SharePoint Hosting News: Tips to Make SharePoint Search Work Part 4

SharePoint Hosting News

Organizations use SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from almost any device. All you need is a web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox.

SharePoint 2013 offers a simplified user experience and added enterprise social media capabilities, which expand upon previously offered capabilities for website management that include shared calendars, blogs, wikis, surveys, document libraries and shared task lists. SharePoint 2013 includes a community forum for users to engage in and categorize discussions, a microblogging capability and enhanced search capabilities.

Tips to Make SharePoint Search Work

SharePoint started in 2001 as a document management system, and that’s still one of its most important features. A key feature of a DMS is to be able to find documents. The SharePoint search engine has improved significantly over the last years. But a common misconception is that SharePoint Search works for every company straight out-of-the-box.

Every day thousands and thousands of Google employees work on improving the search engine and adapt it to the always changing world-wide web. The same is true for Bing, it does not “just work”. The core of the Bing search engine has been implemented in SharePoint 2013. So why does it still not fulfill all needs? Most importantly because of company specific metadata and taxonomies; even company has its own list of content types, metadata, and no site structure is the same. The SharePoint Search engine just needs some help to be able to understand the content better.

Search configuration and tweaking should be part of the project plan, and it must be understood that this takes time up-front, but also ongoing effort. I have compiled a list of 10 tips how you can make SharePoint Search work for you. I’ve added them in random order, there is no best tip as it all depends on your requirements and organisation.

#4 Tip: Use The Search Reports

Search configuration and tweaking is not a one-time thing. Ideally your organisation has a dedicated search administrator, with the task to configure search based on the search reports. For example, there are reports that show all “no results queries”, i.e. queries that users entered but did not yield any results. Or, the “no click queries”, which means that users did not click on any results.

Search Reporting

So you’ve just launched a brand new SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search Center with all the bells and whistles. You’ve crawled your separate content sources, maybe added some new refiner options, even setup some Promoted Results via Query Rules. Surely all of those features you spent time working on will get plenty of use, right? But how can you measure that? Are users finding what they want? How can you make the most out of your investment?

Fortunately, SharePoint 2013 tracks loads of information about how your users are actually interacting with the system, including but not limited to:

  • Users and Sessions
  • User Queries
  • User Actions (clicks, hovers, etc.)
  • Result Impressions
  • Refiner Usage
  • Promoted Results, Result Blocks, and general Query Rules execution
  • Query Origin (Site and Source)
  • Client Type (REST API, UI, etc.)

The basics are all here. Top Queries for popular trend tracking; Abandoned Queries for low click through queries; No Results to investigate unfulfilled queries; and Query Rule Usage to track the effectiveness of your custom managed rules. For most administrators, this is plenty of information to effectively manage your search application and it’s a general best practice to review these periodically.

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