How to create a Search Center Site Collection and enable crawling of your content in SharePoint 2013

This is a blog post in the series “Set up a Search Center in SharePoint 2013”. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn:


How to create a Search Center Site Collection
To create a Search Center Site Collection, go to Central Administration --> Create site collections, and then enter details for the site collection. Here’s what you need to enter:

  1. A title for the website.
  2. The website’s URL.
  3. Select 2013 for the experience version.
  4. From the Enterprise tab, select Enterprise Search Center.
  5. In the field Primary Site Collection Administration, enter the site admin’s user name.

Create a Search Center Site Collection

Now that you have your Search Center Site Collection, you can move on to crawling content.


How to start a full crawl in Central Administration
Before you can start a full crawl in Central Administration, you have to specify the content source that you want to crawl. When you run a full crawl, all content in the content source is crawled even if that content has already been added to the search index.

In a scenario where you only have SharePoint content, you can select to crawl the Local SharePoint sites content source.

  1. Go to Central Administration --> Manage service applications --> Search Service Application --> Content Sources.
  2. On the Manage Content Sources page, hover over the Local SharePoint sites content source, and select Start Full Crawl from the menu.

Start Full Crawl in Central Administration

The status of the crawl is shown in the Status column.

  1. Refresh this page until you see that the value in the Status column is Idle. That means that the full crawl has finished.

Idle crawl status

  1. Optionally, you can verify that your items have been added to the search index by clicking Crawl Log.

    In my scenario, I could see that there were 157,297 items in the search index.

Information in crawl log


 How to enable continuous crawls in Central Administration

By default, content is automatically crawled every 4th hour.  However, when changes are made to your content, you probably would like it to be crawled as soon as possible so that users can find it on the Search Center. Nobody wants to manually start a full crawl every time a change is made to their content, as this is neither an efficient nor practical way to work. So, to avoid this overhead, you can simply enable a continuous crawl of the content source that contains your content.

Continuous crawls start automatically at 15-minute intervals. Any changes that have been made to your content since the previous crawl are picked up by the crawler and added to the search index.

To enable continuous crawls:

  1. Go to Central Administration --> Manage service applications --> Search Service Applications --> Content Sources.

  2. On the Managed Content Sources page, click the content source that you want to enable continuous crawl for.

    In my scenario, this was Local SharePoint sites.

  3. Select Enable Continuous Crawls.

Enable Continuous Crawls in Central Administration


How to set the continuous crawl interval
The default interval for continuous crawls is 15 minutes. However, you can set shorter intervals by using Windows PowerShell. The code snippet below sets the continuous crawl interval to 1 minute.

$ssa = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication
$ssa.SetProperty("ContinuousCrawlInterval", 1)

So, by enabling continuous crawls, your search index is automatically updated with the latest changes. However, there are some types of changes, for example, if you enable managed properties as refiners (I will show you how to do this in a later blog post), where continuous crawls are not sufficient to update the search index. For these changes to be updated in the search index, you have two options:

  • Do a full crawl.
  • Do something called reindexing.

The reason why you have two options is that people working with content (let’s call them content managers) are not likely to have Search service application administration level rights, that is, they don’t have access to Central Administration where they can start a full crawl. However, content managers are likely to have Site Owner rights, and Site Owners can do reindexing.


How to reindex a list
To mark a list or library for reindexing, here’s what to do:

  1. On your list or library click the LIST or LIBRARY tab --> List Settings or Library Settings --> Advanced Settings.
  2. On the Advanced Settings page, click Reindex List or Reindex Document Library.

Select to Reindex list

The list will be reindexed during the next scheduled crawl.

So, all in all, content managers can be happy because their content is added to the search index at short intervals, and Search service application administrators can be happy because they are not bothered by content managers constantly asking them to start a crawl.

And now that we have done all that “boring” stuff, it is time to move on to the exciting stuff: configuring the Search Center.


Next blog article in this series
How to configure the Search Results Web Part to use a new result source