897 Reads and 91% Read Ratio — I Accidentally Discovered a Simple Way to Get More Reads

Elizabeth Westphal
2 min readMar 10

To tell the truth I’ve mostly used Medium as a journaling exercise for myself, and never really cared about my read ratio or views. It’s exciting when a story does well, and I do love when people read what I write, but I was never set on “hacking the algorithm”. Then last month, my story My 2023 Bingo Card blew up (I use blew up a bit lightly here, but it got waaaaay more reads than I ever expected).

And I did it by accident. The story was very short, and I hesitated even posting it due to the silly, light-hearted nature of it (basically pop-culture predictions for the year). But when I did I couldn’t believe how fast the reads racked up.

How did I do it? Take a look at the story and see if you can guess. There was very few words to read, but I added a certain type of graphic as a photo. Not any old photo or graph will do, it’s an image that demands time for analysis. There are many colourful blocks with short strings of text. A block of text looks intimidating, but a short string of text, sectioned off on its own, really draws the eye in. It’s the same effect as a subtitle — the human eye can’t help but to read it.

Why did it work so well?

Even as a developer I can’t attempt to decipher the Medium “algorithm”. It’s likely very complex and has many dependancies that can’t be represented in a single formula. But I am quite sure of one thing: read time is somewhere in the numerator, and word count is somewhere in the denominator.

How do you implement this as a writer? It doesn’t mean decreasing word count over all. It means transferring some information from the text into meaningful graphics, with some words or graphs to grab the readers attention for a few more seconds.

I plan to implement this approach in my stories this month and see if my results are consistent. Let me know if you’ve tried this approach before and if it’s worked for you!