Why Poor Page Speed Is the No. 1 Killer of Reach and Revenue

Ever since Google acknowledged page speed as a ranking factor, every site's bottom line has looked much different. Not only does page speed affect usability, it now impacts your site's ability to create revenue and generate traffic.

The Speed of the Web: The New Internet Standard

How We Got Here: Google implemented two massive changes last year that gave more credence to the importance of site speed, particularly on mobile. In March 2018, the search engine rolled out mobile-first indexing. Then, a few months later, Google began to prioritize page speed as an official ranking factor for mobile pages and ads.

What's Happened so Far: RebelMouse has tracked these changes closely along the way, including how they would impact sites even before the algorithm shift went live. Since then, we've watched major media publishers' PageSpeed Insight scores tank, dramatically impacting their chances of building sustainable growth.


Page speed results for an article page on RebelMouse-powered GZERO Media

When Google reprioritized page speed, the scores of major publishers suffered. Time is not powered by RebelMouse.

We've been tracking how sites all over the globe are reacting to this new internet standard. Click here to see how we're keeping up with the speed of the web.

Three Dire Truths About Poor Page Speed

It's no secret that it only takes mere fractions of a second before a user is turned away by a slow-loading site. And now, as users mature and technology continues to produce lightning-fast speeds, the patience of any potential reader continues to dwindle even further.

A quote from Google's first announcement that page speed would become a ranking factor.

A high-performance site is so critical in today's digital ecosystem that a poor-loading site could be a fatal blow to any publisher or brand. There are three dire truths about how a poor PageSpeed Insights score can tank any site:

Mobile Page Speed Impacts Overall SEO Ranking: Mobile devices account for 50% of web traffic. If a site's mobile page speed is slow, this means half of the users trying to access the site are not only suffering a poor experience, but they're likely abandoning the site visit completely. This puts the site in danger of losing positions on its Google search rankings.

Poor Page Speed Makes Ads More Expensive: Much like with SEO, if your page performance is slow and prompting lost site visits, the ads being served on your site will receive lower impressions. Lower impressions mean the ads are more expensive to deliver, which costs revenue and users in a matter of seconds.

Poor Page Speed Tanks Usability and Loyalty: The health of your site will always be dependent on the experience you deliver to your readers. Usability is the core reason why Google decided to prioritize page speed at all. Slow load times are a sure-fire way to give your readers a reason to abandon your content. To make matters worse, thanks to the massive amount of content being created every day, users have plenty of other options to choose from and may be wary of clicking a link or CTA associated with your site in the future.

A Brief Glimpse Into How Google Measures Page Speed

There are several ranking factors that carry different weights around how Google measures page speed. The factors are then scored individually and weighted into a site's overall performance grade. To learn more about what each of these factors are and how they are weighted, visit Google Lighthouse's Scoring Guide. The most important of these metrics is Time to Interactive (TTI).

According to Google, TTI measures how long it takes a page to become interactive. "Interactive" is defined as the point where:

  1. The page has displayed useful content, which is measured with First Contentful Paint.
  2. Event handlers are registered for most visible page elements.
  3. The page responds to user interactions within 50 milliseconds.

To show you how Google ranks important factors like TTI, let's look at a data example from the performance monitoring software Calibre. They've found that if a site becomes "interactive" in 2.1 seconds, it will receive a TTI score of 92 out of 100. The ranking algorithm creates a scale as follows:

Graph created by Calibre.

This is a great illustration of how each ranking factor is calculated and can impact a site's performance score. For example, JavaScript is a common cause of delayed response times. Since JavaScript is centered around visual elements, it can result in slow load times if it isn't optimized correctly. There are several ways you can make sure your JavaScript is running efficiently. Here are some great resources that explain how:

Put Performance First

Understanding how Google measures page speed is the first step to having a high-ranking site, but it's also important to take advantage of every opportunity available to prioritize performance. Since Google heavily weighs your site's mobile PageSpeed score to determine your site's ranking, it's crucial that you use well-established formats and tools to deliver a quality mobile experience. Here are the three most important:

Facebook Instant Articles: Instant Articles may not direct readers to your website immediately, but it's a tool that provides an unobtrusive, memorable experience to users that fuels loyalty. Users will never abandon a click on an Instant Article due to speed.

Google AMP: Much like Facebook's Instant Articles, Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) gives users an easy way to consume content in the quickest way possible. And since the format is owned by Google, it's rumored to be a ranking factor for mobile. It's also helpful when used in conjunction with news aggregators like Flipboard, which use a red lightning bolt symbol to signal to users which content is powered by AMP.

Apple News: Sites that take advantage of the latest technologies rank higher on Google. Similar to Instant Articles and AMP, Apple News provides a fast experience to readers. Even if the immediate result isn't a conversion back to your site, readers will be less likely to abandon your content thanks to great load times, and they'll be more likely to remember your brand's name and associate it with a quality experience, too.

