What Is CDN and How Can it Speed Up Your Online Store?

CDN stands for content delivery network and represents a different way to allow access to any website that uses it. By utilizing multiple strategically placed servers, CDN helps to improve speed and protect against downtime. If you find yourself wondering what is CDN and how can it help your online store, read on to learn more. This is a very simple change that you can make to your website that can have major repercussions down the road.

Defining CDN

So what is CDN? To understand it, you need to think about what a typical server setup for the Internet is like. Usually, a website has a single server located somewhere in the world. Anybody who accesses a website needs to contact that server. For people across the globe, access sometimes takes a few seconds longer than those who are geographically closer. While this seems like a short amount of time, the lag can cause people to look elsewhere when they need a product or service. Using a CDN, a site has multiple different cache servers located around the world. This shortens the distance that information has to travel, which speeds up website loading times dramatically.

When Is a CDN Useful?

As of 2017, more than half of the websites on the Internet use CDN to provide their services. Sites that need to reach many different customers from all around the world, such as advertising, media, online gaming, healthcare, government, and universities all rely on CDN to make sure that people from anywhere in the world can have equal access to their website without dramatic slowdown. Essentially, there are only a few types of websites that don’t benefit from using a CDN model. Usually, those websites include pages with specialized local content. For everybody else who tries to reach beyond a specific geographical area, CDN is a good path.

What are the Effects of a CDN?

As mentioned before, the use of a CDN speeds up websites only by a few seconds. However, when a user is going through a lot of different information or doing some online shopping on the go, those few seconds can make a huge difference. Studies show that a one-second delay in page loading time can result in an 11% drop in page views and a 7% decrease in conversions for sales-based sites. Customers also find long loading times to be frustrating, which drains their patience should any customer service issue arise. Those same studies suggest that a one-second delay in loading time can impact customer satisfaction by as much as 16%.

What CDN Plugins Work with WooCommerce?

When CDN first began in the 1990s, few sites used it because it was deemed too expensive. The tech market has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and what once seemed prohibitively expensive is now very easy to set up. As such, many different web services, including WordPress, allows access to a CDN. Managing that CDN is often a matter of figuring out where your servers should be and how often you need to purge caches. Plugins like MaxCDN, Sucuri, and Cloudflare all allow easy access to CDN for your WooCommerce store. These plugins allow you to set server locations, alter your caches as necessary, develop SSL certificates, and much more.

What Other Benefits Does CDN Have?

In addition to speeding up your site, using a CDN provides a few other useful benefits as well. For example, security becomes much easier to handle. A typical hacking attempt uses a denial of service attack to overwhelm a server and slow down a website. Because you have multiple server caches around the world, a slowdown on one server can be mitigated by others. A CDN can also help you handle periods of unexpected high traffic. As one server drops in efficiency, incoming users can be directed to another server. This means that a major sale or viral press release that might normally slow your site to a crawl causes only a minor delay, thus increasing overall customer satisfaction.

Overall, a content delivery network is something that everybody should consider if they want to have a global reach. Using a CDN speeds up your WooCommerce store and makes sure that customers get where they need to go without any delays that may lower their overall interest in making a purchase. It also provides some fringe benefits, such as enhanced security and the ability to handle unexpected large traffic loads more efficiently. If you want the maximum control over your CDN, using a plugin should allow you to get the very most out of this model.