The SharePoint 2013 Analytics feature

Differences and new possibilities

Nicki Borell

by Nicki Borell on 4/27/2014

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This is the first chapter in a series about the SharePoint 2013 Analytics feature. The Analytics feature is a complete revision in SharePoint 2013. As with other components of SharePoint Search, parts of FAST Search and of SharePoint Search have been used together to create a new and powerful feature. I will use examples and demos to demonstrate how to make reasonable adjustments to create custom events and useful solutions based on Analytics data. In a later chapter, I will also examine how to use PowerShell to configure SharePoint Analytics. In a subsequent chapter, I will examine the options for managing Analytics with PowerShell and the dos and don'ts for configuring and planning in real-life environments.

Search-driven solutions, as well as companywide search portals, demand many more requirement criteria from the Search and Analytics function, which out-of-the-box functionality cannot always meet. IT pros, developers, as well as architects, will have the change to experience what can be done in Analytics using PowerShell, configuration settings, and custom solutions.

The tutorial will include the following chapters:

  • Part 1: Basics
  • Part 2: Managing Analytics
  • Part 3: Search Analytics
  • Part 4: Usage Analytics
  • Part 5:  Solutions built on Analytics

Each Chapter will include a video with hands-on lab information and a written post that includes scripts, etc.


  • Learn about the Search Analytics architecture and how to use PowerShell to configure and query Analytics data.
  • View demos to learn how to create, configure, capture, and use Analuytics to process your own custom event.
  • Learn how to use ranking models with Search Analytics data to solve real-life scenarios and what can be done to deliver a useful experience.
  • Learn how to use PowerPivot and performance Point Services in SharePoint to create custom reports about Analytics data, as well as query those data programmatically using your own code in PowerShell or another scripting language.

Part 1: Basics

The Analytics feature in SharePoint 2013 is a completely new feature. The WebAnalytics feature in SharePoint 2010 has been removed from the product. The new Analytics feature is no longer a separate Service Application; it is now part of SharePoint 2013 Search Service Application. The main reason for this is that Analytics is no longer limited to reporting what users are doing in SharePoint. The feature is used to identify and surface the content that users consider to be the most useful and relevant. The Analytics processes and analyzes both the content itself, and also the way that users interact with it. The results of the analysis are added to the items in the index so that search relevance improves automatically over time. As in other parts of SharePoint 2013 Search, this new feature also contains artefacts from SharePoint 2010 Search and from FAST Search technology.




Analytics Processing Component: Hosts the Analytics roles, Search Analytics and Usage Analytics

Link Database: Stores information about searches and crawled content. Data in this database is processed by the Search Analytics role.

Analytics reporting database: Stores statistical information, such as usage event counts. The information in this database is used to create reports.

When talking about the Analytics feature, you have to separate the two different types: Search Analytics, which analyzes the content in the search index; and Usage Analytics, which analyses the user actions.


Both types of analyses can be split into two main tasks. The first task is collection, extracting and aggregating information. The second is analyzing and processing the information, pushing it back to the items in the index and processing the data for the reports.

Search Analytics:

Task 1 (the green lines in the diagram below):

  • Search analytics is about analyzing and processing information received from the front-end, like search terms that have been used.

  • Search analytics extracts information such as links and anchor text from content in the search index.

  • The extracted information is stored in the Link database together with information about clicks on search results.

    Task 2 (the red lines in the diagram below):

  • The information in the Link database is further processed in several subanalyses.

  • Information that results from the search analyses is used to enrich items in the search index with information to help improve relevance and recall and is

    • stored in the Analytics Reporting database

    • included in reports


Usage Analytics

Task 1 (the green lines in the diagram below):

  • Usage Analytics is about analyzing usage log information received fromt he front-end via the event store.

Task 2 (the red lines in the diagram below):

  • Usage analytics generats usage and statistics reports. The results from the analyses are added to the items in the search index.
  • In addition, results from usage analytics are stored in the analytics reporting database.


Both diagrams contain a part called "%working folders%". To see what's behind this and also to see all the parts in a SharePoint system, watch the video that goes with this first chapter.

The next chapter will be about managing the Analytics feature. In that chapter, I will talk about:

  • Data collection
  • Files and folder locations
  • Timer jobs
  • PowerShell for the SharePoint 2013 Analytics feature

Topic: Tutorial

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