Speed, security, and SEO: these are the three keys to success for any website. (And, of course, having something unique and valuable to offer your target audience.)
These three elements aren’t always that simple to implement though and require a multi-layered approach for implementation. Sure, you can secure your PHP, use an ultra-fast WordPress theme, and develop an intricate link-building strategy for your WordPress site. While each of these is essential, there’s much more to be done to improve your site’s security, performance, and search ranking.
A good tool to start with is a premium or free WordPress CDN. It will help you enhance your WordPress site’s performance, security, and SEO strategies at the server level. Curious what all this CDN business is about? Let’s take a closer look at what a CDN is and how you can use one of the best WordPress CDN plugins to integrate it into your website. That's how you take your site onto the world stage.
What Is a CDN and Do You Actually Need One?
CDN stands for “content delivery network”. Basically, it’s like another type of web hosting for your website, only this one sits on top of your main hosting account. Essentially, it adds an additional--and global--network of servers to your website’s repertoire.
KeyCDN, a CDN service provider, created a graphic that’s helpful in showing the difference between traditional web hosting and a CDN service:
Traditional web hosting typically relies on a small network of data centers spread out across a country or geographic region. While delivering a reliable web experience to visitors located in the same country as you usually is no problem, your overseas visitors might not be so lucky. Sometimes, the issue isn’t even geographic in nature. It could simply be the amount of stress placed on your web server by the amount of traffic, download requests, or visual content stored on your server.
What a CDN does is assume the majority of the server load, sparing your main web host the burden of carrying it all. This is because CDNs have far-flung data centers that help shorten the distance between your website and its visitors, no matter where they are located. And, so, the cached static pages of your WordPress site can be more quickly delivered to visitors.
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While the most common benefit associated with a CDN service is speed, there are others you’ll get from using one as well:
- With improved page performance and loading times, user experience improves as does your rank in search.
- CDNs often offer additional security buffers in order to keep their network--and your site--extra secure.
- Rather than rely on the uptime of your web host’s single server to keep your site running, you’ll have multiple server installations around the globe to power your site.
While all this sounds great, it’s important to consider whether you actually need a CDN service; after all, this is something you have to pay for unless your web hosting plan includes it for “free”. These are the main reasons why you’d want one. If:
- The quantity of web traffic you receive continually puts too much pressure on your server.
- You have a media-rich website (like a portfolio, news site, or blog) and it’s slowing download times.
- Your website offers streaming video or audio services.
- You offer software downloads and visitors complain it takes too long to get the content.
- You have or want to reach a global audience.
WordPress CDN Services for a Better User Experience
Having decided that a CDN will be good for your website, it’s now time to consider the options. The first thing to think about is which CDN service you want to use. There are dozens of options available, but that doesn’t mean each of them is equally as good for your website.
For example, some CDNs are part of a security service, so you can lump those together if you haven’t instituted a rigorous security program for your site yet. There are also CDNs that have networks located in different geographic regions. By studying your analytics, you’ll have a better sense of where your audience hails from and which CDN network will best reach them. Of course, there’s always cost to factor into the equation as well.
To get you started, here are 4 of the best CDN services available right now:
Cloudflare has one of the most recognizable names in the CDN world and for good reason.
- More than 115 data centers around the globe
- Up to 10 Tbps
- Load balancing
- DDoS and other security protection
- SSL certificates
- WordPress CDN plugin for easy integration
- Over 100 servers located in 24 countries
- Integrates with Amazon security, cloud, storage, and load balancing services
- On-demand pricing - pay only for what you use
Incapsula’s smaller network of data centers offers a greater concentration within North America and Europe, which would be highly beneficial if that’s where the majority of your traffic comes from.
- 40 data centers
- Up to 5 Tbps
- Isn’t just a CDN service; also offers load balancing, DDoS protection, and basic security services like firewalls
- HTTP/2 and IPv6 support
KeyCDN is one of the most recommended CDN services on the market. Some of this, in part, due to its hyper-reliable network of servers and part is due to its user-friendliness.
