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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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.

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