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SharePoint 2013 Search: External Content Relevancy Boosting

Where’s my External Content?

The first time you bring in external content into your search index, whether that be from BCS or Custom Connector, your search ranking and relevance for that content will most likely be buried under all of your SharePoint content. This is quite common. Don’t worry however, we will go over some of your options to bring that content to the top, also known as relevancy boosting.

Query Rules for the Admins

It has been said and it has been done a lot. Query Rules have become somewhat of a staple in SharePoint 2013. I won’t cover it in detail because there’s a huge amount of resources out there (check out Chris Hines’ post here), however I will leave a small tidbit below.
Often when you are pulling multiple entities from BCS, you end up with a single content source with quite a few different entities that are of different types of content. Good news is that you can split them out.

Accessing Individual BCS Entities

Look for a crawled property called EntityName (might be two of them), and map them to a managed property. For our sake, we will call it MPEntityName. You will want this managed property to be queryable.
Then you can query your BCS entity by running a simple MPEntityName:NameOfEntity.

Managed Property Advanced Searchable Settings

By default a managed property that you create is set to “Context 0” which means that it is only used for recalling search results and does not influence ranking. If your title or description of your External Content is being indexed but not influenced by ranking, then there is a high chance that the ranking will get buried by other managed properties like SharePoint’s OOTB Title field.
To change the weight group of the managed property, simply edit the managed property and find the “Advanced Searchable Settings”.
From there modify the weight group to suit your needs. Below is a chart provided by Microsoft to determine relative weight.

XRANK (When the above just isn’t enough)

The story of XRANK needs a whole blog to itself. However, let’s take a look at how to essentially force items up to the top of the search stack.
({searchBoxQuery} XRANK(cb=5000) MPEntityName:NameOfEntity)
This query will simply boost all of the entity matched results on all search queries. Keep in mind a boost 5000 (cb=5000) will generally shove everything up to the top of the search results stack.


Between these three options, you should be able to interlace your External Content with your standard SharePoint content, and improve your overall search relevancy on External Content.

Thoughts on “SharePoint 2013 Search: External Content Relevancy Boosting”

  1. Feel free to share any info on this blog as long as you refer! Glad you found the information useful!

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