The sheer amount of content on robust websites can overwhelm all users—not just website visitors—preventing them from using important data and assets, and slowing the content creation and revision cycles. This is the first of a series of blogs with some advanced tips & tricks for WCM and CMS users of Coveo search technology. In this first installment we look at a simple way to use Coveo to speed up the creation of your Sitecore-powered website content, and we check in on all-important security considerations.
In future blogs we will cover how the combination of Sitecore and Coveo provide adaptive content delivery in real time, and other advanced topics. (Here’s a hint: By indexing additional systems such as CRM, marketing automation, etc., Coveo can know the context of authenticated visitors, and recommend information relative to their interest, experience and knowledge.)
For this edition, let’s start with a recent quote from a Coveo/Sitecore customer:
“If our users cannot find the content they need when they need it, then the value of that content drops to zero. By structuring our Sitecore content to optimize Coveo features, our portal delivers the right content in the right context.”
– Joan Stiller, Project Manager,Think Mutual Bank
Let’s look at how internal Sitecore users can find the content they need, when they need it, to help speed your content creation and refreshment processes. Since content is king, keeping it fresh in fast cycles is one key to ensure that your site always reflects the newest messaging for both SEO and visitor engagement.
Tip #1: Speeding the creation and revision cycles
WCM systems, including Sitecore, are built for content creation and to enable collaboration in this effort. However, as your content and assets grow, so does the complexity of your implementation. Before long, it’s difficult for even your power users to find the right information and graphics they need to improve web content, and the process slows, making it difficult to keep up with evolving messaging, product lines and industries.
If you’re a Sitecore user, you know that managing this cycle of creation, revision, and editing generally involves two databases: the Master and Web databases. When a Sitecore item is ready for publication, that item is basically pushed from the Master onto the Web database.
You can use Coveo to best leverage both databases. It’s easy to make the unpublished content searchable for users within the Sitecore desktop, as seen in the screenshot below. This will speed the process your creative writers, designers and editors go through in pre-publication. They will no longer need to hunt and peck throughout multiple file folders in Sitecore or elsewhere to find the exact information they need.
Here’s how you can index the pre-publication content: Just target the master database and feed the information into a dedicated source, which can be selectively accessed by your creative and administrative teams. It’s as easy as changing a setting on your Sitecore source: under the ‘Specific Connector Parameters & Options’ section, if you want to crawl content that will be accessible to your admins, simply choose the ‘Master’ database. Meanwhile, for an index source listing the content accessible to end-users, you just need to target the ‘Web’ database.
With the ‘Target Audience’ setting, you can even determine whether a result will open as a standard web page or within the Sitecore Content Editor.
Tip #2: Enhance the Sitecore search & security model to speed up secure website response rates
While Coveo uses a strict security model in which ‘denied’ always overrules ‘allowed,’ Sitecore’s model introduces occasional exceptions; these may depend, for example, on inheritance. Because of this, the built-in Sitecore search tends to rely on late-binding of security (at the time of query) to determine what end-users can and cannot see in search results at query-time. As a result, queries can get a bit taxing on available resources and the response may take longer than is optimal for your users.
By employing Coveo’s early-binding security model through full security indexing and updating (basically the security is indexed along with the content), your site can respond faster and in a less resource-intensive manner, to your website visitor’s search. Coveo manages this through a heuristic system which allows for specific instances where a user may be allowed to see a search result, in spite of having a role which would normally prevent him or her from seeing a certain result. A few small adjustments on the indexing side will enable you to keep pace with the rate of change of securities in your Sitecore environment. For example, you can schedule frequent refreshes of the indexed Sitecore securities to pick up changes at the frequency you need. In some cases, where content outside of the Sitecore environment is also indexed, you may wish to employ both early- and late-binding security with Coveo. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog.
What are your tips and tricks for keeping content fresh and available with search & your WCM/CMS?
For more information on Coveo’s capabilities, check out our WCM search page.