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The Reasons Why Indie Publishers Flourish on RebelMouse

The Reasons Why Indie Publishers Flourish on RebelMouse

We care about you. We care about you having a sustainable business.

And that means we care about everything — from revenue to traffic to how you can be sustainable long term. By using data across all our publishers, we can help you understand what's happening in the media world, how to leverage Facebook's algorithm changes, where your audience lives, and more. The digital landscape is constantly changing, and we are always studying its changes to help indie publishers break through the barriers of bureaucracy. Our goal is to give you an unfair advantage through badass tech that helps you understand how traffic distribution works. So you can get your voice heard. Loudly.

One of the best parts of living in the age of new media, and more importantly living within the social ecosystem, is that everyone has a chance to go viral. The chains surrounding public content that were once monopolized by corporations and agencies have now been put back into the hands of the users.


It's a thrill that helps new media darlings like Axios take off quickly and start competing in a space dominated by legacy giants like The Washington Post. It's why indie publishers have an actual chance to make a difference. An indie publisher is a website born without major backing from a larger publication or media group. At RebelMouse, we call them web properties instead of websites. It's a more encompassing way to define the many strategies publishers must master in 2017 — from social to search and back again.

An indie publisher doesn't always have to be born on the internet either. One of our favorite indie publishers is PAPER magazine, a leading name in the print publication industry that used RebelMouse to launch its web property. Since then, they've successfully traversed boundaries that once plagued print publications trying to find their way into the new media landscape.

The RebelMouse CMS is the #1 choice for indie publishers like PAPER because of our similar spirits. We're a team of traffic junkies that don't like to get bogged down by constricting roles and processes that hinder quick growth before and after launch.

Oftentimes when passionate teams are approaching a launch or re-platform, they are smothered by chains of command that can slow down the process and distract from product design and strategy.

We build fast websites that are secure and optimized for user experience. We're also a creative agency that works closely with our clients on content and social strategy, monetization, and audience development. We monitor your data closely — usually on a daily basis — to make sure your insights are pushing you forward on a path of growth and meaningful revenue.

Think of it as getting all the benefits of a traditional CMS and a creative agency without the unneeded hierarchy and corporate jargon. Here's how we do it.

Launch Faster and Better

At RebelMouse, we operate off of a lean tech methodology that launches sites in weeks, not months. And this speed doesn't compromise quality. The sites we launch are also super fast and intuitive for users. Our CMS fuels lightning-fast content, so you never have to worry about speed impacting its distribution — ever. It's how we helped create the two biggest new media companies to date: Axios and The Dodo.

There are a lot of factors that go into why we're so fast. Here are just some of them:

  • Page Speed: We prioritize every feature to help with page speed, so users are never waiting for your site to load.
  • Stability and Monitoring: From DevOps to SysOps teams, there's always a pair of eyeballs on your site watching graphs, charts, and trends, and applying optimizations to your site simultaneously.
  • Editorial Efficiency: We care about more than just page speed. We want your editorial + social teams to have the right tools in place for a seamless and enjoyable content creation experience.
  • Super-Fast Product Iterations: The acceleration of history is a real trend and it is very hard to keep up with. RebelMouse gives you the power of a $10-million-a-year team for a fraction of the cost to keep up with all the changes in the industry.
  • Data-Driven Product Cycle: Everything we release at RebelMouse is A/B tested for performance impact and how each version impacts page speed and user experience.
Access to a Massive Data Set: We power experiences across nearly every topic, industry, and company type. We then bring these insights back into the product to make your workflow and processes faster + more strategic.

Reduce Tech Debt

Even in 2017, new media companies still think they need to invest in an expensive tech team to launch a successful website. But websites aren't what they used to be. Now sites have to be dynamic and put content at the forefront in order to build sticky audiences and generate sustainable revenue.

We're able to provide the necessary lean tech for our clients, freeing them from expensive UX designers and heavy developer support. Our CMS gives you all the necessary tools to succeed in the digital world, without hiring a massive tech team to keep you abreast of constant updates and changes. We are iterative and change with the times. Plus, everyone who works at RebelMouse is as fast and fluid as our CMS. The result is an amazing team of people who have fallen in love with particular aspects of the media and content business. And we live all over the world, so someone is available to help 24/7, with anything from monetization practices to backend issues.

Leverage Our Expertise

Here's the catch. We're not just a CMS, but a creative agency that combines technical skills with artistic creativity. We offer various creative services to make sure your website is set up for social success, with content distribution tools built right into our platform. These include:

  • Facebook Instant Articles Configuration and Strategy
  • Newsletter Design and Customization
  • Ads Setup and Review
  • Content Design and Strategy
  • SEO Strategy

We are inspired by intuition and gut, but we check everything against data and are able to see what is working across a huge set of categories and verticals. It's a unique approach, and it works for the awesome brands and media companies we power.

