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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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View Your Add Media Bar Results in Full-Screen Mode

Browse dynamic assets to enhance every article

In RebelMouse's Entry Editor, there's always an opportunity to add dynamic media to your article using our Add Media Bar. Now, you can browse all the options within the Add Media Bar, including YouTube, Facebook, and GIPHY, in full-screen mode.

To pull up the Add Media Bar, click the ⨁ icon next to your cursor on the left-hand side of the screen. Then, to activate full-screen mode, click the Expand icon on the right-hand side:

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How to Use Google Search Console’s Removals Tool

Quickly remove articles from search or see why a URL was pulled from search

Google recently released a new version of its Removals tool that temporarily blocks URLs from showing up in search results. The tool also shows which content is no longer being displayed due to either being outdated or because it was filtered out by SafeSearch, a Google feature that removes offensive content.

The new tool can be helpful if you want to quickly remove an article from showing up in search or to find information on why your content was removed from search by third-party requests.

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How to Use Override Tags for Headlines + Subheadlines

Customize your preferences easily in our Layout & Design Tool

Site design should be agile, which means it's important to be able to make quick style changes that keep your content cohesive and organized. To make this even easier, there's now the ability to override the tags of your headlines and subheadlines for each article using our Layout & Design tool.

You can make these headline and subheadline changes using a Posts element. Here's a screencast of how this works:

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The Override default Headline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>. The Override default Subheadline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>, <p>, and <div>.

The new headline and subheadline overrides also work with AMP. If you have any questions about this new feature, email support@rebelmouse.com or contact your account manager today.

How to Enable Primary Tag Tracking in Google Analytics

Track your top-performing topics

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

There is also a primary tag dimension built into our RebelCMS which can be enabled for tracking in Google Analytics.

Why Track Primary Tags?

Tracking primary tags through Google Analytics allows you to track the performance of specific tags, which is helpful if you want to see what kinds of topics are performing well or underperforming on your site.

Once enabled in Google Analytics, you can see the performance of a specific primary tag, such as its pageviews, users, and more:

Then, in Google Data Studio, we can gather the data on your primary tags together to see your top-performing tags and gain insights into how they're performing.

How to Track Primary Tags in Google Analytics

To track your primary tags in Google Analytics, click on the Admin panel in your account. Then, select Custom Definitions.

Next, click Custom Dimensions.

After that, click on the red + New Custom Dimension button.

Fill in the name as Primary Tag, and set the Scope to Hit. Click the blue Create button.

That is all you need to do to set up tracking for your primary tags. Once completed, our team has to link a primary tag custom dimension on our back end. Please contact support@rebelmouse.com or datastudio@rebelmouse.com to finalize this step. Happy tracking!

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New: Elasticsearch in the Posts Dashboard

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For publishers, content is often your most valuable asset. That's why it's important to take care of your article library as it grows and discovers new life over and over again. Now, we've made it easier to find your posts with our new Elasticsearch functionality.

You can now search for every article ever created on your site using your Posts Dashboard. First, click the Filters icon in the top right-hand corner to pull up the search navigation:

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Customize Entry Editor Settings in the Layout & Design Tool

Design your own editorial experience

The modern content lifecycle looks different for every publisher. That's why we're constantly updating our editorial suite to cater to the needs of every team. Most CMS platforms have a one-size-fits-all approach to their Entry Editor, but this requires editorial teams to work around the confines of that system. Instead, what if you had the power to fully customize your Entry Editor for your team and organization in a way that best suits your workflow?

Now, with the RebelCMS, it's possible. We've extended our Layout & Design tool to include the customization of our Entry Editor experience. Here's how it works.

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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.

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