6 Reasons to Upgrade to RebelMouse from WordPress

The huge gap between current CMS offerings and what the world needed occurred to me during my time as CTO of The Huffington Post. When we were acquired by AOL in 2011, I inherited 53 properties built on dozens of different content management systems. It wasn't long after that I soon realized they were all built by IT people who didn't fully grasp the concepts of traffic and distribution. That's why in 2012 I launched RebelMouse as the first platform to create the "social front page" — a hub where users could aggregate social feeds all in one place. It went viral with eight million users worldwide. The viral success made me realize that there wasn't a CMS to bring it all together, yet.


One of the main reasons I launched RebelMouse was because I recognized that a huge shift in advertising would happen, and that content would become marketing very quickly. And it did.

Today, I am extremely proud of the powerful product we've created. RebelMouse was built to solve the complex intersection of product, engineering, editorial, and revenue. It's allowed us to create a next-generation CMS unlike any other — backed by some of the best venture capitalists in the world — and is responsible for launching some of the biggest media sites such as Axios and The Dodo, both of which saw massive success upon launch.

But our team still sees plenty of sites — including brands, publishers, and personal influencers — not reaching their full potential. A lot of the time it's because they're bogged down with a clunky CMS like WordPress. We're all trying to publish and make money in a competitive industry that's always changing. But to be frank, WordPress isn't keeping up with the industry fast enough. There's a lot you need in and out of a CMS to survive and succeed in this digital climate, and we've created a solution that quickly responds to every industry shift and algorithm curveball.

Here are six reasons why RebelMouse is different from WordPress and worthy of a replatforming process that's simple and can be completed in a matter of days.

1. RebelMouse Is a Centralized CMS

RebelMouse is a centralized CMS, unlike other common web solutions like WordPress and Drupal. WordPress is a decentralized model that requires every platform update to be completed independently. This means that — of the 87 million plus versions of WordPress that are currently live on the internet — each update has to be implemented one by one.

Operating your business on a decentralized model is a big security risk. Every time there's a security threat, the core developers at WordPress must deploy patches in the form of product updates. From there, it's up to the managing developers of each individual site to deploy and configure around these updates to avoid breaking custom code and plugins. And this happens a lot. Since its launch in 2003, WordPress has released 238 product updates, many of them to address gaps in security.

Since we operate on a centralized model, every update on our platform is updated at one time, and sometimes multiple times a day. Usually our clients never notice the difference. We protect the data of our clients and make sure their sites are not only risk-free, but also operating at continuous peak performance.

But this doesn't mean our platform is closed off by any means. We use the languages of the open web, and any developer can easily learn our platform to create high-quality work without the burden of relying on unstable and fragmented WordPress plugins and updates.

2. More Than Just Tech

We've never been one to stick to boxes at RebelMouse. We started out on the cutting edge of social in 2012, and stayed close to the heart of digital publishing ever since. That's why our clients don't get a stagnant software platform like WordPress. Instead, they get a full-service creative agency full of content optimization specialists, social media gurus, and monetization experts. We blur the line between product and strategy to drive success.

Our content migration process from WordPress to RebelMouse is simple. And once it's completed, we don't waste any time optimizing your site for page speed. From there, we restructure your content strategy so you can see results at scale. Here are some of the strategy services we offer:

  • Monetization: We believe saving costs is the new revenue stream. Our lean tech model creates new opportunities for monetization, and our strategy team uses data-driven methods to make sure your site is getting maximum return.
  • Social: In 2018, engagement is the key metric to watch to drive sustainable growth. Using our social tools, we can help you create deep connections that spark conversation in the social ecosystem.
  • Audience Loyalty: It's easy to have viral moments both on site and via social, but those instances can be fleeting. Organic loyalty is what's required to ensure steady growth. We help you take advantage of the social ecosystem's universe of creators and influencers to help you grow a loyal community.
  • Search: The RebelMouse CMS has the tools to help you optimize each post for SEO. LIke everything else in the current digital climate, the strategy around search is always changing. We'll make sure your current efforts are up to snuff.

3. User-Focused Site Experience

Media sites have become really complicated over time. The industry let intrusive ads take over the internet, and now we're all left cleaning up the mess and re-prioritizing user experiences to get users back and make them stick. When we launched Axios on our new Social UX for Media layout in 2017, it mimicked the social feeds to drive more pageviews, engagement, and user satisfaction. It's a design structure that sees success on our other properties, too, including Dance Magazine and EcoWatch.

Our platform also has a powerful layout tool called Particle Assembler which creates beautiful designs. Instead of leaning heavily on an expensive developer team, Particle Assembler lets content creators design gorgeous layouts within a few clicks. Whatever works best for your brand, we'll guide you through the right design and site navigation that will bring next-level growth to your business.

4. Better Social Distribution Tools

A lot of publishers were slower to understand the importance of distributed publishing when digital started to gain steam. Luckily, it's something we've been working to perfect since we launched our CMS in 2012. Producing quality content is only half the battle — after all, there's no point in publishing engaging content if nobody is around to read it. This is why dynamic distribution is so important in order to succeed in today's digital world. And the good news is that tackling this doesn't have to be a solo effort.

At RebelMouse, we believe we live in a universe of creators. Not only will your fellow creators take interest in the topics you publish about, but they'll also share your content and validate your message.

That's why we created Discovery, an important part of our enterprise-level toolset that's available from right within our Entry Editor where you create articles. Using proprietary technology, Discovery enables you to identify key pages and profiles that could be interested in sharing your content. And through varying levels of social outreach, you can repurpose and share content from your Discovery findings in a way that validates the original message of those influencers. From there, you amplify the content through your own social channels.

