If you’re reading this, then we know two things to be true:
- You have a self-hosted website on WordPress (meaning you pay yearly web-hosting fees)
- You’re looking for ways to speed up your site while saving money on bandwidth with your web-host.
Correct? Most of are budget-conscious consumers. We want the best and we can’t always pay for the best. Sometimes the best comes in the form of expensive programmers that we don’t always have access to. (And I did recently hire a developer for some issues on my site!)
Sometimes we want to make sure that our sites are super duper fast and we don’t know how. And, who likes a slow website? Some web-host plans come with unlimited bandwidth, while others have a set amount, like 5GB. If you have a set amount of bandwidth, I’m going to tell you about a very special bandwidth-saving, Internet superstar called CloudFlare.
What is CloudFlare?
CloudFlare is a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
Um, what is a CDN?
If you want the Wikipedia definition definition, go ahead and check it out. If you’re lazy (like me), just keep on reading.
First let’s take a look at how traffic operates on a website not using a CDN. When someone types in a site’s web address (URL), they have to wait for the server hosting their site to deliver the content. So, if you’re waiting for your plane to arrive and decide to read a blog at the LAX airport, and that blog’s server is in London, you’ll have to wait until that data arrives from London. It could take a hot second.
Still with me?
Now, let’s take a look at how traffic operates on a website that DOES use a CDN. When someone types in the web address of a site using a CDN to deliver their content, the visitor receives data from the closest server in the network. So even if you’re looking at that same site in London (and let’s pretend they now have CDN support), the local server in Los Angeles will deliver the content to you…not a server in London.
Ok, so CloudFlare is a CDN, but what does that mean for me?
It means that visitors should now have access to your website in a much shorter time, because a local server is delivering your site’s content. On average, sites loads twice as fast for your visitors regardless of where they are located. Cloudflare has servers in 24 data centers around the world. It’s like having servers for your website in each of those 24 data centers versus 1 center.
Got it? Good.
Is that all CloudFlare can do for my site?
Nope! Cloudflare has a feature that, in case your server goes offline (this happens to websites more frequently that you think) visitors can see a cached version of your site. It’s called “Always Online.”
CloudFlare should help your SEO efforts because it helps speed up the delivery of content on your websites to your visitors. Google takes into account your site’s load time for search results, so any little boost helps!
CloudFlare helps block fake bots from crawling your site, therefore reducing the load on your site at any given moment.
This sounds like it costs a ton of money. How much is it?
Unlike most things in life, Cloudflare is FREE! I’ve been using on my site since January. Of course, if you need extra juice, there are tiered plans that deliver added extras.
Is it easy to set up CloudFlare on my WordPress blog?
The process varies, depending on your web host. Some hosts support one-click CloudFlare installation.. It’s also quite simple to install manually. You need to point your domain’s nameservers to CloudFlare’s servers. In other words, CloudFlare will assign you two nameservers, which you will swap out with the nameservers assigned to you by your domain registrar.
The process is fairly simple. Here’s how to speed up and protect your site with Cloudflare if you’re hosting with GoDaddy:
Configuring CloudFlare on GoDaddy
1. Create your free account on CloudFlare.
2. Add a domain to your CloudFlare account.
3. CloudFlare will scan your records. After 60 seconds, CloudFlare will prompt you to enter the missing DNS records. Click ‘Continue Setup.’
4. Login to your GoDaddy dashboard and click on cPanel > Advanced DNS Zone Editor.
5. Locate the information CloudFlare needs (varies per installation) and update it in your CloudFlare account. Click “I’ve added all missing records, continue.”
6. Choose your price plan (I chose free!).
7. Cloudflare will assign you two nameservers. Go back into your cPanel and update your GoDaddy nameservers with the ones that CloudFlare provides you with.
8. Wait 24 hours for the nameservers to propagate. That’s it!
After they’re done propagating, you should see something similar to the following:
I highly suggest taking the next few steps to ensure that the IP addresses of your visitors get tracked correctly, or else all your traffic will have CloudFlare’s IP address.
9. Install the CloudFlare CDN plugin to your WordPress dashboard.
10. Go to Plugins > CloudFlare.
11. Enter in your CloudFlare API key and the e-mail address you used to create your CloudFlare account.
Have any questions? Ask them in the comments below!
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