Why I Hate SharePoint - Part 3

ASPE TrainingThu, 05/03/2018 - 10:52

Search Doesn't Work Like Other Search Engines.

In this blog post where I address reasons people say they “hate” SharePoint, we will discuss SharePoint Search and why it doesn’t work like other search engines.

It’s NOT like other search engines.  I’ll cut right to the chase on this one. We’ve been conditioned to find what you’re looking for when you’re looking for it from search engines like Google and Bing.  You have a search box and you simply start typing that thing you’re looking for.  The browser will even recommend auto-completion for your terms and depending on the browser it will start sending your keystrokes to the search engine so it can have a head start on what you are looking for.  There are lots of moving parts here.

The first thing we must realize with these search engines that we’ve all become accustomed to is that Google and Bing have thousands of employees and millions of dollars going into making their “product” the best search engine out there.  They have customers as well as advertisers with a high volume of cash flowing to encourage them to make their search engine the best.  That’s what they do all day long.  They also have billions of users and searches helping them to improve the search results.  What do we have?  Likely, none of these things.

Most likely we do not have a search administrator that is reviewing reports in order to modify the search results.  We don’t have money going into making search better.  And most organizations don’t understand what it takes to make Search work better.  And in most cases, organizations don’t understand that effort must go into SharePoint Search.  Configuration and subsequent optimization has to take place and there needs to be someone that understands Search.  Hire someone from Google or Bing!

As far as configuration and optimization go, there are a number of features that we can take advantage of to improve our Search results.  In many cases the first thing we can do is look at the out-of-the-box configuration and modify it as required. 

  1. The search admin should take a look at the search crawler and see if it is still performing the default content source crawl.  The crawl should be indexing data that you want to show up in your search results.
  2. Only upload/create content in SharePoint that you want to be searchable or that your team needs for collaboration.  SharePoint should not be used as an archive network drive.  Garbage In / Garbage Out. 
  3. Using Metadata where it makes sense and then utilizing Managed Properties.  If you want to narrow search results down to documents that are “Confidential” or “Public”, you need to capture that metadata when the documents are added to SharePoint.  Then create Managed Properties to allow you to use search refiners on results.

These are just a few of the features available to the search administrator.  This blog isn’t about those features or detail training on how to use them.  The point is, SharePoint search is incredibly powerful and feature rich, but just like some of the other gripes about SharePoint, it comes down to understanding how it works and then putting in place the skilled resources to manage those features.  There are NO systems out there that will do all of this magically.

Ok, what’s next to debunk?   Folders vs Metadata?  I don’t want to learn how to use Metadata! Read part 4 here.