Promoting great search results

One thing SharePoint has done pretty well over the years is allow for "Best Bets" to be returned as part of search results. This allows you to search for terms like HR and have promoted results display for Human Resources (a link to the HR homepage and the user profile of the HR Director, for example). This functionality has evolved over time and there are some really exciting changes with SharePoint 2013 using Search Query Rules instead of the old Keywords model.

We won’t get into the details of how to configure Query Rules or Best Bets today; instead I want to talk about maintaining these promoted search results. Many companies have taken advantage of the promoted results functionality but it is not uncommon to find that the original entries are still configured and have not been reviewed since their creation.  From a user’s perspective, the only thing worse than NO promoted results are old or inaccurate promoted results.

Consider a scenario where someone is looking for a specific form to be filled out  The user types in a search using a relatively vague phrase but is rewarded with a promoted result for the form they were looking for. Great win, right? Well, now imagine that the form is updated once a year and this particular "best bet" that was returned is actually last year’s form. You can easily see how this would be a problem not just for the user, but now for multiple people involved in this process. Not only has time likely been lost but this scenario has also caused harm to the image of your SharePoint implementation. Here are 3 easy steps to help you avoid these kinds of scenarios and to start you on a path to maintaining great search results:

1) Educate your site owners. If your site owners do not know about promoted results, they will not know to create or ask for them. It is important that all site owners and content managers have (at least) minimal training on SharePoint’s search capabilities.

2) Provide publishing details regarding Keywords or search rules. Both SharePoint 2010 and 2013 provide a way to add publishing details for promoted results. These publishing details include Start and End Dates as well as Review Date and Contact information. Using this metadata, promoted results can more easily be maintained. Regularly scheduled reviews can be combined with off-boarding procedures to facilitate transfer of ownership as needed.

Topics: search