Use Query Rules for Office 365 Training Center

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Have you ever heard of Query Rules in SharePoint search? They’re used to conditionally promote important search results in SharePoint. I found a great use-case for them to help direct users to your corporate Office 365 Adoption/Training Center.

I talk about the importance of building an Office 365 Adoption Portal in a recent blog post O365 Adoption: Much more than training. Check it out if you want to learn more.

Note: I recommend you leverage already-prepared Microsoft support materials!

Most organizations have a technical training portal where tips and tricks, how-to articles, videos and links to training material for Office 365 as well as employee success stories are surfaced. I talk about this in O365 Adoption talks I give as a great way to increase adoption. Here is a sample of what a Training Portal may look like using the awesome new SharePoint Communication site template:

SharePoint Communication site sample


We want to drive users to the Training Center when they’re looking for help with any of the products within Office 365. In Office 365, there are numerous ways we could recommend to an end-user to quickly get to the Training Center. Here are some:

  • end-user can follow the site
  • end-user can bookmark the site
  • the site can be added as a permanent tile on the App Launcher
  • the site can be added as a Featured link on the SharePoint Home page

Even with all these options, some end-users will prefer to use search to find what they’re looking for. To assist with this, we can utilize some simple SharePoint features.

We’ll do this by configuring a managed term set and Query Rules…

Managed Term SetStep 1: Set up a managed term set to include terms for products across the O365 suite. We will use these terms to both tag all training documents, pages, links, etc. as well as build a query rule to promote the O365 Training Center front and center in search results. In this example, I’ve created a Product Term Group at the tenant level and within there a specific Term Set for all Office 365 products included in the O365 Training Center:



Step 2: Once the managed terms are defined, add a managed metadata site column to the document library and pages library in the Training Center to tag all content with the above terms.

Step 3: Leverage the same Office 365 Product Terms term set to set up a Query Rule. This will show a link to the Office 365 Training Center as a promoted result at the top of the search results anytime any of the Office 365 Product Terms are used in a search query in either the traditional or modern search experience.

Create the query rule at the appropriate level. In this example, we’ll configure it at the tenant level which is done in the SharePoint Admin Center in the Search Administration section.

[Update August 28, 2017] Added second condition.

Give the query rule a name and add 2 conditions. The first is to select Query Matches Dictionary Exactly. Associate a dictionary of terms (the Office 365 Product Term set above) to be associated with the query rule. This will cause the condition to be met when an exact match is found. (i.e. search term = SharePoint). Select the link Import from term store link below to navigate to and select the Office 365 Product Terms term set. The second condition is to select Query Contains Action Term and then select the same dictionary of terms as the first condition. This condition will be met when a dictionary term is anywhere in the search query. (i.e. search term = “How do I create a Yammer post?” You might be thinking why not just have the second condition? For some reason, that condition will not be met when a single word from the dictionary is entered as a search term. I’ve had the best success when I add both conditions into the query rule as follows:


Query Rule First half
Query Rule Conditions

Step 4: Add the promoted result by giving it a title, URL and description. You can either display the promoted result as a link or as a banner. Although I prefer the banner, I’ll show both images in this post.


Add Promoted Result Link
Promoted Result definition


Step 5: Time to test!

We have a SharePoint Communication site for the corporate Office 365 Training Center and some content tagged with the managed term set we defined above. This content has also been crawled.

If we navigate to the traditional search center and search for the term SharePoint, one of the terms from the Office 365 Product Terms set, here are the results with a banner display: (Note: it takes an image right from the page itself!)

Promoted Result Banner
Promoted Result with banner

… and here are the results with a hyperlink display:

Promoted Result Link
Promoted Result with hyperlink

If we use the search box from a modern page/site in the top left-hand corner and enter the same search term as above, we won’t initially see the promoted result. This is because the search results are targeting the particular library or site you’re on. If we expand the search results to “All sites” on the top navigation bar like shown below you will get the promoted result displayed as a Recommendation: (unfortunately, the nice image didn’t display, however that behaviour may change in the future)

Modern Search Results - Recommended site



This post has been about mixing something “old” (legacy SharePoint search capabilities) with something new (SharePoint Communication site)! It’s also a simple way to leverage search to enhance the end-user experience in SharePoint and to help adoption along the way. Always a good thing.

Thanks for reading.


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