Posts by Simon Doy

I am an avid SharePoint enthusiast who works as an Independent SharePoint Consultant based in Leeds, United Kingdom. I am one of the organisers of the Yorkshire SharePoint User Group in the United Kingdom. I have been designing and building SharePoint solutions since 2006.

How to exclude content from Microsoft 365 Search


Introduction

Recently I was asked by a customer using SharePoint to host all their insurance claim content how they could exclude the content from showing up in searches from their Microsoft 365 Intranet.

Search has evolved in Microsoft 365 with two engines, Microsoft 365 Search and SharePoint Search. Had it been configuring SharePoint search I would have no problem showing them how to do it.

With Microsoft 365 Search, I was sure there was a way as I remember hearing something about search configuration in the back of my mind but was not sure.

The issue was more important because they had switched off search within the site collection. So that the content did not display but this had some unexpected consequences.

Including, they could no longer find content associated with their claims application. List searching and filtering did not work anymore. This made administering the application difficult which had millions of associated files. Finally, if they later wanted to improve performance by using search to improve the experience for their teams then this would no longer be possible.

A solution was needed!

Fortunately, Microsoft’s effort in improving the Microsoft 365 Search configuration experience has made it possible to do what we want to do.

Let’s provide a bit of background.

Background

So how can this be achieved?

Well, firstly, let us explain what needs to be configured. When you do a search from any of the Microsoft 365 search boxes for example in SharePoint or Teams you get a set of results as shown below.

Example Microsoft 365 Search from SharePoint Online

You can see a summary of search results but if you click on “Show more results” then this expands to a dedicated search results page. This results page allows you to refine the search across different categories (called search verticals) to make it easier to find the right resource. By default, these search verticals include things like filtering to just files, people, news, and images.

Example of a search result with search verticals.

We bring up the search verticals as this is how we will config Microsoft 365 Search to exclude content. We will also need to configure each of the search verticals as well to ensure that one of them does not bring unexpected content back.

Microsoft Search uses Keyword Query Language or KQL and it is possible to configure this to restrict the search results to a particular result set. More information on KQL can be found at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/general-development/keyword-query-language-kql-syntax-reference

Solution

Now, with Microsoft 365 Search it is possible to configure the search and these search verticals to exclude content. So, how do we do this?

Firstly, the user to do this will need to have one of the following roles:

  • Global Admin
  • Search Administrator

Firstly, let’s say that the site content that we want to exclude is found on a site with this URL, https://ithink365.sharepoint.com/sites/sensitive

To do this do the following:

  • Click Show All
  • Click Settings->Search and Intelligence
  • Choose Customizations and then Verticals
  • Select the All Vertical and choose Edit
  • Click on Query and then Edit
  • Keep the name of the vertical and, click Next
  • Paste the following KQL as shown below.
  • Click Next

NOT (path:https://ithink365.sharepoint.com/sites/sensitive)

Configure the Query for the Search Vertical
  • At the Filters click Next
  • Review the vertical settings, and click “Update Vertical”
  • Wait a few seconds
  • Click Done and go back to the vertical settings screen.

With this vertical completed now repeat the process for the other search verticals.

How long does this take to apply to Microsoft 365 Search?

In my experience, it can take up to 3-4 hours for the changes to take place.

Conclusion

So hopefully armed with this knowledge you can now configure your Microsoft 365 Search so that it excludes content without disabling search and making life harder for you and your admin teams when they are working with sensitive local content.