This sharing cycle has led to the success of some of our biggest clients. The Dodo — one of the most successful new media companies to date — used Discovery to become the center of all things animals on the internet. It can do this for you, too.

5. Modern Authoring Tools

Chances are the CMS platform you're using was created before social. If that's true, you may still view content on your website and in social feeds as two different entities you have to control and manage. We're here to blur those lines for you and take publishing where it needs to be in 2018.

Our Entry Editor isn't simply a way to publish articles. It's a full-blown toolset for content creators. Before each piece of content is pushed live, it can be optimized for design, social, and SEO. We've also created a new content workflow that ensures every content team is on the most efficient path to publish.

Your writers, editors, creators, and community deserve tools that make them fast and efficient. It's also important that they follow a process that enforces best practices, so that the CMS itself is training your team with every post as they onboard.

6. Easy-to-Understand Analytics

It's important for you to manage your writers, see their performance, enable them to learn from each other, and help them become data driven. RebelMouse analytics provide you with a clear view of who is performing, what posts are working, and where that content is gaining traction.

Our CMS operates on a data-driven product cycle. Everything we release at RebelMouse is subjected to a small percentage of traffic and A/B tested for performance impact. Our testing includes how each version affects pagespeed and user experience. We then take these results and check to see how they correlate with bounce rate, time on site, pages per session, and conversion to goals — such as shares, subscriptions, and purchases. We also take big data and distill it into easy-to-consume insights that you can quickly act upon. You can view how each post is performing on search and social, right from within the Entry Editor.

In addition, we have a deep Google Analytics integration, so you can easily add in components, promos, third-party units, and ad units. But most importantly, as these pieces are being added, they're set up in staged environments automatically, and the traffic performance from these tests can be traced back to impact on bounce rate, pages per session, session duration, number of shares, percent of shares per visit, and unique custom goals for your business.

Let's Start Working Together

We migrate sites from WordPress all the time, and it's a fast process. Even if replatforming isn't an option for you at the moment, we can still offer you our creative agency services to make sure you're reaching your biggest audience possible. Let's create something together. Request a proposal to get in contact with a Rebel.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Premium Creative Agencies and CTOs Choose to Develop on RebelMouse vs. WordPress and Drupal

The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

We started RebelMouse seven years ago knowing that there was a fundamental design flaw in the world of traditional CMSs: Every instance, on every platform, had to be updated independently. It's similar to an era when users had to manage their own Microsoft Exchange Server for email. The costs of managing, maintaining, and iterating on a CMS to keep it awesome and world class is typically a $10 million-a-year endeavor. But even then, these cost-prohibitive CMSs are still behind the times.

Keep reading... Show less

Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

What Differentiates Our Approach

There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

Content saturation is an industry-wide problem, and the e-commerce space is no exception given that it's filled with big brands, small Etsy stores, and everyone in between all fighting for similar audiences. The best way to fight this symptom is to understand your audience and provide them with what they want.

Keep reading... Show less

Instagram-style E-commerce Features on RebelMouse

Revolutionizing E-commerce on RebelMouse

Whether you're a brand with a blog or a media company with a site, driving purchasing behavior and building an audience that uses your content to find things they love to buy is vital. We're very proud to have built out the same functionality that everyone is now used to on Instagram, with layovers on images that lead to products with attribution.

Keep reading... Show less

Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Read our deck here...

Keep reading... Show less

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.

Keep reading... Show less

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?

Keep reading... Show less

Trigger New Pageviews With “Keep Reading” Feature

RebelMouse supports an infinite scroll feed of content that is mobile-friendly by using expandable posts. Your users can read the beginning of your article that is "before the jump," but instead of jumping to a new page, the story expands upon click to show the rest of the post. We do this with our "Keep Reading" functionality:

Keep reading... Show less

RebelMouse Outperforms Every Other CMS. Here’s the Data to Prove It.

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.

A Modern Story of Web Performance From RebelMouse Founder + CEO Andrea Breanna

If I had more time, this website would have loaded faster

In the first months of 2020, we've focused at RebelMouse on page speed and performance. We worked very hard and found ways to take 90% of the sites we power to 90+ performance scores via Google's PageSpeed Insights tool — even with sites that are loaded with ads, embeds, third-party analytics, and other typical slow-loading elements. You can read more about our victories here.

A few months after we started this process, COVID-19 hit the world very hard. Suddenly, every media company was faced with a huge problem: Advertising fell off a cliff in what seemed like seconds. The only way to survive this unprecedented downturn is to grow traffic and control costs at the same time. So we started to shave our code and made our websites faster. We dropped costs just as dramatically as we were increasing scores.

Here are some surprises we found when doing this: If you want truly exceptional performance, none of the JavaScript and CSS frameworks that developers love so much make the cut. We thought the React version of RebelMouse was going to be the huge page speed breakthrough, until we realized the only way to achieve this goal was to write the code carefully and refactor it endlessly until it was as short as possible. As any author will tell you, like editing a book or a blog post, the revision process is never really done. By stepping away from frameworks, and methodically shaving vanilla code, our customers continue to see major improvements in performance.

As we announced this to our site network and rolled it out publicly, many of our clients asked me personally, "How did you do it?" The answer is easy to understand regardless of how technical you may be. It's perfectly summarized in this wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
—Blaise Pascal, 1657 (and later, more famously Mark Twain)

The universe is sometimes very beautiful, and especially when you keep it simple. If you would like to start publishing on a site optimized for both speed and sustainability, request a proposal and let's start working together.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter