Cloudflare announced a new service that dramatically speeds up any WordPress website with improvements of up to 72% in Time to First Byte. Cloudflare is offering users of WordPress.com hosting the new service for free. Anyone not hosted there can sign up for as little as $5 per month. Sites on modest shared hosts can experience dramatic improvements in speed.

The service is called, Automatic Platform Optimization (APO). Sites using APO have improved Time to First Byte (TTFB) by 72% and Largest Contentful Paint by 23%.

Shared Hosting Bottlenecks Solved

Shared hosting has generally been more susceptible to slowdowns because of the burden put on server resources which can cause database lookups to slow down and sites to become less responsive.

Cloudflare states that shared server slowdowns are no longer an issue because of the APO technology.

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APO makes it virtually irrelevant that a site is on a shared host (called the origin) because the WordPress site will be served from Cloudflare’s edge that is located close to where the request for the web page is being made.

All of the speed related downsides of a shared host are mitigated by Cloudflare’s APO. That’s why sites can see an improvement of 72% in the Time to First Byte metric.

Test Results of Speed Improvements with Cloudflare Automatic Platform Optimization

Screenshot of Cloudflare test results

WordPress Performance Bottlenecks Solved

One of the issues with WordPress is performance slowdowns caused by the template bloat, plugins, superfluous JavaScript, and so on. Those are the kinds of issues that contribute to WordPress sites scoring poorly on speed metrics.

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With Cloudflare’s APO slow WordPress performance is no longer a consideration. Cloudflare stores a static copy of the WordPress site and serves that, without having to make database lookups or use files from the origin server.

This is how Cloudflare explains it:

“By caching dynamic content, we can serve the entire website from our edge network. Think ‘static site’ but without any of the work of having to build or maintain a static site.

Customers can keep managing and updating content on their website in the same way and leave the hard work for performance to us.

Serving both static and dynamic content from our network results, generally, in no origin requests or origin processing time. This means all the communication occurs between the user’s device and our edge. “

In most cases, Cloudflare caches everything, from JavaScript, CSS, images and third party fonts. Cloudflare bypasses the cache for authenticated content. This was formerly a feature that was exclusively for Business-level customers but now it’s enabled for APO customers.

This is kind of cool because it means that the traditional downside of hosting with on a cheap shared hosting service (slower speed) is eliminated.

How Much Does Cloudflare APO Cost?

Cloudflare is currently offering the service for free to customers of WordPress.com hosting to offer APO to its customers for free. All sites currently hosted on WordPress.com will have the option to turn on the APO service. Cloudflare states that they may be announcing similar arrangements with other web hosting companies.

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WordPress sites not hosted on WordPress.com will have the option to purchase the APO service for $5/month if they are a current Cloudflare customer at the free level. Customers on the Professional, Business, and Enterprise plans can receive the service for no extra cost.

When Will Service Come to Other Hosting Companies?

I asked the Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming if there was a timeline for when the service will arrive at other web hosts.

He said:

Cloudflare plans to bring these same capabilities to other popular platforms used for web hosting.  Additionally, for website owners, we’d like to know what platform they want to see Cloudflare bring APO to next.

How to Get Started

Getting started is easy. Just install the Cloudflare WordPress Plugin and from there, if you’re not hosted on WordPress.com you will be directed from your WordPress Admin page to create a free Cloudflare account and purchase a $5/month subscription.

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Improve Page Speed with Cloudflare?

Page speed is an important factor for sales and ad clicks. Five dollars a month is a modest price to pay for improvements in speed, regardless if the WordPress site is a WooCommerce online shop or an informational site dependent on ad clicks. Speeding up a site is associated with higher sales and clicks, which means the service could more than pay for itself.

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Read the official announcement:
Introducing Automatic Platform Optimization, starting with WordPress





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