Subscribe to Our Newsletter

x

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.

Related Articles:

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Meet RebelMouse

Build on a better platform that supports far-reaching content distribution, impactful conversion, and unparalleled loyalty.

The world's largest companies trust us to power their global, multiplatform content experience. As a platform, we're now one of the largest in the world, reaching 50+ million people every month. As a creative agency, we build mass pop culture hits that grow organically to become household names — Axios and The Dodo, for example.

We work strategically with United Airlines and many other brands to establish the new media roadmap for their future and implement it. RebelMouse was founded by the CTO who built The Huffington Post. The founding vision and mission is still the same today: to be the right new media platform for both media companies and brands. It's working exceedingly well, and we're delivering some staggering results for our clients.

Read our latest deck here!

Keep reading... Show less

NEW! Beta Posts Dashboard: Filtering and Search UI Upgrade

New Filters in Posts Dashboard

We've implemented new filters that allow users to easily find exactly what they need in their posts dashboard. You can now customize your search results by:

  • Creators You Follow
  • Rating
  • Post Status
  • Post Type
  • Period
  • Sections
Here's what the new filter menu looks like:

Easy-to-Use Search Queries

In the same slick user interface, you can also create search queries and combine them with your filtered results:

  • Post Search
  • Creator Search With Ajax Autocomplete
  • Community Search

This is an exciting step forward in enhancing the editorial experience for our users. It should now be much simpler to narrow down results to exactly what you're looking for.

Here's how the workflow looks in action:

If you have any questions about these dashboard updates, please email support@rebelmouse.com.

Higher SEO Audit Scores With RebelMouse

SEMrush Reports Help Keep Our Sites Optimized for Search

Even the most brilliant and successful marketers will admit that chasing a perfect search strategy is a full-time job in and of itself. Google's algorithm is fickle at best, with frequent algorithm updates that can turn a site's rankings completely sideways.

At RebelMouse, we obsess over Google's algorithm updates and the latest SEO best practices so that our publishers can focus on doing what they do best: create quality content. This means our traffic experts work around the clock to make sure our sites are optimized for search, and are even a few steps ahead of what Google's next move will be.

Keep reading... Show less

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Our Obsessive Approach to Caching

Site updates appear in a flash with our cache process

When it comes to growing your site traffic and audience, we all tend to think of the same things: great content, beautiful design, fast load times, interactive experiences, etc. But one thing that often gets overlooked is the role of caching. A web cache is the temporary storage of web documents, like images, article pages, and multimedia assets, to reduce unnecessary repeat loading from a server. Any platform that doesn't focus on caching performance usually has poor uptime stats, which means that you're going to experience downtime issues.

RebelMouse obsesses over these things so that you don't have to, and that's why we're able to handle massive traffic spikes without any degradation in service. Just ask RebelMouse-powered PAPER Magazine, who recently had an article receive 20 million page views in one day (!) with no noticeable change in site performance.

Keep reading... Show less

A PSA to Brands: Control Your Context

Resonate with your audience the right way

Programmatic Advertising Is a Gamble

For years, brands have relied on display ads and programmatic levers as a cheap and easy solution to spend large portions of marketing dollars. But the major frustration with programmatic advertising has always been the lack of control and transparency on where ads actually show up. And as banner blindness spreads, ad-blocking technology becomes more prevalent, and subpar or broken sites crop up at increasingly high rates, programmatic advertising will only become more expensive, unsustainable, and a huge risk.

According to a recent study from Integral Ad Science, when your programmatic ads happen to show up in high-quality environments, it could lead to a 30% lift in brand recall. But on the flip side, when your ads appear in low-quality environments, the consequences can be brutal: Ads in low-quality environments were perceived 74% less favorably, and even harshly, compared to the same ads seen on high-quality sites. Overall, users were four times less likely to think a brand cared about them after seeing the brand surface next to inappropriate content. Finding your ad in poor-quality environments creates a stronger impression among audiences, and it's not the kind of impression you want. Plus, it means that your paid marketing needs to work harder to boost your brand reputation, convert customers, and do damage control.

It's Time for Brands to Become Publishers and Take Control

As a brand marketer, you need to reclaim ownership of where and how your messaging shows up. One key way to control your context is to become a publisher. According to NewsWhip, 70% of people would rather learn about a brand through content than through ads, and 68% feel more positive about a company after engaging with the brand's content. And it's a good time for brands to go all in and create an advantage with content, too. Now, more than ever, page performance matters for audience reach, retention, and revenue. Google, along with Facebook, have explicitly made page speed a factor in search results and News Feed, while site visitors will quickly leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load. Media companies that have survived in the past with broken sites now feel the consequences of their low-performing properties due to their inability to provide solid returns to advertisers.

As a CMS platform and creative agency, RebelMouse partners with brand teams on best practices and innovative ways to build content experiences that will break through and resonate with audiences. For example, our work with United Airlines has produced a better-performing site and helped them beat out media companies to win travel search phrases for organic audience growth. Our partnership is a key reason why United Airlines' content now drives the most web engagement in their industry.

Choose Your Media Partners Wisely

If you plan to rely on media partners to place your messaging, then be selective and spend on the right context. Build direct relationships with quality publishers that prioritize the user experience and know how to pair editorial with premium advertising (in particular sponsored content) to maximize eyeballs and engagement for brands. RebelMouse powers a tight ecosystem of quality publishers, like PAPER Magazine and Motherly, that have built valuable, new media properties. We can connect brands into this network of quality sites to execute premium and effective campaigns at scale.

Build for the Future

Moving away from the inefficient world and disadvantages of programmatic advertising and creating a sustainable content marketing strategy is not easy — it takes organizational commitment, patience, and the right technologies. If you're a brand marketer, reach out and learn how RebelMouse's full-stack content marketing solution is ideal for your growth into a publishing powerhouse. If you're a media company and sell premium advertising, guide your advertising partners on how to build mutual value on your site when they're tempted to blindly toss marketing dollars on cheaper impressions.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter