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How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?


It's a tricky catch-22 that haunts marketers and publishers across the digital space. Clear ROI driven by content marketing and digital advertising has a history of being far from tangible, but it's becoming clearer as technology advances and users mature.

Now that a few years have passed since Facebook's fake news fallout and misuse of data scandal, platform dependency has subsided. This has resulted in more opportunities to create sustainable revenue for publishers. Still, if one lesson can be learned from the maturing age of social, it's that relying on one outlet for survival is not a great idea. Just like content diversification is key to growth, using a multipronged approach is just as important for any monetization strategy.

Here's a look at some of the best ways to generate ROI in today's digital climate.

To Create Any ROI, Performance Is Everything

In late 2018, Google revamped how they measure page speed. PageSpeed Insights now includes new data from Google's Lighthouse platform. Lighthouse is a tool built into the latest version of Google Chrome that helps you determine how well your site is performing, and tells you which pages on your site need improvement.

These new updates ushered in harsh scoring for desktop and mobile page speed performance, and many top publishers saw their pages report failing scores. Google has set a high bar for the open web, and with users ready to consume content off the platforms, the change comes at a vulnerable time.

To put it simply, you can't monetize your site if it takes too long to load and instantly turns users away. In Google's eyes, the faster your pages load, the faster the search engine is able to crawl and index them. If it takes too long for Google to crawl the content of a website, it's possible not all pages will get indexed, making them less discoverable in search results. With Google edging out Facebook for top referral traffic, this means every publisher's SEO strategy has to be flawless, and it starts with a high-performing site.

A faster page speed also means a better user experience, and a boost for your bottom line. That bottom line can be significant, considering sites that load in five seconds experience 70% longer average sessions compared to sites that load in 19 seconds.

The PageSpeed Insights scores for a RebelMouse-powered property.

At RebelMouse, we've made performance our top priority this year. Click here to learn all about how we do it.

Users Are Ready to Pay for Content

Think of the internet as being in clean-up mode. As the platforms work to make their offerings safer and profitable for publishers, the ad space is getting easier to navigate as well. Users are maturing along with technology, which means the stigma around paying for content, usually via a paywall, is subsiding.

Recently, The New York Times reported a new high for paid digital subscriptions — 3.3 million, which is a 27% jump from 2017. The news outlet has a goal of reaching $800 million in digital sales by 2020. While it seems publishers like The New York Times already have a massive enough audience to grow digital subscriptions, the paywall model is gaining steam across the industry. In the UK, subscriptions are serving as a driving force of growth for digital revenue, accounting for a 15% increase over the previous year according to the Association for Online Publishing.

The rise of subscription success can be attributed to an ongoing prioritization of user experience. Users are ready to consume content that isn't held hostage by ads and obtrusive slowdowns, 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.

Stats from a client powered by RebelMouse using a subscription model.

We've seen incredible success with paywalls for a variety of different media companies. Click here to learn more.

A Modern Approach to E-Commerce and Direct Sales

The steady prioritization of user experience becomes even more relevant in the world of direct sales, including e-commerce. It's estimated that the number of online shoppers will rise to 230.5 million by 2021. The rise of online shoppers also means that competition will increase. For the first time ever, big-box brands have to compete with small buyers on Etsy and similar sites for the same audience. What sets each experience apart is ease of use and personalization.

RebelMouse client PAPER Magazine's collaboration with Neiman Marcus.

For example, publishing conglomerate Condé Nast is not only committed to a subscription model for all of its publications in 2019 as evidenced by its launch of Vogue's VogueWorld — a digital brand that combines style with e-commerce. Pairing the effective content strategy of Vogue with an e-commerce twist is the kind of differentiation that will set digital retail efforts apart. To succeed in direct sales, the experience has to be built for the buyer, not the seller. Buyers in this climate are more compelled to find a shopping experience they can relate to rather than scroll through.

More of PAPER Magazine's collaboration with Neiman Marcus.

Click here to learn more about our modern e-commerce solutions.

Leverage the Rise of Influencers

The start of 2019 saw a number of writer layoffs at major publishers, including Mic and Vice. Feeling crushed by the unpredictable swings of the platforms and the failure to monetize their own tech stack, many in the industry find themselves at a crossroads on how to generate revenue.

However, the answer is not to fire writers. In fact, your writers are more important than ever. Even small creative teams equipped with the right tools to create quality content can reach massive audiences and drive fruitful engagement. In order to do so, they need to tap into the existing universe of creators. The industry has seen a tremendous swing toward influencer marketing, and even micro influencers are overtaking celebrities and accounts with huge followings, accounting for up to 40% of brands' ad spend.

Every brand and new media company already has an audience of influencers that can be leveraged with the right support. That's why we've upgraded our community engagement features at RebelMouse. Our sites can leverage multiple communities at scale through a robust user journey that makes it easy for influencers and writers to contribute to your digital presence. Whether these contributors are monetized or used organically, they help validate your brand's message in a way that's transparent and relatable.

