Automate It Already! How to Use a CDN on Your Website

Written by MacHighway Team on March 8, 2019

how to use a cdn

Learning how to use a CDN can make a huge difference for your website and your business.

If you own a website, speed matters. People expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less. If it takes between 5-7 seconds, you’re losing your audience. You’re losing potential newsletter sign-ups and potential sales.

Not to mention that search engines take site speed into account when figuring out search results.

Making a couple of simple changes to your site can help you speed it up. Using a CDN is one of them. Find out more about what a CDN is and how it can make a big difference in your site’s speed.

What is a CDN?

A CDN is a content delivery network. They work through a series of servers that are placed all over the world.

Anyone can access your website from anywhere in the world. If you’re using a host in Florida and they have servers in Florida, your website’s data will have to travel from the servers in Florida to where your visitors are located.

A CDN will have the static data of your site available on servers across the globe. Static data is data that doesn’t change at all and is served to your site’s visitors.

What will happen is that when someone goes to www.yourdomain.com, their browser will have two sets of instructions. Dynamic data will load from your host, and the static data will load from the CDN.

When someone in California visits your site, the vast majority of the data they download from your site will be served from a CDN, from the servers closest to the visitor.

That can shave a good amount of time to your site’s load time, making it better for your users. It may not sound like much, but even a few milliseconds can make a huge difference in your site’s sales and conversion rates.

There are quite a number of CDN providers. The most popular ones are Cloudflare, Max CDN, and Key CDN.

Advantages to Using a CDN

Improving your site’s speed is the most obvious advantage of using a CDN. There are a few more reasons why a CDN is a great choice for your site.

The first is that you use fewer resources at your host company. Your host is responsible for serving your site’s data. If your site gets a lot of visitors, you can use up a lot of resources and bandwidth on your account.

For sites that don’t get a lot of traffic on a shared plan, a CDN will still be a great benefit. When you use a shared plan, you’re renting space along with many other sites. Should one of those sites see a spike in traffic, your site can be impacted because the host’s resources on that server are limited.

A CDN will negate that issue and your visitors will experience no slowdowns in site speed. Another reason why a CDN should be installed is that its easy to use. You don’t need to use code to set them up.

Most CDNs offer high levels of security, which can prevent your site from things like denial of service attacks. CDNs are also inexpensive, even free n some cases. Some hosting companies offer a free CDN as part of their hosting package.

You don’t need to do anything other than sign up with your host and follow a few steps.

How to Use a CDN

There are a number of ways to learn how to use a CDN n your website. Some factors will depend on your host, the back end of the website you’re using, and the CDN provider.

This assumes that you have a Mac hosting plan that includes a CDN plan through Cloudflare. The set up will be similar across website platforms, whether you’re using Weebly or WordPress.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to set up your Cloudflare account.  If you have a hosting plan through Mac Highway, you’ll sign up for the basic plan on Cloudflare, which is free.

There are some things you’ll have to do to connect Cloudflare with your hosting account. Once that’s done, you can integrate your CDN into your site.

WordPress sites make this step very simple. For example, if you have caching plugins already installed, you can connect the CDN to them so the caching plugins get the cached website files directly from your CDN instead of your host.

Yes, that will make your site that much faster.

Plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache have specific tabs where you enter your CDN account data.

Now you can go back into your Cloudflare account to adjust the account settings. You can leave them as is. Your site will still be faster than it was before. The main settings you want to pay attention to are the Auto Minify and Caching Settings.

If you’re already using a caching plugin, there’s a good chance that you’re already minifying the script. You’ll want to turn the Cloudflare minify settings off to avoid any potential conflicts that can crash your site.

For Cloudflare’ caching settings, you want to be sure that it’s set to Standard/Aggressive. That tells Cloudflare how the static content on your site will be delivered to visitors.

Using a CDN is a Smart Choice

The easiest way to improve your site speed dramatically is to install a CDN. The good thing is that it’s not hard to learn how to use a CDN.

You just need to set up your CDN account, make some adjustments and your site is fast.

When you sign up for a hosting plan, you want to make sure that you can also use a CDN. At Mac Highway, we have Mac hosting plans for every need.

Take a look at our top hosting plans and sign up today.