An introduction to cross-site publishing

To build our Contoso website, we’ll be using cross-site publishing, a new publishing method that’s just been introduced with SharePoint Server 2013. Before we start however, let’s get a bit more familiar with how cross-site publishing works.
Note: most of features described in this series are not available in SharePoint 2013 online.

What is cross-site publishing?
Cross-site publishing’s a publishing method. It lets you create and maintain content in one or more authoring site collections, and publish this content across one or more publishing site collections, by using Search Web Parts.


When should you use cross-site publishing?
Use cross-site publishing when you want to store and maintain content in one or more authoring site collections and display this content in one or more publishing site collections. Cross-site publishing will make life easy for you as it:

  • Can be used across site collections, web applications, and even across farms.
  • Separates content authoring from branding and rendering, meaning how you author content has nothing to do with how it is displayed to users.
  • Allows you to mix pages and catalog content.


How does cross-site publishing work?
Cross-site publishing uses search technology to retrieve content. Here’s how it works in four simple steps:

  1. You create content in libraries and lists in a site collection where cross-site publishing is enabled. You enable these libraries and lists as catalogs.
  2. You crawl the content in your catalog-enabled libraries and lists. This will add the catalog content to the search index.
  3. You add one or more Search Web Parts to the site collections where you want to display your catalog content.
  4. When users view a page, the Search Web Parts issue queries to the search index. Query results are returned from the search index, and shown in the Search Web Parts.

Cross-site publishing overview

When you decide to change content in an authoring site collection, the changes you make are shown across all publishing site collections that are using that same content.

You can also add search-driven features like faceted navigation, query rules and usage analytics, all of which we’ll be talking about soon.


Feeling confused? Don’t panic! I will take you through how this works step by step.
The first thing we have to do, is to create two site collections.


Next blog article in this series
Stage 1: Create site collections for cross-site publishing.


Blog series
On overview of all blog posts in this series can be found here.



Additional resources 


Comments (27)

  1. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Chris,

    Stay tuned for information about this in my next blog post: "Enable a list as a catalog".

    Estimated publishing date is Feb 28th.


  2. Anonymous says:

    excellent post thank you

  3. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Lawrence,

    Yes, the publishing site can contain additional content that is not in your authoring site.  You can also create pages that display a combination of content from your authoring site (dynamic content), and additional unique content (static content).

    Keep in mind that to display a combination of dynamic and static content, you will have to use multiple Web Parts. For example, you can use one Content Search Web Part to display dynamic content from your authoring site, and one Rich Text Editor Web Part to display additional static content created on your publishing site.

    Also, if you are using managed navigation, and your static content varies across categories, you will have to create separate category pages and catalog item pages for each category where you want your unique static content to be displayed.

    Hope this helps.


    P.S  In the case study "Mavention and web content management in SharePoint Server 2013" (…/jj822912.aspx), the section “Category pages and catalog item pages” briefly explains how Mavention have used several category pages and catalog item pages to give them the flexibility of adding static content.

  4. Bella_Engen says:

    Thanks, Usman. Glad to hear that the article is useful 🙂

  5. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Joms,

    Yes, cross-site publishing works on all Site Collections. However, you might have to activate the feature. For more information, see…/jj656774.aspx

    Hope this helps.


  6. ISutherland says:

    Great walk through…

    I have a three tier farm with a web app for Extranet, a web app for Intranet and a web app for Internet. I am publishing from the Intranet to the Extranet and once everything is working move on to publishing to the Internet. I have been struggling with two things for some time now and I am wondering if you could provide some insight…

    1. Although the search content web parts are querying and displaying data on the Extranet, the link to the items displayed is pointing directly to the Intranet. I am not using managed metadata navigation due to the way it presents global navigation items. I need to present to the Extranet without exposing the Intranet through direct links. Is there a way to embed the presentation and link to items discovered so it appears the Extranet is the source for data?

    2. Images are not showing up. I have placed images on items in the source library (catalog) but I cannot get them to display on the Extranet as part of the 'Image on the left Three-lines' Item view. I can get them to show up as separate items in the results list by tagging them using the term store but this is not the idea. If a catalog item (SSRS report) has an image as part of the item itself on the source side why doesn't it show up on the publishing side?

    You may have some questions based on the above and I would be happy to answer them to move forward.

    Thank you!

  7. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi ISutherland,

    1. When you connected your your Extranet site to your catalog, did you select
    Make URLs relative to this site
    By doing that, visitors will be taken to an item details page on your Extranet site, and not to the actual item in the catalog.

