Best Search Plugins for WordPress

We’ve redesigned ThematoSoup, as you may notice. With that body overhaul done, I thought it would be nice to do a regular engine service and upgrade a part or two.

Good search functionality is what all search engines are about, but it’s also a trait of usable websites. There’s a lot of search plugins for WordPress out there, but only several worth mentioning:

  1. Swiftype Search
  2. yoLink Search
  3. Relevanssi
  4. Profi Search Form
  5. Taxonomies Filter widget

It’s a fact that good search functionality means a more usable website, which means more time people spend on your website, which then means more conversions. Native WordPress search functionality, although constantly improving, has never been up to the task. Let’s see how the plugins stack up.

1. Swiftype Search

Swiftype search plugin for WordPress

Swiftype is a fairly new WordPress plugin. Some of the nicer features of Swiftype include:

  • Cloud-based service which doesn’t strain your servers
  • Highly relevant search results
  • Analytics of what users are searching
  • Autocomplete feature
  • Manually override for search results

The plugin works by sending an index of all your WordPress content to Swiftype servers, so your server never gets cluttered and since Swiftype doesn’t use MySQL at all, search results come up much faster.

The Swiftype Search plugin replaces the standard WordPress search with a better search engine that is fully customizable via the Swiftype dashboard.

During all this time, Swiftype service collects data and stores it in your Swiftype dashboard, where you can analyze them and make some manual changes to search results if you want to.

You need to sign up for an account to use this plugin. The dashboard gives you analytics data and you can make tweaks to your search engine there.

2. yolink Search

yolink Search plugin for WordPress

yolink Search is a paid service, but it has free plans, too. If you have less than 5000 visitors a month, no advertisements and use it on personal website, you can have it for free. To sum it up, it’s free for personal users and businesses plans start from $60/year.

Optimize your site search, increase time on site, and help help drive organic SEO with the most powerful search plugin for WordPress.

Some advantages of running yolink on your website are:

  • Uses its own search servers, so your website performance doesn’t suffer
  • Nicely highlighted words in search results
  • Multisite search functionality
  • Related articles displayed with blog posts
  • Improved indexes for large business websites (paid option)

On the negative side, you do need to create an account in order to have yolink on your website and if you decide to use the free version of this plugin, you won’t get much of the customer support. The staff is not eager to respond to WordPress related issues.

3. Relevanssi

Relevanssi WordPress Search Plugin

Relevanssi has been around for a long time, so it’s a well maintained and regularly updated plugin. Once you install it, you first need to build the index in order for it to work. Relevanssi doesn’t use cloud based search service as the two previous plugins, so it may be a little slower.

Relevanssi replaces the default search with a partial-match search that sorts results by relevance. It also indexes comments and shortcode content.

You’ll find some nice options here, which could be better organized, but I found zero problems configuring it.

A couple of features I should point out are:

  • No registration
  • Search comments, tags, categories, custom fields
  • ‘Did you mean…?’ suggestions
  • Posts highlight the search term matches
  • Exclude posts, pages, tags or categories from search
  • Match partial words, if complete words don’t match

Here’s a nice video that explains briefly how the plugin works –

You can change weight of your post titles, comment text, tags and categories depending on what you find most important. If you’re not satisfied with the options of the free plugin, there’s premium version, as well.

Now, let’s see what CodeCanyon has to offer. I’ve tried several and these are the best WordPress search plugins found on Envato.

4. Profi Search Form

Profi Search Plugin for WordPress

Profi Search form is very customizable and WooCommerce compatible WordPress plugin with search phrases that get highlighted in the search results.

You can use it anywhere on your website as it includes widget and shortcode options. Filtering is done by:

  • Custom Fields
  • Taxonomies
  • Post Types
  • Conditional Fields
  • Range Sliders
  • Map search

This plugin will get your WordPress search functionality and usability to a higher level. Your WooCommerce store will become so much easier to use and your customers will have a better experience searching the product they need.

Range Slider

This is where you can say, the product is supposed for users around this age, in-between these price ranges selectbox, where you can select all products which are good as a gift?

Form Elements in Profi Search Form for WordPress

With Profi Search Form for WordPress, you can do just that. It includes:

  • Full Text Search with the options to highlight the matches
  • Searchability option
  • Range Search for numeric values like prices, square meters, etc
  • Input fields, for min/max/equal or like searches
  • Area Search with Google Maps
  • WooCommerce Support
  • Select, Radio and Checkboxes
  • Conditional Fields to show certain fields only, if a specific value is chosen
  • Hidden Fields so you can restrict filter results to specific taxonomy categories or custom fields

Usability

The search is completely Ajax based so the results will be shown automatically without leaving or reloading the website. Although Ajax is in place, the “Back” and “Forward” buttons still work, like you expect them to do.

So, when your visitors clicks “Back” their search results will appear.

If you want to learn more, visit Profi Search Form CodeCanyon page.


Whichever search plugin you choose, you’ll greatly improve your website experience and hopefully keep visitors on your website a little longer. Good search functionality gives people a lot of power and is a major time-saver. As you already know, happy users are the ones that are likely to convert.

If you have experience with WordPress search plugins or know a trick or two on how to configure them for maximum effect, share it with me. I’m an SEO guy and search has always been my thing.

Dragan Nikolic
I am the SEO & social media guy here at ThematoSoup, sharing tips on how to simplify your online business and make it more manageable.
Dragan Nikolic

@NikolicDragan

Co-founder & project manager at @ThematoSoup, interested in #minimalism and #WordPress. In love with nature.
RT @HaTaIIIa: Billy Idol - White Wedding (Unplugged): http://t.co/pcb6JeCUZZ ... :) #kindAday - 1 week ago
Dragan Nikolic
Dragan Nikolic
Dragan Nikolic

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34 thoughts on “Best Search Plugins for WordPress

  1. Besides my comment on the video, another reply here:

    It really took me over a minute finding the search bar on your website. And besides that, the search functionality, premium functionality (Did you mean.. etc.) do not work on Safari. Check, update & debug.

