Metadata is a pretty important feature to add to any of your documents in SharePoint. Metadata is essentially searchable descriptive data about your documents.
Metadata links extra information to your document; for example, SharePoint. It does this automatically by default, retaining certain metadata about your documents such as the title, last modified and the document file type. Other metadata can be added to improve search-ability or security.
By adding extra metadata columns in SharePoint, you can create more relevant metadata to add to your document, making content you are searching for much easier to find.
Adding metadata to your document is an important step to differentiate your SharePoint documents from one another and to allow them to be easily searchable.
For example, if you want to search for all documents related to ‘Customer Contracts,’ then as long as metadata tags have been added to these types of documents, SharePoint can easily search, sort and present you with all the relevant documents stored within your SharePoint site.
Metadata can also be used for security purposes too; for instance, to block certain users from accessing sensitive documents even when searched for.
Metadata can also completely block particular documents from being viewed or edited which is a very useful feature to help keep your documents safe. It also means you can safely store your sensitive data alongside your non-sensitive data, making data management easier too.
4 Tips when creating metadata
- First, always double check the spelling. This may sound very simple, but it is very important to create accurate, typo-free metadata. Incorrect spelling of metadata will result in your document not being recognized when searched for and ultimately hidden from the search procedure.
- Use as many descriptive words as you can in the Description field when you create a new column. The more descriptive you are about the information you require, the more likely co-workers will enter the correct and relevant metadata.
- Be clear when creating questions for metadata by ensuring there are definite separations to help prevent metadata tags being linked to the wrong document or image. Mistakes like that can be very frustrating when searches are bringing up numerous irrelevant documents.
- Search lists should be kept as short as possible to help the user and to minimize their need to troll through long lists to find what they need.
Metadata increases the chances of your documents being found and improves user experience by displaying accurate results when a query has been placed.
Adding metadata to your documents allows users to effectively and efficiently find what they are looking for, making it a pretty important if not essential process to do.
Once you have tagged your documents with metadata, you can set up metadata navigation for a list or library to make it even easier for users to find the content they desire from large lists or libraries.
Users can utilize what is referred to as a navigation tree to filter out and find the content they want.
When you create a navigation tree, you can select which columns will appear in the navigation tree and apply Key Filters which will further help users to get better search results.
To set up metadata navigation for a list or library you must have Manage Lists permissions.
Here’s how to set up metadata navigation:
Locate the list or library you wish to configure for metadata navigation.
Click the list or library tab – Click List Settings or Library Settings.
In General Settings, click Metadata navigation settings.
Within the Configure Navigation Hierarchies section, select which fields you want displayed in the navigation hierarchy.
If you want to remove folders from the display, select Folders and click Remove.
In Configure Key Filters section, choose which fields you want added as Key Filters and click Add.
Choose in the Configure automatic column indexing for this list whether you want to create indexes automatically on this list or not. This is recommended as it helps the performance of query results when users use the navigation tree and Key Filter columns. To do so select Automatically manage column indexes on this list.
Your metadata navigation is now setup.
You will now see in SharePoint a tree control on the left-hand side displaying the hierarchy of folders and metadata terms. Users can now select the items they want from the tree filter and select the Key Filters they want just below the navigation tree.
With the combination of metadata in place and the creation of the metadata navigation tree, users can now search by selected lists, libraries or search by metadata. This makes large lists or libraries much easier to navigate and greatly improve the query results the user receive.