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So you’ve heard the word CDN a hundred times and probably figure that you need it in someway, but not really sure what it is?
By the end of this quick read, you will understand content delivery networks to the point where you can explain it to anyone.
Just want to know who the top choices are? No problem:
There is little doubt in my mind that the top 2 CDN’s in the market right now are MaxCDN.com and KeyCDN.com.
What is a CDN?
A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, allows your website to be loaded fast all around the world, by hosting versions of your site on their international data center locations.
CDN is not a stand-alone hosting solution. You need to have an actual web hosting account first.
Many of the top hosting companies allow you to turn on a CDN service with the push of a button in your Cpanel, making the process ridiculously easy.
Therefore, a CDN is like a “hosting add-on” that makes your website load fast no matter where in the world somebody tries to load it.
A CDN will literally store certain main elements of your website (such as media, scripts, etc.) in all of their locations at the same time. When somebody visits your site, they will see a version of your site loaded by the CDN, rather than your original host.
There are quite a few different players in the game right now, and it is definitely a growing market. That being said, I currently recommend MaxCDN as the #1 solution.
How does the CDN choose which server to show your site from?
Logically, the Content Delivery Network will show a user the content from the closest server possible.
So if I am in Toronto Canada and there is a data center in Montreal, Canada, I will be viewing a loaded copy of your website from the Montreal server (even though your web host is in Chicago, for example).
So, what’s it in for me?
CDN makes your website faster. Fast websites sell more and get more social shares. Do you need any other reason? I won’t get into the exact stats, but we’ve all heard that slow page times even by a second or 2 can hurt your conversion rate in a big way.
Why does a CDN work?
Content Delivery Networks work by removing latency between the end user and the hosting server. If I am trying to load a website made in the UK from Toronto, it is going to be slower due to latency issues.
If the CDN happens to have a server in Toronto, however, the website will load a whole lot faster. By caching a version of your site all across the world, a CDN can do just that.
By automatically loading your website on a server in a data center close to the end-user, your site always peaks at max speed.
Is a CDN Necessary?
Yes and no. If you are serious about your online business, the answer is yes.
Unless you are a local business in Kansas City with a server in Kansas City, you should invest in a CDN without a doubt. I would personally highly recommend you use Max CDN or similar in order to make sure your website loads quickly all over the world.
Is it Good for SEO?
The answer is yes. Page Speed has long been considered a strong ranking signal in the SEO community. Page speed also affects bounce rate, and user behaviors are a major ranking factor. So yes, speeding up your site with a CDN can positively affect your site from an SEO standpoint.
It’s Great For Conversions
Deploying a CDN can help improve your conversion rate. According to Kissmetrics, a 1 second page delay can decrease conversions by 7%. A CDN could possibly shave that off of your loading time. Do the math.
Increasing conversion rates can be a costly and time consuming project. If you can improve your conversion rate simply by using a super affordable CDN, you should be signing up before you finish reading this article.
Is it Expensive?
No, not for the average joe. If you are into big data or have a massive corporation, prices can get up there. That being said, however, even for a major high traffic site such as this one, costs are nominal (Under $10/month). Costs can definitely be higher depending on your usage, but for the average entrepreneur or small business, the costs are nominal.
Next, let’s look at how to setup a CDN with your current host.
Setting up your CDN
Now we can take a look at actually setting things up. If you are lucky, you will have a one button option from within your hosting’s Cpanel, allowing you to turn on the network with one click (view my web hosting reviews to see who allows it).
The first step is to sign-up to a CDN service. I recommend Max CDN.
Log-in to your Max CDN account and click “Pull Zone”
Fill out the pertinent info into the forms under “Pull Zone”
Your zone is now created and Max CDN will provide you with a unique URL to use in Step 5.
Log-in to your Cpanel (host with Hostgator if you don’t have one yet), and click “Simple DNS Zone editor”
Choose your domain and fill out the required fields under “Cname Records” only (use the link you have on your clipboard from step 5)
Click “Add Cname Record”
In your Worpress admin, install “WP Total Cache Plugin”.
Click the WP Total Cache settings from the admin sidebar, and fill out the required fields under CDN -> Configuration
Login to MaxCDN to get authorization key, enter it in plugin settings.
Enter cName you just created in step 7 under “replace site’s hostname” in plugin settings.
That’s it. MaxCDN and the WordPress plugin literally take care of the rest. That was easy, right?
Does a content delivery network replace my current webhost?
A: No, you must keep your current web hosting and use it in conjunction with the CDN, which caches your site from your webhost.
What types of content does the CDN store?
A: Images, video, audio, scripts, .css files, etc.
Who are content delivery networks for?
A: Anyone with a website receiving traffic from various locations could benefit. That being said, typically the larger or more media-rich a site, the more it will benefit from a CDN.
At the end of the day, if you’re trying to make a profit online, you need your site to load as fast as possible. Using a CDN as a hosting add-on can drastically increase your speed and therefore your conversion rates as well.