A look at RebelMouse's Community Dashboard.

Click here to learn more about leveraging the creators who are already passionate about your content.

The Power of Brand Storytelling

Media companies are increasingly finding additional and impactful revenue by providing creative services to advertisers instead of only selling their audiences through banner ads. Thanks to the aforementioned universe of creators, it's now easier for brands that were once shackled by their legacy reputations to create dynamic content hubs. These content hubs can produce beautiful stories that expand your brand's personality via a humanized approach to digital strategy. In fact, branded content is quickly becoming an industry standard. 84% of people expect brands to create some kind of content.

An example of a sponsored content placement on RebelMouse-powered Motherly's site.

There are a number of key ways to make brand storytelling work effectively while drumming up revenue at the same time:

  • Sponsored Articles
  • Sponsored Landing Pages
  • Content-First Ads
  • A Full Brand Content Hub

RebelMouse client United Airlines' #HerArtHere campaign.

For more information about each of these key offerings, including how we implement them for impactful revenue, click here.

Advertise With a Priority on UX

When it comes to the more traditional display style of advertising, publishers are faced with risking the now-coveted user experience more than ever. This means publishers are forced to work harder than ever to keep traditional ads on their sites for a couple of different reasons: 1) Users have become increasingly blind to ads and/or use ad-blocking software to completely remove them from their content experience, and 2) advertisers, in turn, demand that their dollars only apply to viewed ad impressions.

Here's the secret: Audiences are fully aware that advertising exists, and that it's a necessary trade-off to freely consume your awesome content. But it has to be done in an elegant way that doesn't impact page speed (we've come full circle now!) nor obstruct the way users consume content because they will click away.

Since user experience is so important, our platform has a multidimensional ad manager that lets our sites optimize their ad experience, including automatic lazy loading to ensure faster page speeds. Our ad manager can support a mix of media too, including video ads.

Above is an example of how easy it is to customize ad behavior on RebelMouse.

For a full overview of our intuitive and user-focused ad integrations, click here.

Understand Social's Advantages and Limitations

The idea of social ROI has always been a bit ambiguous to say the least. This is why it's important to leverage the strengths of the platforms without ever relying on them completely.

For example, a best practice is to take advantage of offerings that increase readability, such as Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). These options combine coveted load times and user experience with options to monetize. On the flip side, these options are only an extension of a broader, varied ad strategy that uses multiple channels to create revenue.

Social platforms also serve as a great way to learn more about your audience. Through the use of targeting, social platforms make it easy to learn about the kinds of demographics that engage with each particular piece of content, allowing you to adjust your monetization strategy accordingly. While at times it may seem like the age of social is truly over, it's important to remember that social channels still remain a gateway to massive new audiences. 68% of Americans were using Facebook as of early 2018, and 73% were using YouTube. With that, it's up to your own content and site experience to take them past the feed.

Foster relationships with social audiences using RebelMouse's organic growth tool Discovery.

RebelMouse has integrations with Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP to make cross posting a breeze. Click here to learn more about our social Discovery tool to unlock your audiences on social.

Find Your Monetization Strategy

The beauty of each one of these ROI opportunities is that they can be mixed, matched, and blended to create a strategy that makes the most sense for your website. Because if this industry has taught us anything, it's that it takes more than one strategy to create a broader digital architecture that's not only profitable, but personable.

If you're having trouble monetizing your own site, request a proposal today. Let's start working and making money together.

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

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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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How to Optimize Your Website for 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. It also empowers users to focus on small but meaningful modifications designed to improve organic search performance.

Here's a checklist of how we ensure the sites in our network consistently surge on search.

RebelMouse’s High-Performing Search Strategy Checklist

Structured Data

  • What is structured data?
  • RebelMouse's out-of-the-box integration

Optimize Your Website for Search: A Successful SEO Strategy Starts With Speed

Core Web Vitals metrics with meters for good, needs improvement, and poor scores

From web.dev

How exactly Google determines search ranking largely remains a mystery for publishers, but what we do know is that the search engine continuously rolls out updates to its algorithm. And while sometimes these updates are small and nearly unnoticeable, other times they result in massive changes around the way Google crawls content, often disrupting the rankings of webpages all across the globe.

One of these massive disruptions came in June 2021 with Google's page experience update. Developers are now feeling the impact of how their publishing platforms stack up against the new standard.

The update means Core Web Vitals are now a major factor in Google Search's ranking methodology, and sites big and small that haven't been prioritizing performance have seen their organic traffic hit stumbling blocks as a result.

The update has solidified the do-or-die importance of page speed as a key ranking factor. All too often, sites with poor performance plummet off of Google Search's page one results.

