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Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

 

Caching your website is a crucial process for keeping your website fast. It relieves stress on the host and helps report information back to the browser. Great, right? We can do better. Shamrck uses world-class cloud hosting to make sure you have a reliable, speedy hosting service, but today, we’re going to talk more about WordPress content delivery networks, or CDN. 

 

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression on a site visitor, so slow page speeds set you back immediately. Website caching and image compression are excellent ways to maintain fast load times, so why do we need a CDN? Physical hosting sites help “store” your host on a server. The server location affects load times regardless of your compression settings or caching. This effect is called latency. Naturally, when information has farther to go, it will take longer to get there. CDNs help reduce latency.

 

 

 

What is a CDN?

 

Content delivery networks, or CDNs, are a way to speed up your website. They are a network of servers built to store static content. By storing static page information in an easy-to-access location, your site can retrieve page information and deliver it to a browser blazingly fast. 

 

 

 

How Does a CDN Work?

 

CDNs operate as a large network of servers meaning information can be stored anywhere in the world and relayed back to your website. Visitors anywhere can view your website faster. Your information is stored on a “host” server. As we mentioned earlier, the further away your visitor is, the longer the load times. This latency is due to “hops.” Hops refer to how often information needs to jump from server to server before being delivered to the visitor. The more hops, the longer the load time. Choosing the location for your host server is important because it will play a major role in your page load times.

 

By serving as a storage resource, CDNs automatically pull information from your website as information like HTML or JavaScript code for future use. Your server can then rewrite links to those pieces of information to make sure it’s pulled from the CDN moving forward.

 

 

 

CDN Benefits

 

A CDN can help your website perform better in every way, including sales. Visitors are more likely to have a better user experience when a site loads quickly and easily navigates from page to page. When you’re trying to convert leads to sales with website content, an engaging website is vital.

 

CDNs also employ a caching system much like your server. Site information moves from your server to the CDN freeing up bandwidth. On that note, a CDN is exactly that, a content delivery network. Utilizing the network helps handle large spikes in traffic since it can spread information over several servers. 

 

Most importantly, CDNs are scalable. Your website will see user ebbs and flows, but ultimately, the goal is to grow your visits. When that happens, your server needs to be ready to handle the new traffic. Content delivery networks are a ready-made solution to make sure you don’t run into any kinks.

 

 

 

CDN Speeds

 

CDNs are becoming more and more popular for their versatility and speed enhancements. Just like with caching, a CDN reduces latency and load times. We know slow page speeds can kill your traffic and SEO. Every additional second of load time costs you potential sales and crucial visitors. Since the CDN stores much of the site’s information, page speeds go up exponentially. 

 

One issue websites run into is a slow TTFB, or time to first byte. Without going too far into the weeds, this refers to how long it takes for your website to retrieve data for the browser request. Depending on the server and the data, your TTFB could have a negative impact on site performance. CDNs dramatically increase TTFB just by moving bits of information away from your server and onto the network. Shamrck’s website health check helps test for your time to first byte. 

 

 

 

Shamrck and DigitalOcean Spaces CDN

 

Shamrck hosts on a cloud server and uses DigitalOcean Spaces CDN to speed up websites even more. DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure with data centers all over the world. Spaces is an S3-compatible object storage service that lets you store and serve large amounts of data. By working with the power of DigitalOcean’s CDN, Shamrck is free to provide excellent hosting and website performance. 

 

 

 

Why a CDN is Right for Your Website

 

Working in tandem with your host, a CDN speeds up your site and boosts performance. It’s that simple. We walked through how CDNs work and some specific benefits, but everything leads back to enhancing load times, user experience, and other vital aspects of running a website. Utilizing a network of servers to store information and free up bandwidth on your host server is invaluable, and the results speak for themselves. 

 

 

 

We’d love to help you get started on your website improvements. Reach out today and we’ll do a full website health check!

 

 

 

Enter Caching.

 

Caching is the quick and (sometimes) easy way to speed everything up. At a server-level, caching can be broken down into very technical terms, but for the average end-user, plugins like WP Rocket help take care of the work for you. Here are some ways to speed up your website with caching.

 

 

What is Cache?

 

 

A cache is a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place. In the software world, we refer to it all the time. Traditionally, when someone clicks into a web page, the site has to request information from the server, which sends the data back to the browser, and users see the end result. Caching speeds up your website by not requiring it to request page information every time someone visits. 

 

Since most webpages contain headers, bodies, and footers, continually having to piece together every bit of information after each click is, understandably, time-consuming. The process slows down page load times since the server is processing so many requests at once. 

