SharePoint Online is a collection of web-based tools and technologies that help your organization store, share, and manage digital information. Built on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013, this hosted service is ideal for working on projects, storing data and documents in a central location, and sharing information with others. The following Search features help people find the information that they need to do their jobs. Search is a combination of relevance, refinement, and people.

Continuous crawls

Continuous crawls help keep search results fresh by frequently crawling content in SharePoint sites. Continuous crawls are enabled in SharePoint Online, with crawl frequencies managed by Microsoft. In SharePoint Server 2013, administrators can enable continuous crawls and manage continuous crawl frequencies. Learn more about default crawled file name extensions and parsed file types in SharePoint. Learn more about managing continuous crawls.

The search system automatically creates links directly to sub-sections of a main page that is frequently visited. These links are called "deep links". Learn more about the SharePoint search system.

Event-based relevancy

The search system determines the relevance of search results in part by how content is connected, how often an item appears in search results, and which search results people select. The analytics component tracks and analyzes this information and uses it to continuously improve relevance. Learn more about analytics processing.

In SharePoint, it is easier to find people with specific skills or expertise in the People Search vertical. The search results are based on information such as the metadata users have entered about themselves on their personal sites, and information from the content that they have created. Learn more about changing search vertical settings.

Graphical refiners

The new graphical refiners provide a more visual way of filtering search results. Learn more about configuring the Refinement Web Part.

In a hybrid deployment of SharePoint, search result content can come from both SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013 on-premises sites. To learn more about a hybrid SharePoint environment, see Hybrid for SharePoint Server 2013.

Manage search schema

When people search for content on your SharePoint sites, it's what's in your search index that determines what they'll find. The search index contains information from all documents and pages on your site and is built by crawling the content on your SharePoint site. The search schema helps the crawler decide what content and metadata to pick up and how to index it. By changing the search schema, you can create a customized search experience for your users. Learn more about managing search schema in SharePoint Online.

On-hover preview

Users can rest the pointer over a search result to preview and interact with the document or site content in the hover panel to the right of the result. The preview shows rich metadata and has deep links to the main sections of the document or site. Learn more tips for searching.

Phonetic name matching

Improved phonetic name matching finds search results for similar sounding names (is it John or Jon?). Learn more about managing result sources.

Query rules—add promoted results

In a query rule, specify conditions and correlated actions. When a query meets the conditions in a query rule, the search system performs the actions specified in the rule. The "Add promoted results" action lets you promote individual results so that they appear at the top of search results. Learn more about managing query rules.

Query rules—advanced actions

In a query rule, you can specify conditions and correlated actions. The "Add result blocks" action lets you display a subset of the search results as a group. The "Change ranked results by changing the query" action lets you change the ranking of the returned search results. Learn more about managing query rules.

Query spelling correction

Edit exclusions and inclusions lists to decide which queries the search results page should display alternative query spellings for. This feature is often called "Did you mean?". Learn more about query spelling correction.

Query suggestions

Query suggestions are suggested phrases that users have already searched for. The suggestions appear in a list below the Search Box as a user types a query. Query suggestions are generated automatically, and phrases can be added to the system as "always" or "never" suggest. Learn more about managing query suggestions.

Ranking models

SharePoint uses ranking models to assign a value to search results so that the most relevant items appear first. A ranking model is a set of ranking factors that calculate the rank score of a particular item. Both SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013 include several ranking models that provide effective rankings without any further customization. However, you can customize your ranking models if you need to make search results even more relevant to your end users. The Ranking Model Tuning App allows SharePoint Online customers to create a custom ranking model. The app provides a user interface to copy an existing ranking model, judge the results for a set of queries, and "tune" it by adding or removing rank features and adjusting the weight of those features. Learn more about search result ranking.


Refiners categorize the top documents in SharePoint Server search results into groups that let users filter the search results. Learn more about configuring the Refinement Web Part.

RESTful Query API/Query OM

Developers can create .NET code to access the public search object model. This includes searching administration operations in addition to submitting search queries. To interact with the service side object model, the .NET code must run on a web server in the farm. A sub-set of the object model can be accessed from a remote computer by using the Client Side Object Model (CSOM). Features of the Client Side Object Model (CSOM) can be accessed by using a REST-based web service or oData. This allows developers to submit queries to the SharePoint Server 2013 farm using popular web development tools.

Search results sorting

Users can choose to sort search results by different criteria—for example, relevance, freshness, and social distance (people names). Learn more about search results sorting.

"This list" searches

In SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013, a search can be limited to the list or library where the search is performed. In SharePoint Foundation 2013, a search will return results from all lists and libraries that exist at or below the site where the search is performed.

Feature availability

To view feature availability across Office 365 plans, standalone options, and on-premises solutions, see SharePoint Online service description.