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How to display recommendations and popular items on a SharePoint Server 2013 site

In this blog series, I’ll describe how you can use the new Usage analytics feature in SharePoint Server 2013 to display “smart content” on your website.  By “smart content” I mean content such as recommendations and popular items.  Recommendations are based on how other visitors have interacted with your site. For example, on a product page, you can display “People who viewed this product also viewed.” Popular items are the most viewed items on the entire site or within a specific category, for example the most viewed laptops on a site that sells technology products.

To help explain, I’ll use examples from a fictitious company called Contoso. Here’s what the website will look like once we’re done.

Recommendations and Popular items on a website

Note: The examples in this blog series are based on an on-premises installation.

Blog posts in this series:

Why this series is like Season 2 in a TV series
The Contoso website that I’ll use as an example throughout this series is a cross-site publishing website. If the story of how the Contoso site was set up were a TV series, the blog series How to set up a product-centric website in SharePoint Server 2013 would be Season 1. This series would therefore be Season 2.

Throughout this series, I’ll refer to many concepts and features that I explained in the previous blog series (Season 1). You should read the first series before continuing with this one. As with a TV series, knowing the story from the beginning makes things not just easier to understand, but also more interesting.