- Dozens of data centers (with more planned)
- Intuitive management dashboard
- Low latency SSD
- Free SSL certificate
- Security features like encryption, two-factor authentication, bot blocking, and more
- HTTP/2 ready
- WordPress CDN plugin for integration
WordPress Plugins to Help Integrate CDNs into Your Site
When it comes to getting a CDN for your site, you have a couple options in terms of signing up for one. Your first option is to work directly with your CDN service provider of choice (whether it’s one of the ones mentioned earlier or a different one altogether).
Another option is for you to procure the CDN service from your hosting provider. Two examples of hosting companies that do this are SiteGround, which has partnered with Cloudflare CDN, and Kinsta, which has partnered with KeyCDN. This option is great if you want to take the guesswork out of finding a provider, signing up for the service, and integrating it into your site.
- ✅ Perfect for WordPress beginners
- ✅ Works for smaller budgets
- ✅ Free migration, 24/7 support, SSL and CDN
💰 Starting at $3.95/mo
SiteGround is one of our favorite hosting providers as far as shared hosting goes. Web hosting is their craft. The latest speed technologies are their passion. Unique security solutions are their specialty. Amazing technical support is their pride. Nuff said!
- ✅ Perfect for serious website owners
- ✅ Specialize in high-traffic websites
- ✅ Free migration, SSL and CDN
💰 Starting at $30/mo
Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting provider where they take care of all your needs regarding your website. They run their services on cutting edge technology and take support seriously. They specialize in high-traffic WordPress site, so if you have one, they're an ideal partner.
Once you’ve signed up for the CDN and it’s been activated on the backend of your site, you’re nearly there.
While there are some plugins built specifically to help users integrate these CDN services into WordPress, you’re better off using a plugin that offers cross-CDN support. They often come with additional caching, security, and image optimization features, too, which makes them an all-around smart choice when considering which to use on your site.
Here are 5 of the best WordPress CDN plugins:
This plugin from Jetpack is meant to be used as an image editor and optimization tool. Because it is powered by the WordPress CDN, it makes the process of manipulating and displaying images on your site much more efficient.
Here is another image optimization plugin for WordPress. This one, however, connects to most of the major CDN services (like Cloudflare and KeyCDN) so you can store and speed up your images from your preferred external CDN.
And then there are the killer testimonials from their users. People sure love the functionality and value!
This plugin is your typical caching plugin. It takes your site’s blog content, creates static files from them, and then optimizes them through a system of caching and other file minification processes so they can be more easily served by your CDN.
The purpose of this plugin is to provide your site with SEO boosting features, including caching and CDN integration. This is a good choice if your CDN service is CloudFront or Cloudflare.
Here is one more caching plugin that does a whole lot more than cache your website’s files. WP Super Cache, in particular, provides support for CDNs and simplifies the process of syncing your URLs with your chosen provider.
Free Website Speed eBook
The 12-Step Checklist to
Achieve Loading Times Under 1 Second
It’s Time to Prioritize Performance
As you can see, the options for CDN services and WordPress CDN plugins to help you integrate those services into your site are plentiful. However, if you worry that there’s too much work involved in setting this up, you can always turn to your WordPress maintenance provider for assistance.
WP Buffs understands the importance of performance and security for your website by prioritizing what matters most. With CDN support included in the speed and performance solutions, as well as other features like caching, minification, and more, WP Buffs is the partner you need if you want to simplify the CDN integration process.
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Brenda Barron is the blog editor for the WP Buffs WordPress blog and a freelance writer from southern California. When not working, she’s spending time with her family, homeschooling her kids, knitting, and getting outdoors. Find out more about her at Digital Inkwell. If you want some freebies, check out our free speed and security ebooks, webinars for WordPress professionals, WordPress blog or WordPress podcast all about building monthly recurring revenue.