Search Scopes: By Context or By Content
I was setting up some search scopes recently with a client and suggested a couple of possible scopes we could create. The scopes basically fell into two different categories; refining the search by the type of content or by the context of the content.
Some example scopes could be:
HR / Finance / News / People / Reports / Publications
The first three scopes in the list above are refining the search by context, i.e. where the information is stored. This can obviously be indicative of the types of results that one expects to find – e.g. news articles from the News scope – however when refining by an area that can hold many different types of content such as a department site then the types of results could be much more open-ended.
The second three scopes in the list are refining the search by content, i.e. the type of the information. The results returned from a scope such as this would imply a more focused search, e.g. perhaps looking for a specific document such as an expense report.
What’s the best approach? As always there’s no magic bullet to recommend one way over the over or anything implying that a combination of methods can’t be used. I’m still revising my opinions after each install but I think as a general rule of thumb I’d be tempted to look at the information returned by the search:
- If the info can be easily viewed as different types of a manageable number (e.g. <>By Content method.
- If we are dealing with a single type of information (e.g. products or pages) then it would be redundant to refine the search by type, therefore I would be looking at having my scopes reflect the Context of the information.
SharePoint of course is configurable for many different scenarios. In fact if you look at the out-of-the-box search scopes then you’ll see that we have a starter for both methods. The People scope allows us to refine our results set by a particular type and the This Site scope allows us to refine by a particular area.
[It’s also worth pointing out that the refinement doesn’t need to always take place before the search. Tools and additions such as Faceted Search can be a great help for users to refine their result set after the initial search has taken place.]