Gone are the days when running a blog was just about writing stuff and posting pictures. While blogging mostly still involves sharing personal stories, it has also become a big way for brands and businesses to engage with audiences. Thus, for small businesses, solopreneurs or freelancers working on a self-hosted blog with your own domain, it pays to know some of the more technical side of things.
The first thing on your list should be improving site loading speed and performance.
Self-service cloud technologies are making it easier for self-publishers to supplement blog infrastructure with added performance and security. For instance, hosting your blog on a capable service provider and using a content delivery network (CDN) are some of the top recommended solutions that can be used to improve both reliability and security on just about any web platform.
A CDN caches or saves content like images, videos, and other scripts, from a source server (like a web host) and distributes these to servers located in various locations around the world. When a visitors accesses your blog, their browsers actually retrieve the digital assets from the servers nearest to them. This reduces the distance and thus time spent for data packets travelling from server to the client.
Aside from this performance boost, CDNs can provide other benefits to websites that use them. Here are 5 reasons why your blog should be on one now:
1 – Improves User Experience
By reducing the latency in receiving packets and data, a CDN will boost page loading speeds. A CDN can also automatically handle other front-end optimizations like image compression, code minification and the like, which means a faster and better experience for the user.
A study by Google revealed that sites are abandoned by half of visitors if they load for more than 3 seconds. Web and app users have come to expect everything to be instantaneous and on-demand that letting them access content faster improves overall user experience.
2 – Boosts SEO Visibility, and Traffic
Trimming down load times doesn’t only improve user experience, but it also gives your blog better visibility rankings on search and social media. Both Facebook and Google have announced that they will be taking into consideration page load times in their algorithms. Facebook announced in the middle of last year that it will be penalizing advertisers with slow-loading websites by decreasing their ad visibility. Google has also encouraged owners to improve experience for mobile browsing first penalizing sites with designs that aren’t optimized for mobile and has hinted that slow-loading sites may be next.
3 – Decreases Hosting Costs
Since a CDN create copies of your site’s resources across its own servers, putting your site on a CDN can help you reduce your own hosting costs. Without a CDN, even static resources such as theme images and scripts will be downloaded every time a user visits your site. This automatically counts in your hosting bandwidth allocation. With a CDN, these resources are cached so they need not be fetched from your webhost server, even if it is not cached on a user’s own browser.
So even if your site is on one of those “unlimited” shared hosting packages, your site will still gain a good deal of performance boost. You may also even want to consider going for a metered plan and let your CDN save you some bandwidth since those cheap “unlimited” shared hosting plans typically run on slow servers.
4 – Protects from Bad Bots
CDN services are also typically bundled with other performance and security services. With cyberattacks getting even more prevalent the in past few years, it pays to have some additional security. Select CDN services offer bot mitigation and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection.
DDoS attacks seek to crash your website by overwhelming it with traffic rendering your site inaccessible. Getting hit by an attack can even force your web hosting service provider to cancel your account. What the CDN does is it analyzes the traffic visiting your website, weeds out malicious traffic, and blocks them. If ever your post becomes viral and popular, CDNs can also help keep your website up during these high-traffic situations.
5 – Gives better Insights about your Visitors
CDNs also now have built in analytics to help you gain more insight about your site’s performance, traffic, and visitors. CDN statistics dashboards can show you which of your site’s resources are being used and how much data the CDN is handling for you.
It can also give you insights on which locations most of your traffic is coming from and can distinguish between human visits and bot visits. With bot visits, the service can also show you which bot visits are legitimate (like Google’s indexing bots) and which are the malicious ones (like scrapers and attackers). If you are delving more into optimizing your site, then all of these information is critical to guide you on what to do.
Putting your Site on a CDN
So how do you put your site on a CDN? If you are running a self-hosted blog using WordPress, there are performance plugins like W3 Total Cache that has a CDN option. CDNs with security options like Incapsula may require you to configure your DNS to point to their services which can be done either with your domain registrar or webhost. Setup can be done in a few minutes. Many such services offer a free tier that includes basic CDN and bot mitigation. With these options available and benefits to be reaped, there’s no real excuse for you not to use a CDN with your blog.