Administering people search (Office SharePoint Server 2007)

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2016-11-14

You use people search capabilities in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to enable users to find people not only by department or job title but also by the expertise of others and by common interests. People often know more than systems do, and locating a subject matter expert can sometimes be more valuable than finding a document or a spreadsheet.

In this article:

  • About people search

  • Finding people through people search

  • Administering the default people search experience

  • Customizing the people search experience

  • Making search results more relevant

  • Managing people links in search results

  • Task list for administering people search

  • Additional considerations

To enable people search in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you enable, configure, and use the My Site feature. My Site is a personal space for users to manage and store documents and provide information about qualifications, skills, and interests that might be useful to other people. The more information that people share about their projects, responsibilities, and areas of expertise, the more relevant and focused a people search becomes.

You can take advantage of My Site functionality in Office SharePoint Server 2007 to enhance people search capabilities within your organization. People search uses the users’ job-related information in their individual My Site sites to create a broad picture of the skills, projects, knowledge, and responsibilities in your organization.

Examples include the following:

  • Searching for a collaborator by using keywords that describe skills, experience, concepts, or geographical location

  • Searching for a fluent language speaker by naming the language

  • Searching for people based on their roles or product expertise

  • Searching for people by using the name of an existing project team or cost center

Search scopes enable people results to be separated from document results, and can refined by department, expertise, or by common interests. Administrators have two levels where they can create search scopes:

  • A first level is at the Shared Services Provider (SSP) level, also known as the global level. The search scope instances created at this level are called shared search scopes because, as soon as they are defined, they are reusable anywhere within the server farm — that is, for the SharePoint sites that are associated with the specified SSP — even if the farm is only a stand-alone installation of Office SharePoint Server 2007 on a single computer.

  • The second level is the site-collection level. Site collection administrators can limit search scopes created at the second level for use in a single specified site collection.


To make it easier to administer search scopes centrally, you probably want to implement people search scopes at the global level (the first level). We recommend building search scopes for people search at the global level instead of the site-collection level, such as for individual departments. For more information, please see Plan the end-user search experience (Office SharePoint Server).

When planning for people search for users, you can supplement the default search scope for people search with customized search scopes and tabs in the Search Center for more specific groups of users.

Scopes can use information that is stored in the user profile properties, which organize and display all of the properties related to each user. It is essential that data in the user profile properties is accurate, complete, and configured to correctly deliver the relevant data in the search results. You ensure this accuracy and precision by importing user profile information from the Active Directory directory service, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) servers, and from applications registered in the Business Data Catalog. You can also manually add, edit, and map user profile properties. You crawl the user profiles to make the properties available to be used in the people search, and then you verify the results of the crawl to ensure that the user profile properties were correctly crawled.

By default, the following ways of finding people are enabled in Office SharePoint Server 2007, and you can refine many of them to enhance the user’s search experience:

  • Search scope for people search: A search scope limits search results to the public profiles in the user profile store for a specific Shared Services Provider (SSP). Regardless of the search terms used, only users who match those terms appear in search results.

  • People tab in the Search Center with Tabs site: The People tab in a Search Center with Tabs provides options for finding users by name or related subject, or by user-related properties such as title and department.

  • Advanced search: Users can find people through advanced searches on user profile property values. Every user profile that matches the value of the selected profile property appears in search results.

  • From values for user profile properties: Users can find people without explicitly searching by clicking any profile property value to find other users who have the same value for that property. These properties can be displayed in user profiles, in user information lists, Office SharePoint Server 2007 lists, or in general search results.

  • Refined searches: You can refine search results for a people search to include only results for users who have a specific value in the Job Title or Organization property fields in their user profiles.

  • Group by social distance: By default, all searches for users are grouped by social distance. That is, users who work most closely with the user who is viewing search results are grouped first, followed by users who are further away in their organization’s hierarchy. This grouping is based on the explicit social network established by users in their My Colleagues pages on My Site.

Administering the default people search experience

To implement people search in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you need to perform several tasks. These tasks are summarized here, and are discussed in detail in the articles listed in the Task list for administering people search section in this article:

  • Manage user profile properties.

    • Import user profile properties by using user profile applications such as Active Directory directory service, LDAP servers, or line-of-business (LOB) applications registered in Business Data Catalog.

    • Import user profile properties by using search applications.

  • Crawl user profile properties.

  • Verify crawl results.

    • View the import log.

    • Perform a people search and view the results.

  • Connect the people scope to the Search Center.

Customizing the people search experience

Three components are commonly used to enable people search to function in Office SharePoint Server 2007: user profile properties, search scopes, and Search Center.

