Plan the relevance of search results (FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint)


Applies to: FAST Search Server 2010

One of the key features in a search solution is the ability to return relevant information. Relevance describes how well a given search satisfies a user’s information needs. Relevance includes which documents are returned in the results (recall) and the order of those documents in the results (ranking). FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint provides good search relevance out of the box in addition to many possibilities for custom tuning. Optimizing search for relevance includes refining content for searching, tuning sort order and ranking. It is a task that should be done by advanced search administrators and developers.

There is no single best relevance solution that satisfies all users and different search applications. This is why FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint provides advanced possibilities for relevance tuning. Optimal relevance must be planned for and tuned to suit specific needs.

To get the best possible results from FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint, you should invest time in relevance tuning as an on-going process. As a search administrator or developer, you should be familiar with the content to be indexed.

  • Know the content

    • Work with colleagues who know the content to be represented. This should be part of structuring the SharePoint Server installation for optimized search.
  • Know the end-users of the search solution

    • Understand what the user defines as “good relevancy”.

    • Verify your assumptions with facts: talk to end-users of the system and examine the log files.

  • Involve the user

    • Involve all possible business users to agree on one set of rules and examples.

    • Define representative test cases based on agreed upon rules and examples. Define search words and phrases particular to your organization and their expected or desired search results.

    • Perform thorough benchmark testing based on standard or initial tuning.

  • Test the results of each tuning iteration.

    • Perform the same tests every time for comparable results. Use the defined search input and expected or desired search results to test your changes, both in the development phase of the project and after upgrades or tuning of the content.

    • Ensure that the tuning had no negative side-effects.


Define the results that you want before spending time on the technical aspects of relevancy tuning.

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