Don’t Lose New Followers to Slow Page Speed

For most digital publishers, it's almost like a ticking time bomb every time a new reader hits their site. There are only a few split seconds available to deliver a fast, quality experience. Otherwise, the reader will move on, and the chance to gain a new follower goes up in flames.


To be fair, speed has been a priority for internet users ever since we said farewell to dial-up access. On Facebook, many publishers relied on mediums like native video and Instant Articles to deliver fast content experiences that never left the platform. But in light of Facebook's early 2018 algorithm changes and their information scandal, more users are diversifying away from the platform's News Feed. The so-called "friends and family" algorithm update that prioritizes posts from personal Facebook friends over those from publishers, has profoundly impacted the livelihood of a number of media companies. Mic — a popular publisher that heavily relied on Facebook to drive much of its traffic — saw their views on the platform plummet from 192 million in April 2017 to 11 million in March 2018, according to CrowdTangle (via Digiday). These media casualties, paired with the recent #DeleteFacebook movement following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, have put the platform in hot water with publishers.

The best way to diversify your distributive opportunities is with a fast web experience that performs well on all platforms and channels. An important initiative given that the focus on page speed will only become more prominent in the eyes of Google as 2018 rolls on. The search engine announced that mobile page speed will become a ranking factor starting in July 2018. For sites that aren't optimized for mobile, or are not currently utilizing the Google AMP format, this could mean a permanent fall from Google's page one. On mobile, Google's data suggests that 40% of consumers will click away if a page takes more than three seconds to load. That's no time at all, so the pressure is on to deliver faster experiences for everyone.

There are a lot of ways to both optimize for page speed and nail the right server response time. We implement a lot of best practices to ensure our clients deliver a lightning-fast experience on both desktop and mobile, and there's one easy-to-use feature we're particularly proud of: lazy loading. Contrary to what the function's name suggests, lazy loading helps our clients' web experiences capture readers within the first few seconds of a visit by drastically reducing load time.

What Is Lazy Loading?

In the world of computer programming, lazy loading is a design pattern that allows specific parts of your site to load in a certain order based on what the user needs to see first. We have the option to implement this feature on all RebelMouse sites. As a result, the properties we power have pages that load incredibly fast by selectively choosing the elements that should get delayed, and presenting the most important information to readers immediately.

Our Layout & Design tool makes it easy to collect elements for lazy load:

What Does Lazy Loading Look Like?

The best part about the way we use lazy loading is that you don't have to be a developer or computer programmer to use it. Within our Layout & Design tool, content creators can simply drag and drop site elements that they want to be considered part of the lazy load. For example, you could move the right-hand rail of your site into the lazy load element so it loads later, rather than right upon a user's entrance to the page.

Here's the whole process in action:

When Should Lazy Loading Be Used?

Lazy loading should be used for on-page components that aren't needed right away. Some examples are related post lists, sidebars, and other elements accessory to a story. By doing this, the main content of a story is immediately available to a user, and the secondary features load after the user is already busy consuming the core article.

There are pitfalls, however. Media properties have to test carefully when moving their ads to a lazy-load element, for instance. Failure to do so could negatively impact revenue depending on other competing elements in the load stack. But any decreases in ad revenue should also be negated by increased time on site, engagement, and user loyalty. It's a delicate balancing act that benefits greatly from robust A/B testing.

How Do I Start Using Lazy Load?

RebelMouse's intuitive lazy load is a core part of our CMS — the very same technology that's built new media powerhouses Axios, The Dodo, and Dance Magazine. The drag-and-drop method we use to implement lazy load is a great example of our lean tech model. We're continuously updating and optimizing our platform so content creators can worry less about tech and focus more on building loyal audiences through organic and distributive growth.

If now isn't the right time to replatform your site, you can still take advantage of our creative agency that helps ensure the site you do have is operating at its fastest possible speed. Let's start creating something together today.

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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Why Premium Creative Agencies and CTOs Choose to Develop on RebelMouse vs. WordPress and Drupal

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.

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Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

What Differentiates Our Approach

There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

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.

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Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

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.

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Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

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.

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Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

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.

Read our deck here...

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Dynamic Voting: Grow Traffic and Engagement Organically

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.

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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?

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RebelMouse Outperforms Every Other CMS. Here’s the Data to Prove It.

Our Core Web Vitals drastically outpace every competitor, and we have the receipts

In an effort to build user retention and increase conversions, publishers are making a common mistake. They're adding more features to their websites, including ad placements, but losing sight of the main revenue driver: user experience.

The key to unlocking user retention lies completely in site performance. Currently, publishers are trying to build optimized websites that translate easily across devices and platforms, but fail to deliver an experience that checks all their boxes and prioritizes their readers. It takes less than a second of delayed load time to turn away a user. This is why Google has made page speed a top ranking factor on search, and shepherded the entire open web's newfound prioritization on site performance.

Game Changer: Google's Core Web Vitals Announcement

Google cemented its seriousness about page experience with the announcement of its Core Web Vitals measurements in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are three specific metrics that Google uses to determine a site's overall usability. While these data points will evolve over time, the 2020 version of vitals consists of three specific metrics:

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): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). 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 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 less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search."

—From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

At RebelMouse, we guarantee a performance score of 90 or higher via PageSpeed Insights. To do this, we've built out a platform infrastructure that exceeds industry standards on Google's key metrics, particularly its Core Web Vitals, outperforming most industry leaders.

You can read more about how we've mastered Google's KPIs here. But the truth is in the data. Below is table that provides a snapshot into how RebelMouse-powered sites score:

And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

As you can see, there's a lot of data Google takes into account even outside of Core Web Vitals. Here's a quick summary of the other important metrics that Google trusts to measure page performance:

First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric 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. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

Creating quality content is only half the battle in 2020, and publishers are already burdened with the around-the-clock task of creating content that resonates. This is why quality content must be supported by modern technology that can keep up with the speed of the web. RebelMouse provides publishers with a CMS that supports the new content lifecycle with an editorial suite designed for reach on site, search, and social.

Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

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

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.

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.

Google Launches Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for COVID-19 Publishers

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.

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