A Modern Story of Web Performance From RebelMouse Founder + CEO Andrea Breanna

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.

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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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Making Sense of PageSpeed Insights and Core Web Vitals

Page speed and Core Web Vitals are an important piece of the SEO puzzle. Having a quick load time and passing Core Web Vitals are important factors in Google's search ranking and results. But there are multiple ways of testing your speed and vitals, and it can get very confusing to try and understand the results since different measuring tools can result in different scores.

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New Feature: Stacking Sticky Elements

We always love to introduce new features to the RebelMouse platform, and today we're announcing a Double Sticky Bar. This will allow you to have two sticky elements at the top of your page, with the option to have one of the sticky elements disappear after a select amount of time. This can be very useful for an ad or banner you want to display briefly, and then be able to have the space back.

How Does It Look?

It's entirely up to how you want it to look, but here's an example screencast where we have an ad for our new book at the top, followed by a breaking news banner right beneath. You can see that as the page scrolls down, the behavior is set to have the ad removed after a couple of seconds of scrolling, and that it will reappear as the page scrolls back to the top:

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RebelMouse Q2 2021 Platform Performance Updates

Q2 of 2021 was a big quarter for the open web. Google delayed their release of SEO ranking by CrUX report, and they changed their method for Lighthouse scoring drastically. Our team was a few steps ahead of these changes, and we were able to update our platform so sites in our network had little, if any, performance interruptions.

We invested over 1,592 hours into our platform in Q2 2021 alone, and all of the sites on our platform received the benefits of these updates. To break it down into large buckets, we invested in the following key areas:

  • 538 hours dedicated to new features
  • 725 hours dedicated to improving existing features
  • 329 hours dedicated to performance and infrastructure updates

Here are the major updates that we've added to the RebelMouse platform in Q2.

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How to Use the Pagination Element

You can add pagination to section, tag, and archive pages using RebelMouse's Layout & Design Tool. This can be done through our Pagination element:

Using the Properties card, there are three options that you can configure on the Pagination element:

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New: Add Media Bar Now Supports More File Types

The Add Media Bar in our Entry Editor allows you to add rich media integrations to every post with just a few clicks.

Today, we're pleased to announce that Add Media Bar supports even more file types than before. Using the paperclip icon, you can now choose to upload Excel, PowerPoint, Word, PDF, and/or CSV files.

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Google’s June 2021 Lighthouse Update Changes PageSpeed Insights Performance

Google updated how their PageSpeed Insights scores are calculated by releasing a new version of Lighthouse on June 1, 2021. Lighthouse is a tool built into Google Chrome that lets you know how well your site is performing against Google's standards for a better open web. At RebelMouse, our team keeps up with updates from Google closely, and reads all of their release notes and GitHub updates.

This latest upgrade to Lighthouse had a negative impact on one of our previous methods for loading JavaScript in the JavaScript element of our Layout & Design Tool. Performance scores dropped as much as 20–60 points for sites that were using the JavaScript element in its previous state. However, our team kept on top of Google's changes, and developed a new approach that we call the post Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) method. LCP is a metric in Google's Core Web Vitals that measures the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Our post-LCP method loads JavaScript immediately after the LCP event has completed. Thanks to this new approach, scores in our site network have largely stayed intact, and many of them significantly outperform the open web.

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How to A/B Test Mailchimp Campaigns With RebelMouse

Mailchimp has a tool to A/B test campaigns on their platform. You can also use this feature through RebelMouse's native Mailchimp integration. Here's how it works.

First, you need to create a test audience in Mailchimp. We suggest creating one that consists of just your own email or internal team emails. Click here to learn more about how to create an audience in Mailchimp.

Once you have created your test audience, send the newsletter you wish to A/B test from RebelMouse to your newly created test audience. That way the newsletter will be saved to your Mailchimp campaigns on the RebelMouse platform. Click here to learn how to send a newsletter through RebelMouse.

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