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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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Meet RebelMouse

Build on a better platform that supports far-reaching content distribution, impactful conversion, and unparalleled loyalty.

The world's largest companies trust us to power their global, multiplatform content experience. As a platform, we're now one of the largest in the world, reaching 50+ million people every month. As a creative agency, we build mass pop culture hits that grow organically to become household names — Axios and The Dodo, for example.

We work strategically with United Airlines and many other brands to establish the new media roadmap for their future and implement it. RebelMouse was founded by the CTO who built The Huffington Post. The founding vision and mission is still the same today: to be the right new media platform for both media companies and brands. It's working exceedingly well, and we're delivering some staggering results for our clients.

Read our latest deck here!

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How to Include Interactive Elements in Posts

Enhance your articles with rich and creative media

Every article is a fresh chance to grab new readers and nurture loyal followers. This is why we give creators every opportunity to build content rich with media elements that enhance every reader's experience.

Add More Layers to Your Content

You can easily add interactive elements, like charts, to posts on our platform. For example, if you need to embed iframe code into a post, this can be done via our Add Media Bar. To do so, click the code icon (< >):

A text box will appear so you can insert your code:

Embedded Code Across Platforms

One important thing to keep in mind is that Google AMP, AppleNews, and Facebook Instant Articles will not always support embedded code. So if you use an iframe, it's best to turn off distribution to those channels for that particular post. If you have a lot of posts that require embedded code, this could be problematic for growth across those important platforms.

If you do want to use an iframe on a post destined for Google AMP distribution, it can be possible if the iframe is not at the top of the page or within the first 75% of the viewport when the page is scrolled to the top (whichever is smaller). AMP is a fast technology designed for mobile users and iframes are loaded using arbitrary timing that AMP's technology cannot ensure. For this reason, it's suggested that iframes be included in places that are not visible by users upon load.

If you have an article that needs to include an iframe at the top of the page, or within the first 75% of the viewport, AMP can be turned off for that individual article within Entry Editor.

If you don't need an interactive chart to be interactive in nature, can turn it into an image and upload it directly to your post. This way it will work on all platforms, including Google AMP, Apple News, and Facebook Instant Articles. This option, when possible, is ideal to ensure you're optimized for page speed.

Take Advantage of Shortcodes

Another great way to embed media is through our shortcodes functionality. Click here to learn more about shortcodes. Shortcodes can also inserted using the Add Media Bar. Click the brackets icon ([ ]) to choose the shortcode you want to use.

Here's an example of a chart on an article page that's been inserted using a shortcode:

If you have any questions about how to add interactive elements to your content, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

Shortcodes Dashboard: Dynamic Media in Just a Few Clicks

Create multidimensional content with easy-to-find shortcodes

We believe static media is dead, and that every piece of content should be multidimensional and engaging. This is why our platform enables creators so they can add dynamic media to their content in easy and efficient ways.

One simple way to add interactive content to any post is through the use of shortcodes. Shortcodes are small snippets of code that are easier to remember than longer sequences. They typically will activate a feature or embed media into an article.

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How to Add Scalable Vector Graphics to RebelMouse

Quickly add an SVG to any page

A Scalable Vector Graphic, or SVG, is a type of graphic format that gives you more flexibility than standard formats like JPEG or PNG.

To add an SVG to your RebelMouse site, first go to your Layout & Design tool. Next, open the SVG in a code editor and copy the entire <svg> element. Then, add a Custom HTML element to your layout and paste in the SVG code:

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How to Find Work-Life Balance as a Remote Employee

Tips from our CEO on making the most of an office-free lifestyle

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 66% of companies now allowing remote work and 16% operating completely office-free. RebelMouse is one of those fully remote companies, and over the years we've mastered how to stay close to each other despite being spread across more than a dozen countries. We believe working remotely is good for both our personal lives and our productivity. Read more about this here.

Still, working free from the shackles of an office environment doesn't mean every day is a dance party in your pajamas from 9 to 5. Working from home comes with its own set of challenges just like any other job.

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Canvas Page and Shareable Element: An Easier Way to Organize

In our Layout & Design tool, you have the option to create new pages and reuse them anywhere within your templates. With this update, we wanted to create a clear distinction between what is used as a Canvas page — a blank page, open to any design and structure — and a Shareable Element — a block or page created specifically to be reused as a module within another page or site.

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