Speed is an important factor for SEO as well as user experience. Slower sites rank lower in search results and users find them less useful. For WordPress users there are many ways to improve that. One of them is to use a content delivery network like MaxCDN with a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache. In this tutorial you will learn what is MaxCDN and How to use it on your WordPress site.
Why You Need a Content Delivery Network?
When a user requests your site through their web browser, the most time consuming resources are your static files which don’t change quite often like images, stylesheets, scripts, etc. Your server’s HTTP request will not end until all of these images are loaded. This affects the overall performance of your website and makes it slower.
Content Delivery Networks take your static content and serve it from servers located all over the world. This reduces the HTTP requests sent to your site and your site can quickly load rest of the content while images and other static files are served by the CDN.
MaxCDN is the industry leader in offering CDN services to websites of all shapes an sizes. It is easy to use and setup on WordPress websites and works extremely well with plugins like W3 Total Cache. Here are some of the benefits of using MaxCDN.
1. Faster Websites – Speed is one of the most important benefit of using MaxCDN.
2. Improvement in Search Rankings – Your website would rank much better on search engines like Google. Because it would be faster and much more responsive.
3. Better User Experience – We all love fast loading websites, no one has the time to stay on a page while it is continuously loading. Using MaxCDN will provide a faster and better user experience for your visitors.
4. Crash Proof – If you are trying to get your content go viral then MaxCDN along with proper caching allows you to make your site less likely to crash.
How to Setup MaxCDN with WordPress and W3 Total Cache?
First you need to create a pullzone. Consider pullzone a place where MaxCDN will pull your static content so that it can be served from their network.
Login to your MaxCDN account and click on the Zones icon. This will bring you to the Zones page click on the Summary tab and then click on Create Pullzone button.
Now you need to provide a name for your pullzone this could be any thing less than 10 characters long. After that enter your website URL in the origin server field. Add some description about the pull zone in the label field and lastly check the compression checkbox.
Clck on the create button and MaxCDN will start setting up your pullzone. Once it is done you will see a success message and you will also get to see a URL like this:
You need to enter this URL as CNAME record to your domain name. Log in to your hosting dashboard and scroll down to the domains section. There you will see Simple DNS Zone Editor icon. Click to open it and you will see a page where you can add your CNAME record.
In order to add the CNAME record you need to provide a name for the record and CNAME. Enter CDN in the name field and paste the URL you copied earlier in the CNAME field.
That’s all your CDN subdomains will now point to MaxCDN servers.
You still need to set up MaxCDN on WordPress. First you will need W3 Total Cache plugin installed and activated on your WordPress site. It is free and one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress.
After activating W3 Total Cache go to plugin’s settings page. On the General settings page scroll down to CDN section and check the box next to Enable.
After that click on the CDN section under the plugins settings menu. On the CDN settings page under the configuration section, click on the Authorize button. This will take you to the MaxCDN website, where after logging in you will given an API key. Copy this key and paste it back in the Authorization Key field.
After that you need to click on the Add CNAME button and enter your hostnames, like this:
Click on the Test MaxCDN button to see if everything is working fine. If it isn’t then check your site’s hostname and CNAME records again. Once it is working click on the save settings button.
That’s all you need to setup MaxCDN on WordPress. Enjoy your new speedier web site.
Optimizing MaxCDN and W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a robust caching tool. But it has too many tools packed into it. You don’t need to use all of these settings. But there are some that you must use in order to take full advantage of caching and your CDN setup.
1. Page Caching
Go to Performance -> General Settings and enable page caching. This will allow W3 Total Cache to serve a cached copy of the page instead of generating a new one every time a user requests your page.
2. Browser Cache
On the same general settings page scroll down to browser cache section and enable it. This will allow W3 Total Cache to instruct browsers to store a cached copy of the page. It will also compress your pages before sending to the user’s browsers resulting in faster page loads.
3. Disable Database Cache
Make sure that the Database cache is disabled on your site. Using database cache may conflict with your CDN settings and can cause all sorts of issues. It is highly recommended that you keep it disabled unless you know what you are doing.
Check Your Site Load Times
There are several online tools that allow you to test how fast your website loads. The good news is that they are all free to use.
1. Google Page Speed, is one of the most comprehensive tools available to test your website’s page speed across different devices. It not only shows you the page load times but will also make recommendations on what you can do to improve your page speed.
2. Pingdom Tools allow you to test your site speed, see which resources are taking longer to load, and test on servers located in different parts of the world.
A faster web is good for every one that’s why search engines are favoring faster websites on slower ones. It is time for you to use all the tools at your arsenal to make your websites load as quickly as possible.