 

 

Why is caching important for websites?

 

 

Caching saves much of the website’s information for a server, so it doesn’t have to handle requests for every part of a web page anymore. The cache stores files to a disk or RAM, making it easier to duplicate the information when requested. This process limits the amount of work going into loading and reloading webpages, making them load faster.

 

Since these repeat files are stored, caching reduces the stress on your server. A fast server equals faster page load times, which has a substantial impact on your SEO. But more on that in a minute. This process also speeds up the time to first byte (TTFB). Essentially, the TTFB is the time it takes for a browser to start to receive information from the server. A low TTFB is crucial to fast load times.

 

 

Server-level caching with a good host.

 

 

A good host will handle caching for you. There are generally four types of caching done at the server-level: Bytecode, Page, Object, and CDN. We can break these down one at a time to understand why each is essential and why utilizing a speedy server with a good host is vital.

 

  • Bytecode: Bytecode cache deals with PHP code. PHP codes must be compiled into what’s known as a readable “opcode.” Once the opcode is in place, the server no longer needs to sift through the PHP to return browser requests. 

 

 

  • Page: Page caching refers to storing the entirety of the HTML from a webpage, so WordPress does not need to generate the page over and over. Most pages are static and evergreen, meaning they don’t change much. The server does not need to build the page for every click continually. 

 

 

  • Object: Object caching refers to storing database query information. Querying a database can be arduous and time-consuming for a server. Caching bits of data produced by a search means speeding up the page load times since there’s no need to query an entire database every time.

 

 

  • CDN: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN caching stores website files like javascript, CSS, and media. CDN caching is a more complicated process because it involves storing information away from the server on a, you guessed it, separate network. CDNs can deliver the website information instead of the server, reducing the stress on the server and speeding up load times.

 

Server-level caching is crucial because a good host does all of this behind the scenes. Since page load times are vital to your website’s SEO, caching as much information as possible is paramount.

 

 

WordPress Caching with WP Rocket.

 

 

Sometimes we need to go further than our server-level caching. WordPress has mechanisms in place to replace or supplement caching strategies. You can use plugins to perform caching functions if you are self-hosting or using a shared host. There are dozens of plugins to choose from, but we recommend WP Rocket. 

 

WP Rocket is exceptionally robust but simple to use. Developers will love the ability to play around inside the plugin, but we love that it is excellent for beginners who might feel overwhelmed quickly. The WP Rocket dashboard and settings are easy to set up and understand. The plugin also seamlessly works with eCommerce sites to make sure page load times are blazingly fast.

 

WP Rocket is a premium plugin offering different pricing plans, but given the usability and depth of the software, we recommend at least trying out the free trial.

 

 

How caching affects SEO

 

 

One of the largest hurdles websites face when trying to rank on Google is page load times. The Google search algorithms weigh load times heavily when ranking sites. This factor makes caching a must-have. Without caching, your server load speeds will deteriorate as your pages become more dynamic, and the servers have to request and report every line of code/image/etc. for every click. 

 

The stress will be too much for your server, and page load times will be slow. Not only will that affect your SEO, but you’ll lose traffic almost immediately. No one wants to wait more than five to seven seconds on a website to load. For every second it takes until TTFB, your site slips slightly further in the rankings and becomes more invisible in searches.

 

 

Caching is crucial

 

 

Websites today are dynamic, loaded with images, and interactive modal windows. Ecommerce sites have tons of media, links, and walls of text. The sheer amount of data on each page is enough to strain any server. This is why caching is so vital. Without caching, servers can be spread too thin, and page load speeds can drop dramatically. The consequences can be disastrous. 

 

Imagine your website is a store on the main street, but you start to open later in the day than other stores. So, the city moves your store to 3rd street. Search engines are no different. Search algorithms look for the “stores” that open early. Websites with fast speeds will outrank the slower ones, so make sure your site is as quick as possible. Don’t lose your place in the market because you didn’t apply some simple methods to make your website faster.

 

Shamrck knows website caching is crucial to a site’s success. We’d love to talk to you about your website’s performance and how some simple caching techniques can help immediately.

 

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7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

Your business’ website is the face of the company. Many elements have to come together to make a successful website. How does your site perform? Sometimes, all we need is a little overhaul. Other times, we need to rebuild (or build!) from the foundation. The goal is to incorporate essential elements like mission statements, content, and reliable hosting into a website we can run confidently. 

