Hello friends,

In this post I will share with you some useful information regarding SEO and image optimization.

And more specifically – what is CDN and how to use it to increase your website speed.

So what exactly is CDN?

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. This type of network can help your server run faster by removing its obligation to provide static content (like images, css and javascript) when a page is loaded. This type of content is provided from various alternative server nodes that are spread worldwide. This means that if a user is trying to access/download something from your website (let’s say images for example), then they will be delivered from the nearest nodes (in geographical terms). Therefore the specific content will load faster on the user’s device and in the meantime your own server won’t be under additional pressure. It’s a win-win situation for both sides!

In other words CDN provides faster responses and content download times thanks to the effect of reduced latency.

How does a typical CDN work?

The typical Content Delivery Network consists of many servers that are geographically dispersed. The Nodes of the CDN are called edge servers. Their job is to cache the static content that you want to provide. Then your content is distributed to each of these nodes and it is stored there. Once this is done it will be accessed from the nearest to each visitor nodes and more specifically – it may be accessed from more than one node. So when a visitor lands on a specific page of your website, its loading time will be drastically reduced due to the fact that most of the content comes from the shortest distance and from different servers. And this short distance that the data travels is called reduced latency.

How to increase my website’s speed by using CDN?

First of all you have to find a suitable CDN provider. Then if you are happy with its pricing plans and features you have to tell the CDN which content should be cached on its nodes. This is also known as mirroring your data on the CDN. The next step is some basic configuration on your website so that each of the requests for accessing the chosen content are directed to the CDN and not to your own server/hosting.

If you are using a CMS like WordPress then the CDN implementation might be even easier. Most of the great CDN providers have plugins that you simply need to install and configure. This is extremely easy and after a few settings you are set up for using CDN.

Here are some honorable mentions that either have their own official WordPress plugin or are available for instant integration via most popular caching plugins or other custom/third party solutions:

  • MaxCDN
  • KeyCDN
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • CloudFlare
  • Microsoft Azure CDN
  • CDN77
  • Jetpack Photon
  • CDNify
  • Fastly
  • CDN.net

What are the pros and cons of using CDN?

Pros:

  • Faster content delivery and response times for all visitors worldwide;
  • Reduced main server load;
  • Low or moderate difficulty of configuration (depends on the type of website and chosen provider);
  • Provides “next-level” optimization for your website;
  • Improves the overall SEO;
  • Helps for higher rankings;
  • There are free or cost-effective solutions which are suitable for smaller businesses or start-ups;

Cons:

  • You still need to optimize your website and content;
  • Some providers have high prices which might not fit into your budget;
  • Your data is provided to a third-party service which might result in a loss of control and even blocked access;
  • In some situations a CDN implementation might not be needed – for example if all of your visits come from near locations and your website is already fully optimized so that the responses are quite fast;
  • Possible complexity when configuring CDN for some websites;
  • Lack of file optimization and security risks from some providers;

Final verdict – should you use CDN or not?

By now you are aware what CDN is and how it works. You also know its pros and cons. So the decision is entirely in your hands. I am sure that in most of the cases (especially when you have a website with thousands of visits daily) you would like to use CDN.

So my advice (before you decide) is to have the following things figured out:

  • Detailed information about your target audience;
  • Expected website visits;
  • Level of optimization before implementing CDN (focus on the website speed metrics provided from tools like GTMetrix or Pingdom);
  • Budget;
  • Implementation strategy;

I hope that this post has provided some clarity on the topic what is CDN and how to use it to increase your website speed. Please share any feedback in the comment section below and don’t forget to spread the word about this post in social media as well.

See you soon, friends!