you’re done.  

Optimize Files For Best Download Speeds

No matter what type of website you have, your files need to be optimized for the highest download speeds. This includes images, videos, website files such as stylesheets and script files, and large files meant to be downloaded such as documents and PDF files. 

Image Compression

Images are often the biggest culprit for slow-loading websites. By saving images in a proper format and using image compression, you can greatly reduce the file size of an image without affecting its quality. 

You can use a plugin like Smush to compress all the current images on your website and any new images you upload.

Or, you can take a look at our post on everything you’ll need to know about image optimization for WordPress.

If you have a web application and you use a CDN for WordPress, you should also compress images. Often, web applications allow users to upload images but that means you have very little control over the size of the file that a user uploads. 

This is where a library like ImageMagick comes in handy. ImageMagick is compatible with many programming languages. No matter which language your web application was written in, you can use a script that lets the ImageMagick library resize and compress the uploaded image. 

File Compression

It’s not uncommon for websites to offer large files for downloading. These files can include documents, company reports, PDF files, and video tutorials. These files are typically hosted on a CDN to help users download them faster. 

If you plan on offering large files for downloading, consider zipping them up first as this can significantly reduce the download time as well as data transfer costs. 

Minify CSS and Javascript Files

Every website uses CSS styles and JavaScript files. The CSS files control how your website looks while JavaScript adds interactivity and is used for things like form validation. 

CSS stylesheets and JavaScript files are not usually very large. However, they often take up a lot of unnecessary space due to comments and spacing between lines of code. 

All that empty space contributes to the final size of the file so it’s better if you minify them to greatly reduce their size. 

Final Thoughts: The Best CDNs for WordPress (+ 6 CDN Benefits)

A WordPress CDN offers many benefits. It increases your website availability, leads to a faster loading site, and boosts performance. A CDN can also help improve your SEO rank, increase your website security, and reduce your bandwidth cost. 

We’ve covered some of the best CDN for WordPress options which include StackPath, Cloudflare, CloudFront, KeyCDN, and Fastly. You can integrate them with your WordPress website through a dedicated plugin provided by the CDN itself or you can use a third-party plugin like W3 Total Cache. 

We’ve also shown you how to set up your CDN and how to keep the CDN cache updated. Most of these CDN providers offer a free trial. Try them out and see which CDN is the best for your WordPress website.

If you’re looking into CDNs to boost your website’s speed and performance, you also need top of the line hosting. Pressjitsu was designed as a premium WordPress website hosting service with a focus on performance, stability, and security. Sign up for one of our performance-boosting plans, and learn more about how Pressjitsu can help your online business.


Ready-to-use expert knowledge right in your inbox
Sign up here for our weekly newsletter to get WordPress tips from industry experts.