No More Website Updates: Publish Like It’s the 2020s

These are the next-gen updates you need to stay ahead of the competition

Content creation is still the most powerful engine that propels every publisher forward. But in 2020 and beyond, quality content won't sustain a site on its own. The modern content lifecycle hinges on a number of things working together in unison — including page speed, intelligent SEO, and effective distribution, just to name a few.

However, there's one thing that can throw a wrench in the entire system, and that's platform updates. Whether you're publishing on a common CMS solution like WordPress, using a custom in-house CMS, have access to a dedicated team of developers, or any option in between, platform updates can be both costly and frustrating.


Updates as simple as closing a security loophole can sometimes take weeks to implement correctly, and can often prevent content creators from doing their job during the interim, thus disrupting the entire content lifecycle and costing companies money and, more importantly, users. While a platform update may seem like a temporary affair, any downtime can deliver a brutal blow. According to data from Google, 61% of users will not return to a site on mobile if they had trouble accessing it, and 40% said they would explore a competitor's site instead.

Updates That Happen Behind the Scenes

With mere seconds to make a first impression and retain readers, it's important that new functions, security updates, and even small platform tweaks are deployed seamlessly with no disruption to content creators or users.

Unlike most publishing platforms, RebelMouse was born in the age of social, and our team has had the advantage of approaching publishing solely from a modern lens. We anticipate the algorithm updates, trends, and shifts impacting the content lifecycle much earlier than other CMS options. We have a procedure in place to perform every platform upgrade with zero disturbance to our clients. In fact, many of the updates we deploy happen before many of our publishers even know they needed it.

Here are some exciting changes we've made just in the first few weeks of 2020.

Go AMP First for a Next-Generation UX + Enhanced SEO

Google's AMP format first launched to provide users a lightning-fast mobile experience with page load times clocking in at under a second. Now, Google has released that same elegant AMP experience on desktop. Combining desktop AMP with a mobile user experience is a new way to publish called AMP First.

Transforming your site to AMP First means every page on your website is migrated to the AMP format exclusively. Every visitor to one of our sites, regardless of device, is given an incredibly fast experience with rich and dynamic media that was once only possible using load-heavy JavaScript.

In early 2020, we began to roll out some of our clients as AMP First to not only further improve performance, but to give them a distinct advantage in search. While AMP isn't an official ranking factor in Google's algorithm, lightning-fast, high-performing site experiences are heavily considered by the search engine, and publishing purely with AMP skyrockets page speed to increase SEO quickly.

RebelMouse makes it easy for product managers to quickly design AMP First websites in addition to AMP mobile and desktop pages that outperform industry standards with an average of five pages per user. It's as simple as one click to enable AMP by default or implement it across articles individually.

One-click AMP integrations in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

Read more about our AMP integrations here.

Ahead of the Industry Curve With Beautiful AMP Stories

Since the need for speed is a top priority for every publisher, the rise of mobile stories, or tappable microcontent experiences first made popular by Snapchat, have now gained even more steam with similar versions rolled out by Instagram and Facebook. Google AMP is also leveraging the visually media-rich format with its own version called AMP stories.

In January 2020, we launched an intuitive AMP stories publisher that's available right in our Entry Editor.

Click here to view an AMP story on mobile.

This new integration means RebelMouse users will now be able to publish to AMP stories using their normal editorial workflow, further extending the content lifecycle and creating new opportunities for fresh audiences.

Read more about how easy it is to create AMP stories here.

Navigating a Cookie-less Web

2020 is the year when consumer privacy and user-first strategies are essential to surviving as a publisher. Quality content has to be delivered in a quality fashion or it becomes useless.

With third-party cookies crumbling, and more regulations around how cookies are deployed, some publishers are fearful of their sustainability and overall site experience. The new regulations mean that if cookies are not set up properly on your site, they could get blocked entirely. This means huge implications for brands and publishers as they consider their site experiences moving forward.

Brands need to navigate how to maintain consistent and accurate audience measurement across channels. Our team of developers have understood the future of cookies for quite awhile, and have already implemented the updates now required, like SameSite cookie attribution, for all of our sites.

We also have first-party data strategies defined, tested, and ready to help guide our clients to make the most out of a cookie-less web. Read more about this here.

Purely Publish With No Update Upsets

RebelMouse has had a busy start to 2020. We've launched each of these new major functionalities ahead of the industry pace, and they were all deployed with no disturbance to our clients or their valuable audiences. Our agility and infrastructure allows our publishers to focus purely on creating content, and gives them the opportunity to leapfrog their competition without having to think about it. We're always working to keep our sites secure, updated, and, most importantly, modern so that sites within our network can succeed high above the noise.

