Effective search is a critically important feature of any application and search within Microsoft 365 productivity apps and the broader Microsoft ecosystem is no exception. With content spread across a plethora of services nowadays, it’s more important than ever before to quickly find the information you need in an easy, intuitive way from whichever app you happen to be using and whatever device you happen to be using it on.
If you’re familiar with the Classic search experience in SharePoint and how it can be customized to suit unique business needs, you are likely anxiously waiting for those same customizations to be made available in Modern search as well such as: custom refiners, verticals, result types, and modern display templates. Here is the Microsoft Search roadmap shared at SharePoint Conference 2019 where these features are slated for deployment Later this year.
However… in the meantime, there is some customization that can already be done to the modern search experience in Microsoft Search to improve the end-user experience. This post is focusing on one of them.
The introduction of the Unified search experience, Microsoft Search, goes far beyond “just SharePoint” – it is built on Microsoft Graph and Bing technology and over time will eventually provide a common search experience across all Microsoft 365 productivity apps and the broader Microsoft ecosystem: Bing, Office.com, SharePoint, Edge, Windows, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Stream, Yammer, Word, Teams, and OneNote.
At the time of this writing, it isn’t available across all of those apps, however it is available in SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Outlook on the web, Office apps on Windows, Bing, Office.com, and the starting pages for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Online and I’m really liking what I’m seeing.
Microsoft Search is on by default and any administration you do applies to all apps using it. Based on the Microsoft Search Usage Guide, there are 5 quick and easy things you can do with Microsoft Search:
- Find people and files
- Get directions
- Discover conversations
- Ask for information without asking
- Bookmark useful information
I’m going to demonstrate the 5th item above… Bookmarks.
Bookmarks are a smart way to provide curated results based on search terms. The result can be any internal or external site (keeping in mind any authentication requirements a website may require).
Microsoft Search is configured from the Microsoft 365 Admin center under Settings. It comes with 19 pre-published bookmarks, several suggested bookmarks you can optionally choose to publish, and an option to create your own custom ones. For this post, I’ll create a custom bookmark to go to a public website… my blog.
Click +Add New to create a new Bookmark. Enter the details of the bookmark providing the title, URL, description and keywords used in the search query to trigger showing the bookmark:
There are additional detailed settings to be entered as required:
How cool is that? You can integrate a Power App right in the Bookmark so users can complete their task directly from the bookmark. This would be a great use-case for requesting a new SharePoint site, signing up for an event, etc.
For my example, I’ve left all additional settings as default.
The result? When I search for blog, the following Bookmark is displayed at the top of the search results:
If you use the same keyword for another bookmark, it will show up as a Related link on the original bookmark result. In this example, I’ve configured the keyword blog for 2 bookmarks: Joanne’s Blog and Joanne’s MVP Profile:
If you use the Bing search engine 🙂 and you’re signed into your Office 365 account, you will see the Bookmark show up there too!
Important! Bookmarks are NOT security-trimmed. If you want a bookmark to only show for select individuals, you must use the Groups setting in the bookmark definition to target a security group.
Practical Use-cases for your organization…
I chose my blog website for demonstration purposes, however practical use-cases for bookmarks in your organization would more likely be any internal websites you use inside and outside of Office 365 (Loan application system, HR system, Servicedesk system, commonly used Office 365 modern page, etc., or any public website your staff frequently access).
- search for ‘help’ and show a bookmark for your Service Desk
- search for <internal application name> and show a bookmark linking to it
- search for ‘vacation’ and show a bookmark for your organizational vacation policy
- search for ‘holiday’ and show a bookmark to a modern page with the 2019 corporate holiday schedule (below)
Find out what users in your organization are searching for by viewing the Top Queries on the Microsoft Search page and build your own bookmarks to make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for! Good search governance means you should assign a search administrator to keep these bookmarks fresh, relevant, and linking to valid URLs. It’s a good time investment that will pay back many times over in time saved by users searching for content across your organization.
Thanks for reading (and happy bookmarking)!