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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.
The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive
We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.
Understand what Lighthouse 6.0 and Core Web Vitals means for your website's future
Since Google's page speed changes in 2018, publishers have engaged in a mad dash to figure out how to build dynamic sites and maintain performance scores that meet the search engine's user experience expectations. Now in 2020, when people are online more than ever, excellent site performance is no longer optional.
Earlier this year, Google released version 6.0 of Lighthouse. As a reminder, 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.
Let's look at what's changed. Most importantly, Lighthouse has added two new metrics into its formula for page speed:
Here's a look at how these new metrics stack up against the previous version of Lighthouse:
As you can tell, First Contentful Paint (FCP) has gained a bit more weight in Lighthouse 6.0. FCP measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure.
By contrast, two metrics dropped considerable weight. The first is Time to Interactive (TTI), which measures the time from when the page starts loading to when its main subresources have loaded and it's capable of reliably responding to user input quickly. You want your site to have a low TTI to maintain its usability. Second is Speed Index (SI), the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. Both dropped in Lighthouse's speed calculation by 12–18%.
These new metrics haven't changed Lighthouse's primary function — to determine if your website loads as quickly as possible. The new insights are just a new way to measure this more accurately. LCP measures load time, and TBT determines how long a page remains inactive for a user, two data points that have the potential to diminish the overall user experience if not optimized correctly.
Here's another way to visualize these changes:
Shortly after the launch of Lighthouse 6.0, Google announced an update to the way it evaluates overall page experience. This change is measured by three metrics called the Core Web Vitals, that can be tracked in the Google Search Console. The Core Web Vitals will play an important role in how Google measures overall page performance, and could be a make-or-break factor for your site's survival.
Google says 2020's Core Web Vitals are the following data points:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants a LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.
First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between FMP and TTI. 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 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift Score (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 0.1.
These three metrics will work alongside Google's other ranking factors, including a site's mobile friendliness and safety features, to determine its overall page experience and visibility on search.
Google says it will always consider informative, quality content as its number one search signal. However, if two websites both have quality content, but one site has better Core Web Vitals, the site with a better page experience will always outrank any site that isn't optimized for performance.
"By adding page experience to the hundreds of signals that Google considers when ranking search results, we aim to help people more easily access the information and web pages they're looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy." - From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020.
The RebelMouse platform evolves alongside Google's algorithm, and our team of growth experts spans all time zones to make sure our sites are optimized for page experience with every new article.
To do this correctly, it takes a lot of optimization to perfect every moment of your site's load time. We've mastered Lighthouse 6.0's formula already, and our scores are drastically outperforming every other CMS on the market.
Our jaw-dropping page speeds have empowered us to guarantee a PageSpeed Insights score of 90+ for every site we power. We've done this through a simplified version of code that still allows for ads, videos, and third-party applications to load quickly.
Now that you're well up to speed on how Google's measures site experience, let'ss take a look at some of our performance scores:
Here's how those scores compare to some of the biggest names on the web:
At RebelMouse, performance is a pillar of our company's culture. We've taken Lighthouse scores seriously for years, and have leveraged them to ensure our sites are constantly high performing. It's why we outperform some of the biggest sites on the web. And like with any pillar of a company's culture, optimizing for high performance is never a one-time effort. Our engineers have been crafting and tuning our platform to address these new standards long before they surfaced.
If you want to publish alongside the speed of the web, request a proposal today and let's start working together.
What Differentiates Our Approach
At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.
An SEO Strategy That Wins With Every Publish
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.
With each one of these algorithm changes comes a new approach to search strategy. It's a lot to keep up with in a competitive digital landscape. Publishers are already burdened with the task of creating high-performing quality content that's easy to find on Google and, in turn, easily shared across social. It's a job that can't be solved with advertising dollars either. It's estimated that nearly 80% of users disregard paid search results. Pair this with the fact that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search query and you're left with the realization that it's never been more important to prioritize search engine optimization.
The good news is that RebelMouse has a unique approach to SEO that leverages the tools available to us from the open web alongside our proprietary technology that enables users to win key phrases with every publish. The best part? The platform is designed to empower the people who live closest to content: writers and editors. Here's how it works.
Become the center of the universe on your topic.
In today's digital world, organic growth is everything. The old pay-to-play mantra adopted by many publishers is putting them at the mercy of Facebook's temperamental News Feed.