You can modify the configurations of these components in several ways to customize the people search experience in Office SharePoint Server 2007:

User profile properties

Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides a default set of user profile properties that contains the list of users and a set of properties for each user. User profiles provide detailed information about people in an organization. User profiles organize and display all of the properties related to each user together with documents and other items related to that user.

Sometimes, however, the default set of properties that is included in the user profile might not contain all the information about users in your organization that you want to include on the site. In such cases, you can customize user profiles by adding properties to the default user profiles. These properties can be user-entered values or can be imported from the Active Directory directory service, LDAP servers, or LOB applications registered in the Business Data Catalog.

You can also edit existing properties to change how Office SharePoint Server 2007 displays those properties in the user profile. You can also customize user profile properties by causing those properties that you do not want crawled to be unavailable to the index crawler.

As information is updated in your directories and LOB systems, profiles are updated and changes are indexed by the search engine based on an incremental crawl schedule. This ensures that users who are looking for people and experts in the organization have the most recent information available.

Search scopes

Search scopes in Office SharePoint Server 2007 are used to narrow the scope of the search results returned to users who are performing a search query.

From an administrator’s perspective, a search scope is a subdivision of the index built up by the crawler. The items in the index are matched again to one or more rules created by the administrator. From a user’s perspective, a search scope is a way to limit the number of query search results returned to only those results that match the rules contained within the search scope. Examples might include the following:

  • Show me only the search results for one specific content source

  • Show me only the people located in my building

By default, one global search scope named People is created during the Office SharePoint Server 2007 installation. Site collection administrators can customize the search scope to limit its use to a single specific site collection, or can create additional search scopes based on indexed user profile properties.

To support a customized search experience, you can create one or more display groups with which to associate the search scopes, and you can assign scopes to the default display groups. A display group can contain one or more scopes. Site administrators can also control the order in which scopes appear in a particular display group. After you create a display group, designers can modify the People Search Box Web Part to display the scopes within the display group in the Search drop-down list. This modification is useful when display groups contain more than one scope and you want to enable users to select a specific scope for a query.

Search Center

With the creation and use of My Sites within your organization, you might want to enable users to search across My Site site collections for other users, projects, files, and so on. To do so, you create a custom search scope for people search on which users can search through a Search Center.

The Search Center supplements the search text box that is available at the top of the pages in the site collection.

There are two versions of Search Center: Search Center with Tabs and Search Center (without tabs). The Search Center with Tabs is included by default in the site collection when you provision a collaboration portal, or when you provision a portal by using the Search Center with Tabs template. When you provision a portal using the Search Center template, it creates a site collection that contains only a Search Center (without tabs).

You can customize Search Centers to use specific scopes for people search. You can add a new Search Center or Search Center with Tabs to any site collection, and then customize the configuration of the Search Center. For example, the Search Center with Tabs template provides the capability to extend the searching experience by using a set of additional, tabbed pages. You can customize the Search Center with Tabs to reorder or even remove tabs.

Making search results more relevant

People search enables you to prioritize search content to ensure that the search results returned to the user match as closely as possible what the user wanted to find. Ideally, the results that are returned on the first page are the most relevant so that the user does not have to look through several pages of results to find the best matches for a search.

The larger the body of content that is being searched, the more likely it is that several pages of search results will be displayed for a particular query. This is especially true when basic keyword queries are used instead of advanced queries. To facilitate a positive end-user experience, ensure that links to the most relevant content are displayed at the top of the search-result pages.

Some properties are judged more important in calculating relevance than other properties. This judgment is called property weighting. Search in Office SharePoint Server 2007 gives you a way to modify per-property weight to find these more-important properties so that they are weighted more heavily in the relevance calculation.

There are many additional ways in Office SharePoint Server 2007 to evaluate data and plan for improved relevancy in the way search results are presented to users. For more information about how to improve the relevance of search data to users by how the results are weighted and calculated, see Evaluating and Customizing Search Relevance in SharePoint Server 2007 ( for detailed information.

If you have My Sites set up to use My Site profiles, a feature in Office SharePoint Server 2007 can redirect users to a person’s My Site profile page when that person’s name is clicked in the results of a people search.

The following tasks for administering people search are performed:

Additional considerations

You might encounter an issue with people search when you browse an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site if you use a browser that has the language set to German. When you search for a German compound word or for a German compound name that is contained in the user profiles, no results are returned. If you set the language to English, the correct results are returned. To resolve this issue, see No results are returned when you search for German compound words or for German compound names in SharePoint Server 2007 ( for detailed information.

See Also


Plan search (Office SharePoint Server)
Plan the end-user search experience (Office SharePoint Server)
Plan for people and user profiles

Other Resources

Enterprise Search Relevance Architecture Overview