Webinar Recap | The Quest for the Optimal Search Solution
Thank you for your interest in “The Quest for the Optimal Search Solution | Discover which Microsoft 365 search tool is right for you.” If you were able to join us for the webinar, we sincerely thank you for being there. We hope you had as much fun “searching’ for the right solution for you as our speaker did sharing his knowledge.
Didn’t get a chance to catch our session live? We’ve got you covered.
Google may be the king of easy-to-find search results, but how do you maximize relevant search functionality within your Microsoft 365 environment? Traditionally Microsoft platforms like SharePoint, Teams, and Outlook have all had a unique dedicated search function. Today, that is being replaced by the more holistic and reliable Microsoft Search. In our latest webinar, Eric Overfield covered the basics of Microsoft search, and why configuring, analyzing, and updating your search functionality is key. In the long-term, Microsoft Search results will likely replace SharePoint search as the umbrella that makes all of your content searchable.
- The growing power of Microsoft Search
- Obtain contextual search results
- Configure search or risk failure
- Make the most of search analytics
- Train your users how to search
- Customize your search experience
- Follow PixelMill on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram
- Connect with Eric Overfield on Twitter or LinkedIn
- Connect with Michael Wells on LinkedIn
13:11 – The growing power of Microsoft Search
New tooling has turned Microsoft Search into a competitive advantage that rivals SharePoint Search and mirrors the power of a Google Search experience.
“One of the things I want to help convince you or show you is that there is some pretty strong tools coming into Microsoft 365…Microsoft Search is becoming so much stronger. In my opinion, it’s going to be your starting place when you’re looking for a search solution within the M365 ecosystem. If you want to extend that or you need legacy stuff, there are other components you may need to think about. If you’re heavily involved in SharePoint, you may want to do things. Hey, I’m a consultant. I can say ‘it depends.’ But you know, finding the right search solution for you is still something you need to investigate, but more than likely M365 is getting so much closer to delivering all the things we’ve been asking for, the major components that stopped us from doing it before, that that’s where you are going to want to start.”
16:55 – Create a language for your organization
When you approach search seriously, you can define terms, acronyms, and common questions in order to achieve sophisticated search results.
“There’s a way now within Microsoft Search to be able to have answers to questions, and you get to define those. And this is where Google is able to do so well in their general Google searches, is that they have people sort of help figure this stuff out. And if you’re able to invest the time, you’re able to have basically like a librarian or someone who’s helping manage search, you can start to track what’s happening and start to provide answers to questions for people. And so you could see something like someone says like, ‘what is a content type?’ Here’s another one, ‘AED definition.’ Now I’m going to purposely misspell ‘definition.’ You can have acronyms and you can misspell what you’re doing, and Microsoft Search is smart enough to realize, oh, okay. So you can start to define terms within your organization…You can start to create the language for your organization and get some pretty sophisticated results.”
20:45 – Obtain contextual search results
The search results you get at the SharePoint level will be slightly different than the search results you get at the organization level.
“I am within the context of the human resources site, and here’s one of the more recent changes that I saw in search, which was starting to help me understand some things within search, helping us use this. So I’m within SharePoint search, and we can see at the top the verticals that I have, that’s what these verticals are called. They are different than the verticals within Microsoft Search…Obviously, I must be in SharePoint search. Even though I’m still kind of at that same search page, I’m still in this SharePoint search experience. But here’s what’s kind of cool. At least I’m also given the context of where I am at this time. So I can actually go ahead and run the same search at a higher level, and I start to see some results at a higher level of the work project. Let’s go ahead and go to the organization. And now when I go to the organization, you can see I’ve now traversed into a broader Microsoft Search. Good or bad? I kinda like it. It’s a little different, things changed a little bit on me, but it makes sense. When I’m in a site, I want to search the site. In the SharePoint site. But as I go up the organization, I want you to search the organization, and that’s not SharePoint. The organization is broader than SharePoint. And I can start to see some really interesting data come out of this.”
29:46 – Configure search or risk failure
If you simply turn search “on,” it won’t benefit you. You must invest the time to configure it properly.
“It comes down to: if you don’t configure search at all and you just turn it on, it’s probably going to fail. Because your users aren’t going to get the data they’re looking for, because the results can often still be pretty broad. I mean, even Google has that past page one. To me, the results are worthless. That’s my opinion. I think that Microsoft Search is somewhat similar in that you’ve got to help your users find what you’re looking for. Because a person is still going to do a lot better at helping curate the right information. So basically what that means to me is you have no search strategy. If you aren’t taking it seriously, you’re not able to invest time. You’re not able to get some resources into configuring search your organization and maintaining it with a librarian or somebody who’s using the analytics to do something with it. It’s just gonna fail.”
32:42 – Make the most of search analytics
If you make a habit of checking your search analytics weekly, you can configure search to give your employees the best results.
“There’s analytics for search. Use them. Scan them once a week, once a month, twice a month. Look at them. See what people are doing. Run the search yourself. What kind of results do you get? Does it make sense? Do you think that’s what people are looking for? Run surveys with people and ask them how’s it working and what are you trying to do? And, you know, give me a search you did in the last week that didn’t work. It’ll help curate results that make sense. What’s the company leave policy? How do I get reimbursed? I mean, these are all common things that you should just be able to type into your Microsoft Search and results should come out that make sense. Microsoft is only gonna be able to do so much for you. You know what the three documents are across your organization to do that, help find that information.”