    2. The images are most likely not showing up because your visitors don’t have the rights to view them. Make sure that your images are stored in a location where visitors have access to them, and they should show up.

    Hope this helps.


  8. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Debbie,

    A Team Site does not have all the features that a Publishing Portal Site has. For example, you will not be able to connect a Team Site to a catalog like I describe in Stage 5 (…/stage-5-connect-your-publishing-site-to-a-catalog.aspx).
     To connect to a catalog, you will have to use a Publishing Portal Site.

    However, if you enable the Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature on your publishing Team Site, you can use the Content Search Web Part (CSWP) to query for and display catalog content.  To do this, you might have to manually create a result source for
    your catalog, as SharePoint will not automatically create one for you unless  you connect to a catalog (For information about result sources, see…/jj683115.aspx
    . For information about configuring a query in a CSWP, see…/jj679900.aspx

    But, a larger issue may be that the URL to the items displayed in the CSWP will not get re-written. That is, when visitors click on an item in the CSWP, they will land on the catalog item on the authoring side. Depending on your use scenario, this might
    be OK, although it might be a bit confusing to visitors.  

    Could you describe a bit more about what you want to do with the content on the publishing side?


  9. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Rothrock,

    I think you asked a similar question on another post, so please see my answer on that post.


  10. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Debbie,

    What type of problems are you having with your publishing site?


  11. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Glad to hear that the article was helpful 🙂

    Am  not quite sure what you mean by “category app”, but you can use cross-site publishing on a Team Site. You just have to activate the Cross-Site Publishing feature. For information on how to do this, see this TechNet article:…/jj656774.aspx

    Hope this helps.


  12. Anonymous says:

    Excellent post Bella!, very helpful and am now using this to try it myself 🙂

  13. Chris says:

    Neat feature.  Thanks for posting this.  It will be very helpful.  It would be nice if there was a checkbox on a list / library, etc. that said share with other subsites / site collections / etc …

  14. Lawrence says:

    The cross site publishing feature looks really cool and might be able to solve some issues we have today with our SP 2010 trying to synchronize content across multiple sites.

    One thing that I can't see that has been made totally clear is whether the publishing site can contain unique additional content that is not in the authoring site.  More specifically, if I have a list or a library in the authoring site that I make available to the publishing site, then in the publishing site can I add additional items into those lists that would now be unique to the publishing site?

    I want to be able to store common items in the authoring site, but still allow the publishing sites to add their own unique content into the same lists.

  15. Usman says:

    Excellent Post Bella, I liked the simplicity of explanation.

  16. Debbie says:

    This article was very helpful.  I'm just learning sharepoint 2013, can you add a category app to a Team Site?  Unfortunately we have Team Sites and want to do what this article describes.


  17. Debbie says:

    Now it makes sense.  Thanks so much for the information!

  18. Debbie says:

    Since this article is about Cross-Site Publishing I'm going to ask.

    I set up the Team site after I activated the Cross-Site Publishing feature.  I'm having trouble with the site that I'm publishing too.  Any URL's you can suggest?  Thanks!

  19. Debbie says:

    Hi Bella,

    Thanks for asking the question.  I'm very new in learning. SharePoint.  I have a Team Site set up that my group is using.  We need to use the cross-sie publishing feature.  From one team site to another team site.  I think I have the authoring site setup with the library working as a catalog.  But all the information I found stops there.  I cannot figure out how to display that catalog on another team site.  I haven't seen it work anywhere to get an idea of how it should work.  Any help or URL's that would be helpful would be greatly appreciated.


  20. Parthasarathy S says:

    Excellent Post Bella, very helpful…am using this to try for myself 🙂

  21. Lokesh Maganti says:

    Thanks for the article

  22. Joms says:

    Thank you for this amazing article.

    I have a question, will this work on Team Site to Team Site?

  23. Anonymous says:

    In SharePoint Server 2013, recommendations and popular items can be displayed because a feature called

  24. Rothrock says:

    We have set up cross-site publishing — thank you for the excellent tutorial. But we are finding that while the navigation works wonderfully, an actual user initiated search of the site doesn't include any results from the remote catalog. How do we address
    this. It seems ironic that a service that is entirely dependant on search doesn't easily work with search.

  25. Naidu says:

    Thanks Bella,
    Nice post i want more blogs which you shared….

  26. Anonymous says:

    In this series of "how to’s" blog posts I’ll describe how you can use SharePoint Server