Is your WordPress site starting to see huge waves of traffic? Are you concerned that people on the other side of the world can’t access your videos, or maybe their page load speeds are taking much longer?
Here’s the big question: Do you need a CDN for your WordPress blog?
The answer is almost always yes if you’re looking for a global reach, or if your blog is scaling up quickly. However, it’s worthwhile to consider the options and to fully understand how a CDN (such as MaxCDN, CloudFlare, or Amazon Web Services) works to benefit your WordPress blog.
What is a CDN?
A CDN, or content delivery network, is a network of servers that delivers your content to people all over the world based on the geographical location of those users. For example, if you initiate the use of a CDN for your WordPress blog, based in Chicago, a user in India may want to take a look at the site and see what you have to say.
With a network, or hosting account that only provides servers in the US, the India-based visitors may have to wait around longer for your website to load. With a CDN, the network takes a look at which server is located closest to that user in India. The closer the server is to the computer consuming the content, the faster it will be delivered.
It’s also worth noting that a CDN is essential for handling large waves of traffic, so when a WordPress blog receives an influx from a promotion or publicity piece, you may be wondering whether your current delivery system can handle all of the website requests. Since the CDN distributes the load across various different servers, the chances of your site going down decrease drastically.
What are the Benefits of Implementing a CDN?
Using a CDN can provide a wide range of benefits, depending on the CDN provider you go with and the location of the servers on that network. Take a look at the list below to get a good idea as to what you can expect when opting for a respectable CDN.
Reach Global Viewers
Since a CDN offers various servers throughout the world, this gives you chance to fully reach out to those who might not be in the direct geographical area as you. Sure, someone across the globe should be able to bring up your website, but chances are they are experiencing much slower download speeds than a user who is just hours from your office.
If you really want to go for a global reach, which many companies are looking to do, a CDN is one of your best friends.
Prevent Website Crashes
As stated above, website crashes are particularly troublesome for companies that are trying to scale up fast. Why is this the case? Because these companies have so many things on their plates that they may not know exactly when to switch to a CDN.
Once a large traffic boost comes along, your standard hosting provider may not be able to handle the amount of users who are requesting pages from your site. A crashed website results in lost dollars, so it’s wise to plan ahead for when you expect to see increases in traffic.
Faster Page Downloads
This is the primary benefit that webmasters shoot for when placing a WordPress blog on a CDN. As we discussed above, the vast network of servers brings your site to people a little bit faster. Since it doesn’t have to get rerouted or sent through numerous servers and computers, it ensures that your content is getting sent to the right people in a reasonable time.
Improve Your User Experience
With a faster website comes a happier visitor. Imagine all of the people throughout the world who have to wait a little longer to see your content because they live further away from the necessary servers. This may cause them to leave your site before it loads, or they may just get a little ticked off. Regardless, a faster website is known to improve the amount of time that people stick around on your WordPress blog, since people are not willing to wait around forever for your site to load.
Google loves when the user experience improves on your website. A strong motivating factor in the way Google decides on whether or not it should move your site up in the search rankings is by testing your page load speeds. If it takes a while for customers to view your website, this is seen as a huge problem in Google’s eyes. Once you decide on a CDN you should gradually start to see a boost in SEO rankings.
Access to Firewall Protected Countries
Many countries won’t allow its citizens access to your website if your web hosting or distribution services don’t have the local resources needed to deliver your content. The top CDNs help you circumnavigate these restrictions, since they generally have large networks in these firewall protected countries, allowing for your pages to slip through.
Fewer Network Problems
One of the main benefits of a CDN is that it helps support videos, images and complex scripts. Therefore, your end users have fewer problems with jittery page loads and streaming issues. This aspect of a CDN gives you the power to deliver high-definition content to your user without much increase in cost or network load. Are you posting high resolution images or HD videos? This is an area for concern, since you may not realize that people in other countries or states are having trouble with the viewing.
Receive Access to Analytics and Support
An interesting part of any CDN is that they send you robust analytical information for forecasting and discovering trends in the market. This can help when searching out advertising sales and more. Not to mention, the top CDNs provide dedicated support in case any problems arise with your website. The support team is generally just a call or email away for you to get on your way to answering a question.
Save Money (If Your Alternative is to Invest in Costly Infrastructures or Multiple Service Providers)
Foreign hosting is often highly priced, and local hosting solutions typically don’t provide the support you need for going global. Therefore, you will save lots of money compared to a large infrastructure of multiple service providers.
Are There Any Downsides to a CDN?
The only real downside to using a CDN is that is costs you money. That’s not to say that a CDN is overly expensive, but you will have to take on an additional cost depending on the CDN service you go with. I’d also state that this cost is often not necessary if your website is not taking in substantial traffic loads, so you may just end up wasting a substantial amount of money for no reason. However, it is less expensive than going with a foreign hosting company.
When is it Time for Me to Place my WordPress Site on a CDN?
So, do you think that your website is ready for the big time? This question comes up quite a bit, because obviously webmasters want to be ready for a traffic influx, instead of watching their sites go crashing when it starts gaining in popularity. However, in order to cut costs, and to maintain simplicity with a site, webmasters are hesitant to make the move, because they either find it unnecessary at the time or they don’t want to spend the money.
That said, when is the ideal time to place your WordPress site on a CDN? Here are a few tips:
- With Site Growth: If your website is growing rapidly in popularity, you may consider a CDN for handling the extra load. It’s also a wise decision for companies that plan on scaling fast.
- Static Content: High traffic websites with static content require additional CDN support, considering images, scripts, CSS and other elements can slow down or crash your site if not utilizing a CDN.
- You’ve Researched for a Trusting CDN Provider: Depending on the location of the servers on the CDN, the people who run the company and the overall up-time, you may discover that a CDN is valuable for your website a little earlier than expected. However, if you just go with the first option presented to you, the CDN may provide no benefit at all.
Over to You…
Bringing up the question on whether or not to implement a CDN on your WordPress website generally strikes up some debate with people in the market. Some say that a CDN can actually slow down your site, while others firmly disagree. In reality, the main thing to remember is that a CDN will almost always improve the download speeds on your website, if you select a reputable CDN provider.
The only reservation we have is when to put your WordPress site on a CDN, considering it may end up being a waste of money if you run a small site without many complicated scripts or images. Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions about whether you need a CDN for your WordPress blog or not. Do your websites currently run on CDNs?
How does the Jetpack Photon which uses the wordpress.com cdn (and is free) compare to paid cdn services?
Well, considering the fact that Jetpack Photon is behind the biggest multisite WordPress installation (wordpress.com), I guess it’s a reliable CDN service. If you don’t mind having your blog depending on Jetpack then I guess it’s a great choice. Also, Photon is only available for image while other services like MaxCDN provide the necessary functionality in order to host other types of files as well.
With photon, you don’t have an option to invalidate or delete your uploaded images. Once an image is up, it stays there forever. Even if uploaded by accident.
This is can be a huge deal breaker, and many may find out only after it’s too late.