Rebel Insights

RebelMouse Q1 2022 Platform Performance Updates

RebelMouse Q1 2022 Platform Performance Updates

Click here to read our Q4 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q3 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q2 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q1 2021 platform performance updates.

RebelMouse started 2022 off strong with a continued commitment to site performance, particularly Google’s Core Web Vitals, that makes the sites within our network the fastest on the open web. In fact, our commitment to high performance was recognized by Google. We analyzed the audience behavior of a number of sites we power, both before and after we optimized for high performance scores on Core Web Vitals. On every site we analyzed, there was a significant boost in loyalty and engagement metrics. Click here to read the full case study on Google’s blog.

Here’s a bit more of what we’ve been up to since the start of the year:

We invested 2,613 hours into our platform in Q1 2022 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:

  • 1,156 hours spent on performance updates
  • 382 hours spent on delivering new features
  • 273 hours spent on improving existing features
  • 802 hours spent on infrastructure updates

Performance Updates

Smart Cache Upgrades

We continued to work on the optimized performance of our smart cache feature which now is down to 100 ms response times. We have seen a positive impact from Google and Facebook as a result. We also implemented a Varnish cluster which has made the smart cache feature cost effective, where it was previously prohibitively expensive to roll out to all sites.

Image Management

We optimized how we handle images to further improve speed on high-resolution images for mobile, which has reduced download time significantly.

Improved Device Detection

We optimized the way we handle device detection, particularly for Google bots and other similar devices that we had been serving desktop versions of sites to. This has significantly optimized our page speed and Core Web Vitals scores, as well as many performance metrics around page speed as measured by Google Analytics.

Signed Exchange Implementation

We conducted a pilot test that found Google Search’s support of prefetching signed exchanges (SXG) via Cloudflare delivers better site performance for users on Android devices. Currently, SXG only works for Android users, but it’s a feature that’s specified and encouraged by standards bodies such as IETF and W3C, and Google hopes that other browsers will soon adopt support of it as well.

For the three sites in our pilot, we compared Android-device traffic in the 30-day period before and after SXG was implemented. The results were fantastic for all three participants, and resulted in a reduction of average page download time by over 97% for each site! Click here to read more.

New Features

Editorial Calendar Dashboard

There is now a calendar view available for the Posts Dashboard. Click here to learn more.

Layout & Design Tool Upgrades

Updated Post Filtering

We’ve recently updated the UI and UX in our Layout & Design Tool to be able to precisely control what content is shown in what spot in the scroll. In addition, with these updates you can also precisely control what is shown in any post module on your site, be it a sidebar, interstitial, etc. Click here to learn more.

Validation Before an A/B Test Goes Live

There is now validation that triggers before you take a new A/B test live. It will check if the current layout has newer changes than the version that is about to go live and warn you if so. Additionally, in an A/B test, you can now paste the link to a Jira ticket and it will be searchable. This allows you to see A/B tests associated with a ticket.

Optimized Entry Editor

We’ve added more support for flexibility of custom Entry Editors, including a very smart feature to optimize how editors pick SEO-friendly permalinks. We’ve also upgraded the UX on managing sections in Entry Editor to avoid confusion for users.

Data Studio Upgrades

We are constantly upgrading Data Studio dashboards from a strategic perspective to give insights that help our clients move the needle.

Published Date View

We can now easily create a view in your Data Studio dashboard that shows the publish date of articles, and is filtered to show posts that receive traffic from Google. Updating those posts is a golden way to improve SEO traffic, and we highly recommend editors use the view as a guideline to focus on the most valuable updates to make.

Updated Google Search Console Performance Tab

This tab now features Discover and Google News data. It allows you to have great insights on what’s working across Google. Click here to learn more.

Google Search Console Regions Performance

This new view in Google Search Console allows you to see what areas of the world are performing best in Google and how the regions differ.

Country-Level Performance

For international sites, it’s now easy to see traffic by country and focus on where your content is performing.

Paid vs. Organic Traffic Views

It’s now easy to see and filter out paid/acquired traffic from your organic traffic.

Platform Updates and Improvements

Upgrade to Python 3

We did more than 500 commits rewriting our backend and testing to move us from version 2 to version 3, and we are planning to finish this process in Q2 2022.

Platform Script Automation for Bad Link Outs Dashboard

Before we had to manually update the script and run it to populate the dashboard. The current implementation allows us to just select one checkbox in site extras and the rest is done automatically.

JavaScript-Based Rendering for Custom Feeds

The old implementation was a bit complex to use due to the innate limitations of GraphQL. The new implementation gives us the following:

  • Greater flexibility and developer freedom
  • No need for engineering support to add new core features to render an esoteric or edge-case feed
  • It’s an approach we know, and we do similar things to our ad manager and JavaScript element in Layout & Design Tool
  • JavaScript is more widely known than GraphQL

Replace Image Functionality

This update provides the ability to replace a file and keep the same URL. We now purge all of the cache associated with a URL to allow for the new content of an image file to display where it’s referenced.

