Enterprise Search Best Practices

5 minutes read

As the digital shift has accelerated in the past years, customers expect easy, frictionless, personalized digital experiences. But the shift has not just happened for consumers. Employees are looking for intranet and knowledge management tools to find the information they need to stay productive while working and collaborating remotely from locations around the world.

Enterprise search can enable both your customers and employees to more quickly access your most critical information. It encourages more content discovery, consumption, engagement, and collaboration, while also increasing efficiency and productivity. Enterprise search is quickly becoming a necessary tool for businesses of all sizes.

What Is Enterprise Search?

Searching for information within a company can be a daunting task. Knowing where to start and what resources are available can be difficult. The right information may be spread across different sources like company websites, document repositories, knowledge bases, product manuals, and documentation. Different people may have different levels of access to information depending on their role and department.

Enterprise search is a way for employees to quickly and easily find the information they need from any source within the company, including document management systems, databases, intranets, file storage, or active directories with employee data.

An enterprise search platform can bring many benefits to an organization, including:

  • Increased search accuracy and relevancy
  • Improved employee productivity and collaboration
  • Faster new employee on-boarding
  • Easier access to content for customer service, sales, and marketing teams
  • Enhanced search experience for customers and partners

While a full-featured search solution can provide most of the features necessary to create a successful search, tools alone are not enough. User experience is the most critical aspect of a successful search solution and below we will dive into some of the best practices to consider when implementing an enterprise search solution to optimize both its performance and user experience.  

Enterprise search best practices

Make the keyword search is user-friendly

The search bar is a portal for users to engage with the content through search. You can make the search box intuitive in several important ways:

  • Make sure that the search bar is large, visible, and easily accessible where users need it
  • Add microscopy to tell users what they can search for, i.e. "Search knowledge base article, product documentation and training videos"
  • Leave the search terms in the search box so users can easily modify their current search
  • Use auto-suggest and recommended search terms to help users further refine their searches. 
  • Enable autocorrect, to correct any misspellings and typos
  • Make sure the search uses textual relevance so users get results no matter what

Use faceted taxonomy to help users discover content they need

Faceted navigation is an essential part of the search. It allows users to recursively explore the content across multiple dimensions, narrow their results, and quickly find the information they need. Given the importance of facets to the search experience, it is essential to identify the correct facets. The facets should be easily recognizable to the user and allow searchers to filter content in a meaningful way. Although faceted taxonomy should be designed uniquely for each business, some ideas of facets may include:

  • Product category, product, and model
  • Topics
  • Content-type, i.e. training videos, knowledge base articles, product manuals
  • content source
  • Audience or team for which content is intended
  • Regions and languages, if the content is region- or language-specific
  • Product Version, if the product has different configurations, releases, or packages

Make the results page intuitive and helpful

The design of the result page is crucial to users' engagement with the content. Here are some tips on improving the results page:

  • Make sure the most relevant results appear at the top
  • Use a grid layout for image dominant results, and use a list layout for text dominant results
  • Give users ways to narrow down and recursively explore the content with additional filters
  • Avoid no results or give users an easy way to change their search query
  • Incorporate all types of relevant content from all over your site, document repositories, knowledge base, and product documentation
  • Provide details about the content like the author, content source, content type, or publish date on the results page to help users quickly assess if that is what they are looking

Contextual filtering for easier, more relevant content discovery

Your content repository may contain thousands of documents. And even with the great keyword and faceting, it may still end up a lot of results. This is where contextual filtering can help.

Contextual filtering is a technique used by content discovery platforms to help users find the most relevant content for them. It does this by taking into account the user's interests, location, device, page of the website or web application, and other factors to provide a more personalized experience.

Personalization of search results

Being able to personalize search results based on a user’s role, access level, browsing history, intent, and other factors can greatly help improve users' experience.

Advanced personalization technology can help you better understand your users and how they interact with your content. This technology can then use this understanding to deliver relevant, personalized content and search results.

Personalized search results can help improve your conversion rate by making it easier for users to find the information they need quickly. They can also help keep users engaged with your site by providing relevant content that meets their needs.

Make search available everywhere users need it

For the search experience to be effective, it needs to be available when and where users need it most.

This is why it's important that the search platform you use for the enterprise search gives you the flexibility to design and deploy search experiences in the ways that are most suitable for the content of the user. This may mean a dedicated Content Hub for your customers, partners, and teams, a contextual help widget on your product pages or inside your web and mobile applications, or a search bar available on your intranet or website, that can search all the content sources and content types —products, videos, PDFs, PowerPoints, product documentation, knowledge base articles, blogs, and more.

Consider mobile search experience

Now more than ever, people are using their mobile devices to do everything, which includes searching for the documents while on-site with the client or working from home.

Because users are limited by a small screen, the best mobile experience has to consider unique requirements. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure that it is responsive to the screen size
  • Make use of the mobile-specific UX elements, such as a tab bar, full search bar, or icon
  • Make sure that the font is not too small and clickable are is large enough

Leverage search analytics to improve the search experience

Use search analytics reports to understand what users are searching for, finding useful or not finding, and fine-tune the results. Some of the key search analytics reports include:

  • Most common search terms
  • Searches with no results
  • Searches with click-through
  • Top results
  • The most common facets selected

Improve over time

As you learn more about your searchers and your content grows, your search should evolve accordingly. A key element for long-term success with search is to have a solution that can adapt over time. Put together a governance process that is based on analytics, and make sure that you can fine-tune search and user experience through the administrative console instead of custom development.

Conclusion

An enterprise search can be very important for a business of any size, in any industry, and investing in a new, advanced enterprise search tool can deliver high ROI in terms of content discovery, re-use, and employee productivity and efficiency. With the amount of information ever-increasing, the need to provide an easy, relevant, and personalized search experience for your customers, partners, and teams is becoming more and more crucial.

Introducing an enterprise search project can be a daunting task. If you need help evaluating your options or would like to learn more about enterprise search, please reach out for a quick chat.

Victoria
I love to write with one goal in mind - to help you build amazing customer experiences. Our content is tailored to help you understand your customers, design great products and deliver world-class customer self-service. I share my knowledge and experience through my articles, videos, podcasts, templates, and more - so you can take your customer experience to the next level.‍

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