Targeting Outdated Content to Enhance Global Search Results

Occasional Contributor

Given the accelerating content scale and decreasing attention span in the modern workplace, how do you keep your global search results fresh and relevant? How do you know which content is out of date?

If I see something five or more years old, or happen to notice duplicate documents, I'll reach out to the subject matter expert. The name of the content owner is in the metadata, so I know exactly who to contact.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?


7 Replies

One idea we have is to create a new content workflow that would auto generate emails to let content owners know that their content is up for review.

best response confirmed by Sandra_Flanagan (Occasional Contributor)

Hi @Sandra_Flanagan 

Our developer built a custom Azure function to handle this as Flow (PowerAutomate) was not robust enough for the job given we have multiple site collections that make up our intranet (although the Azure function has some challenges too as it stops functioning from time-to-time) . 
A key challenge for our organisation which may not be a problem in yours is that there is significant internal mobility.   This means that while you may have the name of a person noted in page metadata they might have moved to a different role, are no longer responsible for the out of date page and no one else has updated the owner details. 

To get around this we assigned ownership to a job position rather than an individual.  Unfortunately this isn't perfect either as positions sometimes become vacant, but we have a fallback where a second message goes to the position's manager if the page is not updated in a specified time.  

In addition to the review reminder emails, we built a custom web part that indicates to users whether the page is up to date, due for review or out of date - traffic light colours and icons are used in addition to the text indicator.  We find this motivates some of our content owners as they don't want a 'red/expired' notice plastered on their page.  

Finally, we do a lot of pastoral care with our author community, providing them with emails and seminars when new features get released demonstrating how authors might use the new features.  Showing people a cool new web part or enhancement to an existing one that helps improve content presentation is sometimes a better motivator than just badgering people about the need to keep their content up to date!

Good luck with your efforts to get your content owners to keep their pages (and documents) up to date.  I think this is a key challenge that most organisations have and even with things like email reminders still takes a lot of work on behalf of site administrators.

Hi @Jenny Bruce, thank you so much for your thoughtful response! Also, my apologies for the delay in getting back to you.


I'm excited for our migration to the cloud, as we'll also be working with our SharePoint devs to create custom workflows using Power Automate. It's good to know that building a custom function in Azure would be an alternate option that could better address our business needs. What a brilliant workaround!


I love the idea of using a custom web part to hold Content Owners accountable, as well demoing enhancements and functionality, to enhance user adoption and motivation.

This is full of very useful tips @Jenny Bruce - thank you for posting.


Can I ask @Sandra_Flanagan whether you went down the Azure route or if you came up with a solution in Power Automate? I think our site is simple enough that a Power Automate solution could work for us but I have stumbled at the first hurdle and can't figure out how to create a column in our Site Pages list that works out the date of the review (i.e. Modified Date + x amount of days). I've tried tinkering in the column settings but the [Modified]+[365] doesn't seem to be correct syntax. Any ideas? Thanks both.



Hi @VSTrath 

Simple answer to your question - you need to make sure you put = before [Modified], i.e. your formula should be =[Modified]+365



Aha! Great. However, I now get the following error message:

"The default value formula can't refer to columns. To define a column based on other columns, use a calculated column."

It's currently a Date column and I've also tried a number column but same error.

Hi @VSTrath ,

You need to be using a column type of calculated column rather than date column. Calculated columns are not a pre-set option to pick from the front-end column types, but you can still create these by:

  • selecting the 'More' option from Add column 


  • When the Create column screen opens, give your column a name and then  select the Calculated column type.  The formula field then opens for you.
  • In the formula field type = then add the Modified column by highlighting it and select the Add to formula link, and finally pop in the +365.  Or you can just manually type the formula in as its a simple one.
  • Select the data type of date and time and whether you just want date only or date & time, and whether you want this column available for all your content types


  • Finally, select 'Okay'  your new column should automatically populate .  

Good luck with everything.