What’s the best time frame to measure content performance?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

How to measure content performance is certainly an ongoing discussion. Yes, we want it to help us drive leads and we want it to help us drive conversions.

But at the end of the day if nobody looks at our content it can’t reach any goals – no matter what they are. We want content to perform and we need it to perform. Because if it doesn’t why are we even creating it? So how should we measure that performance?

I’ve tried a number of different ways to try to measure performance. By day, by week and even by month. Just follow the standard calendar time frames. Every way has its positives and negatives. The way that I have seen work the best is the 30-day rolling model. That’s also what Amazon does for creator content. For example, here is how Amazon displays the performance of my product review videos. They show me my performance for the last 30 days. That’s it. I don’t even get an option to look at it differently.

The 30 – days rolling model

When it comes to looking at content performance and what’s working and what’s not working I recommend looking at the timeframe of 30 days rolling. So that means we’re looking at what has worked in the last 30 days. Then tomorrow we look at the new last 30 days from that point backwards.

Oversimplified, that model looks like this below. The blue rectangle signifies the time period that we’re looking at and then it moves over as time advances.

measuring content performance over 30 daysWhy this model works to measure content performance.

For some content creators this model makes a lot of sense but sometimes there’s push back. People that are used to measuring everything  on a monthly or quarterly basis ask questions. Why wouldn’t we look at the month or why wouldn’t we look at the quarter? I’m not saying we absolutely 100% never ever can look at anything by month or quarter. But on an ongoing basis the 30 days directly preceding today make the most sense for content.

Analyzing content performance is different from analyzing financial performance.

The dollar earned on Day 1 of the month has the same value as the dollar earned on the last day of the month.

Content published on the first day of the month is potentially way more valuable than content published on the last day of the month, however. Because it has had a longer chance to perform – whether it’s through email, social or search engine optimization.

Read next: How to measure SEO performance

We also shouldn’t just look at content that was published in the last 30 days. We should look at the performance of all content in the last 30 days – no matter when it was published. As we did discuss before, some content takes a while to perform.

Months also vary how many days they have. So why would content published in February with 28 days be able to keep up with content published in July with 31 days.

It’s an ongoing campaign

This model also signals to content creators that it’s an ongoing engagement. Yes, you can be performing incredibly well on Day 1 but on Day 31 that original Day 1 cycles off the metrics. So there is a very well defined need to keep up performance and find a way to drive content performance on an ongoing basis.

I’m not a fan of being on the content hamster wheel and I’m not so sure we need to overdo content production. Sometimes updating existing content is much more efficient and effective. For example, I updated an article the other day from seven years ago and after my update it had way more traffic in the first day after the update then it had in the last few years.

The point that this kind of way of measuring content performance signals is that we need to find a way to get content to perform. Always. Sometimes that’s through updating existing content and sometimes by producing new content. Other times it might include creating content of a different type.

For newer posts

Sometimes you may have to use a different time frame for newer articles to see how they’re doing.

Comparing new posts against established content could be a problem when a site is relatively mature and has a lot of articles that are drawing a lot of search engine traffic. A new article might not  beat all these other articles that have been collecting views for some time.

So here’s what I do when it comes to checking how recent articles are performing.

I go into Google Analytics:

  • Set the date range from the date the article I’m interested in was published to yesterday’s date.
  • In the Behavior section go to all pages to see where it falls in the big picture of things

Here’s an example. I published this article on Facebook campaigns on March 16, with me checking on March 20.

Facebook campaign

So then I run the site metrics from March 16 through March 19 and see which articles had the most traffic and that looks like this:

As you can see it it’s No. 6 of all articles with 3.55% of all site traffic. Not bad in context.

As the next step I always like to see where traffic is coming from. To do that:

  • Click on the article with in Google Analytics
  • Click on “secondary dimensions”
  • Set that to “acquisition”
  • Then “source”

From there, you can see the top traffic sources for the article. So in the case of this Facebook one I could tell that several sites were sharing and linking to it.

I’ve previously blogged about the ease of running metrics in the Google Analytics app, which lets you ask questions verbally. So it’s fantastic to see that you can run the first part of what I described in this article in the app as well as on the desktop version:

Measuring results of the content we are creating matters but there is a method to the madness and how to make sense of the performance. These are two of the ways that I found to be very helpful.

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