Why CDN is important for your wordpress website

As a performance hosting company we really like to research and share ways to make your WordPress site faster. One of the no-brainers when it comes to speed nowadays is to utilize a content delivery network (CDN). They take the load off of your web server while speeding up the delivery of content to your visitors thus making their experience better! 

Today we want to explain to you in layman’s terms how a WordPress CDN works, why you should be using one, and some of the extra benefits that accompany them. We’ll also share some speed tests so you can better judge just how much of a performance boost you could expect to see on your own site.

What is a WordPress CDN?

A CDN is simply short for content delivery network.  These are a network of servers located around the globe which are designed to host your WordPress site’s static (and sometimes dynamic) content such as images, CSS, JavaScript, and video streams. Now when we say host, don’t get this confused though with your WordPress host. These are completely separate services. A CDN isn’t a replacement for your hosting provider, but rather an additional way to increase the speed of your site. While our hosting here at Kinsta is blazing fast, a CDN can make your site even faster.

How a CDN Works

How does a CDN work exactly? Well, for example, when you host your website with Kinsta you have to choose a physical data center location, such as US Central, Europe, South America or Asia. Let’s say you choose US Central. This means your website is physically located on a “host server” in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When people over in Europe visit your website it is going to take longer for it to load verses someone visiting it from say Dallas, TX. Why? Because the data has to travel a further distance. This is what is known as latency. Latency refers to the time and or delay that is involved in the transmission of data over a network. The further the distance the greater the latency.

It also takes several networking hops (communication instances between intermediate networking devices) to serve data requests from browsers to hosting servers and the requested content from hosting servers back to web browsers. And that is where a CDN comes into play. It helps to reduce that latency by loading your site’s content from servers closer to them. These CDN servers are sometimes also referred to as POPs (points of presence).

Why CDN is important for your wordpress website

WordPress users can sometimes be reluctant to look into content delivery networks as it can be a little overwhelming at first. So here’s how they work and can be implemented, in layman’s terms, in three simple steps:

Step 1

You select a CDN provider and subscribe to their service. These are typically billed on monthly basis or by data usage. Most providers will have a calculator to estimate your costs.

Step 2

You utilize free plugin like CDN Enabler or WP Rocket to integrate it. These plugins automatically link up your assets to the CDN. There is no work needed on your part to get your content on the CDN, this is all hands-off! Deploying a CDN is a lot easier than it used to be a few years ago.

Step 3

When people visit your website, it is now loading the content of your WordPress site from different CDNs around the globe. So for those visitors in Europe visiting your site located in Iowa, your content is now loading from a POP in Europe. How do they do this? CDNs typically use two different types of technologies to route users to the correct location, and that is IP Anycast + geolocation routing. They can automatically detect where user requests come from and route the requests to the nearest POP.

It is still important however to choose a strategic server location for your WordPress host. Because even though a CDN helps distribute your media and content, a single request still has to be made to the hosting provider when your website is loaded. Unless you are utilizing full page caching on a proxy server, which we will go into later. Kinsta now has 15 data center locations from which you can host your WordPress site.

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