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Query Analysis and Head/Tail Analysis for Search Engines

What Is Head/Tail Analysis?

Head and Tail analysis corrects misspelling, strange word orders, or other mistakes users make when they search.

Here’s a quick explainer on how head tail analysis and AI can fix searches to help users find what they need.

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‘How They Search’ Is as Important as ‘What They Search’

No one searches the same way. To optimize your site, get a handle on where people are getting frustrated, and find out what terms they use  — you’ll need head/tail analysis to do a thorough query analysis.

Head Tail Query Graphic

Head queries make up the largest volume of queries and tend to be short words or phrases. Tail queries are a higher volume of fewer queries that tend to be longer words or multi-word phrases. The torso is everything else in between.

Why Worry About the Tail?

Many believe you only need to worry about the popular head queries. But head queries tend to be more topical in nature — and may represent only a small fraction of the total search queries on your site or application.

Tail queries, on the other hand, may mean missed opportunities. It could mean a typo, a number not typed correctly, or even a synonym.

How Much Opportunity Are You Missing?

Lucidworks Fusion runs offline head/tail analysis on all your queries and classifies tail distribution.

So you can see what you are missing – and fix it.


Log File Analysis

You could spend your days digging through log files to see all the queries used. Or you could use Head/Tail Analysis to see why Tail queries are forming.

Head/Tail Analysis Relies on User Signals

Looking at only the query analysis is only half the job. Lucidworks Fusion ingests users’ behaviors too: what they clicked on, what they didn’t, and what they rewrote. We feed these signals into Fusion to find synonyms, misspellings, and more popular “head” queries. For example, if users frequently type “manger” and “manager” in succession If “carpet” typically follows “rug” Fusion learns those are synonyms.

Head/Tail Analysis allows us to look at historical behavior and rewrite the query for greater relevance.

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Elements of AI-Powered Search

Augmented Intelligence

There’s nothing artificial about intelligence. Augmented intelligence is when AI extends human judgment instead of replacing it.

Machine Learning

Machine learning and search engines are a incredible combination for creating powerful experiences for customers and employees.

Clustering & Classification

How clustering and classification algorithms can improve the search experience for your employees and customers.

Query Analysis

Underperforming queries aggravate everyone. Head/tail analysis stops it.

Signal Capture & User Behavior

Users are constantly telling you what they like and what they don’t. Are you listening? Predict user intent by applying signals.


The best search applications index all of a company’s data so users have one unified search experience.


Personalization is about addressing people by name. Hyper-personalization is figuring out what they really want.

Natural Language Search

What if we could talk to computers in the same way we talk to people. Natural language search gets you there.