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A slow loading website is a death sentence to your online business. It might sound a little harsh, but it’s true. The moment a visitor lands on your site they’re making judgments and decisions about whether or not you should be trusted.

And if you have a slow loading site, this is strike one against you. Using the power of a CDN can greatly improve site speed along with a host of other benefits. Still, they might not be perfect for every style of WordPress site.

Below you’ll learn what a CDN actually is, how they work, and why you might want to utilize the power of a CDN for your current WordPress website.

What is a CDN?

CDN stands for content delivery network. These networks help to serve up a version of your site that’s in the closest physical proximity to your user. Instead of having to send your website files across the globe they can access a server right in their neck of the woods.

You can do all of the onsite speed optimization necessary, but if your site is still lagging, then investing in a CDN might be a smart move.

For websites that have a large global audience, this can be incredibly helpful. Instead of a visitor having to access your website that’s stored on your Montana server, they can access a version of your site that’s closest to them. This can greatly help to reduce loading time by seconds.

How Do CDNs Work?

When a visitor accesses your site there are certain files that need to load. Duplicates of these files are stored on CDN edge servers across the globe. When someone visits your site they can access the files that are closest to them in physical location.

If you’re not using a CDN, then these files will need to be accessed from a single server location, which could be on the other side of the world.

With a CDN the files have to travel a shorter distance, so load times are shortened.

How Regular Hosting and CDNs Differ

Since you already have a WordPress site, your site is already being hosted in a certain location. All of your website’s files are stored on this single physical server, which users then access when they type in your URL.

CDNs work with your web hosting. Essentially, the CDN works to supercharge your existing hosting. You still store your regular non-static website files on your original host. But, the static files are stored on different servers across the globe.

Note, some WordPress hosting providers actually have CDNs built into their hosting packages, so you won’t have to use a separate CDN on top of your existing hosting.

The Benefits of Using a CDN

Improved speed and performance are the main reasons site owners decide to utilize a CDN. However, they offer more benefits beyond improved site performance alone.

1. Improved Performance

CDNs help to greatly improve website performance and loading speed, no matter where in the world your visitors are located.

This leads to an improved user experience, as your visitors won’t have to stick around for your site to load. Plus, you can see a little boost in the search engines, as loading speed is a current Google ranking factor.

2. Greater Uptime

If your site is prone to crashes from high traffic surges, then you need a CDN on your side. CDNs are built so that your site never goes offline, if one server goes dark or is overloaded with traffic you can simply utilize another existing server.

3. Improved Security

CDNs can offer a greater level of online security. For example, if your site is being threatened by a DDoS attack, then the traffic will simply be reverted to a different server. By enabling your site to be accessed from multiple worldwide servers you spread out the risk from just having a single host.

Do I Need to Use a CDN?

Most existing WordPress sites can benefit from using a CDN. In fact, Akamai made a recent prediction that over half of website traffic will flow through CDNs within two years.

Some styles of WordPress sites won’t need to utilize a CDN, for example:

  • If all of your traffic comes from a single local source
  • If you aren’t receiving high volumes of traffic and your current host is enough
  • If you don’t have the budget for CDN at this time

If you aren’t in one of the scenarios we mentioned above, then you should absolutely be using a CDN to supercharge your current hosting.

If your site is growing and you’re receiving large amounts of traffic, want to add another layer of security to your site, or have a worldwide audience that you want to serve more effectively, then a CDN can be very useful.

A CDN can be a worthwhile investment for your WordPress site. Some services like Cloudflare even offer a basic CDN plan for free, so you can see if it benefits your site.

Now over to you. Do you use a CDN for your WordPress site? Have you seen any improvements? Please share in the comments below.

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Kevin Wood is a freelance writer who writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes, Counter Culturist and Wooden Writing.

One thought on “Does my WordPress Site Need to Use a CDN?

  1. Note to bear in mind: many/most CDNs, are blocked in China, and possibly other countries which implement national filtering rules.

    Obviously it’s always going to be better to have separate localized sites for countries such as China anyway, but if you don’t have then moving your site files onto CDN may have the effect of making your site blocked, since your individual site may not be important enough to be banned but the CDN will be.

    Additionally, entry level CDN plans do not necessarily replicate files around the world.
    Cloudflare will route all requests via USA, which will not necessarily improve performance for non-USA visitors (which is still an amazing service for entry-level free plan), and you also need a separate site with separate China CDN if the web should be accessible to China.

    So… using a CDN does not necessarily result in your files having to travel a shorter distance, so load times are shortened, there are a number of factors to take into consideration.

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