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Google tests reading time display in search results

Google Homepage

Google tests reading time display in search results

Some Google users have noticed that the search engine is telling them how long an article is likely to take them to read before they click it.

Chrome Unboxed notes that in what appears to be an A/B test (a test where some users are subjected to it while others are not), boxes indicating an article is likely to take less than five minutes to read are appearing below some search results. In some cases, results are simply labelled as ‘Quick Reads’ without specifying a time.

The idea looks to be catering to people who are pushed for time, although it could also appeal to those who want something longer to read during their commute to work, or those who have some time to themselves. BBC News has a section for Long Reads that targets the latter group, while other sites like Medium.com promote articles that can be read within three minutes.

This shows that the often-cited maxim that all blogs on your site should be at least 800 words is far too rigid, as our Marketing & Communications Director Darren argued on one of his recent Engaging Marketeer podcasts. Some of the best-performing content we have produced has been 250 to 300 words, because if you can answer a question succinctly and give the reader what they are looking for without taking up too much of their time, this is likely to be effective content.

Should Google roll this out further, think about what sort of time your ideal client would have on their hands. Have they got three minutes to spare while they are on the go, or would they prefer to sit down and digest something lengthy and thought-provoking?

At Engage Web, we can help you tailor your content to your target clients, bringing you more web traffic from the sort of people you want to work with. Speak to us today to learn more.

John Murray

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