Content Recommendations: How They Work


Website owners are always looking for ways to bring in new visitors, keep them on their website, and turn them into fans or followers. That’s why AddThis designs tools to help publishers reach those goals.

For the last year, we’ve been digging deep into the science of making great content recommendation widgets. Now we want to pull back the curtain on how we find the right content to recommend and how they can help you meet your goals.

There are a lot of ways to approach content recommendations. Here’s how these tools have developed over time and how ours are different.

1. Most Popular Content

The first widgets for content recommendations mostly showed the most popular content. They determined what was interesting based on which articles were most viewed, had the most comments, or were the most shared.

This was a good start, but the most popular content on a website might not change very much from day to day, which isn’t great for returning visitors. These recommendations also might not have anything to do with the current article, so the visitor might not be interested in that topic.

2. Adding Context

The next wave of content recommendation tools added contextual information. That means they started looking into the content of the articles to make a recommendation that’s similar to the page that you’re currently viewing.

Combining contextual information with popularity starts to make for more interesting content recommendations, but they still aren’t likely to change very much. In addition, they are likely to keep recommending the same content, even if people don’t click on it very much.

3. Understanding Behavior

More recently, some content recommendation tools are starting to learn from what people click on. This allows the recommendations to learn which articles are working and which pages they should be displayed on.

This is a major leap forward for content recommendations that makes them much smarter. However these still aren’t tailored to specific visitors, and so they aren’t as relevant as they could be.

4. Personalized Recommendations

The best way to recommend content for a particular visitor is to personalize content for them based on their interests or the interests of people like them. We do this by using all of these methods and sharing data from across our publisher network and continuously learning about what content recommendations work and for whom.

Another huge advantage of these tools is that they can personalize your content recommendations on the first view, without having to learn about your patterns on that particular website. This allows us to show visitors more relevant content sooner, and make your site look even smarter!

Traditionally, personalization technology this advanced would be reserved for only the biggest websites like Facebook or Yahoo. Now we’ve made personalization technology available to every website owner through AddThis Pro for just $12 a month.

We’ve already seen these content recommendations outperform other techniques, increasing the click-through rate on these tools by 50% or more. And there’s more to come as we continue to learn and refine our personalization engine.

Get access to this smart widgets and start personalizing your site. Sign into your AddThis dashboard to get going!

  • I’ve tried over and over and over again to figure out how to put both my AddThis Follow Buttons and Floating Share Side Bar on both my WordPress and Tumblr Blogs without success. I’ve used AddThis Support Search, even finding some responses to others’ questions on similar issues, and Knowledge Base using what’s offered as solutions, following the steps as shown, which only leads to needing to reset my themes html back to it’s original settings. I really want to use them both but I’m ready to throw my hands up, giving up in defeat.

  • We’re sorry you’re running into trouble! We’re happy to help. Have you emailed our support team yet? If not, send them a message with your site’s URL so they can check it out. Here’s their email:

  • علياء محمود عبدة


  • thank info

  • khjafsd123


  • The new slide outs are way too big. I will not use them They ruin my web pages Bring back the old ones

  • We have a variety of different content recommendation units that you can choose from:

  • Dee Nakhro

    I’ve activated this, but it’s not showing up on my site. Is there some other code I’m supposed to add?

  • Dee Nakhro

    I’ve activated this, but it’s not showing up on my site. Is there some other code I’m supposed to add?

  • Dee Nakhro

    I’ve activated this, but it’s not showing up on my site. Is there some other code I’m supposed to add?

  • Hi Dee, the only snippet of code you need to add can be found when you login to your AddThis dashboard, go to “Tools” in the top nav, and then select the “Get the Code” button in the top right corner of that page. Once that code is added to the page(s) where you want the tool to appear, you need to activate it within your dashboard, which it sounds like you’ve already done. If you need a closer hand with any of this, please feel free to email and our support team can certainly assist.

  • Dee Nakhro

    I’ve mailed the help desk but it seems like it takes a long time to get any reply there (waiting 5 days now since my last query), so here I am to see whether I get any response. It’s still about content recommendations……I had mailed help since it was not showing up even 6 days after I had inserted the code. I got a reply saying that the mark up code could not be found at my site and that I should paste that. I went to my HTML editor and found the code I had pasted earlier. In any case, I removed that and re-pasted it again. It’s 5 days again and still not showing. I wasn’t sure whether I was pasting in the correct spot so I had enquired about this but got no reply. Anyway, here it is again – I want it at the bottom of my posts and so I’m pasting the mark up code just before the tag. Just wanted to know if this is the right spot or not – will be grateful if you can please let me know………thank you

  • Hi Dee, our apologies for the delay in response. I just flagged your comment for our support team and they’re looking into it now.

  • Dee Nakhro

    Many thanks…….have got it sorted out now

  • Pingback: GUIDE: AddThis Content Recommendation Tools()

  • Fabian Lewis

    MY trouble is so far it is only recommending one article all across the site. i was hoping it would have recommended all the articles across different pages rather than just one

  • Hi Fabian, did you recently install the AddThis code and turn on a content recommendation tool? If so, it does take time to build recommendations based on your site traffic. If you’d like us to take a closer look at your site for you to make sure everything is set up correctly, feel free to email us at help [at] addthis [dot] com.

  • G Keme

    Hello and congrats for your great effort and your quality services!
    You say in this article: “Now we’ve made personalization technology available to every website owner through AddThis Pro for just $12 a month”.
    Does this mean that, if I just use the free “What’s Next” pop-up notification, I won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of personalization technology?

  • Hi, many of our free tools come with personalization options, such as personalizing which sharing buttons visitors see on your site based on the networks they frequently use. The “What’s Next” content recommendation tool though is based on what’s related or currently trending on your site.

  • Very useful!

  • You can learn more about this tool and add it to your site here: If you need a hand with setting anything up, feel free to reach out to our support team at help [at] addthis [dot] com.

  • peterparker

    I have activated this but mostly time it is not show on my site

  • peterparker

    I am thankful to you because you are providing me different articles with different variety, & you are also providing me some best tools

  • Please email us at help [at] addthis [dot] com with a link to your site and our support team can assist. Thanks!

  • I will not use them They ruin my web pages Bring back the old ones

  • very nice