SharePoint 2013 Search

It's all about data

An efficient search experience is critical to a successful intranet or extranet implementation. ClerksWell can help you to deploy SharePoint 2013 Search to bring together content from disparate data sources across your entire organization into a single, compelling search experience, and configure query rules that determine the intent of the user’s query to present the most relevant information, even deep linking to the most relevant section of Microsoft Office documents. ClerksWell’s expertise in customizing SharePoint search templates can deliver visually engaging search interfaces which are easy to use and adapt to different information types so that your users can get to the information they need with the minimum amount of effort.

Content sources

Content sources in SharePoint 2013 Search define the types of data to be crawled and indexed, which in addition to SharePoint sites can include other web sites, both internal and external, file shares, Exchange public folders, Lotus Notes and EMC Documentum. Other sources can also be indexed through the use of custom or third party connectors. Additionally, SharePoint search results can also be enriched with results from external providers such as Google or Bing. With many organisations choosing to move datasets to the cloud, SharePoint search federation can bring unified search across data in the cloud and data that must remain on-premises for compliance or security reasons. ClerksWell can configure SharePoint 2013 Search to bring all your disparate data together regardless of where it is physically stored into a single, consistent user experience.

The example below shows search results from Reuters added to local SharePoint search results:

Search results with federated results from Reuters

In the example below, the search results shown are located both in a SharePoint document library and a file share. The difference is transparent to users of the site. SharePoint is able to extract metadata from the documents located in the file share such as the author, subject etc. which can then be used to refine the search results in exactly the same way as the documents stored in SharePoint.

Search results showing federated results from a file share

Query rules, result blocks and result types

SharePoint 2013’s powerful query processing and enhancement makes it easier for your users to find what they are looking for quickly. Query rules help to understand user intent in a search query by identifying natural language action terms or information types, and based on those actions adaptively transform search results by promoting certain results or enhancing the search results with other content related to the query.

The first example below shows a straightforward keyword search for the term insurance, which has retrieved a mixture of various documents.

Search results from a simple keyword term

In the second example, a query rule has been added to detect if the user is searching for policy details, looking for action terms such as ‘download’. When one of these terms occurs in the search query, the query is transformed to add a result block which searches and presents results from a library of policy documents.

Search results from a query rule with an action term

In the third example below, a managed metadata term set has been configured with the names of various insurance products. When the user’s search query contains a match on a term from the taxonomy, the query is transformed to add a result block which shows results from user profiles where a user profile field associated to the taxonomy records the particular product a user has expertise in.

Search results from a query rule matching against a product taxonomy

A final example of the user of query rules is to promote individual search results associated with particular keywords. For instance below a particular document has been configured to display as the top result when searching for ‘Cargo insurance’. A unique display template can be used to visually distinguish the promoted result and make it stand out to the user.

Result types allow information types to be configured based on any metadata, going beyond file type based distinctions such as ‘Word document’ to ‘Sales proposals’. Individual result types can have very different appearances to allow them to be customized to the type of content being indexed. For certain types of content such as Microsoft Office documents, semantic data can be extracted which allows the search result link to present a preview of the document which the user can navigate through without leaving their search results to determine if the document is relevant.

The example below shows a PowerPoint presentation in search results. Via the preview panel the user can navigate through the slides in the presentation.

Search results showing the preview panel for Office documents

Search in SharePoint 2013 is very flexible and extensible, with their extensive knowledge of the platform ClerksWell’s consultants can assist in building search behaviours unique to your intranet while minimizing any custom development.

Managed metadata

SharePoint 2013’s managed metadata service allows metadata to be organized and centrally controlled, offering users a consistent way of tagging and classifying content, and when combined with search allows powerful refinement options which makes it easier for your users to search and discover content. Managed metadata term sets can be open, supporting informal, user-driven folksonomies, or closed, to allow structured, formal taxonomies, and can be easily created and maintained via the Term Store Management Tool. Managed metadata is particular useful in multi lingual sites as it allows users to tag and discover content using classifications in their own language. ClerksWell can help to design a flexible scalable information architecture for your intranet and extranet site and transform the design into SharePoint search artefacts.

Creating a product taxonomy using the Term Store Management Tool:

Using the term store management tool to create a product taxonomy

Creating a refiner to filter search results using the product taxonomy:

Display templates

Search components in SharePoint 2013 use a system of extensible display templates which control the appearance and behavior of controls such as search boxes, refinement panels, layout of search results and the presentation of individual result items. This allows a high degree of customization and adaptive search results behavior from the same core set of search web parts. ClerksWell have extensive experience in creating custom search interfaces for our clients, including fully responsive designs that work across the full range of desktop browsers and mobile devices.

Personalization, content search web parts and search analytics

SharePoint 2013 offers built-in search web parts which can be easily used to create customised search experiences without needing to write custom code. Search web parts can leverage user profile data to retrieve items relevant to the user, or make use of usage and search analytics data to present results driven by user activity, such as the most commonly viewed items for a particular search result or items related to the current item. ClerksWell can help your intranet to stay relevant and focused, displaying up to date and targeted information that minimizes the amount of time that users spend searching and maximizes productivity.

The example below shows a web part which has been configured to show the most popular results for a particular search term:

Search web parts can also be used to automatically relate content based on metadata about an item. In the second example below, the page contains a managed metadata field linked to a products taxonomy which identifies the particular category of products the page content relates to. A search web part has been configured to show results from a document library where the document shares the same tag value as that found in the page. This removes the need to manually curate related content and makes page creation much quicker. When new products are added and tagged, they will automatically be displayed without the need to update pages that reference them.

Query Suggestions

SharePoint 2013 Search has powerful linguistic capabilities, such as automatic spelling correction, word breaking and stemming. SharePoint can also dynamically identify common terms within the search index and automatically offer them as suggestions as the user starts to type into the search box. In addition, custom dictionaries can be created to manually add suggestions, or to exclude certain terms from being suggested.

In addition, thesaurus files can be created to associate search terms with synonyms so that a search for either term will return results.