Originally published on June 6, 2017

37th in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 48 in KM 102)

Search engines: tools that allow searching for sites, documents, files, list items, content, answers to questions and other digital information — allow specifying the scope or domain of the search, whether to search on text or metadata, and how results should be presented

For many users, search is the primary tool they wish to use to find information, answer questions, and learn about a topic. The success of Google Web Search on the Internet has resulted in the widespread expectation that searching within an organization should work the same way. Users would like to enter just a few words into a search text box and be presented with a list of results that match exactly what they are seeking. Too many hits are not desired, nor are too few, nor are irrelevant ones.

There are significant differences between the quality of results returned by an Internet search and from enterprise search. Page ranking is typically done based on a large sample of links, which works well in the gigantic realm of the Internet, but not as well in the smaller confines of an intranet.

Users should be able to narrow or broaden the types of content, the domains or sites, and the range of metadata values to be included in the search. They should be able to search for text strings, metadata values, or content titles. Familiar syntax such as Boolean operators, quotation marks, and command words used by popular search engines such as Google should be offered. The ability to refine searches, use advanced search functions, and remember previous searches should be provided.

Using metadata examples, a typical metadata search should allow finding content by customer name, industry, country, product or service, project identifier, technology type, date, or revenue amount. For example, search for customer name=Ford, service=consulting, and date>January 1, 2001 and <January 1, 2002. The results should be consulting services sold to Ford in 2001.

A typical text search should allow entering a text string and finding content that contains that string or similar text. For example, entering “electric battery” in the search text box should return all content containing that string.

Content title search should allow finding files whose title contains a specific text string. For example, searching for “+Honda +Civic +engine” in the content title field should return only documents or photos about Honda Civic engines.

Look for opportunities to integrate existing enterprise search with specialized search within the KM environment. If there is content that can’t be crawled by enterprise search, consider implementing a federated search or a single search interface to multiple search engines.

If your enterprise search offers a best bets feature for common searches, take advantage of that by defining best bets for the most frequently searched for topics. If not, consider implementing this feature.

Reviewing the logs of your enterprise search will allow you to get insight into what users are looking for. You can use this information to supply the most frequently searched for terms in your user interface. You can also use it to improve navigation, offer best bets, and update metadata definitions. Knowledge assistants can monitor user searches to better prepare for user requests.

Most intranet, portal, and repository tools include search engines as part of the standard offering. If these don’t provide adequate functionality, consider adding a commercial search tool to strengthen the existing environment, and adding cognitive search capability.


1. HP SharePoint Advanced Search

2. HP Search Tips Page

3. HP User Interface for Integrated Search

4. HP Customer Reference Database Advanced Search

5. Deloitte Enterprise Search


  1. Improving enterprise search results: Why don’t you just tell me what you need?
  2. Don’t automatically archive content; improve search instead
  3. LinkedIn Topic
  4. Enterprise Search Center
  5. Search Engine Watch
  6. Search Technologies
  7. The Findability Blog by Findwise
  8. Federated Search Blog
  9. TechTarget
  10. CMS Wire
  11. Seth Earley
  12. Lee Romero
  13. Mary Abraham
  14. James Robertson
  15. Martin White12 Tips for Enterprise Search Success
  16. Real Story GroupEnterprise search versus federated search by Theresa Regli
  17. Benefits and Challenges of Enterprise Search in Knowledge Management video by Diane Berry
  18. Make Enterprise Search Magical Without Money by Mercy Harper
  19. APQC — How Cognitive Computing Will Revolutionize Enterprise SearchEnterprise Search: Drivers of Content Management Effectiveness
  20. Social search — getting your community and colleagues to help improve findability by Shawn Callahan
  21. The curse of enterprise search and how to break it by Maish Nichani
  22. A Typology of Search Behaviours by Patrick Lambe
  23. Matt Moore — Enterprise SearchEnterprise Search Case Studies
  24. How do you solve a problem like enterprise search? Interview with Brett Matson by Aprill Allen
  25. How to Evaluate Enterprise Search Options by James A. Martin
  26. Enterprise Search: 14 Industry Experts Predict the Future of Search by Cóbhan Phillipson
  27. Spending Quality Time with Your Search Log by Jared Spool
  28. Enterprise Search Blog by Mark Bennett and Miles Kehoe
  29. Peter Morville interviews — Search and the Paradox of Choice by Project Information Literacy — Leveraging Search Patterns & Discovery by Brian Christiansen
  30. Lou Rosenfeld interviews


  1. Real Story Group
  2. G2 Crowd
  3. Forrester
  4. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search
  5. KMWorld Buyers Guide: Enterprise Search
  6. BA Insight
  7. Coveo
  8. Google Enterprise Search
  9. IBM Watson Explorer
  10. Microsoft SharePoint


1. SlideShare

2. Enterprise Search & Discovery Conference

3. Lee Romero

4. Ed Dale

5. Seth Earley

6. Martin White

7. Findwise

8. Peter Morville

9. Site Search Analytics in a Nutshell by Lou Rosenfeld

10. Super Searcher Strategies by Mary Ellen Bates


  1. Enterprise Search: Enhancing Business Performance by Martin White
  2. Designing the Search Experience: The Information Architecture of Discovery by Tony Russell-Rose and Tyler Tate
  3. Search User Interfaces by Marti Hearst
  4. SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search Walkthrough Guide by Steve Mann
  5. Enhancing the Search Experience in SharePoint 2013 by Steve Mann
  6. Information Retrieval: Implementing and Evaluating Search Engines by Stefan Büttcher, Charles L. A. Clarke, Gordon V. Cormack
  7. Designing Search: UX Strategies for eCommerce Success by Greg Nudelman
  8. Search Patterns: Design for Discovery by Peter Morville and Jeffery Callender
  9. Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become by Peter Morville
  10. Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with Your Customers by Lou Rosenfeld

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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