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February 2019 Product Updates: Prioritizing Site Performance All Year Long

RebelMouse is obsessed with giving our clients an edge over the industry's average on performance. Similar to security, performance comes from a cultural dedication within RebelMouse, rather than a one-time effort. Our platform has grown so much in recent years that, put together, our network of sites ranks among the top 50 properties in the U.S.


Thanks to our recent growth, we thought it was time to give our clients clarity on both an important upgrade that went live this week, and our upcoming updates and product roadmap.

Google's acquisition of Lighthouse was first integrated into its Chrome browser as a new Audits tab, but recently Google upgraded their web-based PageSpeed Insights tool by integrating Lighthouse technology directly into it. The scoring system is very strict, and doesn't cut any web properties — whether big or small — any slack. Every site has to follow the same performance guidelines. As we previously explained here, even Google's own home page doesn't get a perfect score. Media sites like The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and even Google News receive poor scores, including middling rankings on mobile. WordPress sites for smaller companies fare worse, typically getting scores between zero and 10.

Many of our clients have complicated ad setups that require third-party plugins, which in turn, make it difficult to get scores higher than 50. Still, your site can get scores that are even better than the ones companies that are spending $10+ million a year on their publishing solutions are getting. Here's a post on how you can leverage our Layout & Design tool to optimize your current site's load time.

February 2019 Platform Update

We released an upgrade that we've been working on for some time now. It's undergone a lot of testing, and we're very excited about it.

A vital part of your Google PageSpeed score is categorized under Time to First Byte (TTFB), which measures the time — in milliseconds — that it takes for the first byte of a page to be received in a browser after a user makes an HTTP request. On RebelMouse, we were already better than the industry average across the board for this particular metric. But now our team recently released an improvement that's resulted in a 50–200% increase in TTFB numbers across the board. This update optimizes the way our sites load and render layout templates, which depends on the complexity of a site's design. Complex designs will enjoy better optimization.

Our traffic experts will be monitoring Google Data Studio dashboards and analytics carefully this month, but so far this latest update has shown exciting potential to give our clients a further advantage around performance. We've tested this update carefully, and so far it's performed without issue. But if you notice that any of your pages look off or act just a bit different from either a design or functional perspective, please notify your account manager right away so that we can address the issue as soon as possible.

Platform Performance Roadmap

Google's Lighthouse project gives the open web its roadmap for making sites blazingly fast. We're excited about this new industry-wide clarity, which has allowed us to prioritize our clients as being the example of proper page speed.

Looking ahead, we have two big projects aimed toward upgrading our ability to defer offscreen images without relying on JavaScript loading the way we do now. This is a hard update that almost all websites fail to do the way Lighthouse prescribes, but we agree with their descriptions and are working toward a release that will return high-level scores.

We're also working on serving all images in next-generation formats. This used to be a suggestion and hint, but now Lighthouse has turned avoiding best practices into serious penalties. This update has complex implications, but the RebelMouse teams who will be working on it have a clear path forward and we hope to release this in Q1 2019.

Moving forward, we'll send out regular updates on platform performance so you can understand the advantages we provide, and how to make sure your site is configured and optimized correctly.

An Important Reminder

It's imperative to note that 90% of the performance impact clients on our platform experience is due to the usage of ad plugins and other third-party widgets that don't lazy load or use async, which creates obtrusive experiences. We're a creative platform, so we don't limit you from doing what you want, but please seriously consider how important it is to pick other partners who are also committed to page speed and performance. Otherwise, your site will be forced to underperform.

If you have any questions about your own site's performance or RebelMouse's product roadmap, contact your account manager today.

Read on to hear more about some of our latest platform updates designed to make your publishing journey more organized and intuitive.

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Rebel Insights

RebelMouse Q1 2021 Platform Updates

Speed, performance, and Core Web Vitals enhancements

Click here to read our Q2 2021 platform performance updates!

At RebelMouse, we pour our souls into making sure that our platform is always the most modern, high-performance CMS on the market. In fact, we invested over $100,000 worth of hours into our platform in Q1 2021 alone. This has resulted in updates and performance enhancements that publishers would have to pay for on their own to make happen on any other platform, such as WordPress. We're proud to be at a level of scale where we can invest this way into our platform, and we will continue to invest at this rate every quarter moving forward just as we have in the past.

Here are the major updates that we've added to the platform in Q1.

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An Important Note on Site Quality From Google’s Search Expert
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An Important Note on Site Quality From Google’s Search Expert

Do you ever wonder if a few typos can impact your site’s search performance? According to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller, it takes more than just a few grammatical missteps for Google’s crawler to determine your site’s quality.

During a New Year’s Eve Office Hours hangout, Mueller said that if certain portions of a website are deemed low quality, it can negatively impact the site’s search ranking overall. A good example of this is a site that has different language versions within the same domain. If the site has a French-language version that is made up of quality content, but the English translation isn’t up to the same standard, the ranking of the French version of the site could be negatively impacted.

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Keep Search a Priority With SEO-Friendly Image Filenames

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, including performance, structured data, and, of course, choosing the right keyword(s). Our proprietary search technology helps content creators prep every article for success on search. This all-encompassing approach includes the use of SEO-friendly image filenames.

On RebelMouse, if you assign an alt tag to an image in Entry Editor, that alt tag will also become the image's file name. Briefly, alt tags describe images for search engines, and also allow people using screen readers to know what the image is without actually being able to see it. Adding your desired search phase to every alt text field, and in turn every image file name, will reinforce its relevance to Google's crawler, bringing you one step closer to the top of search returns.

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