Successful websites show up on the front page of Google searches and maintain a high number of page views. Does your website check all the boxes needed to be successful? Here are seven elements every business website should have.

 

Discuss your business core first.

Think of your 30-second elevator pitch. Do you go off on tangents about non-essential parts of your business? No. You stay on point and focus on your main value proposition. Does that mean you ignore your other products and auxiliary features? Of course not!

Your job is to build value immediately. The homepage of your site should be brand intensive with dense amounts of services you provide. Short descriptions are best for your services, but make sure they are teasers to get traffic to navigate to other pages. 

Yes, your secondary products are essential, and yes, they deserve attention. However, your website needs to start with the basics of what your business does.

 

Branded design

Few things are more critical to your company’s image than a detailed brand design. Your brand is how you want people to identify your business. Branding is how you become memorable and known in your field. Some people conflate branding with a fancy logo and a chic color scheme. 

Just Do It.
Eat Fresh.
Love the skin you’re in.
I’m lovin’ it.

Immediately, you can name those brands, what industry they’re in, and the products they’re best known for. However, Nike, Subway, Dove, and McDonald’s didn’t get there overnight. That level of recognition comes with a mix of design and positioning.

Your website will play an enormous role in both. Site design is a crucial step toward an online presence. It defines the look and feel your traffic gets as soon as they visit your site. This first impression is your chance to make your brand as memorable as possible. Don’t overlook it!

 

Who we are

Every successful business understands it needs to be relatable. Your website provides an excellent opportunity to tell your story and your mission. Where do you come from, and how did your business get its start? Talk about your experience in the industry and your phenomenal team. Help your customers understand your company on a personal level. 

Channel all of that biographic information into your company’s mission statement. We know who you and your team are and when the company started. But what do you do? This space is another opportunity to showcase your core business beliefs. Express why your company exists and what you bring to the table.

The “who we are” section of your website is a place to show off. Share your expertise and why people should trust you with their business. Now is not the time to be humble. The competition isn’t. 

 

Contact us

Offering a way for customers and leads to connect seems obvious. However, there are a few things to consider. Try to avoid listing emails or phone numbers for security reasons. Giving an email address is asking for spam, so do your best to stick to communication forms. 

Most companies can use a generic contact form, but sometimes we need to capture more data or direct communication to a specific person. Builders like Formidable Forms help create more intricate forms to fit your exact needs.

 

Content management

Writing content for your website is essential. From your mission statement to the descriptions of your services to any blog posts, you need to load your site with relevant content. For one, a large amount of relevant content will help your site show up on search engines. The more pages you create are more pages for search engines to index.

Knowing you need relevant content isn’t enough, though. You need to do your best to read your target audience. Are you looking for industry professionals who will already know the jargon? If not, you’ll want to avoid acronyms and other technical lingo. Visitors who aren’t familiar with the industry will be lost and leave your website. 

Sometimes businesses fall into the trap of writing unreadable content just to fill up pages. This error leads to confusion or perception of laziness. Content may be the most important element of your website, so take the time to write thought-out pages. 

 

Optimized speed and performance

We discussed the need for content regarding SEO, but just as critical, your website needs to be fast. Page load speeds carry a lot of weight with search engines. Everything about your website may be better than a rival, but if you have a slow server, their site might perform better in searches leaving you one step behind. 

Not only does a slow page speed hurt your search engine status, but you’ll also lose traffic. Pages have approximately seven seconds to grab and retain someone’s attention. If your website takes four seconds to load, your chances of keeping a visitor on your site diminish dramatically. 

Your focus should be on a fast, reliable host. Keeping your website up to industry standards for speed and performance can make or break your site’s success. 

 

Maintain what you have.

Building a website is only the beginning. Everything you create needs constant maintenance. From updating plugins to writing new content, your site needs to stay fresh. Regardless of how amazing an article is, it’ll be replaced by something more modern in searches. Some pages will be (somewhat) evergreen, such as your mission statement, but blog posts and articles need to be updated frequently. 

One easy way to maintain fresh content is to stay up to date with current events and tie articles into topical situations in your industry. Trends are always changing. Make sure your site can keep up.

 

Summary

Successful business websites incorporate several various elements. Each one has its different purpose, but without them, you can fall behind the competition. Make your company relatable, and create a memorable brand. Make sure people can get in touch when they need to! Write relevant content with frequent updates, and make sure your website loads fast enough to keep people around long enough to read it. 

Building and maintaining a business site you can run with confidence takes a lot of diligence, but you can make life a little bit easier with a blueprint. Does your website have all the right elements?