If you want to survive the constant algorithm updates and technological changes, your focus must be on building a community that constantly sparks conversations among its audience. To do so, you have to connect with likeminded Facebook Pages and social profiles at scale, and that starts with quality content. But sometimes good content isn't enough. At RebelMouse, we have a saying: "If you create quality content without distribution, does it even exist?" That's why we created Discovery, an integral part of our suite of sophisticated enterprise-level tools. Using proprietary technology, Discovery is designed to help you figure out the social ecosystem that's already having conversations related to your content. But before you can reach out to potential influencers, your content has to be set up for distributive success.
Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse
Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it's filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to understand your audience and provide them with what they want.
Revolutionizing E-commerce on RebelMouse
Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.
RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.
Content creation has never been static. Since the early days of social, the relationship between publishers and readers has blurred and warped into what's now the state of digital publishing in 2019. At RebelMouse, we started out as a social feeds aggregator and subsequently went viral as the "social front page." Since then, we've obsessed over the best ways to share content in today's social world despite its unpredictable seasons.
Users are ready to pay for content that delivers.
It's been a long and winding path, but in 2020 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. 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, including 3.5 million digital subscriptions last fall.
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.
As a creative agency powered by modern technology, we know how to build a subscription experience that's designed for both the modern user who wants an optimized site experience and the modern publisher who relies on paywall revenue to survive.
RebelMouse's subscription features are customizable and easily support:
RebelMouse's Paywall API is available to developers to make it easy to manage subscriptions. Access to paid content is managed via subscriptions attached to email qualifiers. Click here for more information on our Paywall API.
Sites powered by RebelMouse are experiencing enormous success thanks to our subscription strategies, including the Italian newspaper La Verità. While publishers on other platforms typically see a decrease in audience when they implement a paywall, in their first year leveraging the RebelMouse paywall strategy, La Verità saw 800% audience growth with an average of 16 pages per visitor, far above the industry standard. Their continued, unprecedented growth makes them one of the highest-growth media properties in Italy, and they've experienced significant revenue growth thanks to our paywall tools.
In the past, there was a stigma around paywalls that signaled they were only sustainable for large publishers with massive audiences already in place. But with today's users maturing, subscription models are more attainable for a variety of emerging media properties and legacy names alike.
It's important to strike the right balance between free content, subscriber revenue, and ad strategy. This is a lot to juggle for publishers who are already maxed out trying to create quality content worth reading.
At RebelMouse, we can help you determine if a subscription model will benefit you, and then build a custom, easy-to-use paywall system that works for your site. If you're not publishing on RebelMouse, we also operate as a world-class creative agency that can help you navigate the subscription business and any other content strategy you may be building toward. Either way, request a proposal today and let's start working together.
Help your audience find its voice.
Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.
Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.
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?
Why massive enterprise organizations are switching to RebelMouse.
Delivering a secure, high-performing environment with extreme reliability is essential to all of our clients at RebelMouse. We only use industry-leading, reliable approaches to host our infrastructure. This ensures maximum stability and security for all our clients' data. Here are just some of the tools and practices we leverage to maintain a hard-bodied product that's flexible, too.
If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster
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.
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.
New tool gives podcasters retention analytics for every episode
The popularity of podcasting has exploded in the past few years. In 2020, it is estimated that 75% of Americans are now familiar with podcasting, which is an increase of 10 million in just one year.
To meet this demand, Google recently launched Google Podcasts Manager, a new tool designed to help podcasters learn more about their listeners, including how to reach them more effectively.
Google Podcasts Manager will use a verification process to make sure each user's podcast is available on Google Podcasts. The new tool will give podcasters access to metrics to understand their audience's engagement levels, and how those insights vary from episode to episode.
Through the Google News Initiative, relief fund aids news outlets covering the virus
Small and medium-sized news organizations producing original content about the COVID-19 pandemic for their local communities could be eligible for money from Google.
The search engine announced a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund through the Google News Initiative to support journalism during the crisis. Funds will range from the low thousands to tens of thousands depending on the size of the newsroom, according to Google.
Score 90 or higher on Google's PageSpeed Insights tool
It has been more than a year since Google drastically changed how they measure page speed. Since then, it's been our top priority to optimize every site we power with unparalleled load times that are far ahead of industry leaders.
This means a promise of a score of 90 or higher on PageSpeed Insights. Full stop.