SharePoint Hosting News: Tips to Make SharePoint Search Work Part 5

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.

#5 Tip: Use Query Rules

Query rules were introduced in SharePoint 2013 and are a very powerful tool to easily customize the search behavior. Some use case examples:

  • When users search on “Leave request”, the link to the leave request form is shown above the search results.
  • People that have “GM” in their job description, should be ranked higher than everyone else.
  • When searching for “Contoso Wiki”, show a result block from the Intranet wiki above all search results that contain “Contoso”.
  • When a user searches for “Wellington projects”, show all project sites from the Wellington office.

Without using any custom code, Search service application administrators, site collection administrators, and site owners can help searches respond to the intent of users by creating query rules. In a query rule, you specify conditions and correlated actions. When a query meets the conditions in a query rule, the search system performs the actions specified in the rule to improve the relevance of the search results, such as by narrowing results or changing the order in which results are displayed. For example, a query rule condition could be that a term in a query matches a particular term in a SharePoint term set, or that a query is frequently performed on a particular result source in a search system, such as videos. When the query rule condition is satisfied, a correlated action could be to show a specific item at the top of the search results.

You can configure query rules for one or more result sources, and you can specify the time period during which the query rule is active.

A query rule can specify the following three types of actions:

  • Add Promoted Results (formerly called Best Bets) that appear above ranked results. For example, for the query “sick leave”, a query rule could specify a particular Promoted Result, such as a link to a site that has a statement of company policy regarding time off work.
  • Add one or more groups of results, called result blocks. A result block contains a small subset of results that are related to a query in a particular way. Like individual results, you can promote a result block or rank it with other search results. For example, for a query that contains “Fabrikam sales report”, a query rule might use a taxonomy dictionary to recognize “Fabrikam” as a customer, and then display a result block with pertinent results about Fabrikam from your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
  • Change the ranking of results. For example, for a query that contains “download toolbox”, a query rule could recognize the word “download” as an action term and boost search results that point to a particular download site on your intranet.

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