Reading Levels of the Top 100 U.S. Websites

Google recently launched a new advanced-search feature that allows searchers to filter their search queries by reading level. By conducting a “site:domain.com” search with the reading level annotation turned on, it is easy to determine the reading level of an entire website. Here is a screenshot of what google shows for the site with the highest reading level:


reading levels of top 100 websites

Here are links to Google queries that illustrate the ratings of the top three sites in terms of reading level from largest 100 sites:

  1. webmd.com
  2. wisegeek.com
  3. linkedin.com

To better compare the relative reading-levels, I merged Google’s basic, intermediate and advanced reading-level values into a single number and generated the chart below.

The range of reading levels is surprisingly large (from 3 to 61.5). The sites at the bottom of the list tend to be those where the textual content on the website is predominantly user-generated. Most corporate websites appear in the top half, and the sites that appear at the top tend to address more complex topics.


Reading Levels of the Top 100 U.S. Websites
Sorted from Highest Reading Level to Lowest

webmd.com  61.5
wisegeek.com  60.5
linkedin.com  60
wikipedia.org  52
simplyhired.com  49.5
manta.com  49.5
reference.com  49
microsoft.com  49
careerbuilder.com  48.5
nytimes.com  48.5
fedex.com  48.5
windows.com  48
usps.com  46.5
wellsfargo.com  45
chase.com  44.5
live.com  43.5
bbc.co.uk  42.5
ups.com  41.5
whitepages.com  41.5
bankofamerica.com  41
time.com  41
hp.com  40.5
match.com  39.5
monster.com  39
washingtonpost.com  38.5
ask.com  38.5
foxnews.com  38
weatherbug.com  38
barnesandnoble.com  38
ehow.com  37.5
yellowpages.com  37.5
msn.com  37.5
suite101.com  37
cnn.com  37
comcast.com  37
google.com  37
netflix.com  36
accuweather.com  35.5
paypal.com  34.5
norton.com  32.5
shoplocal.com  32.5
legacy.com  32.5
cnet.com  32.5
adobe.com  32
wikia.com  32
local.com  31.5
huffingtonpost.com  31.5
att.com  31
examiner.com  31
craigslist.org  30.5
comcast.net  30
go.com  30
facebook.com  30
sears.com  29
answers.com  28.5
aol.com  27.5
bestbuy.com  26.5
chacha.com  26
wordpress.com  26
walmart.com  25.5
overstock.com  25
apple.com  25
imdb.com  25
amazon.com  25
pandora.com  24.5
ebay.com  24.5
target.com  24
wunderground.com  23.5
blogspot.com  23.5
thefind.com  23
weather.com  22.5
kohls.com  22
hubpages.com  22
associatedcontent.com  21.5
blogger.com  21.5
yelp.com  20.5
bizrate.com  20.5
drudgereport.com  20
godaddy.com  20
mapquest.com  20
jcpenney.com  19.5
bing.com  18.5
photobucket.com  18
twitter.com  18
people.com  17.5
about.com  17.5
yahoo.com  17.5
mtv.com  16.5
squidoo.com  16
dailymotion.com  16
tmz.com  15.5
metacafe.com  15
myspace.com  13.5
youtube.com  12.5
break.com  8
toysrus.com  7.5
hulu.com  7
flickr.com  7
tumblr.com  6.5
allrecipes.com  3

Methodology: I assigned the following weightings to each percentage point shown in the google result:

  • Basic: 0
  • Intermediate: 0.5
  • Advanced: 1

With this simple formula, a site with 100% basic content gets a reading-level of 0, a site with 100% intermediate content, gets a 50, and a site with 100% advanced content gets a 100.


by: