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SharePoint: Transforming the information have-nots into the haves

If you've been using SharePoint for the past few years like I have, you know that it has changed the way people share and find information on the intranet. Store documents in SharePoint document libraries, share your thoughts with a blog and collect knowledge in an enterprise wiki. Tie it all together with SharePoint search and your workers will be more self-sufficient and empowered. In the end, the have-nots join the haves.

Search tips

To help people get going with SharePoint search, here are five tips that you should consider:

1. Make sure to create a Search Center. SharePoint offers a powerful Search Center site template that is simple and clean. Users should find the user interface similar to search sites they use on the Internet. With the Search Center, you can search for information and people across multiple site collections. Note that there is also an advanced option depending on the version of SharePoint being used.

2. Don't be afraid to include all SharePoint content in the search catalog. SharePoint Search is security trimmed for all content stored in SharePoint. If users don't have access to information in SharePoint, they will not see it in the search results. Don't rely on "security through obscurity" by using cryptic URLs. Users will discover information using search if they have access to it. Make sure sites are secured properly, and the information will be safe.

3. Include sources outside of SharePoint. With the SharePoint Server Standard, Enterprise or FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint, sources outside of SharePoint can be cataloged. Federated search results can also be served from other search sources without crawling them.

4. Use refiners to narrow search results. When a high number of results are returned from a search, check the first few items to see if one happens to be what you are looking for. If you can't find your item on the first page, you might want to select one or more refiners on the left side of the Search Center to narrow the search results, before you start paging through the results. As an example, you might know that you are looking for a Word document, which was modified within the last month, and was created by a specific author. Using those values as refiners will reduce the results set to a more manageable amount.

5. When creating documents from a template, make sure to set the document title. Many companies create documents from corporate templates. This is a good technique to get consistency across departments and employees, but it's important to update the document title before you save a file to SharePoint. The search results display the document title by default, and it could be the same for all documents if the title was not changed. It's tough to find what you are looking for if all documents display as an example "Press Release Template." A better title might be something like "Press Release - Launch of Version 10.0."

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