RebelMouse\u2019s core web vitals outperform traditional CMS solutions

Core Web Vitals scores are critical to your search performance. RebelMouse outperforms traditional platforms on the metrics that matter most.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Prioritize Google's Core Web Vitals

Google has set a high bar for the open web on what top performance should look like, especially on mobile. The following is a brief description of Google's Core Web Vitals.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): FID quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

The RebelMouse Approach: We are able to outperform competitors on Core Web Vitals because site performance isn't just a goal, it's a company pillar that's woven into our culture. We use this focus on performance to help new media powerhouses and legacy brands alike make the most of the open web by growing traffic and building revenue without sacrificing user experience.

Through never-ending performance optimization, the sites powered by RebelMouse score higher on Google's Core Web Vitals over other CMS platforms, including WordPress.

traffic from Google and site behavior increases due to RebelMouse\u2019s SEO optimizations

RebelMouse's SEO optimizations result in big traffic improvements.

Click here to learn more about how to improve your Core Web Vitals scores.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Make the Most of AMP

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a fantastic tool to increase mobile performance. The hyper-fast mobile format delivers a longer time on site for each reader, which encourages better conversion.

AMP pages are built to be fast and load almost instantly when clicked from Google Search, increasing user engagement and dropping bounce rates.

AMP is a rich environment, but implementing it properly can be time-consuming. AMP pages, in order to be fast, are highly structured, and companies need efficient tools to take full advantage of the opportunities that AMP provides. When implemented correctly, the impact on search traffic is remarkable.

The RebelMouse Approach: Our platform is fully optimized for AMP, and sites in our network use it as an often game-changing way to improve search performance.

Content creators can publish to AMP on RebelMouse with one simple click:

toggle on AMP configuration

On RebelMouse, optimizing your content for AMP is a one-click process.

Plus, our team is constantly making little tweaks to improve AMP performance for our clients. For example, we automatically enabled a required large-image setting across our sites to optimize for Google Discover. While the update may seem small, it has resulted in a significant and positive impact on traffic when an article makes it into Discover's feed.

Check out the visible boost it gave one of our clients, as tracked by Google Search Console:

Google Discover traffic spike

Our behind-the-scenes optimizations on AMP drive boosts to readership.

Click here to learn more about RebelMouse's AMP optimization.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Leverage the Right SEO Editorial Tools

how to increase search traffic

RebelMouse's SEO tools increase search traffic.

Our SEO technology centers around best practices for search, including detailed metadata that helps Google's site crawler identify, index, and rank your content quickly.

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

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Define Your Search Phrase

It can be tricky to nail down which search phrase you want to win. Within RebelMouse's SEO tab, you can brainstorm your ideas in real time. Through the creative usage of APIs, we ensure writers 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 learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Match Your Slug to Your Search Phrase

submit url to search engines

Easily update your URL slug to match your desired search phrase on RebelMouse.

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 learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Pick Smart Recirculation Links

seo outlinks

Access outlinks for your search phrase directly from RebelMouse's editing interface.

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 in our Entry Editor 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 learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Craft Metadata Before Publish

what is seo metadata

Update your content's metadata easily on RebelMouse.

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 learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Structure Your Content to Reinforce Your Search Phrase

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.

Assembler is accessible via a couple of clicks in the formatting toolbar of our Entry Editor. From there, an organizational layout gets inserted into your article that guides you through the process of building out the particles that will shape your Assembler.

A look at how to add particles in RebelMouse's 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 learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Make the Most of Google's "People Also Ask" Module

how to optimize for Google\u2019s people also ask

Strategize search phrases to win with Google's "People Also Ask" feature.

Particle headlines are 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 learn more about this strategy.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Use Alt Tags on Every Image

alt text for seo

Easily update alt text with your desired search phrase on RebelMouse.

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. It also allows 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.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Conquer Structured Data

Google\u2019s Rich Results Test tool will check your structured data

Google's Rich Results Test tool will make sure your structured data is entered properly.

Google's algorithm is now savvy about robotically written articles designed to win a specific set of keywords. As Google's search engine has gotten smarter, its web crawler software, known as "Googlebot," has also evolved in terms of how it indexes data.

But what if you could tell Googlebot the story of your website so that it doesn't have to make any assumptions? This is possible through the use of structured data, or as Google describes it, a set of "clues" provided to its crawler about what defines your content. Using schema, or a vocabulary you share with Google about every page on your site, you can tell Googlebot the story of your content in human language.

structured data populates information for Google snippets

Rank higher on search by populating structured data for Google's snippets on search returns.

By following these rules, you're giving the search engine explicit clues about the meaning of a page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying its content. For example, on a recipe page, these classifying components could be ingredients, cooking time, temperature, and nutritional information.

The better Google's crawler can understand your content, the more easily it can index it highly on search.

