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.

Microsoft 365 Maturity Model


Introduction

Over the past 9 months I have been working with a fantastic community team to build the Microsoft 365 Maturity Model.

The team comprises of

  • Emily Mancini – MVP
  • Marc Anderson – MVP
  • Sadie Van Buren – The creator of the original SharePoint Maturity Model
  • Simon Hudson – Leeds Power Platform User Group Leader

The purpose of the Maturity Model is to enable interested parties whether that is business owners, CTOs, CIOs, consultants understand the impacts and benefits to a business by implementing Microsoft 365.

The Maturity Model tries to keep away from the technology which is tricky sometimes but by doing that it can focus on the business outcomes and keep true to its function which is a tool to help businesses drive value from Microsoft 365.

The Maturity Model divides up Microsoft 365 in to a set of business focused competencies. This allows a business to focus and read up on the areas of the Maturity Model that it is most interested in.

The Maturity Model splits up the competencies into five levels which start from the initial 100 level and build up to level 500 which is the top maturity level.

For each Maturity level the Maturity Model describes the characteristics that an organisation would generally see if it was at that level.

Examples of the competencies include:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Management of content
  • Search
  • Customisation and development
  • Staff and Training
  • People and Communities

Whilst there is bound to be overlap between the compentencies this helps a business see where those connections are so that they can see how they relate and one drives benefit in other areas.

For example if you wanting to have a good search experience where people can find the content that they need or for the content to find them, then you need to have good management of content to ensure old content is tidied up and removed appropriately.

Assessment

These characteristics allow an organisation to measure itself and understand where it is in the maturity model.

Additionally, by looking at the next level it can understand the type of characteristics and impacts/benefits it would achieve if it became more mature.

Focus

A business by understanding the benefits and impact can then make the concious decision as to which competencies it should prioritise and focus on first to get the required outcomes. This allows a business to achieve results more quickly as they understand and can see the goals that they need to achieve by understanding that the characteristics are to achieve those goals.

There are supporting “How to Elevate” documents which try and explain the steps that should be put in place to move from one level to another. These documents are very much work in progress and we have only implemented some of the how to documents. We move that others in the community will contribute to help make them great instructions to get a business to the next level.

Getting Started

To get started, please visit the Microsoft 365 Maturity model introduction article on the Microsoft 365 Community Docs site.

Start by reading the overview, watch the videos and read a couple of the competencies so you can start understanding the value.

Get Involved

If you have thoughts, comments, suggestions then please reach out to us on GitHub and start a discussion topic.

Finally, we are staring a Microsoft 365 Practionisers group which is part of Microsoft’s PnP Sharing is Caring and will be having a monthly community call. To find out when the next one is visit the PnP | Sharing Is Caring site.

Look forward to hearing from you and please be kind Smile