If you're an indie publisher looking for a home, let's start working together and create something awesome today.

Browse some of our current indie properties:

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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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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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How to Optimize Your Website for Search


The RebelMouse platform features a rich search engine optimization (SEO) toolset that guides writers and editors to think about the right search phrase behind every story. It also empowers users to focus on small but meaningful modifications designed to improve organic search performance.

Here's a checklist of how we ensure the sites in our network consistently surge on search.

RebelMouse’s High-Performing Search Strategy Checklist

Structured Data

  • What is structured data?
  • RebelMouse's out-of-the-box integration

Optimize Your Website for Search: A Successful SEO Strategy Starts With Speed

Core Web Vitals metrics with meters for good, needs improvement, and poor scores

From web.dev

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.

One of these massive disruptions came in June 2021 with Google's page experience update. Developers are now feeling the impact of how their publishing platforms stack up against the new standard.

The update means Core Web Vitals are now a major factor in Google Search's ranking methodology, and sites big and small that haven't been prioritizing performance have seen their organic traffic hit stumbling blocks as a result.

The update has solidified the do-or-die importance of page speed as a key ranking factor. All too often, sites with poor performance plummet off of Google Search's page one results.

RebelMouse\u2019s core web vitals outperform traditional CMS solutions

Core Web Vitals scores are critical to your search performance. RebelMouse outperforms traditional platforms on the metrics that matter most.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Prioritize Google's Core Web Vitals

Google has set a high bar for the open web on what top performance should look like, especially on mobile. The following is a brief description of Google's Core Web Vitals.

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): FID quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. 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 (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.

The RebelMouse Approach: We are able to outperform competitors on Core Web Vitals because site performance isn't just a goal, it's a company pillar that's woven into our culture. We use this focus on performance to help new media powerhouses and legacy brands alike make the most of the open web by growing traffic and building revenue without sacrificing user experience.

Through never-ending performance optimization, the sites powered by RebelMouse score higher on Google's Core Web Vitals over other CMS platforms, including WordPress.

traffic from Google and site behavior increases due to RebelMouse\u2019s SEO optimizations

RebelMouse's SEO optimizations result in big traffic improvements.

Click here to learn more about how to improve your Core Web Vitals scores.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Make the Most of AMP

Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a fantastic tool to increase mobile performance. The hyper-fast mobile format delivers a longer time on site for each reader, which encourages better conversion.

AMP pages are built to be fast and load almost instantly when clicked from Google Search, increasing user engagement and dropping bounce rates.

AMP is a rich environment, but implementing it properly can be time-consuming. AMP pages, in order to be fast, are highly structured, and companies need efficient tools to take full advantage of the opportunities that AMP provides. When implemented correctly, the impact on search traffic is remarkable.

The RebelMouse Approach: Our platform is fully optimized for AMP, and sites in our network use it as an often game-changing way to improve search performance.

Content creators can publish to AMP on RebelMouse with one simple click:

toggle on AMP configuration

On RebelMouse, optimizing your content for AMP is a one-click process.

Plus, our team is constantly making little tweaks to improve AMP performance for our clients. For example, we automatically enabled a required large-image setting across our sites to optimize for Google Discover. While the update may seem small, it has resulted in a significant and positive impact on traffic when an article makes it into Discover's feed.

Check out the visible boost it gave one of our clients, as tracked by Google Search Console:

Google Discover traffic spike

Our behind-the-scenes optimizations on AMP drive boosts to readership.

Click here to learn more about RebelMouse's AMP optimization.

Optimize Your Website for Search: Leverage the Right SEO Editorial Tools

how to increase search traffic

RebelMouse's SEO tools increase search traffic.

Our SEO technology centers around best practices for search, including detailed metadata that helps Google's site crawler identify, index, and rank your content quickly.

Here's a look inside our proprietary technology that helps our clients experience quick search boosts that turn into long-term SEO wins.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Define Your Search Phrase

It can be tricky to nail down which search phrase you want to win. Within RebelMouse's SEO tab, you can brainstorm your ideas in real time. Through the creative usage of APIs, we ensure writers and editors are armed with the right information when optimizing content for SEO. In the example above, the drop-down list is suggesting search phrases that are already performing well on Google. The number next to each recommended phrase is its monthly search volume.

This helps you determine which phrases are easy to win, or perhaps too competitive to strategize for, on an article-by-article basis. Click here to learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Match Your Slug to Your Search Phrase

submit url to search engines

Easily update your URL slug to match your desired search phrase on RebelMouse.

The SEO tab in our Entry Editor is designed to repeat your desired search phrase throughout your content so that Google's crawler has every chance to index it correctly for search. With this methodology in mind, it's a best practice to have your article's URL slug match your desired search phrase. From the SEO tab, you can click the "Optimize Slug" button to automatically match your URL slug to the search phrase you want to win.

