By Marc Stephenson |

April 12, 2024

How to filter SharePoint Search with custom verticals

In this series of blogs, Marc Stephenson, Director, Information Architect and Enterprise Search expert here at Metataxis, continues to review the search configuration features available in Microsoft 365. Based on his experience, he will present a steer on how to best use them to optimise your users search experience. He’ll share with us what really works and what the documentation doesn’t explain well – or at all.

This time, he’s introducing us to custom verticals and custom filters within SharePoint to increase search usability, help organisations sift through content and give end users a more streamlined search experience.

Read on:

custom verticals

Simplifying SharePoint searching

Even the best SharePoint search engines can be overwhelmed with all the data and content that exists in a typical organisation. So how can you narrow down the scope of search results to provide a more tailored search process for your users?

What kinds of things to search when you enter terms into any SharePoint search box can be configured. Microsoft enables this by allowing the definition of what it calls “verticals” and “filters”.

What is a search vertical in SharePoint Search?

search vertical is a specific category or type of search result that is displayed on the search result page. In simple terms, a search vertical is a subset of search results you get when you search for something in SharePoint, where each vertical is shown as a tab, allowing a user to access search results of a particular kind.

You’ll have seen it before in Google:

configure search verticals

Microsoft has default verticals which appear at different levels (see previous blog on search scopes). The default verticals are:

  • All: Shows all search results for all content in the tenant
  • Files: Shows all files in the tenant
  • People: Shows people and their profile information

Introducing custom verticals in SharePoint

Crucially, you can also define custom verticals. These have some rather quirky limitations (that are not very well documented – trial and error is needed here!) Custom verticals allow you to tailor the search experience to show, for example, specific kinds of content such as news, or return results from specific collections of sites. You can also use custom data connectors to show content from non-SharePoint sources.

Creating or modifying custom verticals involves defining the vertical’s name, its content source, and scope of content to search. Keyword Query Language (KQL) can be used to specify the search scope for a given content source.

Verticals can be used post-search to narrow down what you’ve already searched for, but also pre-search allow you to narrow down before you search.

Custom filters

Filters are very similar to verticals. They allow a pre-defined restriction of search results. Any vertical can have multiple filters that apply within it. As with verticals, there are default filters, but custom filters can also be defined. The configuration for filters also requires experience to work around the undocumented quirks.

Administrators can use custom verticals and custom filters in SharePoint to deliver a more precise, search experience for end users. They enable end users refine and direct their searches within specific content, datasets, locations, and patterns to ultimately narrow down the scope of search results and receive results that offer the greatest opportunity for success.

Having configured verticals and filters for several Microsoft 365 implementations, I highly recommend looking into this rarely used functionality – your users will thank you.

How to configure search verticals and filters

Do you have any questions about Microsoft Search verticals and filters? Are you looking to create and configure a SharePoint Search but not sure where to start?

Talk to us. We’ve done it before!

Read more about SharePoint Search

To learn more about configurable search in Microsoft 365, check out Marc’s other blog in this series: Microsoft Search – classic vs modern search experiences.

We can help you give the best experience using modern search