Is something as simple as a bookmark a ranking factor?

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Many webmasters go to great detail and depth in order to comply with Google’s recommendations for websites, so that they can appear in prominent positions on the search results pages. One way of doing this is to learn what Google regards as ranking factors for websites, then ensuring the website meets the criteria for this. This can involve quite a lot of hard work and adaptation to a website, so it would seem baffling about recent reports doing the rounds that Google (supposedly) regards pages bookmarked in their Chrome browser as one of those ranking signals. Our latest blog posts looks at this question a little further.

From research it would seem that this question always surfaces from time to time.

What doesn’t help on this subject area is back in 2006, Google applied for a patent called “Search customisation based on user profiles and personalisation.” If this searched on Google Patents Search, it is displayed as “Bookmarks and rankings,” leading many to make an association between the two. Look at the date – 2006, we are now in 2021. This idea has had 15 years to replicate and there has been increasing discussion over the years on whether because of this patent, it makes it likely that bookmarks are a ranking factor. Just because something has been patented in this way, doesn’t mean it will definitely be used, and this is shown by the fact that this patent has now become abandoned after it is renamed in 2017. Still though, the question is asked time after time and there is even a consensus built about it.

Why is it NOT likely?

Bookmarks being a ranking factor are unlikely on a number of levels. Here is why:

  • We already alluded to it in the introduction. Why would people spend intricate and detailed ways working on their websites if something as simple as bookmarks could make them ‘popular’?
  • The fact is that Google has access to a wealth of behavioural and analytical data which can give it a much better snapshot of user intention and participation. Relying on and integrating these into ranking signals is far more likely and more reliable.
  • Simple bookmarks do not tell much about the context or the deeper meaning of the bookmark, so it can be near impossible to determine it’s value. For example, if someone bookmarks the BBC homepage site, what is the purpose behind this? Are they interested in news, sport, weather, entertainment or something else? In this regard, Google can not use any information to ascertain the users intent for the purposes of making the search experience better. Once again, there are far better resources and metrics which can do this.

Whilst you may have heard of this and even seen it from time to time or in the future, we can safely conclude that it is unlikely that Google uses bookmarks as ranking signals. Knowledge is key, especially in the world of digital marketing – a topic which can be so large on complicated information. Having the correct knowledge makes all the difference. You can now rest assured that this is one question you know the answer to.

How can keyword research help you to rank better? Visit our dedicated page to find out more.

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