Peter Jobes is a tech & blockchain writer. Featured in VentureBeat.
Life as a website owner can be a tricky one if you’re looking to get the best out of your pages online. The right Content Delivery Network has the potential to supercharge your website’s speed by providing cached static content from servers that are strategically positioned near your user’s geographic location.
But why exactly is finding the right CDN so important? And what are the best value quality services on the market today? Let’s take a deeper look at the dynamic world of the Content Delivery Network:
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is the name given to a network of servers that deliver cached static content to users based on their location.
(A simple illustration showing (on the left) a single server distribution system and (on the right) a Content Delivery Network, demonstrating how distributing servers can help to reach users more efficiently. Image: Wikipedia)
As servers are distributed to multiple locations, often with a worldwide reach, content can be delivered with efficiency to website visitors regardless of where they’re browsing from - and with much faster loading times.
Given that Search Engine Optimisation is such a powerful entity when it comes to building exposure for websites, faster loading times have become imperative in order for the likes of Google and Bing to look upon your pages in a favourable light.
(Preventing bouncebacks using an efficient CDN can make a significant difference to your website’s search engine ranking positions. Image: Section.io)
As the chart above illustrates, bouncebacks can account for a loss of nearly 1/4th of your would-be visitors. Bouncebacks occur when a visitor clicks to navigate on to your website, but longer loading times cause them to quickly navigate away rather than wait it out.
Search engines have the power to recognise when a website experiences more bouncebacks and will rank its pages lower as a result - thus severely hindering your online exposure and potentially losing invaluable conversion opportunities.
CDNs have the power to bring speed and efficiency to websites, and some caching strategies are smart enough to even load pages piece by piece so as to make the transfer of data more manageable for larger sites. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can utilise some of the best CDN systems available without breaking the bank:
There aren’t many CDNs out there with the power to compete with KeyCDN. Equipped with over 34 data centres worldwide, the reach of this Content Delivery Network will take some beating.
Incorporating KeyCDN’s service onto Wordpress has been made especially easy thanks to its dedicated CDN Enabler plugin.
The best part of KeyCDN’s service is that its plugin allows users to purge their CDN Zone’s cache directly from their Wordpress admin. Doing this means there’s no need to log into the KeyCDN dashboard to perform these tasks in a long-winded way.
Alongside its ease of use, KeyCDN also offers scalable plans that can include valuable functions like DDoS mitigation, both free and custom SSLs, HTTP/2 support, Restful API support, SSD servers and a strong control panel to boot.
Another great reason to check out KeyCDN comes in the form of its pricing plan. The company offers customers a pay-as-you-go style format for the service which ensures that users only cough up for the features that they use. This means that if you’re running a small business that welcomes lower volumes of traffic, you could be billed with as little as $4 per month for your KeyCDN service - a massive saving compared to some of its larger competitors.
Another CDN that’s offering very competitive prices to customers is PageCDN. Entering our list as a relatively new player in the world of Content Delivery Networks, PageCDN’s efforts are certainly ambitious enough to demand serious consideration.
PageCDN focuses on blending ease of use alongside innovative features. One of its most innovative features comes from its Brotli-11 compression mechanism, which offers industry-leading compression ratios resulting in extremely low file sizes that help to deliver your pages as swiftly as possible.
Alongside its modern Brotli-11 compressions comes URL based on-the-fly image optimization and CSS/JS minification, immutable caching and reduced number of DNS lookups. An easy to use HTTP/2 server push is also included in the platform’s impressive suite of functions.
PageCDN offers a private CDN that can be bundled into its lowest price band for subscriptions. For $5 per month, users can access their own premium quality CDN that has the power to handle up to five websites and a total bandwidth of 100gb. If you’re looking to take the step of buying into the faster speeds of private Content Delivery Networks, then you’ll be hard pushed to beat PageCDN’s value for money.
The best things in life for free, which means Cloudflare has a claim for being the most appealing option on this list. The security specialists offer a free CDN for smaller websites to enjoy.
Naturally, Cloudflare’s suite of features is streamlined for its free version, and DDoS protection is fairly limited as a result, but if you’re still finding your feet in cyberspace, or would rather start off small before scaling alongside your traffic streams, Cloudflare remains a very valid choice.
Despite being available free of charge, Cloudflare’s Content Delivery Network is very user-friendly and boasts a large network of servers that stretch across the world - meaning that you’ll be well catered to when you decide to go global. There’s also an easy-to-use control panel that can help to clean up cache and keep users updated on website performance.
More premium features include a very useful ‘I am under attack mode,’ where users are shown a security page for a few seconds while Cloudflare analyses your traffic before directing them onto your pages.
If you decide to take up a free Cloudflare CDN and like what you see, it’s possible to upgrade to premium plans from $20 per month.
When hunting for the right Content Delivery Network for your site, it’s hard to look past StackPath (formally known as MaxCDN). The servers that StackPath utilises are equipped with rapid SSD drives, and the service boasts an array of servers all across the world.
It’s extremely easy to set up StackPath, and the service is optimised for use in Wordpress especially. The CDN also offers great levels of compatibility alongside widely used plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
Given the intricacy of the mechanics within StackPath’s system, its processes are made simple through a control panel that’s been carefully designed to incorporate the input of users with little experience. Users can even add their own SSL certificates to ensure that cached content is served through SSL/HTTPS.
StackPath’s CDN is available on a one-month free trial for interested users, and can be purchased as part of a $20 per month bundle of services. However, if you’re looking to pay for just the CDN alone, it can be available for $10 per month.
It would seem a little bit counter-intuitive to exclude the CDN services of one of the most powerful companies in the world as a cost-effective solution for users.
Amazon’s CloudFront is an Amazon Web Services integrated Content Delivery Network that delivers content to your visitors instantaneously. Thanks to the extensive AWS network, it’s possible for websites to experience high transfer speeds all around the world - making the service ideal for both developers and programmers alike.
However, it’s worth noting that although Amazon’s Content Delivery is lightning fast, it’s also a little bit more complex to use for lesser experienced website owners.
One of the best features of Amazon CloudFront has to be its pay-as-you-go approach to service charges. Here, users only have to cough up for the features that they use. Amazon’s also a company that’s known for its willingness to hand out free trials to users, and prospective customers can expect to tap into its array of services free of charge for a short period of time.