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I have an intranet article in SharePoint and want to increase the chance that users are able to find it when they use the search feature (or future chat feature). For example the title of the article is "CATS" but users would search for "time planning" or related terms.

Here on the stackexchange platform I could add some tags. Users that have enough points/previldge are able to create new tags and add further tags to existing questions.

In SharePoint I could add a meta data column for files and provide some predefined categories. Or I could add an extra section at the bottom of the article called "alternative search terms".

For "quick links"/tiles I would expect similar options to add additional search terms / meta data. However, there are no such options. If I add additional terms to the "accessibility" field as a workaround, those therms cannot be found in the search. ( Edit: The terms can be found once the search index has been updated, which might not happen automatically after some edit. Also see https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/crawl-site-content#reindex-a-site )

=> What are your strategies to improve search-ability in SharePoint Online?

=> How should SharePoint articles ideally look like, so that AI/Copilot is able to categorize and apply them? Users having different rolls / perspectives / context should be provided with corresponding aggregated search results.

=> How to know what users have been searching for and how satisfied they are with the search result? Is there a way to analyze search terms in SharePoint, e.g. by providing and option "add my search to list of unsatisfied searches, so that power users are informed and are able to provide the missing content"?

Edit:

I just saw the "Feedback" feature for the search and I like it. Is the "admin" a single person for the whole system? Or is it possible to ensure that this search feedback goes to site/section specific editors, too?

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Related:

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  • I was able to create custom meta data columns for sites. However, I was not able to apply that extra meta data to filter search results. For the new column no corresponding "crawled property" has been created. Therefore, there might be a bug in SharePoint. Or I still miss something.
    – Stefan
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 22:32
  • Even if an extra search term in the "accessibility" field of quick links are shown in search results ... when following the link to the site, users are not able see where exactly the term has been used / which of the quick links is related to the search term. Therefore, using the "accessibility" field as workaround SEO option is not really satisfying.
    – Stefan
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 22:36

1 Answer 1

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Below is a summary on what I found out so far. It just answers some aspects and raises some more related questions.

A. Some SharePoint features that are related to meta data and akin to Stack Exchange tags on page/site level

a) Enterprise keywords

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https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/add-an-enterprise-keywords-column-to-a-list-or-library-314ce556-e4bf-4ef7-9939-6a1bedfc434a

Show them with

  • Add column => Show ore hide columns => Enterprise Keywords

(If the column is not available you first might need to enable it)

b) Managed meta data columns

You are able to organize predefined terms on several levels: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/create-and-manage-terms

Settings => Site information => View all site settings => Term storage management

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and use those predefined terms in customized meta data columns:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/create-a-managed-metadata-column-8fad9e35-a618-4400-b3c7-46f02785d27f

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c) Choises columns

Columns of type "choises" also allow you to define some "tags"/categories.

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B. How to use meta data in searches?

In an answer to a related question

Search on Enterprise keywords or Managed metadata

it is stated that enterprise keywords can be used in searches like

enter image description here

Unfortunately, that did not work for me. There are many articles about issues with "managed properties" and "crawled properties" in SharePoint, for example

Crawled properties not appearing under Search schema for Site columns

https://sharepointmaven.com/how-to-find-the-correct-crawled-property-for-your-sharepoint-column/

I tried a lot but did not get it working. Therefore, I assume that there are some bugs in SharePoint.

Furthermore, I read that one might need to wait several days until new entries are indexed and found by the search.

C. Access to admin center

I work in an organization with several sites and only the head quarters have access to the global administration center. Furthermore, the resources for support are quite limited.

Sharepoint allows to configure a lot on site level. However, some important features are only available globally.

Therefore, I am not able to analyze search reports or add global tags on my own.

If you are in a similar situation, you might want to consider this issue and ask yourself if you do you want to use a system that you are not able to fully control and optimize. (Setting up Stackoverflow for Teams and Overflow AI on your site might be for example an alternative approach.)

D. Usage of meta data and alternative search terms on a smaller scope than whole pages ?

Lets assume, that SharePoint bugs are fixed and that you do get search results when searching/filtering for your applied meta data.

Then the search results represents a page and you can follow the link to that page. If I want to categorize whole pages, that is fine.

However, if a tag or alternative search term should only relate to a specific section or even smaller building block (for example quick link), I am still stuck.

=> If you know a way to relate meta data to smaller building blocks than pages, please let me know.

A workaround might be to create custom components that allow to place alternative search terms within some collapsible section. However, the features related to nested layouts seem to be quite limited in SharePoint:

enter image description here

If there are existing components/extensions for SharePoint allowing to apply meta data and alternative search terms, please let me know.

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