What Is An Average Read Percentage?

by Quietly Team

What Is An Average Read Percentage?

You know how many people come to your website, how long the average session is, and what the bounce rate is. But what you don’t know is how many people are truly reading your content. Are they just clicking on a link to it, or are they actually getting the information on the page? That’s what average read percentage aims to tell you: how much of your content is being read.

This metric was developed by the experts at Quietly as a new way to inform users about how their content performs. You may think you have the most groundbreaking articles or blogs ever, but if people are only reading 20% of your content, you probably want to know.  

What Does Average Read Percentage Track?

For every page on your website, this metric tracks the average percentage of paragraphs read in each session. For your website as a whole, it tracks the average read percentage across all pages on your site.

Quietly Insights’ algorithm can tell the difference between users who actually read each paragraph, and those who just skimmed or scrolled by. We use that to identify which paragraphs were read, and whether or not every paragraph has been read.

For example:

  • If an article has 10 paragraphs:
    • User A reads all 10 paragraphs
    • User B reads 9 paragraphs
    • User C only reads 5 paragraphs
      • Your read percentage is 80% = (100% + 90% + 50%) / 3
  • It’s important to note that this metric tracks read percentage by session, and not by users
    • So if user C reads half of an article, then returns at a later date to read the other half, the average read percentage is 50% = (50% + 50%) / 2 , not 100%

It’s worth noting that average read percentage is not the same thing as completion rate. Completion rate measures the percentage of users that finish reading all paragraphs in a story, whereas average read percentage measures how much of a story is read by users on each visit. So if all your readers stop reading halfway through an article, your completion rate would be 0%—but your average read percentage would be 50%.

Why Does Average Read Percentage Matter?

This metric is an effective way of measuring just how much of your content visitors are reading before they leave, as opposed to having to guess with metrics like average time on page or bounce rate. A high average read percentage shows that your content is interesting and/or valuable to readers and easily consumable in one session.

On the other hand, a low average read percentage suggests that readers don’t stick around long enough to read the whole article, or that users can’t finish reading it all at once and need to come back. It can also help you identify where readers stop, and change up your content approach to help them get past those points.

If a page, or your whole site, has an average read percentage of:

  • Less than 30%: readers either lose interest after the first few paragraphs, cherry pick the most interesting points to read, or aren’t finding what they expect to find.
  • Between 30% and 60%: the article may be too long, missing a strong argument, or there may be too many other distractions, such as ads, links CTAs, etc.

The Bottom Line

Measuring your website’s average read percentage gives you a clearer understanding of how readers are consuming content on your site. If you combine this metric with other engagement metrics like completion rate, scroll depth, and conversion rate, you can really develop a strong understanding of what is most interesting to your readers on your website.

You can track your site’s average read percentage with Quietly Insights. Concerned or uncertain about your average read percentage? Call in the pros at Quietly to help you optimize your website and marketing efforts. 

Photo: Rachata Teyparsit / Shutterstock Inc.

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