Making Search a Best Bet – Part 2


Last time we talked about creating Best Bets by using the Best Bet Suggestions report.  While this is a fast way to create many Best Bets, you will at some point find yourself tweaking your best bets manually.  To do this, first navigate to the site collection where you want or have your best bet definition.  Open the Site Actions menu and select Site Settings.  In the Site Collection Administration group click Search Keywords to open the Manage Keywords page.  Perform a search for the keyword first to make sure it is not being used.  If the search does not find it, click the Add Keyword link to display the Edit Keyword dialog shown below.

You must enter a keyword phrase which can consist of one or more words.  You can also enter synonyms that users might use instead of the keyword to get to the same page.  Next click on the Add Best Bets link.  This shows the following dialog.

Make sure to select the radio button to add a new best bet.  Then supply the full URL to the page where you want to take the user when they select the Best Bet.  Next you must supply a Title for the Best Bet.  This can be as simple as the keyword phrase, the title of the page you are redirecting the user to, or a short description of the link.  I emphasize short because the output from this field on the search results page appears to be limited to 50 characters even though you can enter more.  You can also supply a description which appears immediately beneath the Best Bet title on the results page.  Here is where you can be creative and define in your own words where this link will take the user.  You can also simply copy the first few sentences from the redirected page if you are not interested in creating your own description.  Note that you can leave this field blank because a description is not required.

Click OK to close the Best Bet definition.  The other fields in the keyword definition area begin with a freeform multi-line text area (See Problem 5 below) and then a field for a contact person and some dates.  The Contact field is really only necessary if you implement a review policy on keywords to automatically notify the person listed here on the review date to see if the keyword is still valid, needs some changes, or should be deleted.  I also use this field to add the name of the person who recommends a keyword whether there is a review date or not just to document who suggested the keyword should conflicts with other users wanting to use the same keyword arise.

The dates in the publishing section allow you to define a Start and End date.  These fields are useful for creating special event page best bets or to emphasize specific pages in the search engine based on the time of year.  The third date is the review date mentioned in the previous paragraph with the contact person so keywords can be periodically reviewed.  This feature is also useful for Best Bets to URLs which periodically get replaced with new pages having a different name.

Once you are done defining the Best Bet, click the OK button to save the definition.  Sounds easy?  It is, but problems can still arise.  The rest of this blog describes 5 common problems with suggestions on how to handle them.

Problem 1: Two or more Best Bets cannot refer to the same URL (page)

This problem occurs when a page, especially home pages on sites or subsites, have more than one topic or area that users may want to search for.  The solution to this problem is to just add the new keyword for the new Best Bet you tried to create as a synonym to the keyword in the existing Best Bet that references the same URL.  Sort of changes the definition of synonym doesn’t it?  But it works.  So what we are saying is to use the synonym field for any word that might describe the page.

Problem 2: I need to reference more than 1 URL for a Best Bet

Any Best Bet can reference more than one URL.  To do this, just go to Site Settings and select Search Keywords under the Site Collection Administration group.  Select Edit from the keyword where you want to add a second URL.  In the Edit Keyword page click the link: Add Best Bet from the Best Bet section of the page.  In the resulting dialog supply the second URL along with a title.  After clicking OK to close this dialog, you will see two URLs in the list of Best Bets.  Notice the Order column to the right.  You can determine the order in which these Best Bet URLs appear.

Problem 3: How do I fix a mistake I made in the Best Bet dialog?

After you create your first or second Best Bet and close the dialog where you define the URL and Title you realize you made a mistake, but there is no apparent option to go back and edit the URL or Title.  Rather there is only a link to remove it.  Well you could remove the Best Bet and start all over, but if the correction is minor you really don’t want to start over.  You can click OK to save the definition.  Then from the Manage Keywords page select the primary keyword again.  This time the second Best Bet definition displays both the Remove and Edit link. That’s right.  The Edit button cannot appear until after you have saved something.  Just click the Edit link to display the Best Bet dialog again, make your correction and save it again by clicking OK.

Problem 4: How do I remove a keyword I no longer want?

Navigate to the keyword and from the dropdown menu, select Delete.  If you only want to replace the keyword with one of the synonyms, edit the keyword instead to change the keyword and synonym list appropriately.  Note that moving an existing synonym phrase to the keyword field means you must also delete the phrase from the synonym field.

Problem 5: I have a Best Bet that appears in black letters instead of the hyperlink colors and it does not show a hyperlink.  How do I remove it?

This situation occurs when you supply a description on the keyword page rather than in the Best Bet dialog.  This keyword definition gets displayed at the top of the search page along with the keyword.  They are not links because they have no associated URL.  Rather all the Best Bets defined for the keyword appear beneath this information.  More of a concern is that even if you delete the keyword description, the keyword in black text remains at the top of the Search Results page with the other Best Bets listed beneath it as shown in the following figure:

So how can you remove this keyword displayed above the other Best Bets?  Honestly, I have not found a good solution.  What I have been doing is documenting the best bet definition for that keyword that I want to keep, deleting that keyword, and rebuilding the keyword without the keyword definition, only defining the Best Bets.

Beware: When defining a Best Bet, SharePoint does not validate the URL entered.  Therefore it is possible to enter and save an invalid URL that may not be noticed until a user clicks on it and gets the message: The webpage cannot be found.  This is also true if the webpage is removed before removing the Best Bet.

Together with last week’s blog entry, I hope you are now ready to go to your SharePoint web sites and start defining Best Bets to help make your user’s search experience more productive.  Remember a good search experience increases user satisfaction with SharePoint and thus makes them happier about the job you are doing.

If you like what you’ve read in this site, be sure to tell your friends.  See you next time.

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