Plan your content

Microsoft Search helps users find relevant content. Microsoft Search is a secure way to search both your intranet and web content. This kind of integration across web and organization is available only with Microsoft.

Search administrators use their knowledge of the organization and its users to make it easy for users to find the relevant content.

Step 1: Identify information your users need

Find out what your users are searching for and make that easily discoverable. Here are some ideas for finding out what information users need:

  • Use intranet search logs to determine sites and pages that get the most traffic.
  • Determine apps, sites, and tools that are used on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Find direct links for employee benefits.
  • Find policies and processes that users need to be aware of.
  • Decide ‘who’ and ‘how’ users should contact Support.
  • Get information that is needed on a recurring basis, either seasonally or based on business cycles; for example, people looking for tools to book time off or quarterly financial updates.
  • Collect policies for regional or mobile users, like benefits that vary by location.
  • Determine internal sites and information for common web searches; for example, traffic, public transit information, local weather, discounts available from corporate partners, and health and fitness programs.
  • Find information about company-sponsored events, conferences, or retreats.
  • Research common IT, HR, and support issues and frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers.

Step 2: Leverage Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and users

In an organization, users search for a wide range of topics ranging from simple such as office addresses, employee benefits to complex topics such as new work processes, technical information, and how-to-do content. Creating or finding such wide range of content requires knowledge and expertise in different fields, subjects, technologies etc. and a Search administrator may not have the requisite expertise or knowledge. Administrators should leverage expertise and knowledge of others in the organization to scale the amount of available content without additional resources.

Leverage SMEs

Leverage SMEs in the organization including experts from HR, support, sales, technology, and other key areas. To allow your SMEs to contribute content directly, add them as Search editors.

Involve your users

Ask users to suggest resources to bookmark. In addition to suggesting content, ask users to report errors, like broken or invalid links.

Step 3: Improve findability of content with Answers

In Microsoft Search, Search administrator creates Bookmarks, Q&A, Locations, and Floor Plans to improve the findability of content. Each of these search components includes a title, a URL, and a set of keywords that trigger it.

Titles and descriptions

People use titles and descriptions to determine if the result answers their search query, or if they need to try a different search. Titles and descriptions should reflect the core purpose of the result. A good example of a title might be 'Childcare benefits,' with a description - 'Learn about benefits to help pay childcare costs.' This informs the users who search 'childcare' that monetary support benefits are available, and provides them a link to find out more.


Keywords are the terms that people in your organization use to find relevant content. Associating the appropriate keywords with search results makes it easier to find the relevant content. Microsoft Search suggests keyword based on the title and URL for your content. To identify additional keywords, start by answering these questions:

  • Which search terms are used to find the information you've identified?
  • Leverage any existing taxonomy your organization uses, as well as related variations, acronyms, subjects, and topics.
  • Which other variations or words do people use to talk about this information?
  • Leverage your support team to determine these keywords.

For example, if you're creating a result that links to a tool for submitting vacation requests, keywords such as 'vacation' and 'submit vacation request' are good options to include. You may also find that people in your organization use 'holiday' or 'time off' to describe or search vacation related information. Adding keywords like 'holiday,' 'time off,' 'submit holiday request,' and 'request time off' will make it easier for more of your users to find the relevant content.

Reserved keywords

A reserved keyword is a unique term or phrase that triggers a result. Unlike other keywords, a reserved keyword can be associated with one result only. Use reserved keywords sparingly to allow Microsoft Search to learn based on usage.

For example, if you create a bookmark for a site for submitting your hours and add “log time” as a reserved keyword, users in your organization who search “log time” see the site for submitting your hours as the only bookmark in the Microsoft Search box.

If you want users to find sets of related content when they search for a term, then try using the same keyword for all related content. For example, if you're adding results about processes and tools around life status changes, you could include a keyword like 'marriage' to group together results about updating benefits, tax information, and name and alias changes.

Search settings

Use search settings to tailor your content and target specific groups of users. Microsoft Search has the following settings that give you additional control over when a search result appears and who sees it.

  • Dates: Set a start date as well as an end date to control when content will be made available or unavailable. For example, time sensitive material appears in search result when it is relevant.
  • Country/region: Select countries or regions so that only users in those locations will see the content. For example, country specific information appears in search results in those countries only.
  • Groups: Use the Groups settings to make a result available only to members of a selected group. For example, if you're creating sites that pertain only to employees in the HR department, you could map this setting to the appropriate HR security group.
  • Device & OS: Select device types or operating systems so that only users searching on those devices or using those systems will see that bookmark.
  • Targeted variations: Use this setting to vary the content of the bookmark based on a user's device and location.

Step 4: Test your content

After you've created Bookmarks and Q&A, it's important to verify that:

  • The correct Bookmark or Q&A appears.
  • All content grouped together using keywords appear together as planned.
  • No unexpected results appear in search result.
  • Review whether the Bookmark or Q&A has enough information.

Users and SMEs who contributed to content creation can help test and validate the search result.

Step 5: Use insights to review and update periodically

It is important that authoritative information such as Bookmarks and Q&A are up to date.

  • Fix or remove broken or invalid URL.
  • Remove Bookmarks or Q&A that are no longer relevant.
  • Check for tool, site name, or team name changes.
  • Consider whether the Bookmark or Q&A is authoritative enough or needs a clearer description.

Microsoft Search provides usage statistics for Bookmarks, Q&A, and Locations. The usage statistics shows how users are engaging with your search results and whether users are finding what they are looking for, or are there any gaps in the available content? It helps administrator monitor performance and take appropriate actions to fine tune the search results.

Get details about Bookmarks, Q&A and Locations

See how many Bookmarks, Q&A, and Locations have been published, scheduled, or suggested. Use the dashboard to see Bookmark, Q&A, or Location totals by status:

  • Published: The number of published results that are available to users.
  • Scheduled: The number of scheduled results in the publish pipeline.
  • Suggested: The number of suggestions from users.

Suggested Bookmarks, Q&A, and Locations are a good indicator of gaps in your content. It will help you understand what your users are looking for, and not finding. This could indicate that you need to create more Bookmarks, Q&A, or Locations or you need to update your existing content by using better keywords, reserved keywords, and search strings to improve the discoverability of content.

Review top search queries

Find out which searches have generated the most impressions over the last 90 days. Impression refers to how many times a page was viewed in search result. The Top Queries card shows the top 25 user searches for each result type with the total number of searches and their click-through rate (CTR). Use this report to identify search query volume and to determine queries with high and low search activity.

Low search count may indicate user dissatisfaction either because users are not looking for those search content or are using different keywords to find that content. CTR shows how often users select the promoted results and how useful your query rules and results are to users. A low CTR indicates that users are finding the content but are making the determination that the content does not meet their search. In such cases, administrators may decide to review the content and ensure that it corresponds with the user’s search and update titles, descriptions, and keywords to align them with the user search queries.