Click here to learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Pick Smart Recirculation Links

seo outlinks

Access outlinks for your search phrase directly from RebelMouse's editing interface.

After you've defined your search phrase and optimized your URL slug accordingly, you can select highly relevant links to add as related content to the end of your article. We call these Around the Web (ATW) links. The SEO tab in our Entry Editor allows you to pick the best links from your own site, as well as from around the web, which leads to truly amazing traffic boosts. This is a proven SEO practice that's rewarded by Google. Since your article will link to pages already winning your search phrase, it can increase your own post's relevance score in the eyes of Google's crawler.

We automate the surfacing of both ATW and internal links for you, so it's as easy as ticking a handful of checkboxes to add them to your post. We've also done the math, and the data is clear: Adding ATW and internal links to the end of your articles can increase traffic coming to your posts from Google by over 300%!

Click here to learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Craft Metadata Before Publish

what is seo metadata

Update your content's metadata easily on RebelMouse.

When it comes to Google's site crawler, providing clever metadata is one of the best ways to contextualize your content for search. From there, Google's search algorithm will rank your site for search queries that it determines are relevant to your content. Our SEO tab allows you to write your metadata right from within our Entry Editor. Plus, our character counter will help you make sure that your SEO headline and description match Google's best practices for metadata text length.

It's important to make sure your metadata is clearly written in a succinct way so that Google can quickly understand the nature of your content.

Click here to learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Structure Your Content to Reinforce Your Search Phrase

RebelMouse's Particle Assembler is a content creation tool within our Entry Editor that makes it easy to transform your posts into media-rich micro pieces of content, which we call particles, that can both be shared individually and crawled separately on search. Our Assembler functionality gives your content more legs, which means more chances to generate more traffic.

Assembler is accessible via a couple of clicks in the formatting toolbar of our Entry Editor. From there, an organizational layout gets inserted into your article that guides you through the process of building out the particles that will shape your Assembler.

A look at how to add particles in RebelMouse's Assembler.

The best way to think of Assembler is by treating it as an enhanced list format. If your article is about vegan cooking trends, each particle can feature a new trend. But Assembler does not need to be a simple list. It can also cover the main points of your article and feature user-generated content or even related stories.

Assembler is a helpful SEO tool because it can generate a unique URL slug for each particle, maximizing your article's ability to get indexed by Google for more than one key search phrase.

Click here to learn more about this feature.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Make the Most of Google's "People Also Ask" Module

how to optimize for Google\u2019s people also ask

Strategize search phrases to win with Google's "People Also Ask" feature.

Particle headlines are a great way to make use of Google's "People Also Ask" module. This will help you identify search patterns of users who are interested in your search phrase. By tailoring your particles to those patterns, it's likely that your post will move up in Google's search rankings.

Click here to learn more about this strategy.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Use Alt Tags on Every Image

alt text for seo

Easily update alt text with your desired search phrase on RebelMouse.

Each particle is another opportunity to add relevant media to your post, and Assembler makes it easy to add alt text to every image you upload. Alt text is very important for accessibility, and can also have benefits for SEO. Briefly, alt text is text that is added to an image to describe it to search engines. It also allows people using screen readers to be able to know what the image is without actually being able to see it. You can easily add alt text to any image in RebelMouse from our Entry Editor. Adding your search phase into every alt text field will only bring you one step closer to the top of Google Search's first page.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Conquer Structured Data

Google\u2019s Rich Results Test tool will check your structured data

Google's Rich Results Test tool will make sure your structured data is entered properly.

Google's algorithm is now savvy about robotically written articles designed to win a specific set of keywords. As Google's search engine has gotten smarter, its web crawler software, known as "Googlebot," has also evolved in terms of how it indexes data.

But what if you could tell Googlebot the story of your website so that it doesn't have to make any assumptions? This is possible through the use of structured data, or as Google describes it, a set of "clues" provided to its crawler about what defines your content. Using schema, or a vocabulary you share with Google about every page on your site, you can tell Googlebot the story of your content in human language.

structured data populates information for Google snippets

Rank higher on search by populating structured data for Google's snippets on search returns.

By following these rules, you're giving the search engine explicit clues about the meaning of a page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying its content. For example, on a recipe page, these classifying components could be ingredients, cooking time, temperature, and nutritional information.

The better Google's crawler can understand your content, the more easily it can index it highly on search.

The RebelMouse Approach: If structured data sounds like a big undertaking, it doesn't have to be. Every RebelMouse site automatically populates key structured data so that Google can better understand your site. This, in turn, optimizes your pages to win in search results. Our out-of-the-box integration populates all the standard schema data with information about article content. This works on desktop and mobile web, and the data also gets populated for Google AMP.

out-of-the-box structured data integration

RebelMouse properly marks up structured data for content with our out-of-the-box integration.