35:17 – Defining search admin roles
There are two roles that can be assigned within search: an admin role and an editor role.
“Access is driven within Microsoft Search by two different roles. There’s a search administrative role and a search editor role. So how you do that is I could go into, let’s go into to Bill’s account. Let’s go into Manage Roles. So I selected Bill. I selected Manage Roles. If we go on down to show by category, I’m going to find here there is a search administrator in search editor role. Search administrator will have basically full rights to be able to administer your Microsoft Search. Not SharePoint, your Microsoft Search. And your search editor, if you hover over this little thing right here, you’d get basically the details I’m telling you now. That search editor will have the ability to help basically create those answers that help cure rate the types of results that are available.”
38:31 – Train your users how to search
When you explicitly train your employees how to search your workspace, you increase the chances that they can find the answers they need.
“Answers is where you set up the types of responses that can happen from different kinds of searches. And you’ll see a lot of the things I was searching for. So acronyms. You give it an acronym and then you can do things such as ‘define PNP. What is PNP?’ You can search for an acronym by basically asking the question of what is or define PNP, or PNP definition, or something like that. Now your users may not know that. And one of the things we talk about after the configurations is sort of like best practices. And one of them is you do need to train your user. You’re going to have to give them search smarter tips. You’re going to create a page or a site for them so that they can then get help on searching. And then you could create a bookmark, which is the next one, which is to help them. So if someone were to type in ‘how do I search?’ You can give them answers and point them to a page and say, here’s how you’d learn how to search our corporate portal, our corporate digital workspace.”
47:00 – Customize your search experience
There are convenient SharePoint web parts such as PNP Modern Search V4 that can enable you to search within SharePoint using Microsoft Search.
“There’s two kinds of major customizations that I see. One is you want your own search results, straight up. You want your own search experience, for lots of reasons. You want to create a Teams app that is driving its own kind of search, where you’re searching M365 data, SharePoint, Teams, Outlook, whatever. You want to create your own portal search experience because you want maybe just more control of it. Totally understandable. So the way that I really recommend your first approach at that is going to be using something called the PNP Modern Search V4. So go ahead and Google it, that’s the easiest way to find it. It’s this PNP Modern Search V4. It’s a community-driven application, a community-driven SharePoint framework web part actually, or set of web parts, a solution, which is open source. So you can tweak it all you want. It is actively updated. It goes through a whole installation process. This does go into SharePoint, so you need a SharePoint tenant admin, basically, to set it up for your organization. But here’s where it can get kind of cool. So here I am on a SharePoint site. Now I created a page called ‘search.’ And what you’re seeing here is the utilization of that web part on this page. And so I can now search. I’m searching, in this case I am searching SharePoint. But I’m doing it not within the context of M365.”
49:27 – When you should override existing search functions
If you need fine search control, you can create a unique hybrid search experience that allows you to get the best of both worlds.
“You should be asking me, okay. How can I make this search results page be my default for my title or in the header? Yeah, that’s a little more challenging. In SharePoint there is a way to override this top search. All the other applications there’s not, and you have to do it at a site-by-site basis. Basically the answer I have to you is, that was a huge ‘it depends,’ and it’s a little beyond the scope of what I can say here in the final minutes that I have. It’s something you would want to think about if you’re creating your own search results. What are you going to do about Microsoft search results as well? Are you trying to augment them? Are you trying to create your own search experience? Often I’m finding this kind of search experience is really good if you have more of like a portal-driven experience, where someone is going to a specific portal for HR and they have specific HR requests they want to do. Or we work with a lot of our customers in the legal space, and they’re going to be searching matters. So matter searching. Because that’s really specific, and you want really fine control over the results. This kind of solution is good, because you still have your Microsoft Search. But if you want to go do that kind of special search, you’re going to go to this special search page we’ve created for you. We’ll create the navigation. We might create a bookmark for it. So you can use Microsoft Search, just say, ‘where’s matter search,’ and it will take you directly to it. That kind of cool stuff, but it’s like a hybrid of all these different worlds.”
55:24 – Set up and maintain Microsoft Search
When you create value with search, you save employees time and the company money.
“What’s the right answer for you? In general, to me, that right answer is really going to be driven now by Microsoft Search, because we’re getting a lot closer. It’s getting better. I said it a couple of times. I just want to really drive that home, that it’s gotten good. You do just need to manage it. For your users to be successful, they’re going to need probably a little bit of help. You need to help them understand the basics of what you should be able to search for in your organization, and how’s the best way to do it. I know that training can be really hard and difficult. I don’t necessarily think that a big training course is going to help here. But having data available and helping get champions with the organization and the people that are helping you promote the digital workspace in the organization, that teaching them the basics and showing them where your search hints are and creating a quick search hints for your own organization is really useful. And then helping them get the good results because you’re going to invest the time necessary to not only set this all up properly and to help create that search hint page, but also to maintain the search results by watching those analytics. Look at what people are searching for. Your top 10-20 queries each week should have answers for them.”