The other day I was debugging a client’s slow website load time. It becomes immediately clear that the server was experiencing an excessive initial response time (1.4 seconds according to GT Metrix, Pingdom & google page speed insights). I don’t claim to be a server administrator, but 1.4 seconds seems excessive. The server response time, which is the amount of time it takes the server to send back ANYTHING when a user visits a URL, is typically 300 milliseconds on the Kinsta hosted websites*.
Start Debugging a Website from the Ground Up
If the very first step in the website loading process is excessively slow, the chances that you’re going to make any headway on the overall website loading is highly unlikely. You wouldn’t build a house on a cracked foundation, right?
This particular client is using Bluehost for their hosting services. I call up the chat interface and discuss the issue with the customer service representative. They offer no assistance, assure me the problem is a front-end problem (that can’t be), and try to upsell me on a higher hosting level.
Let’s Implement Bluehost’s ‘FREE’ CDN
Hitting a dead-end, I move on to asking about the ‘Free CDN’ advertised on the features list of their hosting packages. I ask them where in the Bluehost dashboard I can access the CDN settings – I’d like to test its impact on the site load time – and the technical help representative tells me to go signup for the free Cloudflare account.
I try to clarify, I would like to use the Bluehost advertised Free CDN, not signup with Cloudflare separately. I like having a quick toggle to turn the CDN on and off from the WordPress dashboard or hosting account so the cache purging is immediate and the file expirations are synched.
One major issue I come across when debugging websites is file minimization and caching expiration inconsistencies. This happens quite often when separate plugins or tools are used to minimize files, cache files, and a CDN is used. Mis-matched expiration dates or purge frequency can cause intermittent slow load issues.
There is no Bluehost CDN!
The customer service representative repeats that I need to go signup for the totally unrelated and separate service directly from Cloudflare. But the representative CAN help me change the DNS to match my Cloudflare account.
So if I understand this correctly, the CDN Bluhost advertised as part of the WordPress hosting package has nothing to do with them. Why not add all sorts of other “free” services from other companies? There is the ‘free GT Metix speed test’ tool, a ‘free Google Insights audit’, a ‘free SEO analysis from Moz’, and tons of other ‘features’ they could claim as their own.
This seems like false advertising to me. What do you think?
*I am a Kinsta hosting affiliate. There are a lot of reasons why I choose Kinsta for WordPress hosting over other hosting providers – and experiences like the one described in this blog post are case and point.