Click here to learn more about our out-of-the-box structured data integration.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Be Mindful of H1 Tags

To put it simply, an H1 tag is a piece of HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, that marks the heading of your web page. Here's an example:

This Is the Title of My Content

For SEO purposes, H1 tags are designed to win a specific search phrase for your page. In fact, a recent study from Moz found that the HTML title tag is the second-most important ranking factor for SEO, behind only the actual content of the post.

This is because Google recognizes the H1 tag as the highest-level tag on your page. Think of it as your chance to summarize what your content is about clearly and succinctly for Google's web crawler. The more accurate and relevant you make your H1 content, the easier it is for Google to index it for search.

When writing HTML, there are six different heading tags available to you: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. Each heading has a different font weight. You can use this scale to organize your content's headlines and subheadings accordingly.

various heading tags can improve seo

Example of headings from W3docs.

The RebelMouse Approach: You can easily choose your desired heading in RebelMouse's Entry Editor by using the formatting toolbar:

choose headings to improve SEO

Select which headings you want to use right from RebelMouse's editing interface.

Once you choose your heading, it's automatically reflected in your site's code:

heading tags in HTML provide structure to your content for search

RebelMouse's headings are automatically implemented correctly to your site's code for search.

Note: You may have noticed that the H1 tag is not an option you can select in the formatting toolbar's drop-down menu. That's because it's best practice to use only one H1 tag per page. On our platform, we reserve the H1 designation for your article's headline. This is inputted into your site's code automatically.

Click here to learn more about H1 tags.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Follow Google’s Image Guidelines

structured data on Google Images

An example of Google Images information populated by structured data. Image from Google.

Google Images is undoubtedly the leader in image search online, and they have many guidelines on how images should be handled. Here at RebelMouse, we make sure that your site is able to follow those guidelines right out of the box. Google's recommendations fall under a number of general topics:

  • A great user experience
  • Be descriptive
  • Structured data
  • Speed
  • Alt text
  • Make images discoverable

The RebelMouse Approach: Being certain that everything on your site is optimized both for performance and for following Google Search's guidelines is an exhausting task. Fortunately, RebelMouse takes that worry out of your hands by building our platform around the principles of page experience and the belief that all sites built on our platform should be flawless. We follow all best practices for Google Image's guidelines.

Click here to learn more.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search: Measure Success with Google Search Console

page experience report via Google Search Console

A look at page experience data from Google Search Console.

Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you to understand and optimize your site's performance on Google Search. When Google visits your website for tracking purposes, it performs what's called crawling and indexing, a process of adding web pages into its search results.

Search Console will allow you to add or remove certain content from Google Search's results. The tool will also help you learn which keywords trigger your site to appear in Google's search engine results page (SERP), as well as which third-party sites are linking to yours. It also allows you to monitor your site's performance on search, including locating any errors on your pages.

The RebelMouse Approach: We offer full support to help our clients connect their sites to Google Search Console. Our strategy services also help you understand which content and site layouts are working the best for your audience through our custom Google Data Studio dashboards.

Optimize Your Website for Search With RebelMouse

boost your search traffic with RebelMouse

Google owns most of the referral traffic on the internet, and your site should reflect this reality. That's why the sites on our network follow all of Google's webmaster guidelines.

RebelMouse's proprietary technology works for any kind of site, whether you're a brand, a new media company, or a legacy publisher. SEO doesn't have to be something that only developers and analysts can understand and augment. Our product is designed to put the power of search in the hands of content creators, editors, and social curators, too.

Start winning on search with every publish. Get in touch with us today and let's start working together.

RebelMouse Matches Google’s Best Practices for Images

Being certain that everything on your site is optimized both for performance and for following Google Search's guidelines is an exhausting task. Fortunately, RebelMouse takes that worry out of your hands by building our platform around the principles of page experience and the belief that all sites built on our platform should be flawless.

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RebelMouse Q3 2021 Platform Performance Updates

For many publishers and brands, Q3 2021 was about recovering web traffic lost to Google's page experience signals update that was rolled out over the summer. For us, the quarter was about continuing our success of delivering excellent Core Web Vitals metrics across our site network with platform performance updates both big and small.

As a globally distributed team, it's important for us to remain transparent about how we're able to power some of the best-performing sites on the open web. And while we're already looking forward to closing out the year stronger than ever before, here's a detailed look back at our accomplishments in Q3 2021.

We invested 1,946 hours into our platform in Q3 2021 alone, and all of the sites on our platform benefited from the work in various ways. Here are the key areas that we focused on:

  • 184 hours were spent on delivering new features
  • 1,010 hours were spent on improving existing features
  • 752 hours were spent on performance and infrastructure updates
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