This post if about a “CDN for WordPress”, or “Content Delivery Network” – consider it my CDN review. Using a CDN for your WordPress blog is easy, and I will explain how to configure WordPress to use a content delivery network through a plugin that you can setup in literally about 2 minutes. When I get through you may just want to delete WP Super Cache forever, because the WP plugin CDN method is not only the easiest to use – it makes WordPress sites load faster than anything I’ve ever seen!

CDN for WordPress plugin integration

What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

A CDN is an online service that caches your content across the globe. While WP Super Cache would cache your WordPress powered site to HTML files on your server to reduce CPU load and db queries, the files still have to be served from your web site. The CDN service actually caches your images, CSS files, javascript files, and page content across the globe at hundres of data center nodes.

The CDN’s data center has much faster servers than your web host, and by serving the files from the data center node closest to each web visitor – your site comparitively becomes much faster as a whole. No local caching plugin you could ever use would be as fast as a (good) Content Delivery Network.

How do I use a CDN with WordPress?

The easiest way is a wordpress plugin with CDN integration. The best I’ve used to date is W3 Total Cache. First install and activate the W3 Total Cache plugin.

Once you activate the plugin, in the general settings you can control what is cached. I’ll go through each of the general settings, one by one.

Page Cache: This works much like your WP Super Cache Plugin, caching a copy of your WP pages to the local disk in your web hosting account.

cdn-for-wordpress-page-cache

Minify: This feature is AWESOME to say the least, because once you add a bunch of plugins, and an enhanced theme, the head of your HTML code is usually littered with scripts and stylesheets. Even if you are a coding guru, consolidating them can be a nightmare. W3 Total cache can do this AUTOMATICALLY!

cdn-for-wordpress-minify

Database Cache: Cache common items form the db to the local disk.

cdn-for-wordpress-db-cache

Object Cache: Caching database objects reduces the amount of time it takes for common operations (queries that happen all the time, that seldom change).

cdn-for-wordpress-object-cache

Browser Cache: Making best use of the users local browser cache as they go fromm page to page of your site.

cdn-for-wordpress-browser-cache

Content Delivery Network: The option you’ve been waiting for, the ability to integrate the WP caching plugin with a CDN. You can’t see it in this image, but the dropdown has options for push or pull caching. Pull caching is where files are pulled from the closest node to the user using a mirror – such a a service like NetDNA / Max CDN. You can also use a push service such as the Rackspace cloud network, Amazon Cloudfront, or even Amazon S3.

cdn-for-wordpress-content-delivery-network

What are the Benefits of Using a CDN for a Blog?

You would be surprised. I was amazed at how much the overall affect benefited by blog(s). I’m running W3 Total Cache on this blog right now with MaxCDN integration.

The benefits of using a CDN for a blog or web site are:

  • Faster page load times
  • Visitors get content more quickly (and may stay longer)
  • Your site seems more professional
  • You get better google rankings
  • You save bandwidth at your web host
  • Reduce CPU load at your web host server
  • Crawlers can index you faster

I have noticed that this site (which was a little sluggish due to the amount of plugins I have installed) is now loading about 10x faster than before. Mysteriously enough – since I installed W3 Total Cache with the CDN, I now get more traffic. The load of the web server at my web host is better as well. I use the CDN and the plugin on about 5 of my sites now, and some are hosted on my dedicated box, and others are hosted on traditional shared hosting. I have the same results at both.

You shouldn’t think that “just because I use a CDN I will get better rankings”, because in google – there are 200 “ranking signals” for web sites, and speed is only one of them. However, it WILL help, and if you have a decent active site with online authority – you WILL get better indexing, and the potential of raised pagerank in the future.

What does a CDN cost?

Personally, I believe the service (that I’m about to tell you about) is pretty cost effective. I use MaxCDN – which is about $39.95/mo….BUT, that’s for 1TB per month of transfer (1,000 gigabytes), and you can use the service with as many web sites as you want for that price (just like unlimited shared hosting). For me, I have 40 web sites, and believe me – they are ALL going on W3 Total Cache with MaxCDN!

CDN for WordPress

Disclosure

I am an affiliate for MaxCDN – as well as a customer. If you purchase the service through the links in this blog post, we do get a small commission – but that’s how we pay the bills around here (and provide future tutorials).

John Pratt is CEO of JTPratt Media and a working WordPress Consultant. If you would like to have caching and a content delivery installed on your web site or blog, please visit our corporate site: JTPratt Media