Increasing article views by including estimated reading times

Hrishikesh Pardeshi

Hrishikesh Pardeshi

When I see a catchy headline and know that the read time is only going to be a couple of minutes, there is nothing to stop me from clicking that link.

Personally, I would prefer reading articles that display the estimated read times, so that I am aware of the time that would be spent reading it.

But there is science to back it up. I have read psychologists say 'The more we know about something — including precisely how much time it will consume — the greater the chance we will commit to it'

Also, I have read that articles with estimated read times constantly perform better in terms of engagement and views when compared to others.

Do you look for estimated read times before reading an article? Is it a deciding factor before reading an article?

Here's what our users had to say:

  • Cathy T said "@alexandracote-86 @aldalima @lindsayalissa: I know you'll are the experts here in terms of content writing 😎Would love to hear what you think about this!"

  • Alda Lima said "I agree with you, I definitely prefer knowing how long it's going to take to read it — I usually always scroll to the end of the article to get an idea of its length anyway. If it's long, I might save it to my Pocket list and read it later - and if the article doesn't inform how long it takes to read it, then Pocket does that. So I don't look for the estimated time, but it is a deciding factor regarding when I'm going to read it.  It makes sense that shorter articles do better nowadays in a world where our attention span is shorter than ever!"

  • Cathy T said "That's true, Alda. I follow a similar procedure by bookmarking the longer articles (anything that takes more than 10 mins) so that I can come back and read it leisurely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this."

  • Justin said "I share the same sentiment with Alda - the estimated reading time counter creates a bit of a negative/positive effect. Meaning, if it's a relatively short reading time, < 6 min, I'll read or at least leave the tab up; anything higher and it's likely to end up being a closed tab or window. So in summary, it's not necessarily that having a counter increases my likelihood to read; it in fact increases my bias towards shorter articles so that longer ones end up with less conversion (at least for me). Not sure what that says about me though 😅"

  • Lindsay King said "I thought about this a lot when working on my website, and I kind of "wish" I didn't have to put the read time - but the reality is that we're already overwhelmed with internet content. Knowing the read time really helps me decide whether I'm going to click on something. Even if the read time isn't displayed, if an article is long, and I don't have much time to read, then I'm much more likely to skim or read the first few paragraphs. I also know that most people (myself included) won't come back to an article later when they have more time so if I post a long article, I want the first few paragraphs to be the most important since lots of people might not read to the end."

  • Karthik Sridharan said "Well said, Lindsay. That's why even internally, I keep telling people that longer the article, the more important the structure of it. People will choose which parts they want to read in detail using the headings and even subheadings. So, it is almost like people are reading through a catalogue and choosing to spend time on a part they like the most. Therefore, having huge paragraphs with no subheadings, etc. is a total disservice to the reader who is going to likely close the window."

  • Cathy T said "Agree, Lindsay. Read times certainly make a difference in deciding whether a link is to be clicked or not. I feel that generally short articles do perform better in terms of engagements but this may not always be true. Do you find shorter content to be performing better than long articles?"