Originally published at ecommerce-platforms.com on November 29, 2018.

The Ultimate Guide to KeyCDN — Complete Review

Let me say this straight.

If this page took just five more seconds to load, chances are you wouldn’t be reading this. You’d probably be a mile or so down the web road, paying attention to a different page that “respects” your time.

Admit it. That’s, undoubtedly, one of the most bizarre facts about today’s web users.
 We’re so used to reasonably fast page load times that an additional second almost feels like an eternity. Even when we literally have nothing else to do, we are seemingly too busy for a page that fails to deliver in a fraction of a second.

But how bad is this trend?

Well, thankfully, we have Google to lay it out in actual figures, through a recent assessment done in collaboration with SOASTA.

Now, a web page which manages to load in just one second is admittedly super-fast. That’s the stuff of legends.

But, surprisingly, a part of your web traffic doesn’t see it that way. Because we have internet giants like Google spoiling the party by getting users rather accustomed to microseconds.

That’s why an additional two-second delay will increase your bounce rate by 32%. Technically, it will take you longer to read this entire sentence but your bounce rate would already be higher by a third.

That’s how astonishingly impatient web users are.

But hang on a minute. You haven’t heard the worst yet.

So far, we’ve established that a page load time of three seconds translates to that bounce upsurge. So, of course, we’d expect it to increase proportionately with each passing second.

But guess what?

You can’t be any farther from the truth. The reality is actually the opposite. Bounce rate increases disproportionately, with each additional second translating to a sharp rise.

For instance, add two more seconds to the previous tally to bring the page load time to five seconds. Compared to a page load time of one second, this one would register 90% more bounces.

Over to six seconds and we’ve already crossed the 100% threshold. By the time we get to ten seconds, the one-second bounce rate will have shot up by 123%.

Now let that sink in for a minute.

Pretty bad for bloggers. But devastating for ecommerce owners. Each additional second is undeniably equivalent to flushing potential customers down the drain.

Essentially, even a solid conversion funnel would be hopeless with slow page load speeds.

I tell you what though…

There are many tricks that can mitigate this and effectively improve your page load times. Much of it involves technical adjustments on your web page.

There there’s a special class of tools that can achieve just that. And one of the principal ones is what is widely known as a CDN.

Now hold it right there. What is a CDN?

In short, it stands for Content Delivery Network. It’s a rather clever system of availing content from a server that is positioned closest to a user.

It utilizes the basic principle that the first to arrive will always be the item located closest to the destination.

A standard CDN tool basically replicates elements of your site like scripts and images, then subsequently saves them across a wide range of servers spread around the globe. That way, your web pages are able to load simultaneously from different locations in multiple countries. Each user principally using the version stored on the server that is physically nearest to them.

This not only boosts overall user experience but also improves your website’s SEO.

That said, it’s worth noting that there’s a wide array of CDN tools in the web with different provisions and offerings. Today we’ll look into KeyCDN, paying special attention to all the features that would be relevant to an ecommerce site.

So let’s see what it’s really made of.

KeyCDN Review: Overview

So far, KeyCDN has been around for only six years.

However, make no mistake. Since it was launched in 2012, the service has grown to be one of the most prominent ones not only in Europe but also part of the U.S.

Quite a remarkable feat, to say the least. Much of it has been attributed to KeyCDN’s competitive pricing. It has one of the lowest price ranges in the segment. Or so they say. But we’ll be reviewing that in detail shortly.

Needless to say, low prices wouldn’t make much of a difference if they didn’t come with a corresponding set of attractive features. These two have to go hand in hand, and KeyCDN is seemingly doing a good job at that.

One of its primary drivers is the fact that all solutions are developed in-house. Unlike many providers today, KeyCDN does not survive by reselling a collection of third-party solutions. That would only make the whole package much costlier, in addition to limited control.

This strategy has been the principal reason why KeyCDN prides itself as a simple, fast and reliable CDN.

Sounds good?

Ok, it might seem like a decent service at first. But is it any good in a practical sense?

Well, let’s find out.

KeyCDN Review: Top Features

Let’s start at the top. At the one ultimate function of CDN services.

Now, KeyCDN spreads content across 25 servers- one in South America, one in Oceania, three in Asia, ten in Europe, and ten more in North America.

These might be more than adequate for a standard mid-sized business. But let’s face it. They are actually a bit on the lower side when we shift to advanced mid-level enterprises and their larger counterparts.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t discourage you at all. For what it’s worth, go through that list of servers again. More keenly this time.

Notice anything interesting?

While the number of servers should be a fundamental concern, I consider precise location to be way more critical. Otherwise, the whole purpose of a CDN would be pointless if you leveraged thousands or servers, all positioned far away from your target user base.

Putting this into consideration, you begin to appreciate KeyCDN’s strategic approach when it comes to market positioning.

