Any website owner wants their resource to work quickly. This is far from being a whim, but an important condition for SEO. Speed affects the bounce rate and the return rate. And a delay in page response, even for a second, leads to a 7% decrease in conversion. That’s why so you want to have a magic wand, a stroke of which will make the site so fast. Such a miracle tool experts call the Cloudflare service. Let’s talk about what it is and how it works.
What is Cloudflare
Distance destroys relationships. This statement is confirmed by many couples who have to live in different cities for long periods of time. Why do you think it’s different with a network? It’s exactly the same. If distance causes a Web site to take a long time to respond, it loses dozens of visitors every second. No one will waste time waiting when there are an infinite number of alternatives.
Cloudflare is the largest content delivery service (CDN). It is used to reduce web page response times. A bonus is protection from DDoS attacks that Cloudflare provides to the servers.
The principle of CDN is based on the fact that the user’s request is processed by the closest point (server) of Cloudflare. And it is through this server that the response to the request is sent. It is worth noting that the Cloudflare network includes more than 250 servers around the world from 100 cities and 15 Tbps of total bandwidth. It is these PoP points that provide prompt interaction with the network users. Simply put, when a user visits the site, the resource is downloaded from the nearest geographic location. This reduces download times.
How Cloudflare works
When a visitor requests your site through the browser’s search box, the request is redirected to the server. The server responds by returning to the visitor’s browser all of the resources associated with the site. The further away the server is from the user’s location, the longer the data transfer will take. When the site owner links the site to Cloudflare, the data transfer service stores an active copy of the website in all of its data centers. When the user makes another request to his or her browser from the nearest access point, a copy of the site’s assets is transmitted. As a result, the user sees the content of the page much faster than if he or she is in direct contact with the server, which means that response times are reduced.
Cloudflare also has the ability to optimize images. Heavy images take a long time to load. If your site has a lot of photos and graphics, the service will compress them without loss of quality, which will increase the loading speed of the page.
How to set up Cloudflare
- The service is free. More precisely, there is a paid plan and a free version. Most users of the free plan will be enough. The paid version is needed for sites with high support requirements.
- The software is easy to launch and configure. Using the Cloudflare service requires no additional hardware or code changes. Just link your domain name to your Cloudflare account and you’re done.
- Once the site is linked to a Cloudflare account, the service will prompt you to choose a plan. The free version is located under the three paid plans.
- Once you have selected your cooperation option, the service starts scanning the domain and displays a list of DNS records for the specified domain. Check that the data provided corresponds to the DNS records of your domain registrar. If everything matches, click “Continue”. If not, adjust the records manually.
- Cloudflare will display a list of servers whose names need to be changed with the domain registrar. This only seems complicated at first glance. In fact, it takes a few minutes to set up. Just follow the instructions: Cloudflare will tell you which old NS records you need to replace with the new ones. If even with this support you do not understand a lot, contact the technical support service of the provider. They will either configure the data transfer service for your site themselves or tell you, how to setup Cloudflare.
- Once setup is complete, Cloudflare will display the site in the Cloudflare dashboard as active. Click on the active link to open the internal management panel and take advantage of the many additional tools.
Next, you do not need to do anything. As long as the Cloudflare service is linked to the site, it will work independently, without user participation.
How Cloudflare protects the site
The first level of protection provides that Cloudflare hides the server’s real IP address from users. The open IP address makes the server vulnerable to direct attacks. If the traffic goes through Cloudflare, and the IP address is hidden, the probability of a direct attack is reduced to zero. Cloudflare also blocks threats and limits the impact of bots that could consume server resources, such as bandwidth.
And because Cloudflare keeps local copies of the website on its network, they will be preserved if the site goes down.
Cloudflare offers a free SSL certificate, which can be activated in a couple of clicks. Using SSL is an important ranking factor for search engines. Also, the user’s browser will not consider your site dangerous if an SSL certificate is used.
The site owner is given the ability to analyze how the site is performing through Cloudflare. The analytics data contains information about CDN performance, the number of visits to the site, pages scanned, and bandwidth. All this will help you understand how your resource is performing in general and what additional measures need to be taken to make it even better.
Linking website data and a Cloudflare account, or, more simply, connecting a web resource to a global content transfer network (CDN) improves site speed and security. This has a positive effect on the level of service for site visitors. Cloudflare is an excellent addition to the site also because it uses a secure data transfer certificate, saves traffic, provides analytics, and optimizes images from the site without loss of quality.
Users are offered a free version and paid packages. If you are just exploring the issue, test Cloudflare by using the free features of the service. You can always switch to paid services when the free service becomes insufficient.