How to analyze public FAQ search queries using Query Spy

Query Spy (Stats > Query Spy) allows you to keep tabs on what your users are asking and searching for—and how successful they are in doing so. You will be able to see the search terms they're using, if they found what they were looking for, where the search came from and more.

This valuable & actionable information allows you to:

  • Tweak your questions to maximize direct matches,
  • See what people are searching on so you can enhance your knowledge base, and
  • Enhance other services, including featured guides in your LibGuides system (or on your website in general) or any information sessions you provide.

Note: Query Spy data is available to Admin-level account holders and for Regular-level accounts for the FAQ groups that they have access to.


Viewing and exporting queries

To get started, go to Stats > Query Spy. Under the  Queries tab, you'll find a list of all search queries from the past 6 months.

Filtering the list of queries

Use the filters at the top of the page to narrow the list of queries you want to view or export.

Query Spy filter options

  1. Queries from & to: this allows you to filter queries based upon when they were submitted.
    • Please note: Query Spy only retains data for the past six months. Data older than six months is automatically deleted on the first of every month.
  2. Result: this allows you to filter by the result of each query.
    • Not submitted: this indicates that a user made a query, but did not click on any results or submit a question.
    • Match via auto-suggest: this indicates that a user selected an FAQ from the auto-suggest list while typing their query.
    • Question submitted: this indicates that a user made a query, but submitted a ticket instead of clicking on any results.
    • Clicked on question: this indicates that a user made a query and clicked on one of the results.
  3. Source: this allows you to filter queries based upon where they originated.
    • System: these are searches placed via your public LibAnswers pages.
    • Widget: these are searches placed via your widgets.
  4. IP Range: this allows you to filter queries based upon whether they originated from local or non-local IP addresses.
    • Local: these are searches made by a patron whose IP address falls within your defined Local IP Range(s) (from Admin > System Settings > General).
    • Non-local: these are searches made by a patron whose IP address falls outside of your defined Local IP Range(s).
  5. Group: this allows you to filter queries by their FAQ group.
  6. Referring URL: this allows you to filter queries based upon characters in their Referring URL. You can enter either a full or partial URL.
  7. Keyword: this allows you to filter queries based upon keywords in the Question Query.
    • Please note: the keywords you enter are treated as one single search string.
    • For example, if you search for "new", you'll get queries containing "new", "renew", "renewal", etc.
    • But, if you search for "renew online", you'll only get queries containing the specific phrase "renew online" -- it does not apply AND/OR logic to your keywords.
  8. To apply your filters, click the Filter Queries button.
  9. To reset the Query Spy list, click the Clear link.

Browsing and managing queries

Initially, the list of matching queries will be sorted in descending order by submission time.

Options for managing queries

  1. Click on any of the following column headings to sort by that column in ascending order. Click it again to switch to descending order.
    • ‚ÄčTime: this is the date and time when each query was submitted.
    • Question Query: this is the text of the search query submitted by the user.
    • Group: this is the FAQ group from where the search originated.
    • Referring URL: this is the URL from where the search originated.
  2. Use the pagination buttons above and below the table to browse through any additional pages of results (100 per page).
  3. If you would like to add an FAQ based upon a query, click on the Add to FAQs link in its Question Query column.
    • This link will appear for queries with a result of "Question not submitted" or "Clicked on".
  4. As you browse through queries, you can keep track of ones you've reviewed by clicking on the Mark as Reviewed link in its Question Query column.
    • This link will appear for queries with a result of "Question not submitted" or "Clicked on".
    • When a query has been marked as reviewed, this link will be replaced with "(reviewed)".
    • If you have multiple users monitoring query spy, this can help your colleagues know which queries have already been reviewed. That way, you don't accidentally add the same query to your FAQs multiple times.
  5. If a query resulted in a clicked on FAQ, click on the link in its Result column to view that FAQ's public page.
  6. If you would like to visit the page from where a query was submitted, click on the link in its Referring URL column.
  7. To preview the first 20 search results for a particular query, click on its magnifying glass () icon in the Actions column.
    • This will open the Query On window, showing you a list of the first 20 matching results based upon the user's actual query (with links to view each FAQ).
    • This can help put the result of the query into more context.
  8. To permanently remove a query from your Query Spy, click on its trash can () icon in the Actions column.

Exporting queries

To export the currently filtered list of queries, click on the  Export Queries tab.

The Export Queries tab

This will generate and download a CSV file containing the following columns:

  • ID: this is the unique ID number assigned to each query.
  • Timestamp: this is the date and time each query was submitted.
  • Query: this is the text of the query that was submitted.
  • Status: this indicates what happened after each query was submitted (i.e. Not Submitted, Match via auto-suggest, etc.).
  • Result: if a query's status was "Question Submitted" or "Click on question", then this column will list the text of that question.
  • IP: this is the IP address from where each query was submitted.
  • Source: this indicates whether each query was submitted via a public page ("System") or a widget.
  • Group ID: this is the unique ID number assigned to the FAQ Group that was searched.
  • Group Name: this is the name of the FAQ group that was searched.
  • Referring URL: this is the URL from where the search originated.
Please note: Query Spy data is only kept for 6 months, with deletion occurring on the first of each month. If you wish to retain data for longer periods, we recommend that you regularly export your queries.

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Analyzing and exporting search query statistics

To help you analyze the overall distribution of your queries, Query Spy provides several statistical reports. To get started, filter your queries (if desired) and click on the  Statistics tab to analyze them.

Query analysis chart

The Query analysis chart provides a breakdown of all filtered queries by result. This will allow you to see the percentage of queries that resulted in matches, clicks, not submitted, or submitted questions. 

Example of a Query Analysis Chart

  1. Hover over any slice of the pie chart to view the number of queries.
  2. To export the chart, click on the menu () button and select an output format.

Monthly breakdown

The Monthly Breakdown report allows you to analyze your filtered queries by result and month. This includes both a data table, as well as a stacked column chart.

Example of the Monthly Breakdown report and chart

  1. Hover over any segment of the chart to view the associated number of queries.
  2. To hide a status from the chart, click on it in the legend. Click on it again and it will reappear.
  3. To export the chart, click on the menu () button and select an output format.

Daily distribution

The Daily Distribution report breaks down the total number of filtered queries by day of the week, letting you know which days tend to have the most search activity. This includes both a data table and column chart.

Example of the Daily Distribution report and chart

  1. Hover over any column of the chart to view the number of queries that day.
  2. To export the chart, click on the menu () button and select an output format.

Hourly distribution

The Hourly Distribution report breaks down the total number of filtered queries by hour of the day, letting you know which times of day tend to have the most search activity. This includes both a data table and column chart.

Example of the Hourly Distribution report and chart

  1. Hover over any column of the chart to view the number of queries that hour.
  2. To export the chart, click on the menu () button and select an output format.

Top 25 popular query words

The Popular Query Words report lists the top 25 most-searched keywords from your filtered queries. Each query is broken down into individual words and grouped, with two-letter words and a number of short common words excluded from the list. The remaining terms are then listed in descending order by the total number of user (# uses).

Example of a Popular Query Words report

  1. To view all queries containing one of the query words, click on the word's magnifying glass () icon in the # Uses column.
    • Please note: this will perform a truncated search of your Query Spy entries, so you will generally get more results than indicated in this list.
    • For example, if "book" is one of your top 25 words, the Query Spy search would also retrieve queries containing "book", "books", "ebook", "textbooks", etc.

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