The RebelMouse Approach: If structured data sounds like a big undertaking, it doesn't have to be. Every RebelMouse site automatically populates key structured data so that Google can better understand your site. This, in turn, optimizes your pages to win in search results. Our out-of-the-box integration populates all the standard schema data with information about article content. This works on desktop and mobile web, and the data also gets populated for Google AMP.

out-of-the-box structured data integration

RebelMouse properly marks up structured data for content with our out-of-the-box integration.

Click here to learn more about our out-of-the-box structured data integration.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Be Mindful of H1 Tags

To put it simply, an H1 tag is a piece of HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, that marks the heading of your web page. Here's an example:

This Is the Title of My Content

For SEO purposes, H1 tags are designed to win a specific search phrase for your page. In fact, a recent study from Moz found that the HTML title tag is the second-most important ranking factor for SEO, behind only the actual content of the post.

This is because Google recognizes the H1 tag as the highest-level tag on your page. Think of it as your chance to summarize what your content is about clearly and succinctly for Google's web crawler. The more accurate and relevant you make your H1 content, the easier it is for Google to index it for search.

When writing HTML, there are six different heading tags available to you: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. Each heading has a different font weight. You can use this scale to organize your content's headlines and subheadings accordingly.

various heading tags can improve seo

Example of headings from W3docs.

The RebelMouse Approach: You can easily choose your desired heading in RebelMouse's Entry Editor by using the formatting toolbar:

choose headings to improve SEO

Select which headings you want to use right from RebelMouse's editing interface.

Once you choose your heading, it's automatically reflected in your site's code:

heading tags in HTML provide structure to your content for search

RebelMouse's headings are automatically implemented correctly to your site's code for search.

Note: You may have noticed that the H1 tag is not an option you can select in the formatting toolbar's drop-down menu. That's because it's best practice to use only one H1 tag per page. On our platform, we reserve the H1 designation for your article's headline. This is inputted into your site's code automatically.

Click here to learn more about H1 tags.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Follow Google’s Image Guidelines

structured data on Google Images

An example of Google Images information populated by structured data. Image from Google.

Google Images is undoubtedly the leader in image search online, and they have many guidelines on how images should be handled. Here at RebelMouse, we make sure that your site is able to follow those guidelines right out of the box. Google's recommendations fall under a number of general topics:

  • A great user experience
  • Be descriptive
  • Structured data
  • Speed
  • Alt text
  • Make images discoverable

The RebelMouse Approach: Being certain that everything on your site is optimized both for performance and for following Google Search's guidelines is an exhausting task. Fortunately, RebelMouse takes that worry out of your hands by building our platform around the principles of page experience and the belief that all sites built on our platform should be flawless. We follow all best practices for Google Image's guidelines.

Click here to learn more.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Measure Success with Google Search Console

page experience report via Google Search Console

A look at page experience data from Google Search Console.

Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you to understand and optimize your site's performance on Google Search. When Google visits your website for tracking purposes, it performs what's called crawling and indexing, a process of adding web pages into its search results.

Search Console will allow you to add or remove certain content from Google Search's results. The tool will also help you learn which keywords trigger your site to appear in Google's search engine results page (SERP), as well as which third-party sites are linking to yours. It also allows you to monitor your site's performance on search, including locating any errors on your pages.

The RebelMouse Approach: We offer full support to help our clients connect their sites to Google Search Console. Our strategy services also help you understand which content and site layouts are working the best for your audience through our custom Google Data Studio dashboards.

Optimize Your Website for Search With RebelMouse

boost your search traffic with RebelMouse

Google owns most of the referral traffic on the internet, and your site should reflect this reality. That's why the sites on our network follow all of Google's webmaster guidelines.

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. Get in touch with us today and let's start working together.

RebelMouse Matches Google’s Best Practices for Images

Being certain that everything on your site is optimized both for performance and for following Google Search's guidelines is an exhausting task. Fortunately, RebelMouse takes that worry out of your hands by building our platform around the principles of page experience and the belief that all sites built on our platform should be flawless.

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RebelMouse Q3 2021 Platform Performance Updates

For many publishers and brands, Q3 2021 was about recovering web traffic lost to Google's page experience signals update that was rolled out over the summer. For us, the quarter was about continuing our success of delivering excellent Core Web Vitals metrics across our site network with platform performance updates both big and small.

As a globally distributed team, it's important for us to remain transparent about how we're able to power some of the best-performing sites on the open web. And while we're already looking forward to closing out the year stronger than ever before, here's a detailed look back at our accomplishments in Q3 2021.

We invested 1,946 hours into our platform in Q3 2021 alone, and all of the sites on our platform benefited from the work in various ways. Here are the key areas that we focused on:

  • 184 hours were spent on delivering new features
  • 1,010 hours were spent on improving existing features
  • 752 hours were spent on performance and infrastructure updates
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