The recently introduced Microsoft Search is an attempt to deliver a more customized and cohesive search engine that taps into all of the internal knowledge of a business. This Office 365 search function includes new features designed to find relevant documents and other information based on the context of the application being used. For instance, when users search in Microsoft Outlook, they find emails, but a search in SharePoint Online returns sites, pages and files. For security, search results are limited to items the user has permissions for. The search experience is the same across Microsoft applications, such as Exchange Online, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive for Business, regardless of the user’s geographical location or choice of device.
How Microsoft Search Works
By default, Microsoft Search is turned on for all Microsoft apps that support it. To enable organizations to customize the search functionality, Microsoft Azure includes the following two admin roles:
- Search Editor: Admins with this role can create, manage and delete Microsoft Search content in the Microsoft 365 admin center. In particular, they can make specific pieces of content easier to find by customizing the following search sections:
- Bookmarks — Pin the best possible result for a query to the top of the results.
- Questions & Answers (Q&A) — Provide answers for common user
- Locations — List the addresses of buildings and offices.
- Search Admin: This role includes all the functions available for Search Editor. In addition, admins with the Search Admin role can modify the search schema and customize the user experience. For example, they can include external content in the search results by configuring connectors and specifying search verticals for the organization.
Limitations of Microsoft Search
Although Microsoft Search offers important value, it has important limitations that you should understand. Most importantly, out of the box, the search results can’t be filtered by any category other than document age, which can it extremely difficult to zero in on the specific document or set of documents you need.
SharePoint administrators can substantially improve the search experience by mapping document metadata into the search index. You have two choices for applying metadata to documents, each of which has important drawbacks:
- Manual labeling. By default, users have to manually label each document. This process is tedious and time- consuming, which makes user mistakes and negligence nearly inevitable. As a result, critical information could be missing from search results while irrelevant documents create noise and confusion. Additionally, legacy data or rarely used documents can easily be missed during the labeling process, leaving them unavailable for searches.
- Automated labeling. You can choose to use the automated data classification in Microsoft 365, though it may require an upgrade to the E5 subscription plan. While this feature eases the burden on users by eliminating the need for manual labeling, it increases the burden on IT teams, who need to spend time deploying and managing it. The pre-built taxonomies can’t be customized, and the lack of scoring can result in both false positive and false negative results in searches. In addition, the classification process is slow; for example, if you create a new label or modify an existing one, it can take up to 24 hours for your modification to become available in the system. Also, not all types of files can be classified using the automated process.
How to Improve Content Search and Get More Accurate Search Results
The best way to improve the effectiveness of Microsoft Search is to improve the labeling of content across all of your data sources. Administrators can quickly deploy the predefined classification taxonomies, and easily tailor them to meet the organization’s unique requirements or create new ones from scratch. Modifications do not require a lengthy full re-classification operation, so the results are quickly available. Netwrix Data Classification delivers the accurate, reliable and consistent labelling required to make information easily searchable. Plus, Netwrix Data Classification supports a broad range of data sources and file types.
With the metadata generated by Netwrix Data Classification, users can refine their queries by area, discipline, design, date created, creator and other parameters. As a result, they can quickly find the right content for their specific needs — fostering innovation, knowledge sharing and collaboration, and faster and more cost-effective customer service.