Modern Search in SharePoint Online: The Search Administrator
In our previous article, Modern Search in SharePoint Online: The User Experience, we explained how the Modern Search experience provides powerful search capabilities for users to curate relevant, important, and personalized content to the user while the Microsoft, or Classic, Search experience provides organization-specific information.
From an administration point of view, deciding when to use which one of the search experiences is a consideration when planning the implementation of Modern Search. Both search experiences require content that has been indexed but because Modern Search uses the same index as Classic Search, nothing is required to be done if your organization is already using Classic Search. Additionally, the modern search boxes are defaulted to appear on the SharePoint homepage and modern sites, eliminating the need for configuration by a search administrator.
There are two options when it comes to the launching portal into different search experiences. Where to launch the portal from is directly related to the end goal of what is being achieved. Launching from the Search Centre will provide different results than from the SharePoint homepage.
Launching from the Search Centre (Classic Search) will allow custom refiners and search verticals for organization-specific content. This also provides the ability to display organization-specific content results differently than other content for it to stand out. The second method of launching is from the SharePoint home page and this can be done by encouraging and promoting users to use the SharePoint start page to initiate Microsoft Search (Modern Search in SharePoint Online). By launching from the SharePoint home page, content delivered will be user-specific.
Migrating from a classic to a modern site will impact the search experience if you have a customized search. Remember that a classic site has a classic search box while a modern site will have a Microsoft search box. With classic sites, the search box can be customized, such as redirecting to a custom Search Centre to display filtered and formatted results that are organization-specific based on content types. The Microsoft search experience cannot be customized in this fashion and it is recommended to use modern sites if the search box does not need to be customized. This method would provide user-relevant content.
An efficient way for users to search across all sites of an administrative unit is to use a hub site to organize the sites. Hub sites use Microsoft search boxes which means that searches target people, files, news, and sites across all associated sites of that hub. This can also be achieved with the classic search box, but it would be time intensive and not the most efficient method.
On the plus side, Microsoft search can be used in combination with cloud hybrid search. On-premises and online content for cloud hybrid search are indexed in the same index that is accessed for classic and Microsoft search experiences.
Keep in mind when migrating or deciding when to use the Classic Search or Modern Search experiences that the Modern Search experience shows results only from the default result source. If the default result source is changed, then both search experiences are impacted. Likewise, removing a search result, even temporarily, will remove it from both search experiences.
Earlier, we discussed how a search administrator can use Microsoft search to promote information and answers that are targeted to specific groups or teams. For the Classic Search experience, search administrators define the promoted results that provide users with relevant and important content. Unlike the classic search experience, Microsoft Search experience requires the search administrator to use bookmarks to achieve the same result.
Promoted results can be created at an organizational level. At this level, if a user was to search across the whole organization, the promoted results might appear in the All tab on the Microsoft search results page.
As an example, let’s say a user searches from the search box on a hub site. Performing a search from the hub site garnishes results from sites associated with the hub only and will not see any of the promoted results in the All tab. However, if the user had performed the search from the SharePoint home page, then the promoted content may appear on the All tab. If the promoted result was defined and the same content was bookmarked with the same URL, then only the bookmark would appear in the All tab.
As one can see, planning the implementation of Modern Search with Microsoft Search requires a thorough understanding of the relationship between them as well as how sites function, particularly hub sites, classic sites, and modern sites.
Modern Search in SharePoint Online brings personalized content to the user while Classic Search provides the ability for search administrators to customize promoted content that can be targeted to specific groups or teams within the organization. Microsoft is rethinking, redefining, and changing how search is used by combining Modern Search in SharePoint Online, Microsoft Search, and AI.