WordPress CDN Services: Improve Your Site’s Speed
Published on May 20, 2023 by Simon Wright
Page loading speed is a key factor search engines use when determining page rank. One of the most efficient ways of boosting your site’s performance to ensure it pleases Google, Bing, Yahoo, et al. is to use a WordPress CDN (Content Delivery Network.)
In this article, we’ll explain why you need to use a WordPress CDN and show how easy it is to add one to your website.
What is a WordPress CDN and Why Do You Need One?
As already mentioned, website loading speed is one of the key factors search engines use when determining page rank. This is because twenty-first century dwellers are an impatient bunch, unwilling to waste their precious time on slow performing websites.
If you have an online store, slow website performance can seriously hurt your business. In fact, a survey undertaken by Unbounce shows that nearly 70% of consumers admit that their willingness to purchase from an online retailer is driven by page performance. In other words, if a site’s loads too slowly, the customer will simply go elsewhere. And another report from Deloitte Digital titled Milliseconds Make Millions states that according to Google, where page loading speeds are over a second long result in users losing interest. Unsurprisingly, a ten-second loading time usually sees customers to leave forever.
Typically, when someone visits your web address, their web browser requests the site data it needs from your host server. Invariably, that server will be a vast distance (we are talking thousands of miles or more) from the visitor. Laws of physics then dictate that transferring the required data will take longer than if the server were much closer to the visitor.
We all know the cornerstone of site speed is to have a decent hosting provider such as WP Bolt. However, once your site is live, a WordPress CDN can turbocharge loading times.
In a nutshell, a WordPress CDN brings the website data and user closer together. It does this by utilizing a network of servers located around the world. Copies of the site data are cached (a fancy name for stored) statically on these servers. Then, whenever someone visits your site, they are provided with the cached copy of the content located on the server nearest to them. The result is significantly improved page loading times and happy visitors.
Typical WordPress CDN Use Cases
Regardless of what type of website you have – whether it is a blog, online store, affiliate marketing site, etc. – a CDN can significantly improve your site’s performance, particularly where you are trying to build an international audience. The only types of websites that would not particularly benefit from a WordPress CDN are:
- Personal websites aimed at a limited audience, such as a couple’s wedding website, a local community group site, or a family tree blog.
- Where you are only targeting a specific geographical market and are hosting the site on a server located relatively near to that market. For example, a WordPress CDN would be of little to no benefit to a fast-food restaurant in New York whose website is hosted on a server located on the US East Coast.
Benefits of Using a WordPress CDN
We’ve already mentioned improved page loading speeds as a key reason for using a WordPress CDN. However, there are other valuable benefits they bring, including:
- Significantly enhanced user experience.
- Improved bounce rates.
- Better search engine rankings.
- Extra level of security.
How to Add a WordPress CDN to Your Website
Thanks to trusty plugins, adding a CDN to your WordPress website is easy. Depending on the plugin you choose, accessing the CDN is done in one of two ways:
- The plugin automatically takes care of everything, including registering your site on the CDN network, or
- The plugin manages the CDN, but you must manually point your domain’s name servers to the CDN. However, this is easy to do and should not deter WordPress novices.
When deciding on the most suitable plugin and service for your needs, you should consider factors like:
- The type of content on your site. For example, does it contain lots of bandwidth gobbling media such as embedded sound, audio, or video?
- Locations of the CDN servers relative to your target audience.
- Your available budget.
7 of the Best WordPress CDNs Currently Available
Now that you know what a WordPress CDN is and how it can benefit your site, let’s look at some of the best currently available. And don’t worry, free options are available if you have no spare budget.
Jetpack is a multifunction WordPress plugin with a free CDN to help improve your site’s performance. Furthermore, this plugin can optimize images before serving them with other static content from its global CDN, thereby ensuring the fast possible page speeds.
Despite being free, Jetpack has an impressive feature set, including:
- Fast single-click installation
- No limits on the number of files
- Auto image resizing for mobile devices
- Various powerful non-CDN-related tools, such as security, statistics, etc.
While the core JetPack plugin is free, to serve videos through its CDN will require the addition of their video hosting service, VideoPress. That costs $59.40 for the first year ($119.40 thereafter) and includes several other useful features, including 1TB of storage and a customizable video player.
Another reputable and well-known CDN service is Cloudflare. With data centers scattered across 275 cities and more than 100 nations, Cloudflare has one of the largest server networks. Therefore, it is unlikely that any visitors to your WordPress website will be located far from Cloudflare server.
Cloudflare is available with free and paid plans. While the free one is relatively simple, it will be an excellent foundation for many website owners. With the free plan, you get:
- Access to a global CDN server network
- Fast DNS
- Web application firewall (WAF)
- SSL certificates
- Unmetered distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection
The cheapest premium Cloudflare plan, Pro, costs $20 per month. This version adds the following features to the free version:
- Additional rules
- DDoS alerts
- Bot report with basic mitigation suggestions
- Accelerated mobile page (AMP)
- Lossless image optimization
- Privacy-first analytics
Two more premium plans, Business and Enterprise, are available. Compared to the other plans, both these have fewer restrictions on page rules, scripts, etc., plus they add extra security features. However, the Business plan costs $200 per month, so unless you have an established business with good cash flow, you’d be better off sticking with the free plan initially, upgrading to a premium plan only if the restrictions get bothersome.
