Overview of administrative roles and search tasks

This article describes search-related tasks that are performed by administrators, site owners, and search users in Microsoft Search Server 2008. Links to Help topics on how to search and how to configure search appear in the See Also section.

In this article

How searches work in Search Server 2008

Search and the search service administrator

Search and the site collection administrator

Search and site owners

Search and search users

How searches work in Search Server 2008

Searching through massive amounts of information is a complex task that requires powerful and precise search tools. When you select a scope to search and run a query, the search engine consults an index of available locations, and returns results in a host of different formats.

Your search results page organizes the results that are returned by your query, placing recommended results and Best Bets sites at the top, core results sorted beneath them, and external results from federated locations to one side.

Collaboration among those in your organization who contribute to search can significantly improve your search results. People in various roles can take steps to make searches more productive. Following are the key administrative roles for Search Server 2008:

  • Search service administrators build the search index and configure managed properties.

  • Site collection administrators define search scopes, keywords, and Best Bets for use on their sites.

  • Web site owners configure instances of the Search box and the Search Center site, and manage shared libraries and lists.

  • Content creators assign titles, file names, and property values to their content.

  • Search users run queries to find information.

This article describes search-related tasks that are undertaken by each of these roles to refine and enhance your search results.

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Search and the search service administrator

The search service administrator has broad powers to define and configure search features that affect all site collections. Following are important elements of the search service administor's job:

Note: By default, the search service administrator also has the permissions required to manage the default site collection that includes the Search Center, and to act as its site owner.

  • Content sources    The search service administrator defines which locations and which kinds of content will be indexed and made available to searches.

  • Indexing    When the user runs a query, the search engine consults an index of available content to find search results. This index is updated regularly by an automated agent called a crawler. The search service administrator schedules how often the crawler rebuilds the index, and defines which sites and stores the crawler scans.

  • Managed properties    The properties that are assigned to content within a site collection or data store are stored during indexing. The search service administrator can map certain content properties to managed properties. These are the properties that users can select from the property lists of Advanced Search, or type manually into the Search box.

  • Authoritative pages    The search service administrator can designate certain critical Web pages, for example team portals, as authoritative pages. When a page is marked as authoritative, the ranking of content from this page is enhanced, and its content appears earlier in search results than it would otherwise.

  • Prefix strings for federated locations     The administrator can route queries that begin with a special term or phrase to a federated location, and preconfigure them to return certain kinds of content. For example, a query on the term weather for a certain postal code might be routed to a weather service, as a request to return the local forecast for the postal code provided.

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Search and the site collection administrator

A site collection administrator can create new Web sites, assign site owners to them, add search scopes, arrange scopes in display groups, define keywords, designate Best Bets sites, and customize Search Center sites. The following are key elements of a site collection administrator's job:

Note: In Search Server 2008, the search service administrator can also serve as a site collection administrator.

  • Site creation     A site collection administrator creates new sites, gives site owners permission to edit them, and provides standard templates for creating Web pages, galleries of Web parts to add, and default Web style sheets.

  • Scope display groups     Scopes direct searches to a broader or narrower range of locations, or to content marked with certain property values. The site collection administrator can create new display groups, and arrange scopes within them. This enables site owners who edit instances of the Search Box Web part on their pages to populate their scope lists with alternate choices.

  • Custom scopes     A site collection administrator can modify copies of default scopes or add new scopes for use within the site collection. When site owners want to display new scopes on their Web pages, they request that custom scopes be added, and then use a display group that contains the custom scope to populate the list of scopes on the page.

  • Keywords with Best Bets     Each keyword that is defined within a site collection can store a definition, a list of synonyms, and links to Best Bet sites with related content. When you search on a keyword or one of its synonyms, that keyword's definition and its Best Bet links are featured at the top of your search results.

    Terms that appear often in searches make useful keywords. The administrator might find it useful to refer to lists of popular sites, processes, and tools within your organization when defining keywords.

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Search and site owners

Site owners manage local sites and their content. They can configure instances of the Search box and its scopes list, and manage shared libraries and lists that assign properties to content. The following are key elements of a site owner's job:

Note: The search service administrator can also serve as the site owner of the default Search Center site.

  • Content development     Site owners request, organize, and manage content for their sites. They build Web pages from standard templates and Web Parts, and can add content libraries and lists, and request content for them.

  • Naming content     Web site and content owners should collaborate to give document titles, file names, and folders structures clear and consistent names. The names and properties that are assigned to content are fundamental to making information easier to find.

  • Content properties    Site owners can add columns to lists and libraries in order to assign properties to items as they are added. This is useful for finding items in a list, because you can search for the item by property type. For example, a list can contain a custom column for customer number that is required during data entry. The column customer number now becomes a property of the list and therefore can be used when searching for an item in the list. When a list includes custom column types, these become new properties of each item on the list.

    Tip: Document libraries can define document types that require content owners to assign property values as they check in files.

  • Managed properties    Content properties and their values are stored whenever a site collection is indexed. The search service administrator maps certain content properties to managed properties that are available for searches. These are the properties that users can select from the property lists on the Advanced Search page of the Search Center, or type manually in the Search box.

    A site owner is well-positioned to alert the search service administrator to content properties that should be mapped to a managed property. For example, a library or list might identify an item's creator with a property named writer, while a data store might use a property named user. It is important to ensure that properties with different names but similar purposes are mapped to a common managed property, so that users can search by that property.

  • Site organization    Site owners assemble pages using templates and Web Part galleries, edit their features, and arrange them on a working SharePoint site. The arrangement of a site can affect the ranking of its content. Certain important pages, such as organizational portals, can be marked by the search service administrator as authoritative sources for content. This will cause their content and that on pages close to them to appear more prominently in search results.

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Search and search users

Users can take advantage of how SharePoint administrators and site owners set up the Search Center site when they search for information by taking the following steps:

  • Choose a scope that will direct your search to the most likely sources for the content that you need. If a search on a broad scope such as All Sites returns too many results, select a narrower scope that focuses on sources with a higher concentration of useful content.

  • Try alternate queries suggested by the Did you mean? feature on the Search Results page.

  • Use content properties to narrow your search by author or other item property that is close to your desired results. Use property searches to identify content by reliable authors or from trusted sources. You can match property values to find results on a specific topic, or results that use a certain technology or language.

  • When Best Bets sites are added to your search results, you might be offered additional links for more information. For example, a query that includes the term payroll might display a link to your organization's payroll site. You can click the link to open the payroll Web site.

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