Cloudflare is a content delivery network service provider with a giant network consisting of 165 data centers across 67 countries. Performing the duty of a reverse proxy for websites, Cloudflare lies between website visitors and the hosting provider, providing DDoS mitigation, internet security, and distributed domain-name-server services.
They offer a free plan for individuals with personal websites and blogs and several paid plans for professionals and businesses from small to large scale, which require advanced security, performance, and reliability features. The free plans offer a solid set of features such as global CDN, free SSL, built-in firewall, and protection from DDoS attacks. There is also the Cloudflare WordPress Plugin, which makes it easy for website owners to implement their services.
While not strictly related to speed, we often recommend using Cloudflare to manage a website’s DNS. They have one of the easiest-to-use interfaces for this.
Cloudflare’s Speed Optimization Toolset
Before we could learn about Cloudflare WordPress optimization, let’s have a look at their optimization tools.
Before we do, though, here’s a great side effect: your bandwidth usage is reduced.
DNS acts as a directory to access websites online. The DNS converts all human-readable domain names to IP addresses. Some web pages use multiple DNS lookups to load the webpage as each lookup takes an average of 32 milliseconds. Speeding up DNS lookups can give you faster internet performance.
Cloudflare aims to reduce the latency with its 18.104.22.168 resolver to minimize the distance from the user-building data centers worldwide. Their target is to keep everyone within ten milliseconds from at least one of their locations.
Image optimization and Image Resizing
Images are one of the heaviest elements of a web page and large ones have an impact on page load speed. Therefore, it is essential to keep images optimized – as small as possible in terms of file size – to improve website performance.
Cloudflare Polish can help with image optimization. It reduces an image files’ size by compression or resizing, and does this on the ‘edge’ before the request for the image hits a server.
TCP Turbo selects the custom-tuned TCP settings to reduce latency and further accelerate websites. It is only available in premium plans, though.
Brotli is a lossless compression algorithm that Cloudflare uses to reduce the size of cached http/s pages.
Advanced Speed Optimization
Cloudflare also has some advanced solutions to speed up a WordPress website, and for the most are bundled in the paid plans:
Argo Smart Routing
It’s a performance tool that delivers web traffic across the fastest and least congested route available, resulting in more rapid web assets and an enhanced end-user experience. All Argo traffic is fully encrypted across the Cloudflare network, securing web traffic from bad actors.
The Live View feature of Argo on network conditions let it route around congestion and forced the most reliable links to increase uptime. Argo reduces content requests to the origin server, decreasing network latency, bandwidth usage, and server load.
Page rules allow you to manage how Cloudflare works on individual web pages, subdomains, or whole websites. Using page rules, you can set the cache level, set up redirection, enable automatic HTTPS rewrite, configure Cloudflare rocket loader, configure Web Application Firewall(WAF), and many more.
Cloudflare offers a limited number of page rules according to the plan you have chosen. If you need more, you can buy additional rules.
- Improve performance by fetching only dynamic content.
- They are securing the website with custom rules and filters.
- Implement custom load balancing and failure logic.
- Deploy quick fixes to the site without updating servers.