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The Current Climate of Facebook Instant Articles

When Facebook Instant Articles launched in 2015, it was limited to only a few publishers. The invite-only approach had both brands and new media companies excited for the next wave in mobile publishing. Soon, everyone with a Facebook Page could be eligible to publish Instant Articles, and as the years went on, the medium went through its own ups and downs. First, publishers experienced success with Instant Articles. Other times, Pages turned away from the platform citing a lack of tangible ROI.


Then came Facebook's industry-altering friends-and-family algorithm update in 2018, arriving in the aftermath of the platform's data scandal and fake news fallout. Today, Facebook's lurking data vulnerabilities have users and publishers discrediting the platform entirely, with some even spurring a #DeleteFacebook movement.

While it can be easy to de-prioritize the platform in your strategy for any of the aforementioned reasons, it is still a primary driver of traffic. Facebook is the most widely used social media platform by a large margin according to Pew Research. Instant Articles provides a lightning-fast experience that carries a lot of benefits for users on mobile — which is more than half of Facebook readers total. Pew data also shows that the amount of mobile readers has tripled since 2013, with 58% of people reading news on a mobile device.

Data from Pew Research Center shows Facebook still leads for net daily use over other major social platforms.

While the move to content diversification is important for all publishers, there's no reason to not take advantage of the audience that is on Facebook and deliver them the best mobile experience possible. Using the platform will also help your own site's pageviews and audience growth. Facebook Instant Articles can explicitly improve SEO and web traffic in the current digital climate. Here's why.

Default Content Optimization

Facebook Instant Articles forces you to optimize your content, which is particularly beneficial in the current state of search. Earlier in 2018, Google launched its speed update, which finally cemented the search engine's prioritization of fast-loading mobile pages. The speed update was only one drop in a stream of algorithm updates prioritizing user experience, which included page speed and relevant, quality content.

The same reasons Instant Articles were a smart way to optimize content during its launch several years ago are still relevant today.

Detailed Formatting: To publish Instant Articles, your content has to be formatted correctly. This includes proper headers, image captions, author attribution (another priority from Google in 2018), related links, etc. These are all the kinds of details that will not only beef up your article, but improve your relevance to Google. After its own struggle with fake news, Google is looking for articles that are detailed, complete, and relevant to the reader.

Dynamic Content: Facebook Instant Articles make it naturally easy for publishers to experiment with dynamic and media-rich content. Within Instant Articles, it's instinctive to add in interactive elements like GIFs, images, and video, which can keep users engaging with an article longer. The content diversification also allows for more network distribution through outlets like YouTube. If the YouTube video links back to the original media source (your article), that can improve SEO.

This Instant Article from Rebel Love Meow features dynamic content, including video, images, related articles, and ads.

Creating a mobile publishing experience that lends itself to correct formatting and engaging content seemed nice to have when Instant Articles first launched in 2015. Now they're absolutely essential to any search strategy.

Increased Web Traffic

Facebook Instant Articles naturally creates an environment for optimized content, and it also improves the way search engines crawl your site.

Better Code: To be in sync with Instant Articles, publishers have to ensure that their site's template or RSS Feed is cleaned up and working 100% correctly. This doesn't impact search directly, but clean code helps crawlers efficiently index sites, which, in turn, can also improve SEO.

Better Ranking: There is a common concern among publishers that an Instant Article is a duplicate version of a story's original site version. But Instant Articles works similar to Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in that regard, where the article is not hosted by Facebook. Facebook takes a version of your article through RSS and creates its own mobile version, which is how it's able to load content so quickly.

In a Twitter thread during the summer of 2018, Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan told users that every broad algorithm update revolves around the same concepts: speed and content. He then referenced their 200-page search quality rating guidelines as a way to succeed in the rankings.

In the eyes of Google, traffic to Facebook Instant Articles is another way users have chosen your content as the right answer to their search queries. By improving your ranking, your website traffic will naturally grow, too. This symbiotic relationship is what creates sustainable growth and organic loyalty. It all starts with quality, detailed, and relevant content. It then continues through mediums like Facebook Instant Articles, which help deliver your premium content to more users with less interruptions.

Adapt and Win

Integrating your content and optimizing it for Facebook Instant Articles can be tricky, but in our experience it's worth it. Our clients are currently experiencing explosive growth on the platform while other publishers are suffering from plummeting reach.

