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Every company is trying to achieve an edge with its content marketing program. Adding estimated reading time to each of your blog posts can have a profound and positive effect on reader engagement levels.

How to estimate reading time

Reading time is pretty easy to calculate. On average, a person reads between 200 and 250 words per minute. If you calculate the total number of words in your article and divide it by either 200 or 250, you’ll find the number of minutes it takes to read it.

When calculating estimated reading time, it’s best to round up to the nearest minute. For example, if you have an article that takes 1.6 minutes to read, you should round up to two minutes.

What happens when estimated reading time is added to a blog post?

In our experience, adding the estimated reading time at the beginning of an article significantly improves engagement with your readers. Many readers are very time-pressed. They don’t want to make a major commitment to reading an article if they think it will take too long.

Displaying the estimated reading time subconsciously reassures readers that the time commitment will be less than what they originally believed.

Further, estimated reading time significantly impacts engagement metrics. We found that engagement rates improved up to 40% when the estimated reading time was added. Specifically, these metrics were affected:

  • Bounce rate dropped.
  • Time spent on site increased.
  • Pageviews increased.

estimated reading time significantly impacts engagement metricsWhat are the advantages of adding a reading time?

There are some additional knock-on effects from adding estimated reading time. Beyond improving your engagement metrics, it also significantly impacts your SEO as well as your sales funnel.

Impact on SEO

Search engines use algorithms to determine where content should rank for a given focus keyword or phrase. Some of the signals incorporated into those algorithms are:

  • Bounce rate.
  • Estimated reading time.
  • Pageviews.

If an individual arrives at your article from one of the search engines, visits your site, reads the article and goes on to view other pages, the search engines will view your content as relevant and valuable to other searchers using the same search query.

This positive feedback will tell the search algorithms to prioritize your content, moving it up on the SERPs (search engine results pages). The more searchers have a positive experience with your content and website, the higher your article will appear in the SERPs.

The benefits of estimated reading time go beyond increased engagement and better SEOIf SEO is important to you, you’ll see estimated reading time’s impact on your program. You’ll also more closely coordinate and integrate your SEO and content marketing programs for better overall effectiveness.

The benefits of estimated reading time go beyond increased engagement and better SEO. They have a positive impact on your sales funnel.

Impact on sales funnel

The more you’re able to draw your readers to the content on your website, the better educated they’ll become. They’ll be more likely to read other pieces of content on your site, too. Whether the reader realizes it or not, their actions slowly move them from the awareness stage to the interest stage of your purchase funnel.

The result for you, the marketer, is better mid- and bottom-funnel performance and higher campaign ROI. A higher ROI can provide you with the financial momentum you need to reinvest more aggressively in your content marketing program.

Adding estimated reading time requires very little effort on your part. Its display can increase reader engagement and improve SEO and sales metrics.

Need help?

If you have a content marketing program or are planning one, download our e-book “100 Mistakes Businesses Make When Starting, Optimizing and Scaling Content Marketing Programs.”

This e-book will walk you through the mistakes of hundreds of other companies and the challenges they faced in implementing their content marketing programs. To learn more about how Tempesta Media can help you streamline your content creation process and deliver quality content at scale, contact us today.

Michael Marchese is the founder and CEO of Tempesta Media. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive team leadership and overall business operations across all the company’s segments.

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