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Why Server Response Time Is Everything in 2018

In early 2018, Facebook made another big announcement regarding its ever-changing algorithm. This time, it was a shift to prioritize content from family and friends instead of publishers. While the news wrought chaos in the digital world, here at RebelMouse, we ultimately believe this is a good thing for organic growth and social ROI. But neither can be achieved without a speedy site.


Facebook wants fast, mobile experiences that will keep their users happy and coming back to the platform. A core measurement to deduce a site's speed is server response time, the amount of time it takes a server to respond to a browser request. It's something that will make or break your user experience, and it's the crux of building organic loyalty.

The importance of user experience has moved up the ranks in digital publishing over the last several years, and it's something our strategists have been tracking for just as long. With the rise of ad blocking, the birth of mobile experience formats like Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and the fake news fallout, the need for a quality experience on the internet is more than overdue.

This latest Facebook change brings the next chapter into a hopefully improved digital world. The algorithm shift means your website has to be not only chock-full of good content, but it has to be fast and ignite conversations worthy of repeat visits.

Why Server Response Time Is so Important

Facebook cares a lot about page speed. If a user is going to leave its platform via an external link, the site they're headed to must be perfect — meaning no slow load times due to ad overload. Server response time is a deep measure of how professionally a site was built, which means publishers can no longer buy placement into the News Feed with mediocre sites and experiences.

For instance, if your site has a slow response time, you can't take advantage of Facebook Instant Articles, which can go viral more easily, creating opportunities for meaningful monetization. If your content isn't using Instant Articles and is hosted on a slow site, you won't even get a chance to make it into the News Feed. So not only will your slow response time turn away traffic, you'll miss out on gaining any new traffic.

It's not just Facebook either. Google has long factored in site speed into its PageRank algorithm for desktop experiences, and recently announced that it's about to do the same for mobile. This latest news is now threatening some of the biggest sites on the internet.

What Your Server Response Time Should Look Like

In 2018, media doesn't have the profit margins for big tech teams. There's no purpose in spending money on expensive developers and UX designers. Publishers need to focus on quality content first, and let that become their product.

At RebelMouse, we offer our clients lean tech with global support from a skilled team of developers and designers. And because we're a centralized CMS, our platform is constantly updating and iterating with little-to-no management requirements from our clients, leaving you to focus on creating great content instead. We're a creative agency that blurs the lines between product and strategy roles, always optimizing for viral growth and, perhaps most importantly, speed.

This is what our server response time looks like for some of our clients:

Azula

One Country

How to Make Your Server Response Time Better

There are a lot of reasons RebelMouse powers crazy-fast content. We've built some of the fastest new media companies ever, like The Dodo and Axios. While our passion is for viral content and consistent organic growth, we know neither of these things are possible without a fast-loading experience built around conversation building and repeat business.

So let's start working together. Even if it's not the right time for you to re-platform to a new CMS, we can help you optimize your site's content for speed. We offer a number of strategy services within our creative agency to set your site up for success.

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Content Strategy

In 2022, Publishers Take Back Control With Subscription Success

Users are ready to pay for content that delivers

The Rise of the Mature User

It's been a long and winding path, but in 2022 the subscription model continues its upward trajectory as a top revenue strategy for publishers of all sizes. The tug of war between platforms and publishers reached its peak in the last few years of the previous decade, leaving users desperate for a modern user experience that's clear of any clutter from the duopoly that is Google and Facebook. This is why intelligent paywall models are a top choice for users looking to consume content right from the source. When done correctly, the strategy can work for any type of media. The New York Times, a frequent showpiece example of the power of paywalls, is constantly reporting record-busting subscription numbers, with 7.6 million digital subscriptions in 2021.

And it all makes perfect sense. The subscription model eliminates the middleman — such as the platforms — so readers get the experience and content they want, and publishers get the cash they need.

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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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Rebel Insights

Sign Up for RebelMouse’s Free Website Health Check

Most publishers are bogged down with day-to-day content strategy and creation, which usually means their technology suffers. That translates into poor search rankings, traffic dips, and loss of revenue.

Even so, the idea of replatforming to a new CMS, migrating your data, and overhauling your site’s architecture can sometimes feel more daunting than simply fixing the issues your website currently faces. But the stumbling block here is that most publishers aren’t even sure what the exact problems are with their current site.

That’s why RebelMouse offers a free website health check. This comprehensive audit will help you make a data-backed decision on what the best and most cost-effective next steps are to brighten your site’s future. Here’s what our health check includes:

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The Subscription Model Is Taking off and Competition Has Never Been Steeper
Rebel Insights

The Subscription Model Is Taking off and Competition Has Never Been Steeper

The post-pandemic user landscape is still ripe for subscription revenue

You can get a subscription for everything these days. Whether it’s a cheese-of-the-month club or annual access to read your favorite content, the subscription-based model has continued to gain steam in recent years. In fact, the market for digital subscriptions is valued at $650 billion according to a new report from Lineup, a subscription management solution.

The power of the subscription model has been growing since even before the COVID-19 crisis began, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing as we enter a post-pandemic landscape. According to What’s New in Publishing, Gannett reported a 46% year-over-year increase in digital subscriptions in November 2021, putting them at 1.5M total subscribers. Hearst grew its digital subscriptions by 50% in 2021.

But subscriptions aren’t just for big name publishers. Users in 2022 are ready to pay up for legacy names and new media companies alike, as long as it’s for an experience that’s beneficial to them, reliable, and free of the clutter that can come from third-party platforms. Speaking of platforms, even TikTok and Instagram have started to gauge their audiences’ temperature on subscription experiences. So, the competition has never been steeper for publishers looking to build a subscriber base. Unfortunately, launching a simple paywall may not be enough.

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