Product Tweaks to Improve Workflow

Here’s a list of some smaller product updates we made in Q1 2022 to help improve our user workflows and enhance our high-performing platform:

  • Gated Content Feature: Support for PDFs
    • We now support an easy gating feature to put PDFs behind a paywall or sign-up wall
  • Image Inventory
    • You can now see how many posts contain an image within your Library by accessing the image information from your Library
  • Set new site language settings for AMP
  • Show custom fields in the image dialog
  • Extended our public API so it supports phrase and sections in the same call
  • Custom dashboards can now sort by any custom field
  • Added a permission comparer for user roles
  • Improved the timeline view for Layout & Design Tool
  • Modified "route to" functionality
  • Added filters to the Users Dashboard
    • Filter by membership groups
    • Filter community users
    • Filter by the “without permissions” role
  • Extended smart quote plug-in capabilities
  • Teaser image is now a component
  • Disabled add tags dialog
  • We added support of a new checkbox for lead media and body to disable adding tags from the source
  • Added more information related to dates in post history
    • Added changes of created_ts and scheduled date
  • Added a new drop-down menu with permissions to allow or not allow tags in Layout & Design Tool
  • Enabled infinite loading of posts in the React Dashboard
  • Added a permission comparer for roles in the React Dashboard
  • Showed the option to enable users with permission to publish to every site in the React Dashboard
  • Added auto drafts as a filtering option in the React Dashboard
  • Moved the Badges Dashboard to ReactJS
  • Allowed users to include or exclude private posts in custom feeds
  • Unlocked the API to get posts by tag
  • Improved the posts filter logic on AMP
  • Allowed setting permissions and community on silent login
  • Created a new site extra to enable/disable author route email notifications
  • Showed the "restore" button when a post’s status is "deleted" in the Posts Dashboard
  • Hid “add section” in Entry Editor
  • Added the option to force showing “unpublish” in the top bar in Layout & Design Tool
  • Author bio is now visible in meta tags
  • Added the option to add users not as authors of a post in Layout & Design Tool
  • Search function added to pages in Layout & Design Tool

Infrastructure Updates

  • Upgraded Mongo From 3.4 to 3.6
    • We continue to upgrade our Mongo cluster. In Q1 2022, we migrated to v3.6. In Q2 2022, we plan to migrate to v4.
  • Couchbase 4
    • We updated the version of our sessions server, merged two instances into one, and created a backup procedure that only takes 10 minutes to restore data.
  • Upgrade Redis From 2.8 to 6.2
    • Redis is an important, high-performance data store that we use for many purposes.
  • Elasticsearch 6.8
    • The new version of Elasticsearch has better performance, and it has closed the Log4j vulnerability.
  • Ubuntu 18.04
    • 98% of our instances are now running on Ubuntu 18.04.

RebelCare Updates

Proactive Support Initiatives

We have started to implement processes to keep all of our clients optimized for Core Web Vitals, and we’re using the most modern technologies that Google and other tech giants are pushing the open web to adopt:

  • Core Web Vitals optimizations
  • Smart Cache implementation
  • Signed Exchange implementation
  • Upgrades for optimized performance of logged-in users browsing the site
  • Google Search Console error detection and resolution
  • Image credits check to avoid copyright lawsuits
  • Support performance KPIs:
    • We decreased the amount of tickets reopened by 24%
    • Ticket satisfaction rose to 86%
  • We created a new Zendesk Guide
  • Client feedback survey:
    • We performed our first formal survey of client feedback, and we will now be doing them on a quarterly basis

Team Updates

We’ve added amazing talent to our team. The following new Rebels will help scale our ability to continuously update our platform while simultaneously delivering as a creative agency.

Creative Strategy Team

  • Alexandra Leo, SVP of Product
  • Michelle Coetzee, Account Manager
  • Cindy Veitch, Account Manager
  • Prajay Jain, AdOps Specialist

Sales Team

  • Devon Applewhite, Sales Director
  • David Harwood, Sales Director

Service Delivery Team

  • Serhii Boiko, Platform Engineer
  • Juan Camilo Rondon, Platform Engineer
  • Kamsi Kodi, Platform Engineer
  • Melissa Rabanal Ortiz, Project Manager
  • Oka Gartria, Serverside Engineer
  • Florian Agalliu, Serverside Engineer
  • Sarwar Murshed, QA Engineer
  • Mariano Laville, QA Engineer
  • Micaela Jara, QA Engineer

Management Trainings

In Q1 2022, we launched a Leadership Program which covers structured learning with live workshop sessions hosted by LifeLabs, as well as a mentorship program hosted by PowerToFly. The main goal of this training is to leverage and grow people management skills within our organization.

Click here to read our Q4 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q3 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q2 2021 platform performance updates.

Click here to read our Q1 2021 platform performance updates.

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Make sure your site is set up for success in 2022.

In the spring of 2020, Google let the world know that its Core Web Vitals would become the new benchmark for measuring a site's performance in its search results, known as the page experience update. Fast forward to more than a year later in August 2021 when, after much anticipation, Google's page experience update became official.

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