In this blog post I’d like to talk about some easy tricks to improve the SharePoint search center, that can be implemented very quickly.
Enable filtering of search results
By default, search results are sorted by relevance and there’s no possibility for end users to sort the results based on other properties, like the creation date for example. As this can be very helpful sometimes, activating the filtering definitely makes sense!
It can be activated by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the “Settings” section the option “Show sort dropdown” needs to be enabled.
After the activation of the sort dropdown, it can be found at the top of the search results.
Overall there are five different sorting options. The first three options should be self-explaining. By sorting the results by “Lifetime Views” they’re sorted in descending order based on all clicks on the element. By sorting the results by “Recent Views” they’re sorted in descending order based on the clicks on the element in the last 14 days.
To add additional filter options, the JSON needs to be extended. It can be found beneath the “Show sort dropdown” option in the “Settings” section of the “Search results” webpart.
In this example I’ve extended the JSON to provide the possibility to sort by the managed property “Title”.
At this point it’s important to make sure, that the managed property that should be used, is configured to be “Sortable (Yes – active)”.
Add additional search results pages
By default, there are four different search result pages: “Everything”, “People”, “Conversations” and “Videos” (only in SharePoint Enterprise).
The “Everything” results page shows every kind of content that is stored in the SharePoint environment. The “People” results page only shows user profiles, the “Conversations” results page only shows Newsfeed entries and the “Videos” results page only shows videos.
Most of the time end users are searching for documents, so the most important result page is missing and this is why it should be created.
First a new search result page with the “Search results” page layout needs to be created in the page library of the search center site collection.
Afterwards this page has to be added to the “Search navigation”, which can be found in the “Search Settings” area of the “Site settings”
The most important step is the configuration of the search query of the “Search Results” webpart on the page. This can be done by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the webpart settings in the “Search Criteria” section the “Change query” section needs to be opened.
There, the “Query text” needs to be extended, for example in the way that can be seen in the following screenshot. By using this query, only Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents will be returned by the search.
This is how the search navigation looks at the end of the described steps. Of course there are multiple other use cases for additional search result pages, for example a result page only for wiki pages, a result page only for list items or a result page for results that are stored in a specific area of the SharePoint portal.
Disable “Remove duplicates” on result pages or enable “Show View Duplicates link”
By default, duplicates are removed from the search results on the search result page. This is done by the so called “Remove Duplicates” feature of the SharePoint search. The problem with this feature is, that it not only removes results that are completely identical but sometimes also results that only differ slightly from other results (near-duplicates). Because of this, end users sometimes cannot find the results they’re looking for, because they were falsely removed from the result set.
There are two options to deal with that problem.
The first option is, to just deactivate the “Remove Duplicates” feature, so that duplicates don’t get removed. This can be done by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the webpart settings in the “Search Criteria” section the “Change query” section needs to be opened. There’s a tab called “Settings” in which the “Don’t remove duplicates” feature can be disabled. After saving the changes the duplicates won’t be removed anymore.
The second option is, to activate the “Show View Duplicates link”. This can be done by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the webpart settings in the “Settings” section the “Show View Duplicates link” needs to be enabled.
In this case, the duplicates aren’t removed completely from the search result, but they’re not shown in the first moment. Instead, if SharePoint finds a duplicate or multiple duplicates for a specific result, a link shows up in the hover panel and by clicking the link the user gets to a search results page, where all results including duplicates can be found.
Disable unnecessary controls
Disable “Show language dropdown”
By default, there’s the possibility to choose a preference for the language of the results, even if the SharePoint environment is monolingual.
In a monolingual environment the content in the environment will mostly be present in one language, therefore this control will rather be confusing for end users than helpful. This is why it might be a good idea to just disable this control.
This can be done by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the webpart settings in the “Settings” section the “Show language dropdown” needs to be disabled.
Disable “Show preferences link”
By default, there’s the possibility for the end users to configure personal search preferences like search alerts, search language, search history or search suggestions. If the end users are not trained on how to use the search preferences it’s probably a good option to disable this area, as wrong configurations of the end user might lead to bad search results.
This can be done by editing the settings of the “Search results” webpart. In the webpart settings in the in the “Settings” section the “Show preferences link” needs to be disabled.
Enable result count in refinement panel
The refinement panel offers the possibility to drill down the search results and make it easier for the end users to find the desired information. By default, the refinement panel only displays different filters based on the current search results, but not the amount of search results regarding a specific filter.
This can be realized with a little change of the display template of the refinement panel. Therefore, you have to download the “Filter_Default.html” (Master Page Gallery – Display Templates – Filters) and set the “ShowCount” parameter to true instead of false.
Afterwards you have to upload the file again und publish it as a major version. The result of this configuration looks like this.
Detailed information about this configuration can be found in the following Microsoft blog post: Getting Refiner Counts Back in SharePoint 2013 Search