 

WPClover is here to help get your website where it needs to be. Schedule an appointment with our experts to analyze your website and discuss how to improve. 

 

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3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

Page speed is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO. Slow page speeds lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. The user experience tanks before visitors get a chance to browse, costing you repeat traffic and potential sales.

 

Page speed is also a part of how Google ranks your website. Slow speeds can hurt your SERP despite how fantastic your site might be. Great content and innovative products are useless if no one can find you!

 

Briefly explained, page speed refers to the length of time it takes your website to load webpages. Articles, blog posts, product pages, and all other pages log speeds, and fast load times can benefit (or hinder) their performance. If your pages are not loading quickly, consider getting a site health check. The tool will help gauge your current speeds, but more importantly, it will help give you ways to improve your website.

 

Why is it such a big deal? Here are three reasons slow page speeds are killing your website.

 

The pages won’t show up on search queries.

 

Page load times aren’t a new qualifier for page rankings, but in 2018, Google announced the factor would have a more substantial impact on mobile rankings. We focus on mobile in particular because the majority of traffic is coming via mobile devices. In 2018, according to a study by Perficient Digital, 58% of visits to websites were from a mobile device. The majority of those visits come via search queries.

 

The lesson is that page rankings for desktop and on mobile are weighting page speeds more heavily than ever. Despite better content, your website may drop below competitors’ pages based on nothing more than load times. As we all know, more than 90% of clicks from a search come from the first page. If you fall below that, your website starts to become invisible.

 

  1. Visitors are the worst critics of slow page speeds.

 

The most reliable critique of your website isn’t Google’s scoring algorithm. It comes from your traffic. We measure success in clicks and bounce rates. We want to know how many people are visiting our websites. How long are they staying on the site? Are they visiting multiple pages? Page speed plays a vital role in getting definite answers to these questions.

 

The bounce rate is when someone visits one page and immediately leaves a website. We use traffic analytics to track bounces and make sure our pages are performing well. High bounce rates are a visible red flag for administrators and content managers. Not only are people leaving the site quickly, but we also don’t know why.

 

The problem may be the page design, or they may not like the content. They may give up on the website if the page loads too slowly. There are several causes, and we can’t tell by only looking at numbers. We have to test different changes to the page to see what works.

 

Luckily, if it’s the page speed, we can find out with a simple test, and take steps to fix the issues. However, we’ll get to that later.

 

  1. Web traffic is very impatient.

 

The main reason slow page speeds are such a killer is the fact that web traffic is very impatient. When we search for information, we expect to see it immediately. Providers measure WiFi speeds in megabits per second. For reference, a megabit is one million bits (a unit of data). Most carriers provide anywhere from 15Mbps to one Gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second. If that sounds like a lot of information, it is. Wireless providers like Verizon’s LTE regularly provide from 2-15 Mbps meaning download speeds are incredibly fast on mobile carriers.

 

This availability of blisteringly quick speeds only makes our standards as users higher. If a website can get 15 million bits of digital information to us in one second, we have high expectations. If not, we get bored or frustrated and leave. This exit can happen in four seconds or less. The industry threshold for eCommerce sites is less than two seconds.

 

According to a Nielsen Family study, websites have between seven and nine seconds to make an excellent first impression. If we can’t grab their attention in seven seconds, they’ll likely visit another site. Imagine now that they spend four of those seven seconds waiting for the page to load. It’s essential time we can’t waste.

 

The proof that slow page speeds drive away traffic is right there in the math. You only have seven seconds. Make them count!

 

How to improve

 

If it turns out that slow page speeds are the cause of your high bounce rates, fear not! There are resources to help fix that. Start by getting a health check to see where the problem areas are. Lead by shrinking or eliminating images. Use a cache, which saves data for future reference. In other words, the website won’t have to load from scratch each time the same person visits the page. Work with a development specialist to find different ways to help your site perform better, and stop losing traffic due to slow speeds!

 

 

Slow page speeds are painful. They hurt your page rankings with search engines making your website harder to find, and they cause high bounce rates meaning people won’t stick around for the rest of your content. They drive away impatient traffic that doesn’t want to wait the four extra seconds for a page to load.

 

Making an effort and correcting some small issues can have a significant impact on website traffic. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert developer to make these improvements, but it never hurts to ask for help. Get a page speed check, and use it to help find the problems you need to solve.

 

 

When you’re ready to get started improving your slow page speeds, schedule a meeting with our WordPress experts, and we’ll help you get it done!

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