The Built In SharePoint 2010 Search Engine

(c) Sean Bordner

(c) Sean Bordner

These days, if your site does not have its own search engine, it’s almost insulting to your users. The OOTB SharePoint WCM Search Engine gives your site robust and highly flexible search functionality which will be noticed by your users. You can not only crawl your own site, but as many external sites as you wish. Search results are ranked and displayed based on relevancy. Permissions are also respected on search results pages via built in security trimming. This means if you have content which is not open to the anonymous “Joe Public” user, Joe Public will not even see this protected content in the search results, regardless of how relevant it is.

You cannot muck with how the search engine ranks results, but you can rest assured that at the end of the day, unless you happen to write search engine algorithms for a living, the SharePoint Search Engine algorithm will get the job done far better than anything you come up with. Don’t worry, there is a way for you to return specific results for specific search terms, called “Best Bets”. Best bets are very much like Google Sponsored Links. But rather than bidding for the top spot, you simply specify the relationship between the desired search term and the desired URL to return. Best bets will appear first in the list of results.

Wild card searches and Word Stemming are NOT the same thing. Word Stemming refers to returning inflectional variants of the root word. For example, “jumped” and “jumping” are both stemmed from the root word (verb) “jump”. However, wild card searches refers to using a symbol (typically *) to represent ANY character or string of characters. For example, the search term using a wild card “jump*” might return “jumpdrive” or “jumpville”. Pretty big difference! It’s worth noting that most languages separate words using whitespace, but not all (East Asian languages). Word Stemming is clearly more natural language based and is supported in SharePoint 2010 Search. Wild card searches require a custom web part and a considerable amount of careful consideration as it could undoubtedly increase the size of your search index.

Word Stemming is turned off by default for the English language in SharePoint. You can enable word stemming on the search results page:

  • Go to the search page, enter any old query to return the search results page
  • Under Site Actions, select ‘Edit page’
  • Locate the ‘Search Core Results’ web part (usually in the bottom zone)
  • From the Edit button, select ‘Modify shared web part’
  • In the task pane that appears on the right hand side, under ‘Results Query Options’, check the box labeled ‘Enable Search Term Stemming’

Word Stemming is a fascinating topic relating a word form to its base form and other related word forms (called morphological processing). Word Stemming explained: http://blogs.msdn.com/miketag/archive/2006/12/27/moss-search-word-stemming-part-1.aspx

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About Sean Bordner

CEO, Solution Architect, Co-Author of SharePoint for Nonprofits, Contributing Author NothingButSharePoint.com MCT, MCTS, MCSD, MCP, MCAD
This entry was posted in Content Management, SharePoint, SharePoint Search Engine, WCM. Bookmark the permalink.

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