KeyCDN optimizes the speed of your site via an ever-expanding network of 60+ data centers strategically located around the globe. The service also bundles integral security features aimed at protecting your data.
KeyCDN key features include:
- User-friendly dashboard offering simple set-up, configuration, and operation
- Image processing and HTTP live streaming
- Security features, including Let’s Encrypt thin layer security (TLS), two-factor authentication, DDoS protection, secure token, etc.
- Integrates with other CDN and cache plugins, e.g., CDN Enabler or WP Super Cache
- Purge URL and cache options
- 24/7 support
- 14-day free trial
Pricing-wise, KeyCDN uses a combination of bandwidth and region, with the highest cost being $0.10 per GB for up to 10TB in the Africa and Latin America region. However, for North America and Europe, the price per GB drops to $0.01 per GB for bandwidths exceeding 100TB. Furthermore, volume-based discounts are available. Unfortunately, KeyCDN does charge extra for image processing and storage.
Bunny.net offers a WordPress-compatible CDN that uses a global network of 114 points of presence (PoPs) to deliver super-fast content. The key selling points of Bunny.net are its ease of use and scalability.
As a premium service, Bunny.net is available with two “pay-as-you-go” pricing plans, namely:
- The ‘Standard Network’ which uses all 114 PoPs and offers a 46% improvement in page loading times.
- Alternatively, the ‘Volume Network’ would be a good fit if you are on a tight budget. This plan utilizes only 10 PoPs to keeps costs minimal, but remember, having server space in ten locations is better than just one.
In both cases, pricing is based on the bandwidth volume, more details of which are available here. Moreover, a monthly cap can be added to either plan, giving you complete control over your expenditure.
Each Bunny.net plan includes the following features:
- Perma-cache for permanent file copy storage
- Instant content purging (removes and replaces outdated content from the servers)
- Customizable caching rules
- WordPress caching plugin compatibility
- Image optimization
- Real-time statistics
- Robust security features, including a free SSL certificate
- 24/7 support
- 14-day free trial
Overall, Bunny.net is an ideal CDN for small to medium-sized businesses needing to keep a tight grip on expenditure.
5. Amazon CloudFront
Did you realize Amazon also offers a WordPress-compatible CDN service called Amazon CloudFront? A product of Amazon Web Services, the Amazon CloudFront platform can cache most content types, including images, videos, data, CSS, and APIs, giving your website blisteringly fast performance.
The features list of Amazon CloudFront is extensive and includes the following:
- A global network of more than 450 PoPs and 13 regional edge caches
- Intuitive user backend interface
- AWS Shield offering DDoS protection
- Origin shield
- SSL/TLS encryptions
- Integrates with other AWS services, such as AWS Media Services and AWS Elemental
- A range of developer tools
- Real-time logs and analytics thanks to Amazon Cloudwatch and Kinesis integrations
A free Amazon CloudFront tier is available, which includes 1TB of data transfer, 10 million HTTP/HTTPS requests, and 2 million function invocations per month. However, everything under this tier is only free for the first year, after which volume-based pricing kicks in.
StackPath is a popular premium (i.e., no free option available) WordPress CDN that offers high performance and strong reliability thanks to a continually expanding network that currently comprises 73 global server locations.
Feature-wise, StackPath is impressive, boasting goodies like:
- User-friendly interface permitting easy installation and operation
- Custom CDN rules engine
- Image and asset optimization
- Origin shield for protecting the origin against traffic spikes
- SSL certificate management and DDoS protection
- Serverless scripting
- Advanced real-time analytics and detailed reporting
Unfortunately, the prices of StackPath are not published, so you must request those directly from the developer’s sales team.
Like most of the other services we have looked at, Sucuri combines a WordPress CDN with website security. As such, your site will be both fast and secure.
Sucuri has ten DDoS/WAF/CDN and two CDN Edge servers globally. While that does not appear to be many, it is sufficient to provide a 70% improvement in website performance when the CDN is combined with the firm’s caching options.
Sucuri offers two firewall / CDN pricing plans costing $120 and $240 annually. Depending on the plan purchased, expect to get access to some or all these features:
- Multiple caching options
- Fast HTTP/2 Support
- Web application firewall (WAF)
- DDoS attack mitigation
- Zero-day exploit prevention
- Brute force protection and malware detection
- DNS monitoring
- SSL and SEO spam scanning
- Incident response and 24/7 support
- Moneyback guarantee (30-day)
Unfortunately, because Sucuri is rather pricey, it won’t be for everyone. However, those who can afford it will get great features that can significantly improve their website’s performance and security.
A Few Parting Words
A fast page loading speed is crucial in ensuring your website ranks well with search engines and keeps visitors to your site engaged.
Aside from using quality web hosting, one of the most effective ways to optimize your WordPress site’s performance is to use a content delivery network (CDN.) This is easily done using a WordPress CDN plugin, and options are available to suit even the most restricted budget and inexperienced user.
Therefore, if you are not currently using a WordPress CDN, we strongly recommend you try one. Google will love you and your site visitors will thank you for it.
I’m a former construction industry professional who came out of the writer’s closet and am now totally comfortable with my creative side. My pronouns are smart, creative, witty, and dependable. I have written content in a number of niches including WordPress, plus I’m a blogger and affiliate marketer. If you’d like to know more about how I can help you, please head over to my website.