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SharePoint’s duplicate search result problem

For some organizations the way SharePoint determines ‘duplicate’ search results can cause a big problem with search results.  By default, if SharePoint determines that two sites or files are very similar to one another it marks them as duplicates and only shows 1 of those files or sites and hides the others.

This can become a big issue if your organization uses the same template to generate files as sometimes those files share enough commonality that SharePoint will classify them as duplicates (even if the file name and title are different) and hide the other files from search.  This can even occur on sites, as search doesn’t index any of the content displayed on a site through the web or app parts.  So if a team site doesn’t have any text on it, or has the same common text (Welcome to your new SharePoint Site), SharePoint might decide the sites are duplicates and hide one of them.

We had both of these problems occur in our organization but luckily now with SharePoint 2013 there is an easy way to stop SharePoint from classifying content as duplicates if needed.

Try the Show View Duplicates link first

There is a setting on the search results web part to show a view duplicates link.  The problem is you actually have to click on the file that has ‘duplicates’ to see the  view duplicates link.  This is a change you can safely make in your environment though that won’t change your search results but will give you insight into whether you do have lots of duplicates in your search results or not.

1. Edit the search results page, Edit the Search Results web part.
search-duplicates-1

2. Expand the Settings section, click the Show View Duplicates link.  Save the web part and Publish the page.
search-duplicates-2

Now you can hover over search results and see whether any of the files or sites being returned ‘have duplicates’ or not:
search-duplicates-5

I don’t view this as a solution in anyway if you organization has issues with legitimate sites or files being marked as duplicate.  When people search they aren’t going to hover over the ‘Business Case Template’ and select View Duplicates to see their business case which has a different name and content than the template.  But this is a way to see if any files or sites are being classified as a duplicate.

The Solution: Remove Duplicates query setting

Yay, Microsoft finally listened and added a setting inside the search query where you can stop SharePoint from classifying files or sites as duplicates.  I wish this was a site or site collection setting so you wouldn’t have to edit every search result web part, but hey I’m still happy.

1. Edit the search results page, Edit the Search Results web part.
search-duplicates-1

2. Click the Change query button.
search-duplicates-4

3. Click on the Settings tab, select Don’t remove duplicates.  Save the web part and Publish the page.
search-duplicates-3

Now all the similar files will be displayed in search results:
search-duplicates-6

**Be aware that changing the remove duplicates setting might mean that many duplicate files are now shown in your search results though.

About Nick Hurst (84 Articles)
SharePoint and Nintex developer who strives to find easy to deploy and maintain solutions for business problems.

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