Oftentimes, I get the question from clients and workshop attendees: what is the best analytics tool to enhance Microsoft Search? – My answer is a set of questions back: What do you want to use the tool for? What insights do you want to get? How do you want to use these insights? What do you want to do with these insights? Whose responsibility would it be? Do you have it on your quarterly (monthly?) plan to analyze the reports and take appropriate actions?…
The answer is often a big, silent, “Well….”
Until you can answer these questions, it doesn’t really matter if you use the out-of-the-box Search Analytics reports or another advanced 3rd-party tool (for an additional cost). Getting more reports itself doesn’t make search better.
YOU are the key, and your team – and the actions you take based on the reports.
This post introduces the out-of-the-box Microsoft Search Analytics, which has been improved a lot lately, and provides valuable insights into how users interact with search functionality. If you’re just starting, first I recommend to understand these reports, and establish a routine and governance practice, to extract, understand, and act.
Why Analyze Users’ Search Behavior?
By analyzing search data, you can gain a deeper understanding of user behavior and preferences – beyond anecdotal stories, “search sucks” type of general feedbacks, and “we want Google-like search” kind of (false) wishes. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions on how to enhance the quality and relevance of search results, and tailor the user experience accordingly.
Knowing what your users really need vs. what they say they want makes a huge difference!
Analyzing Search Data and Identifying Areas for Improvement
Responsibilities in analyzing search data and implementing improvements lie with both search administrators and content owners. Search administrators play a crucial role in collecting and analyzing the data, while content owners use these insights to create or modify content accordingly.
The role of the internal communications team is also crucial in utilizing search analytics in an effective way. They bridge the gap between management and employees, by keeping employees informed, engaged, and aligned with the company’s goals and values.
By harnessing the power of search data analysis, organizations can continuously enhance their search capabilities, resulting in more accurate results, satisfied users, and improved overall efficiency.
To access Microsoft Search Analytics, go to Microsoft 365 Admin Center / Settings / Search & intelligence / Insights.
Microsoft Search User Analytics
The User Analytics page shows how people in your organization use Microsoft Search based on your selected date range and search application filters.
Understanding how users interact with different search applications can help identify any gaps in adoption and usage. By using various criteria to filter the reports, you can analyze and compare the level of user engagement across various groups and applications, allowing you to pinpoint areas that may require improvement or additional features.
Microsoft Search Query Analytics
Most popular search terms
Knowing what people are searching for can provide valuable insights into current trends and interests. This reports shows the most popular search terms or phrases clicked on by users.
It is important to mention that a term is added to this table when it is searched at least three times with the user clicking on a result.
Top 10 no-result queries
Way too often, search queries can be dissatisfactory, leading to frustration and wasted time – and users leave the results page without even clicking on any result.
This report shows the most popular search queries that returned no results, giving insights into what your users are looking for but not finding. Use this report to improve content discoverability and identify search queries that might create user dissatisfaction. This can also help determine if you should create an Answer (such as a Bookmark) or add new search content.
Top 10 abandoned search terms
This report shows the most popular search terms with a low click-through rate (results that users did not select or abandoned). This indicates that users probably did not find the information they were looking for.
Microsoft Search Connection analysis
This report shows impressions and click-through queries for search results from your data connections. The report consists of various views, including:
- Queries by connection
- Click-through rates by connection
- Total indexed items by connection
Microsoft Search Answer Analytics
This new report helps analyzing the performance of Microsoft Search Answers: Bookmarks, Acronyms, and Q&A. Understanding the usage of Search Answers is cruical, so that you will know which Answers perform well, which are not being clicked on, etc. For example, if you notice that certain Bookmarks or Acronyms are frequently clicked on, it indicates that users find those answers helpful.
On the other hand, if certain Bookmarks or Q&A answers are not being clicked, it suggests that they may not be addressing user queries effectively. By identifying these underperforming answers, you can revise their content or consider alternative approaches to improve their visibility and usefulness.
➡️ More details about Answer Analytics: Search Usage Reports- Analytics | Microsoft Learn
Implementing Changes to Enhance Relevance and Quality of Search Results
One key aspect of Microsoft search optimization is understanding the searcher’s intent. By analyzing user behavior and search patterns, you can take actions, and tailor the results to align with what users are actually searching for.
Another important factor to mention is optimizing the structure and organization of the content (information architecture). This includes optimizing metadata, site structure, content types, file names, etc. By doing so, you can provide clear signals to the Microsoft Search engine about the quality, authority, relevance and hierarchy of the content.
Furthermore, enhancing the quality of search results involves providing accurate and up-to-date information. Regularly updating your key content ensures that users are presented with relevant information that meets their needs.
By combining the insights provided by Search Analytics with proper search governance and decisive actions, you can unlock the full potential of the Microsoft Search capabilities and deliver exceptional search experiences for your users. It’s a continuous journey that requires monitoring Search Analytics, conducting regular content audits, and implementing a robust search governance framework. This way you can ensure that search administrators, content owners, and users all play an active role in maintaining and enhancing search quality.