SharePoint Online: Searching the Internet

Published 12/04/2018 02:47 PM   |    Updated 05/16/2019 10:47 AM

One of our clients wanted to be able to search its public website from a page in SharePoint Online. Knowing there was an InternetSearchResults result source available by default in SharePoint Online, the task should have been easy to accomplish. 

But, after working with SharePoint for more than 10 years, I should have remembered that even though something can be done in SharePoint, it may take more effort than expected to implement. The InternetSearchResults result source uses the OpenSearch 1.0/1.1 protocol and, as it turned out, there’s virtually no documentation provided by Microsoft regarding the use of this protocol.

Paul Stork, SharePoint Server Most Valuable Professional at Microsoft, provided some clues in his response to a post on the Microsoft TechNet forum, where a similar question was asked. But that didn’t provide the full answer to my problem. 

In the SharePoint admin center, the Search page contains a link to Manage Result Sources. On this page, the InternetSearchResults source contains the following query:{searchTerms}&count={itemsPerPage}&first={startItem}&mkt={language}&format=rss&FORM=SHAREF

Since this syntax calls, it’s obviously quite old (Bing replaced Live around 2009). Even though it still functions, I decided I’d rather use I did some research and found:

  1. The acceptable parameters for an OpenSearch query at OpenSearch parameters
  2. The advanced search keywords for Bing at Bing Parameters

I thought I would simply be able to add the parameter “site” to the end of the search query and set it to my client’s public website domain as follows:{searchTerms}&count={itemsPerPage}&first={startItem}&mkt={language}&format=rss&FORM=SHAREF&

However, that didn’t work.

I did some testing and thinking and realized that since the “site” parameter is the most limiting value of the query, it would need to be at the beginning of the statement. Some other articles stated that the “site” parameter could follow the search terms, but my tests didn’t confirm that syntax.

I found that a specific internet site could be searched in SharePoint Online (as well as other SharePoint versions) by using the following syntax:{searchTerms}&count={itemsPerPage}&first={startItem}&mkt={language}&format=rss&FORM=SHAREF

So, if you're looking to search the internet from your SharePoint Online site, this would be the simplest approach.

This article originally appeared on May 24, 2016.

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