The Search Signal Doesn’t Overrule Other Signals
Let’s step back. There’s no “Google signal” but rather a “search signal” that Google activity is mixed into. That search signal is further mixed in with other ranking signals, a dilution that is crucial to why Bing so strongly rejects Google’s claim that it is copying its results.
Most of Bing’s searches — popular so-called “head” searches — are not heavily influenced by the search signal, Bing says. There are many other signals that come into play.
“Movies” would be an example of a head search. That’s a search that’s done by thousands of people each day, and a search topic with lots of “signal” to measure. Bing can determine if pages are relevant to that term based on the words that appear on the page itself; how many people link to some of these pages with the word “movies” in the link; how authoritative those links seem to be, and more.
Bing can also examine how people click on its own results that it lists in response to that search. If a page doesn’t get as many clicks as would be expected, it might get dropped further down on the list. Pages that get more clicks than expected can be a sign that users find them more relevant than Bing’s ranking algorithm did originally, and so that can be used to boost them.
In addition to these and other signals, Bing can also turn to the surfstream to perhaps give a boost to pages that it sees are well visited by Internet Explorer users.
“Bombilate” would be an example of a “tail” search, a search that’s rarely done, and on an unusual topic. Here, there are fewer signals to assess. Only a few pages might be found. These pages might have few links pointing at them. Since the term isn’t searched for often, measuring clicks on Bing’s own results might not help much much. This is a case where the surfstream — as well as the search signal within it — might count more.