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Trend alerts

Introduction

The trend alerts reporting system provides information about queries which have had a large increase in their query volume over a short space of time i.e. a spike in activity for that query.

Trend alerts have previously been known as pattern analyser reports and query spike reports.

Trend alerts report

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The trend alerts report provides details of the most prominent detected queries for a given time period. The report page is available under the 'search analytics' section of the marketing dashboard.

The trend alerts report presents a list of the most significantly increased queries detected by Funnelback analytics during the selected time period.

The query column displays the query which was detected (e.g. "christmas"), with a related query listed in small font underneath it.

The shape column displays a sparkline showing the rate of occurrences of this query over the five days before and after the detection of the query spike. Clicking on this sparkline shows a full time-plot for the selected query.

The confidence column indicates how significant Trend Alerts considers this query trend to be relative to the historical information available. The higher percentage it has, the better chance the query is an actual spike as opposed to a normal increase due to the increase in overall query volume.

The peak column identifies the date (within the 10 days around the query's detection) on which most instances of the detected query were received.

The increase column provides a percentage measure of the query volume increase for the past seven days vs the preceding seven days (or 24 hours in the case of queries detected for a single hour).

The user locations column lists the locations from which the query most frequently arrived, based on the requesting IP address.

The download link to the top right of the table allows a CSV export of the reported data for printing or further processing.

The 'Filter trends' search box to the top right of the table allows the returned trends to be filtered based on a query term.

Query volume chart

Clicking on the sparkline presented in the dashboard above provides access to the chart of the query volume (and related query volume) over the selected time period (or the two weeks either side of the detected trend for short time periods).

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The chart is interactive and which will display the date and individual query values for each day as the mouse moves over the chart.

As with the dashboard, navigation through time can be performed with the upper navigation pane and the chart can be exported with the download link on the top right. The chart can also be zoomed into a specific area by dragging the toggles at the top left and right to narrow the range.

Please note that in a standard Funnelback installation, trend alert detection is performed more frequently than the process which updates the time plot charts, which means that after a query is detected, it may take up to 24 hours for the time plot chart to display the queries which created the spike.

Email alerting

Funnelback can be configured to send alert emails every time a query is detected by Trend Alerts to allow real-time action to be taken as required.

To configure email alerts for trend alerts, click the edit analytics email settings link in the collection's analyse tab.

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  • The sender email address should contain a single email address and will be used as the from address for analytics emails.
  • The email addresses field can contain a comma separated list of email addresses.
  • You can enable the emailing of trend alerts by specifying that they should be emailed out when detected.
  • This form also allows you to specify how often a PDF summary of the main query reports (top queries) should be emailed out.

Trend-alerts-email-settings.png

Please note that Funnelback must be configured with a valid SMTP server during installation for email to be sent successfully. SMTP settings can be adjusted in the global.cfg file in install_dir/conf/global.cfg if required.

Updating trend alert reports

Trend alert reports are automatically updated every hour by a scheduled task, and do not require any manual updating or configuration, however the trend alert reports will only be generated for collections for which query reports have been updated.

Eliminating noise

Some search services receive significant numbers of automated or spam queries which may be detected, but are not of interest. Such queries can be eliminated from consideration through the collection's reporting-blacklist.cfg file.

Excluding collections

The analytics.outlier.exclude_collection setting can be set to true to disable Trend Alerts entirely for a collection.

Query log naming and rotation

When operating Funnelback in a multi-server configuration, some care must be taken to ensure query logs are available to the trend alerts system. For performance reasons trend alerts requires that archived log files be identified with a date stamp in the file name (for example queries.log.20090902.gz), as these date stamps are used to restrict the logs required for pattern analysis.

Standard practice within a multiple server set-up would be to transfer all query log files to a server responsible for analytics, retaining the date stamp in the file name and adding a hostname to ensure log names are unique.

Please also note that trend alerts may fail to detect some queries when processing historical data for collections which have been updated less frequently than once per month. This issue can be rectified by manually splitting any query log files spanning more than a day into individual logs with date stamps.

See also

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