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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Take a peek into how our proprietary technology helps sites surge on search

The RebelMouse platform features a rich search engine optimization (SEO) toolset that guides writers and editors to think about the right search phrase behind every story, as well as how to focus on small but meaningful modifications designed to improve organic search performance.

Our SEO technology centers around best practices for search, including detailed metadata that will help Google's site crawler identify, index, and rank your content quickly. It often leads our clients to experiences traffic surges that look like the following after launching on our platform:

how to increase search traffic

Here's a look inside our proprietary technology that helps our clients experience quick search boosts that turn into long-term SEO wins.

The Search Tab

how to find the right search phrase

Every new article presents a new opportunity to win on search. RebelMouse's Entry Editor features an SEO tab that's designed to help you optimize every post to give it the best shot at winning a targeted search phrase. Here's a glimpse into how it guides editors through a perfected search strategy before the "Publish" button is even clicked.

Define Your Search Phrase

search volume data

It can be tricky to nail down which search phrase you want to win. Within the SEO tab, you can brainstorm your ideas in real time. Through the creative usage of APIs, we ensure writes and editors are armed with the right information when optimizing content for SEO. In the example above, the drop-down list is suggesting search phrases that are already performing well on Google. The number next to each recommended phrase is its monthly search volume.

This helps you determine which phrases are easy to win, or perhaps too competitive to strategize for, on an article-by-article basis. Click here to read more about this feature.

Optimize Your Slug to Match Your Search Phrase

submit url to search engines

The SEO tab in our Entry Editor is designed to repeat your desired search phrase throughout your content so that Google's crawler has every chance to index it correctly for search. With this methodology in mind, it's a best practice to have your article's URL slug match your desired search phrase. From the SEO tab, you can click the Optimize Slug button to automatically match your URL slug to the search phrase you want to win. Click here to read more about this feature.

Pick Smart Recirculation Links

seo outlinks

After you've defined your search phrase and optimized your URL slug accordingly, you can select highly relevant links to add as related content to the end of your article. We call these Around the Web (ATW) links. The SEO tab allows you to pick the best links from your own site, as well as from around the web, which leads to truly amazing traffic boosts. This is a proven SEO practice that's rewarded by Google. Since your article will link to pages already winning your search phrase, it can increase your own post's relevance score in the eyes of Google's crawler.

We automate the surfacing of both ATW and internal links for you, so it's as easy as ticking a handful of checkboxes to add them to your post. We've also done the math, and the data is clear: Adding ATW and internal links to the end of your articles can increase traffic coming to your posts from Google by over 300%! Click here to read more about this feature.

Craft Metadata Before Publish

what is seo metadata

When it comes to Google's site crawler, providing clever metadata is one of the best ways to contextualize your content for search. From there, Google's search algorithm will rank your site for search queries that it determines are relevant to your content. Our SEO tab allows you to write your metadata right from within our Entry Editor. Plus, our character counter will help you make sure that your SEO headline and description match Google's best practices for metadata text length.

It's important to make sure your metadata is clearly written in a succinct way so that Google can quickly understand the nature of your content. Click here to read more.

The RebelMouse Particle Assembler

how to optimize an article for seo

RebelMouse's Particle Assembler is a content creation tool within our Entry Editor that makes it easy to transform your posts into media-rich micro pieces of content, which we call particles, that can both be shared individually and crawled separately on search. Our Assembler functionality gives your content more legs, which means more chances to generate more traffic.

The following steps demonstrate how you can use our Assembler to optimize an article to win a search phrase.

Use Particle Headlines to Reinforce Your Search Phrase

how to write headlines for seo

Assembler is accessible via one simple click in the formatting toolbar of our Entry Editor. From there, an organizational layout will be inserted into your article that will help guide you through building out the particles that will shape your Assembler. The best way to think of Assembler is by treating it as an enhanced list format. If your article is about vegan cooking trends, each particle can feature a new trend. But Assembler does not need to be a simple list. It can also cover the main points of your article and feature user-generated content or even related stories.

Assembler is a helpful SEO tool because it can generate a unique URL slug for each particle, maximizing your article's ability to get indexed by Google for more than one key search phrase. Click here to read more about this feature.

Make the Most of Google's "People Also Ask" Module

how to optimize for people also ask

Particle headlines are also a great way to make use of Google's "People Also Ask" module. This will help you identify search patterns of users who are interested in your search phrase. By tailoring your particles to those patterns, it's likely that your post will move up in Google's search rankings. Click here to read more about this strategy.

Add Media to Every Particle

alt text for seo

Each particle is another opportunity to add relevant media to your post, and Assembler makes it easy to add alt text to every image you upload. Alt text is very important for accessibility and can also have benefits for SEO. Briefly, alt text is text that is added to an image to describe it to search engines, and also to allow people using screen readers to be able to know what the image is without actually being able to see it. You can easily add alt text to any image in RebelMouse from our Entry Editor. Adding your search phase into every alt text field will only bring you one step closer to the top of Google Search's first page.

Make the Most of Our SEO Toolset

RebelMouse's proprietary technology works for any kind of site, whether you're a brand, a new media company, or a legacy publisher. SEO doesn't have to be something that only developers and analysts can understand and augment. Our product is designed to put the power of search in the hands of content creators, editors, and social curators, too.

Start winning on search with every publish. Request a proposal today and let's start working together.

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