Enhance the user experience

There are several ways to enhance the search experience for users. This article introduces a few of the most common ways such as by using managed properties, search scopes, keywords with Best Bets, federated locations, and the refinement panel on the search results page.

Use managed properties

Provide scopes

Add keywords with Best Bets

Add federated locations

Customize the refinement panel

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Use managed properties

When the search service crawls sites it looks for properties, also known as metadata or attributes, that are associated with documents. The properties that the search service finds and associates with documents are called crawled properties. Crawled properties are generated from various locations in SharePoint or in documents themselves. For example, a column in a document library could be set up to record the date and time documents are uploaded, or a content type might be set up as “Product Specs.” In either case, the more information there is about the document, the easier it is to find it.

Managed properties are created for published metadata, which allows the managed properties to be indexed in SharePoint and to appear in search results. After the first search service crawl of new content the search service administrator should review the list of managed properties. It is common for different documents to use different names for similar properties. For example, consider the different names for the property identifying the author of a document. One document type might name this property "author," another "writer," and a third "property3". You can map each of these crawled properties to the Author managed property so that when a user queries by author, appropriate results from the three document types are included.

To access the metadata properties in Central Administration, on the Search Administration page, under Query and Results, click Metadata properties.

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Provide scopes

A scope is a set of content, such as a group of sites. Defining scopes allows users to perform a search across a more narrow set of content. When defining a scope, you can combine location rules with property rules to limit searches as desired. For example, a scope can direct a query to particular sites, or to documents marked with particular property values. When users search for content from a site, the scope is automatically set to that site and all sites below that site. However, when users search from the results page or from the Search Center site, the scope is automatically set to All Sites. You can help users get better results by allowing them to choose to search across smaller sets of content.

Search scopes must first be defined in Central Administration. On the Search Administration page of the Search Service Application, you can add new scopes or change the settings for existing scopes.

After the scope is defined in Central Administration, a site collection administrator or site owner can make the scope available to users in Web Parts such as the Search Box Web Part.

To display scopes to users in the Search Box Web Part on the Search Center page, do the following:

  1. Click the Site Actions menu, and then click Edit Page.

  2. Click the arrow in the Search Box Web Part menu, and then click Edit Web Part.

  3. Under Scopes Dropdown, choose Show scopes dropdown.

For more information about creating and managing scope and scope rules see the Enterprise Search Center on TechNet. For more information about using Web Parts or editing Web Part pages, see SharePoint Server "14" Help.

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Add keywords with Best Bets

Keywords with Best Bets allows users to search for terms (keywords) that are specific to your organization and find commonly used Web sites (Best Bets). You can use keywords with Best Bests to direct users to sites that you think might be most helpful to them depending on the keywords they have used in their query. A site collection administrator configures keywords with Best Bets, so he or she can have a direct influence on search results, regardless of settings that are inherited from Central Administration.

When a user includes a keyword or one of its synonyms in a query, the search results page features links to its associated Best Bets above the core results. Keywords can be used to provide a working glossary of names and terms used within your organization. When configured with synonyms and Best Bets, keywords can also enhance search results by guiding users to recommended resources.

To access the keywords and Best Bets settings, on the Search Center site, click Site Actions, Site Settings, and then under Site Collection Administration, click Search keywords.

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Add federated locations

A federated search is the simultaneous querying of one or more online databases (locations) for the purpose of generating a single search results page. By adding federated locations you allow queries to be sent to remote search engines and feeds, such as www.bing.com. The content from federated locations is not crawled by your internal servers. SharePoint Server "14" displays the results to users alongside results from within your organization.

You can add and configure Web Parts on the search results page as either a Federated Search Results Web Part or a Top Federated Results Web Part.

To display federated search results on a page other than the default search results page, simply add a Federated Search Results Web Part or a Top Federated Results Web Part to the page on which you want to display the federated search results.

You can control aspects of the Federated Search Web Parts search results, such as the metadata that will be shown or the number of links that will be displayed, by editing the properties and Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) code of a federated location. You can also control the appearance of the search results, such as the color or font style of the link text. You can modify the query that is sent to the federated location when a user types a specific prefix or pattern by using trigger rules, which are configured when the federated location is set up.

For more information about creating and managing federated locations see the Enterprise Search Center on TechNet. Information about creating trigger rules is in the search product Help. For more information about working with XSL or creating custom Web Parts see the search product Help on MSDN.

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Customize the refinement panel

The refinement panel is a Web Part on the search result page that displays a summary of search results by document property. For example the summary might indicate that there are primarily Microsoft Word documents in the top fifty search results, followed by a particular number of Microsoft Excel documents.

The refinement panel also enables a user to change how the results display. For example by type of content (document, spreadsheet, presentation, Web page, and so on), content location (such as SharePoint sites), author, or the date the document was modified. A site owner or site collection administrator can customize the refinement panel by changing the Web Part properties. For example, you can increase or decrease the number of categories that display or change the filter category definition files.

For more information about customizing the refinement panel, see the Enterprise Search Center on TechNet. For more information about using Web Parts or editing Web Part pages, see SharePoint Server "14" Help.

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