The Secret Sauce for
Better Enterprise Search

Applying metadata to increase information findability

The dream of everyone who has ever submitted an online search is to get that single best result at the top of the search results page. Period. No scrolling down the results page looking for something relevant. No clicking on the individual result links hoping to find that tidbit of information buried somewhere on the referenced pages. No iterative, back-and-forth revisions of the query terms in the search box hoping that the right answer will magically appear.

If you think about the time and frustration you have using your current search tools, then multiply that by the number of colleagues that you work with in your organization, the amount of energy spent looking for information is truly enormous!

Content enrichment is at the core of an organization’s quest for the perfect search experience. Many consider it the “secret sauce” for better enterprise search.

Enterprise Search

Enterprise search is the practice of making an organization’s content searchable. Enterprise search software indexes data and documents from multiple sources, such as file servers, document management systems, e-mail servers, databases, and the company’s intranet. The content typically includes both structured and unstructured data.

Enterprise search implementations are generally considered to be one of the most important elements of an organization’s knowledge management infrastructure because enterprise search uncovers and surfaces useful content that is generally unknown to other groups and departments.

The goal of enterprise search is to have the right content appear at the top of search engine results. Getting the desired result positioned at the top of the first results page depends on the quality and amount of enriched metadata added to the indexed content.

Content Enrichment

Content enrichment is the process of tagging every content asset with the correct metadata. Content enrichment is performed to improve the content’s findability.

The two key terms in the definition above are metadata and findability.

  • Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource. A library catalog holds metadata for its books and other library materials. A product catalog holds metadata about the products a company sells or distributes.

There are several different types of metadata. Descriptive metadata is information that describes the intellectual content of the object. For a book, its title, author, publisher, and subject are examples of descriptive metadata. Administrative metadata is metadata used for managing and administering objects. For the book, the library branch that holds the book and whether it is checked-out are examples of administrative metadata. Structural metadata is data about the containers of data.

  • Findability is the careful engineering of content and its associated metadata to ensure that an organization’s content is findable and indexable by search engine software.
Findability Framework

The Findability Framework provides a roadmap for improving enterprise search. Re-inventing how your organization searches for information involves addressing the following six core elements of the Framework.

  1. Core business processes are defined. Understanding how search is used to support the organization’s value-adding business processes provides the context for search improvement.
  2. User requirements are collected and documented. The work tasks for each user role provide insight into the types of information they will need to perform their tasks.
  3. Work processes and tasks are mapped to the information sources and access to the content repositories is established. If the sources are currently not accessible, then subscriptions to external content may need to be purchased and data and application integrations may need to be performed. For internal sources, connectors need to be installed or built so the search software can access the content.
  4. Content is enriched. This is done by developing an appropriate metadata schema and adding metadata to each piece of content. The search engine then indexes the content with the metadata. Specifically, the search engine crawls the content so that it and its metadata can be indexed and stored in its database.
  5. The search engine software is configured to improve the precision of the search results and to enhance the end user search experience. Search engine tuning can be performed by adding additional weight to the metadata values as a way to improve the results ranking algorithm. Some of the user experience enhancements could include faceted navigation, browse, extensive linking across data sets, content recommendations, and powerful analytics.
  6. Governance polices are developed and instituted to maintain the ongoing quality of the search results.


Learn more. Reach out to Bernie Palowitch.

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