We believe content should travel easily across platforms. If you need help publishing Facebook Instant Articles, we can both help you get started and ensure you create a lasting strategy even if you aren't on our platform. If you're looking to publish to a social-forward, lean tech solution, then we're happy to discuss the path forward. Either way, request a proposal today 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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Sculpt Your Own Editorial Suite With RebelMouse’s Customized Entry Editor

Create content for your specific editorial workflow

The content creation process is sacred. Most publishers know writers, editors, and curators are the heartbeat of every site's success and continued growth. At RebelMouse, we're dedicated to supporting writers with a robust editorial suite designed for modern publishing. Creators on the RebelCMS have access to real-time insights, dynamic layouts, and proprietary social and search engine optimization (SEO) technologies, directly from our editing interface.

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Stay on Top of Actionable Insights With RebelMouse’s Third-Party Analytics Integrations Dashboard

Leverage a data-backed content strategy

The amount of work that goes into creating quality content is half the battle. For publishers, an effective content strategy must be backed by data. Still, distributive publishing brings with it plenty of insights to keep track of, and sometimes key metrics can get lost in the day-to-day workflow.

On the RebelCMS, we have a dedicated dashboard to make it super easy to integrate third-party analytics scripts into your site. This way you can keep an eye on how your articles are performing and easily adjust your strategy accordingly.

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Optimize Your Editorial Workflow With Post Status Options

Use five different post status selections to streamline the path to publish

By using our post status functionality, you can effortlessly optimize your editorial workflow to assign a different status to each stage of a post draft before it's published.

There are five statuses a post can have:

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New JavaScript Element in Layout & Design Tool

At RebelMouse, we're constantly iterating on our platform to maximize the performance of our websites in order to keep up with the latest standards from Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.

One of the biggest problems with web performance is how the lazy loading of elements is implemented. On RebelMouse, we already have out-of-the-box capabilities that allow you to lazy-load assets, but if you have JavaScript from ads running on your site, Google's PageSpeed Insights tool will still penalize you for them if they're not being deferred off-screen properly.

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View Your Add Media Bar Results in Full-Screen Mode

Browse dynamic assets to enhance every article

In RebelMouse's Entry Editor, there's always an opportunity to add dynamic media to your article using our Add Media Bar. Now, you can browse all the options within the Add Media Bar, including YouTube, Facebook, and GIPHY, in full-screen mode.

To pull up the Add Media Bar, click the ⨁ icon next to your cursor on the left-hand side of the screen. Then, to activate full-screen mode, click the Expand icon on the right-hand side:

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How to Use Google Search Console’s Removals Tool

Quickly remove articles from search or see why a URL was pulled from search

Google recently released a new version of its Removals tool that temporarily blocks URLs from showing up in search results. The tool also shows which content is no longer being displayed due to either being outdated or because it was filtered out by SafeSearch, a Google feature that removes offensive content.

The new tool can be helpful if you want to quickly remove an article from showing up in search or to find information on why your content was removed from search by third-party requests.

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How to Use Override Tags for Headlines + Subheadlines

Customize your preferences easily in our Layout & Design Tool

Site design should be agile, which means it's important to be able to make quick style changes that keep your content cohesive and organized. To make this even easier, there's now the ability to override the tags of your headlines and subheadlines for each article using our Layout & Design tool.

You can make these headline and subheadline changes using a Posts element. Here's a screencast of how this works:

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The Override default Headline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>. The Override default Subheadline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>, <p>, and <div>.

The new headline and subheadline overrides also work with AMP. If you have any questions about this new feature, email support@rebelmouse.com or contact your account manager today.

How to Enable Primary Tag Tracking in Google Analytics

Track your top-performing topics

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

There is also a primary tag dimension built into our RebelCMS which can be enabled for tracking in Google Analytics.

Why Track Primary Tags?

Tracking primary tags through Google Analytics allows you to track the performance of specific tags, which is helpful if you want to see what kinds of topics are performing well or underperforming on your site.

Once enabled in Google Analytics, you can see the performance of a specific primary tag, such as its pageviews, users, and more:

Then, in Google Data Studio, we can gather the data on your primary tags together to see your top-performing tags and gain insights into how they're performing.

How to Track Primary Tags in Google Analytics

To track your primary tags in Google Analytics, click on the Admin panel in your account. Then, select Custom Definitions.

Next, click Custom Dimensions.

After that, click on the red + New Custom Dimension button.

Fill in the name as Primary Tag, and set the Scope to Hit. Click the blue Create button.

That is all you need to do to set up tracking for your primary tags. Once completed, our team has to link a primary tag custom dimension on our back end. Please contact support@rebelmouse.com or datastudio@rebelmouse.com to finalize this step. Happy tracking!

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