Publish without disruption and get access to updates and upgrades long before you even know you need them. Request a proposal today and let's start working together.

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

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Why Premium Creative Agencies and CTOs Choose to Develop on RebelMouse vs. WordPress and Drupal

The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.

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Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

What Differentiates Our Approach

There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.

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Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it's filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to understand your audience and provide them with what they want.

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Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

Revolutionizing E-commerce on RebelMouse

Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.

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Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Read our deck here...

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Dynamic Voting: Grow Traffic and Engagement Organically

Help your audience find its voice.

Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.

Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.

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How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?

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Trigger New Pageviews With “Keep Reading” Feature

RebelMouse supports an infinite scroll feed of content that is mobile-friendly by using expandable posts. Your users can read the beginning of your article that is "before the jump," but instead of jumping to a new page, the story expands upon click to show the rest of the post. We do this with our "Keep Reading" functionality:

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RebelMouse Outperforms Every Other CMS. Here’s the Data to Prove It.

Our Core Web Vitals drastically outpace every competitor, and we have the receipts

In an effort to build user retention and increase conversions, publishers are making a common mistake. They're adding more features to their websites, including ad placements, but losing sight of the main revenue driver: user experience.

The key to unlocking user retention lies completely in site performance. Currently, publishers are trying to build optimized websites that translate easily across devices and platforms, but fail to deliver an experience that checks all their boxes and prioritizes their readers. It takes less than a second of delayed load time to turn away a user. This is why Google has made page speed a top ranking factor on search, and shepherded the entire open web's newfound prioritization on site performance.

Game Changer: Google's Core Web Vitals Announcement

Google cemented its seriousness about page experience with the announcement of its Core Web Vitals measurements in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are three specific metrics that Google uses to determine a site's overall usability. While these data points will evolve over time, the 2020 version of vitals consists of three specific metrics:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift Score (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search." —From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

At RebelMouse, we guarantee a performance score of 90 or higher via PageSpeed Insights. To do this, we've built out a platform infrastructure that exceeds industry standards on Google's key metrics, particularly its Core Web Vitals, outperforming most industry leaders.

You can read more about how we've mastered Google's KPIs here. But the truth is in the data. Below is table that provides a snapshot into how RebelMouse-powered sites score:

And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

As you can see, there's a lot of data Google takes into account even outside of Core Web Vitals. Here's a quick summary of the other important metrics that Google trusts to measure page performance:

First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

Creating quality content is only half the battle in 2020, and publishers are already burdened with the around-the-clock task of creating content that resonates. This is why quality content must be supported by modern technology that can keep up with the speed of the web. RebelMouse provides publishers with a CMS that supports the new content lifecycle with an editorial suite designed for reach on site, search, and social.

Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

A Modern Story of Web Performance From RebelMouse Founder + CEO Andrea Breanna

If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster

In the first months of 2020, we've focused at RebelMouse on page speed and performance. We worked very hard and found ways to take 90% of the sites we power to 90+ performance scores via Google's PageSpeed Insights tool — even with sites that are loaded with ads, embeds, third-party analytics, and other typical slow-loading elements. You can read more about our victories here.

A few months after we started this process, COVID-19 hit the world very hard. Suddenly, every media company was faced with a huge problem: Advertising fell off a cliff in what seemed like seconds. The only way to survive this unprecedented downturn is to grow traffic and control costs at the same time. So we started to shave our code and made our websites faster. We dropped costs just as dramatically as we were increasing scores.

Here are some surprises we found when doing this: If you want truly exceptional performance, none of the JavaScript and CSS frameworks that developers love so much make the cut. We thought the React version of RebelMouse was going to be the huge page speed breakthrough, until we realized the only way to achieve this goal was to write the code carefully and refactor it endlessly until it was as short as possible. As any author will tell you, like editing a book or a blog post, the revision process is never really done. By stepping away from frameworks, and methodically shaving vanilla code, our customers continue to see major improvements in performance.

As we announced this to our site network and rolled it out publicly, many of our clients asked me personally, "How did you do it?" The answer is easy to understand regardless of how technical you may be. It's perfectly summarized in this wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
—Blaise Pascal, 1657 (and later, more famously Mark Twain)

The universe is sometimes very beautiful, and especially when you keep it simple. If you would like to start publishing on a site optimized for both speed and sustainability, request a proposal and let's start working together.

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