Here are some additional resources on the impact of page speed:

Don't Lose Out on Readers and Revenue

The saying "Content is King" is still true in today's publishing landscape, but there's no kingdom without high-performing sites. While page speed may have just begun as a luxury for savvy webmasters and lucky readers, it's now a make-or-break component that deeply impacts a site's longevity in a highly competitive and global space.

Google's prioritization of page speed means a better internet for all of us. At RebelMouse, we want to make sure every site is firing on all cylinders to generate audiences and, in turn, revenue.

We're a team of traffic-obsessed speed experts that can make your site perform better than some of the biggest publishers on the planet. Go ahead and check your PageSpeed score right now. If you don't like what you see, request a proposal today and let's start working together.

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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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How to Update Groups and Users

Easily adjust your group settings and user profiles from Posts dashboard

The content lifecycle is rarely a solo effort. This is why RebelMouse supports a network of online communities to streamline the publishing workflow among administrators, content creators, and everyone in between. Learn more about our online communities here.

Managing many creators means constant change. To help meet this need, we've provided you with the ability to view, edit, or ban user profiles within a community or group.

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Keep Readers Informed With Date Modified Element

This element will make sure readers know when an article is updated

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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.

How to Format a User’s Joined Date

With RebelMouse's Layout & Design Tool, it's quick and easy to change how a user's information is formatted and displayed on their profile page.

In this post, we'll go through the steps necessary to expose and customize the way a user's joined date is displayed and formatted.

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AMP on the RebelCMS Platform

How to guarantee your media and ads are approved for AMP

RebelMouse makes rich, dynamic and flexible implementations of AMP simple to deploy. The platform has a suite of out of the box tools for editors/journalists/creators as well as tools for developers and product managers.

Easy to Enable Rich AMP Options on Any Post

RebelMouse makes it easy for product managers to quickly design AMP pages that outperform industry standards with an average of five pages per user. With the RebelCMS, you can choose to enable AMP by default or implement it across articles individually with one click in our Entry Editor. This level of granular control sets us apart from other CMS solutions and allows you to decide how deep you'd like to go with AMP.

Pure AMP (Canonical AMP) Features out of the Box

To maximize the speed benefits of AMP, RebelMouse also provides a way to force AMP for mobile and desktop traffic on a per-article basis. When enabled, traffic for the article will be redirected to the AMP version of the page for better performance.

Google will still see your AMP-enabled pages as usual and provide all of the normal benefits for search, but now you'll also get faster-loading pages that increase user engagement and drop bounce rates regardless of the traffic source.

Simplified AMP Layout Creation and Management

Our Layout & Design tool allows you to easily implement dynamic AMP layouts either through the default canonical usage or when forcing AMP on mobile and/or desktop. Using this tool, it's possible to create complex, multi-column layouts with ease that will be served as lightning-fast AMP pages to your visitors. The RebelCMS intelligently serves the proper layout depending on the device that a visitor is using to view your site's content.

Add Conversion Units to Maximize Audience Retention

Interstitial conversion units can be placed within your content so you can build a mailing list, get leads, or just highlight a new feature to your audience.

Beautiful Support for AMP Stories

The RebelCMS has an gorgeous integration with AMP stories. Read more about that here.

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Data-Backed Instincts: How Google Trends Can Elevate Your Search Strategy

Adopt a forward-thinking SEO mindset during breaking news events

As every type of industry imaginable re-evaluates their positioning in what's been dubbed "the new normal" since the outbreak of COVID-19, communication has never been more critical.

But like every aspect of life, the global crisis has turned the world of marketing, branding, and content creation upside down. More people than ever are not just socializing online, but living online, and this means the nature of search — the number one way humans get their information on the web — has completely changed, too.

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The RebelMouse Guide to a Modern Instagram Marketing Strategy

Guidelines to make sure your Instagram profile is optimized for growth

It's estimated that Instagram users spend an average of 53 minutes on the platform each day. That's a lot of time to grab your targeted audience's attention. Whether you're a new media property just getting started, a legacy publisher, or big-box brand, Instagram can be a great way to move the needle on your social engagement strategy.

However, it can feel like an uphill battle to even dip your toe into the waters of such a competitive platform. Although every brand's aesthetic is unique to them, there are a few key points that companies can follow to grow on Instagram.

Of course, since Instagram is such a visual application, it's essential that your feed has high-quality photos that are visually appealing. Here are some quick tips to help guide and optimize your Instagram marketing strategy for audience growth and engagement.

Refine Your Feed

Apart from maintaining on brand and quality content, all of the best Instagram feeds have one important thing in common: visual consistency. RebelMouse client 7X7 Bay Area is a great example of an Instagram feed with consistently beautiful photography that's equal parts refined and fresh.

