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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.

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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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NEW: Page Views per Particle Enabled for Google AMP

Increase mobile page views for every particle using Google AMP

RebelMouse has deployed an exciting update: We've enabled particle tracking in Google Analytics for articles using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format, which means every particle now triggers a page view event upon scroll. Before, just one page view event would be logged when the mobile page initially loaded.

Not Familiar With What This Means? Read On

The days of static, flat media are over. Sites with low performance scores, obtrusive ad experiences, and poor content structure simply won't make it. Knowing these truths, the way we think of an article can no longer be static either.

An article today now takes several forms: short-form, long-form, listicle, slideshow, etc. Because of this, we've created a simple framework called Particle Assembler that accounts for all possibilities when building out content.

We playfully call each piece of your content a "particle," which is quite literally a "part" of an "article." These particles have become the core way to author content on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements that use their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, let's say you create a post that's titled, "The Best Place for Tacos in Austin." Each taco destination in this article will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with images of their food. Each of these restaurant highlights contain enough information to stand by themselves as individual posts.

Building particles in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

And they do stand alone successfully when you're on RebelMouse — each particle can be shared separately on social and each will register as a unique page view thanks to our latest update. This is a critical part of our modern pageview methodology that ensures our publishers deliver an elegant user experience to readers while still capitalizing on a meaningful monetization strategy. For instance, not only is every particle now a page view on Google AMP, but it's also a new revenue opportunity. This is thanks to the various placement opportunities for ads we offer within our Particle Assembler.

ICYMI, Google AMP is the search engine's lightning-fast mobile experience. With this update, sites powered by RebelMouse will not only deliver the best AMP experience to their users, but they'll also earn the page views their content deserves, too.

See the Massive Difference

In just a short period after implementing this change, one client experienced a massive spike in AMP pages per user, where it jumped from 1.6 to 8.2:

Here's what their AMP pages per user looked like just prior to the update:

If you're interested in experiencing this type of growth and getting more page views for your mobile content, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager to learn more about particle views for Google AMP.

Primary Tags: Structure Your Site for Success

Dynamic taxonomy improves usability and propels SEO strategy

It's not a surprise that quality content can easily be spoiled by a poor site experience. This is why we're extremely proud of the lightning-fast sites we power. But speed is only the beginning of the user experience.

The temperature on platform dependency has cooled in recent years, revitalizing the value of site visits and search strategy. This is good news for both users and publishers who need site stability to survive. Because of this shift, RebelMouse focuses on three primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure site usability and health:

  • Sessions per User: The average number of site sessions that each user has in a given time period.
  • Pages per User: The average number of page views that each user has in a given time period.
  • Time per User: The average amount of time spent on site by each user.

In order for these metrics to shine, a site's architecture must be organized in a way that increases every user's time on site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.

One important way we support these KPIs is through our intuitive tagging structure for content. Let's take a look at our primary tag functionality and how it can set up any site for success.

What Is a Primary Tag?

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

The Primary Tag and Tags sections in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

The Benefits of Primary Tags

Dynamic Taxonomy: One of the primary benefits of using a primary tag is that it exposes the depth of content available to your users. Many publishers do this through the use of sections, which often turns out to be redundant and, in turn, ignored:

Sections can often be annoying to navigate and repetitive.

Using a variety of relevant tags for every article, rather than just repeating the same handful of sections, opens up more opportunities for targeted descriptors. For example, instead of using "Recipes" as a section over and over again, a primary tag can be used to create specific content flows for topics like "Vegetarian," "Soups," or "Cocktails."

Richer SEO: Since a primary tag exposes more information about your article, it also supplies more relevant data to Google's algorithm. Surfacing content in usable ways supports Google's mission to serve content based on audience behavior and intent instead of outdated and frowned-upon SEO methods like keyword stuffing. This approach is called white hat SEO, or ethical SEO.

By targeting specific interests, your dynamic tag structure will allow Google to more accurately understand your article's content and rank it accordingly. On RebelMouse, this creates a trickle-down effect, because users can click a tag and quickly get directed to more relevant articles, which boosts your SEO efforts further.

Here's how the site experience looks on RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch when viewing their primary tag "Plastics."

RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch takes advantage of a primary tag construct.

Improves Crucial KPIs: As mentioned before, RebelMouse traffic experts are constantly focused on improving the three KPIs that matter most to site usability and building audience loyalty. These metrics answer the following questions:

  • Frequency: How often are users coming to the site?
  • Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  • Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

Looking again at EcoWatch's use of primary tags, it's important to note that a primary tag is exposed on every one of their articles. They're also used in a left-hand navigation module that features the latest stories and trending topics:

Start Leveraging Primary Tags on RebelMouse

If you aren't on RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and let's start working together to make sure your site is optimized for user growth. If you're already publishing on RebelMouse, and want to learn more about tagging best practices, contact your account manager or email support@rebelmouse.com.

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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