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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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Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

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Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

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Infinite Scroll: An Innovative + Intuitive UX

There is a common misconception that publishers have to sacrifice monetization and professional design to deliver a high-performing, quality user experience to its readers. But in today's modern publishing environment, websites can deliver an unobtrusive site experience that's intuitive, elegant, and prosperous.

To do this consistently, RebelMouse supports infinite scroll as part of our bigger design strategy called Social UX for Media. Much like the news feeds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, infinite scroll provides an endless stream of articles to its readers so they never reach the "end" of your content.

Infinite scroll is an innovative approach, but it is also a widely adopted standard that has been endorsed and is supported officially by Google, Comscore, Nielsen, and many other industry giants. It's part of a new media strategy deployed by companies with massive valuations and the highest level of visibility in the U.S. market, including Axios, Vice, and The Verge.

In fact, RebelMouse built and launched news powerhouse Axios, now one of the biggest new media companies to date, with our Social UX for Media design featuring infinite scroll. It's still a core part of Axios' successful publishing strategy today. The feature has also been key to the growth of many other RebelMouse-powered properties, including La Verità, Dance Magazine, and United Airlines.

RebelMouse's Social UX for Media design, featuring infinite scroll on hub.united.com.

The primary reason infinite scroll is so successful is because it mimics user behavior in an innovative, yet familiar way, thanks to its similarity to social feeds. On mobile, expandable posts make it easy for users to read "before the jump" and quickly expand to the rest of the article with one click, rather than being taken to another article page. This is similar to when a user expands a caption on Instagram. It's these simple design details that bring massive growth to key stats like return visits and time on site.

Our page view methodology not only keeps the user experience intact, it also includes robust ad serving technology. We use industry standard rules for page views that require at least 50% of the screen space to change before it counts as a new page view. So whether you use Comscore or Nielsen to verify your site traffic, infinite scroll will not have a negative impact on your insights.

If you're interested in launching a site with our game-changing Social UX for Media design, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, and you have questions about infinite scroll, email support@rebelmouse.com.

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Particle Assembler: Ads in Slideshows Now Supported

You can now insert ads between slides in a slideshow!

Monetizing users' engagement and page views is pivotal to most digital businesses, and our Particle Assembler has been an invaluable tool in helping RebelMouse clients to insert native ads seamlessly into their content. Now we've taken this functionality one step further by introducing support for ads between slides in Assembler's slideshow layout.

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Inside RebelMouse’s Quality Assurance Operations

How We've Perfected Stress-Free Publishing

At RebelMouse, we like to refer to our enterprise publishing platform as "lean tech." Most publishers have a natural inclination to start doubling down on teams of developers who try to build unique experiences to help stand out above the noise. But they should actually be doing the opposite: Lean tech is the preferred way to cut through content saturation. By allowing RebelMouse to obsess over your product, content producers, editors, managers, and everyone in between can focus on creating quality content and taking advantage of opportunities to leverage distributive publishing strategies that create real revenue growth.

One of the major reasons we're able to maintain a lean tech environment is thanks to our approach to quality assurance (QA). We make updates to our platform daily to ensure our clients always have access to the most robust, high-performing, and secure version of our platform. Behind the scenes, this means having a solid QA structure that's efficient, creates less bugs, and catches the ones that do pop up before they go live. It's a system of checks and balances that's hard and costly to replicate on a custom CMS. Here's a glimpse into how it works.

Our Tech Stack Toolbox

  • Cucumber
  • Java
  • Junit
  • Maven
  • Selenium WebDriver
  • TeamCity
  • Zalenium (Selenium Grid)

Our Checks and Balances Workflow

Automated Regression Testing Cycle

The Lifecycle of a Product Update

When an update is first made to RebelMouse, TeamCity immediately triggers the start of automated tests to review integrity.

TeamCity Build

TeamCity Agent

The tests run in parallel on TeamCity's Build Agent. Next, Zalenium creates docker containers with browsers that matches the count of parallel threads. An Allure report is then generated from the test results, which shows the state of the application after the update.

Allure Report Pass

If a test doesn't complete successfully, the testing framework receives a video with a failed test and attaches it to the Allure report.

Allure Report Issue

Based on the report analysis, a QA specialist will create a "bug" ticket in our product management software to address the issue if needed. Then, information about the bug is immediately sent to the project manager and we begin the process of correcting the problem.

The media powerhouses we power can publish with confidence knowing that any product issues that arise are met with a tried-and-true process to fix the problem with little-to-no disturbance to their workflow. If you have any questions about this process, please email support@rebelmouse.com.

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Related Posts vs. Posts in Assembler

Here's the difference between Related Posts and Posts in Assembler.

By using Related Posts and Posts in Assembler, you can help your audience stay engaged with your site's content and generate more traffic. Both of these features can be added to any post through Entry Editor.

When creating or editing a post, you can add a Related Posts section to the bottom of it that consists of a selection of existing posts on your site that you choose to surface. Only the main image and content headline are pulled, along with a link to the original post. This is similar to the Around the Web section that also shows up at the end of your post when you enable it from the SEO tab of Entry Editor.

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Site Accessibility on RebelMouse

In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to ensure that your website is accessible to all users regardless of any disability they may have. Google recognizes how important this is, and now includes an accessibility score in their PageSpeed Insights tool to alert site owners when their site's level of accessibility is not up to par.

Although website accessibility does not directly impact page speed scores, it's quickly becoming an industry standard amongst forward-thinking companies. One key way to ensure your website is making the accessibility grade is through the use of Accessible Rich Internet Applications, or ARIA for short.

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