Instagram accounts with a harmonious and attractive feed have a higher chance of retaining new visitors and converting them into followers, which helps to grow your brand's account overall.

Here are some tips to achieve visual consistency in your feed:

Use the same font for all text:

It's important to note that it can become visually overwhelming to users if there are too many photos collaged into one picture. The aim is for the feed to not look overcrowded with imagery.

If you would like to use multiple photos for the same post, use the multiple-image post functionality so that users can swipe through photos one at a time.

Try to make sure that each of your Instagram photos has a high resolution so they're clear and sharp. Colors should not be overly saturated, overly opaque, or too zoomed in.

Also, make sure your images are cropped correctly. Here's a link to Instagram's recommended image dimensions.

Find Your Filter Balance

The colors of pictures and videos can be enhanced with editing software, or by using Instagram's built-in filtering options. It's a good idea to be consistent in your editing or use of filters so that your feed maintains color uniformity.

It should be noted that Instagram's own filtering options often result in an overall aesthetic that is too strong, whether it be through the use of contrast, opacity, or saturation.

Too much contrast:

Not enough saturation or too pale:

A good rule of thumb is to not use more than 50% of any filter:

Use On-Brand Captions

Captions should always be on target and suitable for your brand's audience. This will vary greatly depending on the type of brand or website you power, as well as what your target audience looks like. It's important to recognize who your audience is, and how this aligns with your own brand's values, to maintain a consistent tone.

This is a great example of a fun caption that caters to RebelMouse-powered PAPER Magazine's audience. Their use of informal language is fresh and on brand:

Here's a more professional approach from RebelMouse-powered Work It Daily that still keeps the tone on target for their brand and community of support for the modern workforce.

Hashtag Usage and Management

The usage of hashtags can greatly benefit an Instagram post because it allows the post to be found by users looking for a particular hashtag. This can lead to an increase in traffic to the post, as well as the account as a whole.

Developing Instagram accounts such as Work It Daily can benefit from hashtags.

It's important when using hashtags to make sure that they're relevant to your company overall, as well as to the post's content. Furthermore, it's also a great idea to use different variations of the same key hashtags to capture as much traffic as possible.

One thing to note is that the larger the account, the less necessary hashtags are since the account will already have a large reach. Figuring out how many hashtags to use will require a little trial and error, but the main takeaway here is that the number of hashtags to use is not static and will need to change over time as an account grows.

Currently, the limit on hashtags is set at 30 per post.

Aim for Engagement

Interaction with followers and other Instagram users who comment and like your content is also an extremely important part of a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram's algorithm currently prioritizes accounts with high levels of interaction. The greater the amount of interaction, the more your account's content will get prioritized when appearing in a user's feed.

Post New Content Regularly

Regularly posting new content shows users that a particular Instagram account is active, which is especially important for media and news companies that need to demonstrate to their users that their content is relevant and up to date. Besides helping to increase followers, this practice also helps accounts maintain their current followers.

One thing to always keep in mind when deciding when to post is that "quality over quantity" should always prevail. It's much more efficient to have two great posts a week with high levels of visibility and engagement versus five posts with low visibility and engagement.

Instagram Stories and IGTV

One of Instagram's newest and most popular features is IGTV. To access IGTV, tap the IGTV button located in the navigation bar of your search page.

From there, you'll be brought to a personalized feed of curated IGTV content. The content is pulled in from accounts you follow who have IGTV content, as well as IGTV content from similar accounts that you're not following.

Because a user's IGTV feed is composed of content from both accounts a user follows and new accounts that post similar content, any IGTV content that appears in a non-following user's feed has a greater-than-normal chance of seeing the person view the content and converting into a follower. This makes IGTV one of the most effective Instagram post-types in terms of user growth, since it provides higher levels of accessibility, opportunity, and possibility to reach new users. IGTV will soon feature in-stream ads as well.

Create IGTV Content

Although any sort of format can be used successfully when creating IGTV content, one of the most effective ways that we recommend is to create an IGTV series.

Series on IGTV are essentially short videos with a common format or related theme that help draw in users so that they become familiar with the type of content and format they can expect to see on an account. They're useful at driving loyalty because users will want to see what the next part of the series will cover, and will therefore be more likely to convert into followers.

Win on Instagram

At RebelMouse, we believe that the social ecosystem is made up of a universe of creators. Your brand already has a community of collaborators waiting to engage with your Instagram content — it's just a matter of nurturing your social strategy to find them.

If you have any questions about what's working or not working for your Instagram account, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

How to Configure Your Site's Time Zone

At RebelMouse, we strive to make our platform as simple and intuitive as possible as we continuously provide high levels of customizability.

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