Things to know about search in SharePoint consulting services

This article is not just a tutorial on the out-of-the-box search interface, but goes way beyond that. It also doesn’t cover the crawling ability of files (covered in another article), but only tells you how to optimize the search query itself. This article aims to explain how your search query, namely the text you type in the search box, can improve the result returned by the search engine with SharePoint consulting services.

What does SharePoint search cover?

To get started, it’s important to know what SharePoint takes into account when searching. The SharePoint search engine searches all sites, pages, wikis, lists, libraries, folders and files in SharePoint.

SharePoint crawls the full text of documents as well as their metadata. A file’s metadata includes its name, title, author, and any keywords or category systems you have in place. For the search engine, metadata takes precedence over full text. (Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what extra value the search engine places on metadata, because Microsoft doesn’t reveal this proprietary information).

Search results only show content that you have access to. In the SharePoint universe, this is called “security screening”.

SharePoint only returns indexed results. “Indexing” corresponds to the operation by which the search engine, having found all the elements stored in the system, lists them in an index.

In general, most if not all content in SharePoint is indexed. But if you’re not getting the results you expect (i.e. a file you think should be among the results does  n’t appear at all ), indexing could be at fault. In this case, you should submit the problem to your IT department.

Where do you want to search?

It is important to know where you are doing your research. You get better results by narrowing your search to a particular library or site rather than by defaulting to all content. Doing so is useful if you know which site or library the file you are looking for belongs to but cannot find it with a quick manual search.

Why ? Because by restricting the search to a single site or a single library, you immediately eliminate possible irrelevant results corresponding to the words or phrases used in your search query, but belonging to other sites.

Global search boxes allow you to search “Everything”, “People”, “Conversations”, and “This Site”. Choose the appropriate option. Be aware that if you choose the “This site” option, the function crawls the site you are on and all subordinate sites, which means that the results may exceed the scope you expected.

Each document library has its own search box and the results are returned directly to the library. The results are basically a view of the contents of the library filtered by the terms you entered. You’re not actually going to a search results page. Enter your search terms in the “Search for file” box to the right of the view names.

Search alerts

Tired of constantly having to type in the same complicated search query to see if your results have changed? On your next search, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Alert Me”. SharePoint will then send you an alert whenever the results page changes or the content of the results themselves changes.

Using advanced search

SharePoint offers an advanced search page, but it’s not the most user-friendly feature. Advanced Search lets you add logic to your search without having to enter a search operator. This goes a long way in limiting your results to the most relevant matches.

The path to the advanced search page depends on how your administrators have configured your search system. The easiest way to get there is to type  Advanced Search  in a search box configured to search “All” content, and the first match should be the right one (we don’t do metadata anymore!).

Continuing the example shown at the beginning of the article, here’s how to define the same search (optimizing it a bit, actually) using advanced search. Here, the search will return results satisfying the following conditions:

  • Contain the exact phrase  “human resources” AND
  • Contain the word  benefits OR  insurance AND
  • All files containing the text  2015 AND will be excluded from the results
  • Results will consist of documents only (PDF or Word documents) AND

The name of the last person who modified the file contains the character string “Matt” (the program will return a person with a last name such as “Matthew” or “Matthews”) AND

This search limits results to files last modified between January 1 , 2016 and February 28, 2016 (because we assume you still know the file was last modified or uploaded in January or February 2016).


You can choose the author or file type for which you want to see results, or change the last modification date range by moving the slider. This eliminates mismatched results and provides more relevant information.

Search in the modern interface In the SharePoint app and on any modern SharePoint site, there is a search bar in the upper left corner of the view. From the SharePoint app home screen, you can search all accessible SharePoint content.

Related Articles

Back to top button