How to enhance the search experience in your SharePoint intranet

More than 200 million people worldwide use SharePoint daily. Despite this number of users, many have a love-hate relationship with the SharePoint search experience. SharePoint may have a search engine that’s a similar size to Google’s US business, but that’s where the comparisons stop.

We frequently hear our customers tell us they “expect SharePoint search to work like Google, but it doesn’t.” Or “SharePoint search doesn’t bring up results” that they expect. Many say it’s “hard to find information on their SharePoint intranet” and will “only use SharePoint search as a last resort”.

Business problems relating to poor intranet search functionality

Estimates suggest that employees spend 1.8 hours every day – that’s 9.3 hours per week, on average – searching and gathering information from their intranet. That’s nearly 25% of their working week.

Businesses report losing out on 20-30% of potential productivity because of time wasted by employees trying to locate information or re-create lost documents, says a report by McKinsey.

Yet, the impact on business isn’t just lost time.

Inefficient searches can also lead to missed deadlines, low morale (from the frustration of not finding necessary information), and even poor decision-making if employees can’t access the information they need or rely on outdated documents.

Hit and miss SharePoint search results puts pressure on intranet owners

This is an all too familiar tale for Microsoft SharePoint users for which the user interface is poor and search results are hit and miss.

It’s not uncommon to hear that the out of the box search experiences across SharePoint, Viva Connections, and Teams are inconsistent, even with same search terms.

Many users report being unable to find specific documents that they know have been added to SharePoint. Others say, with few search filters available, SharePoint search results are overwhelming, confusing, and at times irrelevant.

This leaves many intranet owners or IT admins frustrated and under pressure from the business to fix the problems with the search in SharePoint.

Yet, as out of the box configuration options are very technical, and often require privileged access to the admin centre, it’s hard to create a configurable, user-friendly Enterprise search experience in SharePoint without help.

Fresh solves problems of SharePoint search

That’s where introducing Fresh, an intranet solution built on Microsoft 365, can help.

With a search solution built especially for Microsoft SharePoint, infused with Microsoft Azure Open AI, and even works in Viva Connections, Fresh is a product designed especially for intranets.

Installing Fresh’s intranet-only search experience means that your intranet search results will be clearer, more accurate, and returned on an attractive user interface.

Plus, end users will be able to find information within one click, so they can return to their job quickly, keeping them in the flow of work.

With Fresh Search end users can:

+ Get inline, AI-powered search results directly in the search box

+ Find search results such as people, news, documents, and events

+ Focus a search on a specific location, for example, the entire intranet or a department

+ Refine search results by different types (for example, people, news, and documents) and custom metadata (for example, location and business unit)

With Fresh Search intranet owners and IT admins can:

+ Customise search scopes to focus a search on a specific location

+ Customise metadata to provide more filter/refinement options for end users

+ Customise the layout to provide a unique search experience for end users

+ Build different search scenarios, for example, create a dedicated search centre in the intranet or bring the search box to a prominent area in the global navigation or intranet home page

+ Integrate into Microsoft Azure Open AI for an AI-powered search functionality
+ Confidently provide a consistent user experience across SharePoint and Viva Connections on desktop and mobile devices

3 ways to enhance the search experience in your intranet

Regardless of whether you install a product like Fresh or are happy to continue using native SharePoint, there are some fundamental ways you can enhance the search experience in your intranet yourself. Here we’ve shared our three top tips:

1. Regularly update and maintain content

Always keep the intranet content up-to-date and well-maintained. Put processes in place to ensure content owners review and update their information regularly.

Outdated, incomplete, or irrelevant content should be removed or updated to maintain the accuracy and relevance of search results.

Fresh Intranet has governance components in place that help content owners keep an overview of their content and offers a review date for each piece of content.


2. Consistent search experience across your intranet

There’s nothing more frustrating for end users than knowing a piece of content exists and not finding it.

Providing a consistent search experience means that end users can trust the search behaviour and the accuracy of the results no matter where they start a search from.

Fresh Intranet delivers a consistent search experience that offers the same behaviour and design no matter whether your colleagues are searching from SharePoint or Viva Connections, on desktop or mobile.


3. Metadata and tagging

Introduce a well-defined metadata structure in your intranet to ensure that the content is properly categorised. It’s therefore essential to teach your content creators how to use metadata accordingly.

The search functionality in Fresh Intranet leverages metadata and filter options to allow end users to narrow down their search results to be more relevant.



Want to find out more about improving your search experience within SharePoint? Get in touch and one of our friendly team will show you how with Fresh.