It’s no secret that speed is a factor for a successful site. It’s important for keeping readers engaged and it’s even a factor for search engine quality signals. Once your WordPress site earns a little traffic, you might start to see some performance issues. A single-node server and hosting account can only offer so much bandwidth and resource capacity. If you really want to offer the best, fastest possible WordPress hosting for your users, you need a CDN.
A Little Technical Background on CDNs
Most people wonder what makes a CDN different from traditional hosting. Without getting too technical, CDNs deliver content in a different way than a server hosted in one location. A CDN doesn’t replace traditional hosting. You still need a standard hosting account, but a CDN can be purchased as an additional way to deliver content to your users much more quickly.
When you open a site in your browser, the browser does a DNS lookup to find the location of your server. It then sends a request to your host server to get content from the WordPress site. When one or two people do this at the same time, there isn’t much performance different. Imagine a thousand or even a million people requesting content from your server. This takes a large amount of bandwidth and server resources.
With a CDN, your content is cached across several servers in several different countries. When someone on the west coast of the US requests your content, a CDN determines the geographically closest location and delivers the cached content from that particular data center.
You may wonder how much of a difference it makes to have a CDN deliver content. Even though data moves at the speed of light, it still takes much longer to travel across the planet versus close to the user’s location. Just open a website you know is hosted at the other end of the world. You’ll notice a considerable difference from a site that is hosted more locally. This doesn’t mean a data center must be located in the same state or even the same country. It must just be located close to your users’ location.
So What Can a CDN Do for You?
Speed is the obvious advantage to most people. Even a second can have an impact on your user engagement. User engagement is measurement based on several factors, but the main factor is if users continue to read your content or browse your site more in depth after initially loading your content.
Another advantage is site uptime. Imagine again having one server that holds your WordPress site. When that server crashes, your entire site is out of order. If you make money with your site, this problem can be devastating to your bottom line. With a CDN, your site is cached at multiple data centers. If a server goes down at one location, your content can be served from the other data centers. You might lose a bit of performance, but at least your site isn’t out of commission totally.
Overall, with better performance you will see better user engagement. Ultimately, load times affect your bottom line. After four seconds of load time, you lose 25% of your readership. This means that 25% of people abandon your site or choose a competitor for product. That’s a high percentage for site owners that rely on user engagement to attract sales or ad revenue.
More and more users are browsing the Internet on mobile. Mobile devices are inherently slower than desktops, so your page performance is imperative to attract these users. Major search engines such as Google even incorporate page speed and mobile friendliness into their algorithms.
Some more facts about user engagement and performance:
- After 3 seconds, your customer satisfaction decreases by 16%
- 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less
- 40% of consumers completely abandon a site after 3 seconds
- If your site is making $100,000 per day, a one-second load delay will cost you $2.5 million every year
Finally, Google announced in 2010 that site speed would be a search ranking. If you are out of ideas for SEO, site speed can give you just that little boost to compete against higher ranking competitors. Google has hundreds of ranking factors, but you can ensure that your performance factor is a good quality signal with a CDN.
CDN setup isn’t difficult. Even if you’re not technical, it’s a simple process using CDN’s intuitive control panel. Even a small site can benefit from a CDN as traffic grows and your content becomes more popular.