403 when accessing ExplainRank.aspx in SharePoint

October 8, 2013

One of the most recent projects I have been working on is a SharePoint 2013 public facing web site. The site has been live for a while but the client recently reported the search results were not returning in the order they expected.

I checked the search results page and it was sorting by rank so I decided I should invest some time looking at how the SharePoint ranking model works and what I can do to impact this. While there is a lot of information out there I found it difficult to grasp how all these factors were combining in my environment, especially when things like number of page clicks can influence the ranking.

After some further research I found a link by Waldek Mastykarz Understanding item ranking in SharePoint 2013 Search. This is an excellent article which documents this very useful feature, however when I tried to access this on my environment I got an error, see figure 1.


Figure 1

As with all SharePoint problems I jumped on the server and started up ULS Viewer and hit the page again. I have a quick look through the logs and the item displayed in figure 2


Figure 2

I had a check on the site and I was a site collection admin so next I opened central admin and navigated to the service application list. Once there I selected my search service application by clicking next to the name, see figure 3.


Figure 3

Once selected I then clicked on administrators in the ribbon, see figure 4


Figure 4

In the popup I added my account as an admin and when I refreshed my explainrank.aspx page it now worked. While its not difficult to work out what the error is on the page I thought I would quickly blog this for others and myself, oh and if anyone from Microsoft reads this you could use a better error message on the page 🙂

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