How To Conduct A Time-Based Content Analysis [Free Template]

This post is #2 of a 2-part series on how to conduct a content analysis. In the first post, we focused on using quartiles to find the top-performing content. Today, we’ll focus on analyzing content by its publish date and SEO performance over time.

Conducting a time-based content analysis can be an invaluable tool for content marketers. It allows you to audit your existing website content and determine which content is performing the best at a particular time.

It can also help you identify content gaps and ensure that your website is up-to-date with the latest industry trends. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to conduct a time-based content analysis and the benefits it provides.

What is a time-based content analysis?

A time-based content audit and analysis is an in-depth review of a website’s content efforts across a specific timeframe. It involves reviewing website content from the standpoint of accuracy, relevance, consistency, and performance.

The audit and analysis involve looking at the content on the website, analyzing performance metrics such as page views and referring domains, and making changes to the content strategy based on the findings.

The goal of a time-based content audit and analysis is to find the top-performing piece of content at a certain point in time.

Similar to our previous content audit, we won’t concern ourselves with SEO title, meta description, focus keyword, keyword density, or any of the other SEO metrics that we typically focus on.

What are the benefits of a time-based content analysis

As you build up your brand and create more content over time you will hopefully start to get more and more traffic and engagement to each blog post. So, eventually, all of your blog posts will naturally get more traffic and engagement than they did–say a year ago.

At a quick glance, you may think that content is performing great, but maybe it’s just “a sign of the times”. Let’s see how it stacks up against other content that was published around that time.

How to conduct a time-based content analysis?

Export and organize data

First, you’ll need to export all of your URLs along with their published date and the main KPI or KPIs that you’re looking to track. 

If you’re analyzing content on your own site then you can typically export blog post URLs and publish dates from your CMS. If you’re analyzing a competitor’s website it might be tougher to get the actual publish date of the blog post or landing page. XML sitemaps will contain the last modified date and this is typically what SEO crawlers will pull as well, such as ScreamingFrog

And nowadays, you know, everyone’s constantly updating their content, so it’s tough to get a competitor’s actual publication date. 

I used the WP all export plugin to do this. And then I pulled in the all-time organic traffic from Google Analytics.

I chose to analyze all-time organic traffic because for this particular exercise it’s the most accurate growth metric for calculating a proper SEO score. This will differ for every business.

Calculate the median of your KPI

Once we’ve got all our data organized in chronological order, we can begin to calculate the time-based index and measure performance. We’ll begin with the following formula–assuming that your data is in column C:


What this formula is doing is dividing the number in cell C2 by the median. Since C2 is the first cell and there is no previous data, the time-based index for the first piece of content will always be 1. We use the median rather than the average because it factors out any outliers that might skew the average.

So the first piece of content is compared only against itself, and all proceeding content is compared against all historical content. So this is how the formula looks at cell 10:


With conditional formatting added to the template, it should be easy to quickly spot your top-performing content.

You can copy the time-based index column and paste the values only so that you can sort by the highest score.


The template linked below is slightly different than the one I walked through in the video because it’s tracking referring domains rather than organic traffic. I also left the formula out of the spreadsheet so that you’ll get a bit more familiar with it when you manually input it.

Time-based content analysis template


A time-based content audit is an incredibly effective way to review and optimize your content. Not only does it help you identify the topics you should focus on, but it also gives you the ability to track the performance of your content over time. With this free template, it’s easy to get started and make sure your content is performing at its best.

You can combine this template with the template from the previous post to get a more comprehensive understanding of your content.