Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge | Part 1: Finding Your Top Posts

Any time is a good time to optimize your content, which is why we’re here to introduce the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge

While many of us think of Q4 as the quarter where we make all our money, it’s important to know that advertising spend varies by the season. Contrary to the calendar, Q4 advertising spend traditionally really ramps up in the second week of November, around the holidays, and carries on through the end of December — more like six weeks than 12.

On the converse, Q1 and Q3 often see a revenue slump at first because of advertisers’ budgets, so making sure your content is earning the best it possibly can ahead of these slower seasons is key to making the most of them.

October 2020 Update: You guys love this challenge, so we gave it a much-needed update for 2020. The new Content Upgrade Challenge has a ton of additional settings and recommendations, plus a brand-new workbook loaded with worksheets, all developed in collaboration with our incredible Publisher Support experts.

We’ve added lots of additional tips on page-level data, SEO optimization and video to help you not only make the most of the holiday season, but also to plan for Q1 and beyond! One of the best things about the Content Upgrade Challenge is that it’s perfect to work through year-round.

pinterest pin quarterly content upgrade challenge

Take the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge

In the fall of 2018, we launched the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge to help you get ready for Q4 — or really, ANY quarter. This challenge helps you get your content ready for each season, because of how ad revenue fluctuates throughout the year.

It’s designed as a 3-part challenge with a blog post tutorial and worksheets for each section.

Here’s a quick breakdown about the challenge:

  • Part 1: The post you’re reading right now — It’s all about identifying your top-performing posts that you will optimize in this Challenge.
  • Part 2: Optimizing Your Posts — Learn where to optimize in your top-performing posts to boost SEO and ad performance.
  • Part 3: Sharing Your Work and Tracking Your Growth — Get your work out there and keep up with your growth.
  • See what’s new for the Content Upgrade Challenge in 2020!
  • Worksheets: Scroll to the bottom of any of the posts for paper or digital worksheets — your choice.

You don’t have to be a Mediavine publisher to participate in the Content Upgrade Challenge. If you don’t have ads yet, or have ads with another provider, that’s totally okay! We’d love to have you work along with us.

A man uses a laptop computer in a cafe.

Before we do anything else, I want to make sure you’ve read and implemented our CEO Eric Hochberger’s font size and line height recommendations site-wide. They are super important for user experience AND your ads!

In fact, he has a whole blog post series on increasing RPM that is a deep dive into all the things you can do to increase your ad earnings.

Now that you’ve made those changes for your site, we’re going to dig into the data to help you narrow down the posts you should focus on for optimization. Some of this is educated guessing — we’re going to assume that if a post was seeing traffic last October, November or December, it will hopefully do so this October, November and December (AKA Q4).

Same goes for any other quarter — just look at last year’s traffic!

1. Look at page-level data in the Mediavine Dashboard

Now that we have page-level data in the Mediavine Dashboard, you can use it for all kinds of things. We like to look at your top pages’ ad impressions. There’s a brand new worksheet in our workbook where you can write down a list of these posts to focus on.

Here’s how to find them:

1. Set the date range
2. Sort by top pages (default)
3. Sort by “impressions”

Screenshot of the page-level data screen in the Mediavine Dashboard

We want to focus on the posts that are getting the least impressions so we can see how to improve them.

In the above example, that would be the post getting 11.1 impressions per page and the two getting 13.7. The 19.4 post is doing really well, so we could also take a look at that one and see what we can do to make the others do just as well. (Your numbers might look different, and that’s OK!)

(Note: Page-level data in the Mediavine Dashboard only goes back to January 2020, but it can still help you see how your top posts are performing now or recently. Next year it will be handy for looking back on this Q4!)

2. Find your top posts in a Google Analytics report

We’ve created a Google Analytics report to help you narrow things down. Concentrate on your top 10-15 posts, keeping in mind that new content you create should be made with optimization in mind, and then if anything goes viral, you are SET.

To use this report:

1. Log into your Google Analytics account. Please make sure you’re signing into the base account that’s set as administrator for the Google Analytics you want to access.

NOTE: You may need to log out of all other Google accounts. You may also need to try in multiple browsers — we have had the best luck with Google Chrome. 

2. Now navigate to this URL.

3. Click the “Import” button. If you do not see the below dialogue, move on to Step 4.

A screenshot of Google Analytics, highlighting the "Import" button.

4. The next screen will ask you to “Select A View” — choose your website and click the blue button labeled “Create.”

A screen shot of the Custom Report Configuration.

5. Set the date range to each month of the quarter you are after. In this example, we’re looking at last Q4, so we will start with October. Set the dates to Oct. 1–31 of last year and click “Apply.”

A screen shot showing date ranges.

6. The resulting report will be your top posts for all of October of last year.

A screen shot showing a list of top posts applicable to the example site.

7. Print out the PDFs or email them to yourself, or just save them to your reports here in Google Analytics. Wherever it makes the most sense for you to be able to access the information as we move into the next part of the challenge.

8. Repeat this process for November and December of last year, too (or whatever months you’re diving into).

A woman filming a DIY project with a bottle and twine.

Now that you’ve got your reports, you’re ready to optimize your top posts for each month of that quarter.

More money in your pocket is our entire goal here — well, that, and making your content better for the long haul. So if this same content sees traffic again next year, you are completely ready.

We recommend taking the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge at the start of EVERY quarter. There’s money to be made in every quarter of the year, not just Q4.

Now let’s get into the goodies!


We have prepared two sets of worksheets for you. They are virtually the same, but one is in Google Sheets for the digital record-keepers, and the other is a fillable PDF download for you paper pundits.

Start out with the Site Checklist and Google Analytics Audit and move at your own pace from there.

Facebook Group

Lastly, we have a Facebook group for anyone going through the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge and are looking for a place to ask questions and find encouragement and support. Any content creators focused on optimization are free to join!

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