    Besides that: What do you recommend for customers, what’s better, Swifttype or Relevanssi? Because the registration is a little border to use it.

    Lemme know

    1. Hi Sander,

      Thanks for dropping by and thanks for letting us know about the search functionality and usability issue on our website. “Did you mean” feature works only if you enable logging in Relevanssi (I’ve just enabled it). The way I understand, Relevanssi uses search logs for suggesting its own. As for prominence of our Search bar, we’ll make it more eye-catching for sure. The design tweaks are still in progress.

      I’m using Swiftype on my personal website and Relevanssi here on ThematoSoup. Unfortunately, I still cannot choose between the two. Swiftype is definitely better in terms of ease of use (appart from the whole registration thing) and conserving your server resources , but Relevanssi gives you so many options (many of which I still haven’t figured out) and it’s been around for ages so you know it’s well maintained and updated regularly.

      I suggest you try them both and see which one suits your users better.

      1. Thanks for your swift and kind reply!

        I’ve chosen Relevanssi for now, mainly because of the pricing. I was looking for a plugin for clients, but Swifttype is just way more expensive. (220$ vs 55$ a year), mainly aiming for small businesses, this is quite a big spending in my point of view.

        Though, I do like Swifttype more, indeed in ease of use. When I find clients which suit the payment plan, I’ll take Swifttype probably.

        Thanks!

    1. You can omit certain taxonomies from being indexed by Relevanssi, thus improving the speed and it has a certain caching function, so in theory it’s faster than WordPress’s native search functionality, but for that many pages I’d go with a 3rd party search service.

    2. The default search is definitely faster than Relevanssi, but that’s because it’s much simpler than Relevanssi. Faster speed doesn’t help much, when the default search doesn’t even provide most relevant results first.

      Relevanssi is designed for smaller scale, and I wouldn’t recommend it for sites that have 100 000+ pages – the actual limit of when Relevanssi stops making sense depends on your pages and on your server, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in tens of thousands of posts. For sites larger than that, external solutions like Swiftype and Yolink are much better.

  2. I was using relenvanssi until now. For some post of my site it will not come. Today only I discover ‘Swiftype Search’. It is far far better than relevanssi. It not only display result perfectly. It also display your post title while you typing. I recommend ‘Swiftype Search’. Don’t use relenvanssi.

          1. Relevanssi can handle thousands of posts well, but once you hit tens of thousands posts or the search traffic is heavy, I’d suggest a 3rd party solution.

            With the default WP search, the limit is probably even higher, since it’s still a fairly simple and efficient MySQL call, despite the added features. Heavy traffic and features are a more important reason to make the switch.

    1. Also, while better, the WP default search is still quite limited. It only searches post titles and post content, for example. You can’t find posts by author, taxonomy, custom field or anything else a proper search solution offers.

      What data Swiftype indexes? That’s not clear from their website. Can it handle anything else beyond post content and titles? Relevanssi gives you complete freedom: it supports lots of things out of the box, and with a suitable function you can index just about anything.

      Of course, not everybody needs that kind of flexibility, and in many cases WP default search is enough, or the external search by Swiftype is required.

      1. Hi Mikko,

        Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the wonderful Relevanssi plugin. The flexibility it gives to end users is amazing.

        I don’t think Swiftype can match that, but it works for simple websites.

  3. Greetings! I am brand new to WordPress and am using it to build a non-profit website. Are there search engines that will look at the media files and pull from saved .PDF files that have searchable text within them? Currently from the default search block it does not even find Media titles. If I use the Media search engine, it is finding the titles, but not anything within the uploaded .PDF files.

    Thanks, George

    1. I don’t think any search engine currently supports that, but I know Mikko Sarri (from the comment above) constantly updates Relevanssi plugin and it’s powerful. You might find what you’re looking for there.

  4. i read the comment above, about not finding the search bar. then i moved to the header and i found… nothing!!!

    it took me 20 seconds to look around and hovering hoping the search would be hidden and would reveal on some mouse hovering event, but it didn’t!

    then i thought, maybe on the footer… and i went there., and nothing!

    after i thought this is so weird and almost give up… i saw there was an almost invisible frame somewhere on the bottom, which happened to be the search bar.

    Thats some serious usability problem right there.

    1. I seriously enjoyed reading your comment, though I’m sorry if searching for our search bar caused you some discomfort. We’re in the process of switching to our new simpler website and there are still several loose ends.

      Thanks for pointing out this usability issue. Footer widgets are going to be reordered/fixed tomorrow.

  5. We’re trying to implement a new search engine on our website. Right now, it is using Relevanssi… but I fear that it can hurt our site performance, especially as it grows. So right now, we are looking into third-party plugins. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Relevanssi states that it includes ‘short code content’… can the same be said for third party solutions such as Swiftype?

    We do a lot of content include for specific purpose – for example, we have non-indexed (to avoid dup content) info snippets for a specific topic that can be pulled up individually – and then on a front page for that topic, we include all of those into tabbed content – so they are all available as if they are native to that page.

    So in a search, we would like that front page to show if one of the include sections contains the term. This of course works with google search or similar but definitely not with the internal search. Thanks for any thoughts to this.

    1. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Swiftype has that kind of flexibility, like Relevanssi does. I think the best way to go about this is to ask Relevanssi author and Swiftype’s support.

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