Have a look at this depiction of the biggest ecommerce markets in the world. The servers are anchored right in the middle of the principal sources of traffic.

As you focus on running your business, KeyCDN can do the heavy lifting for you by automatically copying content from your original server, for subsequent distribution across these locations. This is technically known as origin pull.

Origin push, on the other hand, is the converse side of it. Instead of letting KeyCDN handle it, you can alternatively choose to take charge and upload the content yourself. Doing this through your FTP account is just as easy and synchronizing everything with KeyCDN’s rysnc.

Now hang on.

By now, you’re probably wondering the type of content I’m describing.

Web content is pretty diverse. If there’s something we’ve learned over the years in the ecommerce content sphere, then it has to be a simple fact that an image isn’t just an image. And that two videos might play similarly, but close scrutiny could reveal varying coding.

Thankfully, KeyCDN attempts to cover all the main content types we see in most ecommerce websites. It can handle both HTTP and HLS streaming, plus regular static HTTP and HTTP/2 content.

For performance optimization, you’ll love the fact that these also come with HPACK and GZip compression.

But what happens when all this content is uploaded to various servers? Extending to multiple servers essentially means numerous things could go wrong. Vulnerability increases manifold, right?

Technically, you would be right to assume so. But don’t get me wrong. This only makes sense theoretically.

On the practical side of things, content susceptibility is substantially minimized by KeyCDN’s security features.

You can easily block off bad bots at just a click, while the service utilizes HTTP referrers to prevent hotlinking. Additionally, users can capitalize on custom Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and the free shared SSL.

That said, here is a brief list of the chief features you get on KeyCDN:

  • 20+ POPs
  • Instant purging
  • Secure token
  • Free SSL with Let’s Encrypt
  • DDoS protection
  • HTTP/2 support
  • Log forwarding
  • Real-time analytics
  • Origin shield
  • Pull and push zones.

KeyCDN Review: Ease of Use

As we’ve established, simplicity is first among the three prime characteristics that KeyCDN prides itself in.

Well, I’m glad to report that the service actually lives up to this, in every sense of that word.

To begin with, you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues. KeyCDN supports pretty much every CMS and platform.

All you need to do to get started is sign up for a trial then hang around for an activation link email. Clicking on it immediately opens up to a page with clear instructions about CDN zone configuration.

Admittedly, this process should be exceptionally simple if you’ve used a CDN service before. But worry not if you’re a beginner. A brief scan through the guides should make everything pretty straightforward.

Once you’ve set it up, you’ll notice that the CDN backend is refreshingly identical to the all-too-familiar WordPress dashboard. All the tabs are conveniently placed on the left side- including payments, zones, reporting, and account settings.

You even get a general overview area with all the critical information you’d need right off the bat- zones, credits, used storage, and remaining traffic.

Only one small problem though.

I wish the explanation documentation on tab functionalities was directly accessible from the dashboard. Hovering over them to get brief guidelines would be good enough. As opposed to navigating all the way back to the documentation area.

KeyCDN Review: Pricing

Now, this is exactly what makes KeyCDN so special. Regardless of the site’s total size, you are going to get one of the lowest rates in the segment.

The pricing schedule is quite straightforward and transparent. Price varies with region and amount of traffic.

It starts out at 4 cents per month for every GB of traffic on sites based in North America and Europe, 12 cents per GB for Asia-based sites, then 16 cents per GB for South America and Oceania.

All things considered, that’s already satisfyingly low. I’ll admit that KeyCDN would be fine if they left it at that.

But rather surprisingly, rates drop when you hit 10TB, then more when you bring in the next 40TB, and even further with the next 100TB, then finally 1 cent per GB for the next 350TB.

If your site can manage a solid 500TB of traffic every month, you’re free to contact them for further negotiations at a suitable rate.

Feeling a little bit unsure about anything?

Well, before taking the plunge, I was pleased that I could start out with a brief test drive. Thanks to a 30-day free trial worth 25GB of data. You might want to consider doing the same.

KeyCDN Review: Customer Support

A comprehensive knowledge base is among the first things you’ll notice as soon as you subscribe to the service. Everything about all the functionalities and procedures is right there in clear, concise guidelines.

Quite handy if you want to quickly figure out a problem. Come to think of it, even more convenient than reaching out to technical support.

That said, there’s still a fraction of users that would prefer the latter. If you find it completely necessary, you can send in a request or submit your feedback. Or alternatively, get in touch via a phone call.

Overall, in the end, I found the community to be much faster and quite helpful, particularly when it comes to those special configuration tricks.

KeyCDN Review: Conclusion

All things considered, there’s only one thing I found to be quite boggling about KeyCDN. The fact that the minimum charge, even on barely a GB of traffic per month, is $49 per year.

Otherwise, it’s a pretty decent service. Universally compatible, with standard CDN functionalities, at one of the lowest price ranges in the market.


Originally published at ecommerce-platforms.com on November 29, 2018.