We all love adding beautiful images to our content to make it more appealing to our readers. We simply search the relevant images online and upload them to our site and add it to our content. This is what we do. Right? We want to spend more time writing great content and want our users to have a better experience.
Images are great. I love it and I prefer adding them to my content. But they hurt your site speed which leads to lower SEO rankings. Yes, that’s a fact.
Imagine you are sitting at a restaurant and waiting for your order for the past 10-15 minutes. How will your experience be? Will you continue coming to that restaurant again having known that the restaurant lacks good service? In the same way, your visitors won’t come to your site again if they happen to encounter that your site loads way too slow just because of those killer images.
Does that mean you should stop adding images to your content going forward? No. Images are great. In fact, I have been adding them to my content. And you should too. But the real truth is they affect your overall site speed if not optimized.
You must be thinking that I am contradicting myself here. Let me stress it and again say “You Should use images But…”
Enough scaring now let’s just take a breath and take you to the actual discussion of what is the objective of writing this article.
If you don’t want to be “that” restaurant then the best solution is to opt for CDN for images as this will take away a significant amount of load from your server. These CDNs minimize the loading time of your website as the assets like images and videos will be served through the closest servers possible based on the geographic location of the users.
In this post, we will discuss the nitty-gritty details related to images and how you can optimize your site speed gradually if you just opt for CDN for images.
But before we actually do that, let’s just first understand what CDN is and how they work. Also, we’ll take a look at some of the free cdn for images that you can use to optimize your site loading speed as well as SEO rankings.
What is CDN & How It Works?
CDN in web hosting is an acronym for Content Delivery Network, which is a cluster of servers distributed geographically. Their ultimate goal is to provide fast delivery of web content to its users, doesn’t matter where they are located. You must have heard about the term “caching” while optimizing your site speed.
Caching is a process that actually stores copies of your files in a cache or a temporary location so that they can be served quickly to its users.
Every time you hit a URL on your browser, it downloads a hell of a lot of data so that it can be displayed to you properly. But during that process, the page load times are generally high which Google hates the most, and eventually decreases the rank of your site.
Hence, browsers cache most of the content of your web page and save the copy of that web page on your device’s hard disk. So, the next you browse the same web page, the content will be fetched from your local device, and this way without hitting the server initially it will load much faster.
CDN basically caches your content like images, videos, webpages in proxy servers, a server that forwards requests coming from clients to other servers. And because these servers are more closely located to the user who is making a request, CDN is able to deliver the content more quickly.
Read more: Best website builders for WordPress
What Are The Benefits of CDN:
There are countless advantages of using a cdn for images, but overall the benefits it provides are listed below:
- Reduce latency
- Improve website speed & overall performance
- Quick content availability
- Enhanced website security
Why Use a CDN for Images?
Because you want your website to load faster. Isn’t it?
It’s a great idea to store your images on multiple servers and serve them directly from there rather than hosting them on your site and then further adding it to your content. This way the website will load much faster. Also, if you can pre-optimize your images and then add them to your content would be a great thing to do. But this process is time-consuming and you don’t want to reiterate the whole process every time you want to add images to your content.
There’s a specific CDN for images called image CDN and can automatically optimize all your images on the fly. Some of the optimization tasks that these CDNs can do are listed below:
- Automatically selects the most efficient format according to the end user’s device.
- Automatically optimize the image size without losing its quality.
- Perform several transformations like resize, cropping the image.
Are There Any Free CDN For Images?
If you are just starting out then there are a couple of free CDN for images that you can go ahead with without paying a dime. These CDNs are perfect if you are wondering where to host website images. Let’s explore some of these.
Cloudinary is one of the best CDN for images available for hosting your website’s assets. It is a cloud-based service that provides a one-stop solution for all your website’s images and video management needs. From uploads to storage, administration, manipulation, and delivery. Cloudinary provides all.
As long as the features are concerned, It allows you to perform several transformations like resizing, overlays, etc. while uploading an asset to the library. The analysis feature allows you to perform one or more analyses on your uploaded files.
If you are looking for CDN for your WordPress blog then this is a perfect CDN for images. Cloudinary’s WordPress plugin gives you a quick glance into how much you have optimized your files by hosting the content in their servers. You can also sync all your WordPress images to the server with just a push of a button. All your images can be optimized in a few seconds and allow for the lazy loading of your web assets to improve page load times.
Grab the plugin here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/cloudinary-image-management-and-manipulation-in-the-cloud-cdn/
Coming to the pricing, Cloudinary currently offers 3 plans – Programmable Media, Media Optimizer, and Digital Asset Management, each having 3 plans under each. The free Classic Plan provides for 20k monthly transformations, 3 lacs in a total of images and videos, 10GB of managed storage, and 20GB of monthly bandwidth which is pretty great for a one starting out with CDN.
I personally use Cloudinary on all my websites for serving all my images that are optimized on the go. The free version serves its purpose very well and I haven’t yet found a need to upgrade it yet.
ImageKit is another great CDN for serving your images. The CDN helps you with automatic image optimizations, providing real-time transformations and storage that can be integrated seamlessly with 3rd party setups.
With automatic optimization and an optimal cache mechanism, Imagekit can quickly improve web performance and can remove image-related warnings that appear in Lighthouse & PageSpeed, Gtmetrix scores.
Moreover, Imagekit also allows you to create multiple variants of images with just a little change in URL parameters. Also, the extensions provide you with advanced operations that you can perform on your assets like the removal of background from images, tagging, and using 3rd party services.
Talking about the pricing, the free version comes with 20GB of bandwidth and media storage, 1000 video processing units, and 500 extension units. The free version remains free forever until you upgrade it to Premium. Talking about the premium version, everything is included what’s in the free plan plus there’s double the bandwidth, media storage remains the same as the Free version, and there’s a significant increase in video processing units of 5000 and around 2500 extension units.
The above two CDNs we have talked about are specifically for optimizing images. However, Cloudflare is a CDN as a whole and speeds up your website and protects it from several security-related attacks. Cloudflare not only accelerates your website but now it has started optimizing images as well.
With Cloudflare CDN for images, you no longer need to worry about creating and storing multiple versions of the same image in different sizes and formats. Once the image is uploaded, several variants can be applied to it instantly.
Cloudflare intelligently delivers optimized images by picking the most optimal format between JPEG, PNG, GIF, and WebP.
How to Create a CDN for Images?
Getting started with any CDN is very easy and doesn’t require any other skills. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be taking an example of Cloudinary as I use it highly for all my websites. But any other CDN would work the same.
Follow the steps below:-
- Create a free account at Cloudinary
- Login to the account with the credentials
- Navigate to the Media Library and upload the image(s)
- Under the Assets section, there will be your uploaded images. Clicking on the anchor icon will copy the link to your image
- Now, simply add an image block in your WordPress post and choose Insert from URL and paste the image link there.
And you are done! Now the images will be loaded from the CDN and will take away the extra load from your server. Plus the great thing is that the images will be auto optimized on the fly and nothing extra has to be taken care of.
Should You Choose CDN For Images?
I mean why not?
It’s a great way to serve images as this would take off a large amount of load on your server every time your web page is being retrieved by your readers. This will not only increase your website speed plus the overall conversion rate would be much higher.
Optimizing images is really important if you don’t want to hurt your site ranking in Google. Google hates those sites that are slow and throw off their ranking to a lower one.
Let me know what are your thoughts on having CDN for all your website images.
Till then! SEOoo 😛