updated: June 2019.
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:
It’s a fact that good search functionality means a more usable website, which means more time people spend on your website, which translates to more conversions.
Native WordPress search functionality, although constantly improving, has never been up to the task. Let’s see if the plugins can help.
Relevanssi doesn’t use cloud-based search service, so it may be a little slower depending on your hosting, but you’ll have maximum control and you get to keep all your website data.
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 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 the weight of your post titles, comment text, tags and categories depending on what you find most important.
Here’s the list of features that you can only find in Relevanssi Premium:
- Export/import settings
- WP CLI support
- Guaranteed support from Mikko (the developer)
- Have sticky posts in searches based on the search term
- WordPress Multisite support
- Adjust weights by post type
- Adjust weights by taxonomy
- Adjust weights by post date
- Change the operator on the fly if necessary
- Use the NOT operator to exclude search terms
- Include user profiles in search results
- Index PDF content
- Indexing DOC, ODT, RTF, ePub… content
- Include taxonomy terms in search results
- Search arbitrary MySQL columns in wp_posts
If you’re not satisfied with the features in the free version and you want lifetime upgrades and support, go for Relevanssi Premium.
Ajax Search Pro plugin gives you, you guessed it, a live Ajax search. It’s a different search experience. The results are presented with images, so search results look more attractive.
It also works really well with mobile devices on any platform. The search can return:
- Custom post types (WooCommerce products, bbPress forums, topics, replies…)
- Custom taxonomy terms
- BuddyPress users, groups and activities
There are more than 60 colorful, fully customizable, so you don’t need to alter CSS yourself. But, it also offers a lot of options for developers who like to tweak everything.
Ajax Search Pro was designed to boost the user search experience to the maximum.
It seems that the plugin is updated regularly and the developers claim that every support ticket is answered within 48 hours or even 12 hours.
Here are several distinct features the plugin comes with:
- Compatible with any theme
- Adjustable search logic
- 60 skins
- High-resolution icons
- Widgets, shortcode
- Image support
- Multisite support
- Keyword highlighting
- Google Analytics integration
- Search statistics
Ajax Search Pro for WordPress is an amazing plugin which works perfectly with Relevansii giving your visitors live search results.
SearchWP idea is to be one solution for your website visitors and developers’ best friend at the same time. It’s one the most complete search solutions for indexing and searching WordPress backend and frontend.
SearchWP indexes and serves all your:
- E-commerce product details
- Custom fields
- Taxonomy (tags, categories…) terms
- Post titles and article content
What’s interesting it that it works with not just PDFs, but other office files and text documents you upload in WordPress media library. It integrates natively with WordPress, so you don’t need to code anything to get it working on your WordPress website.
You can exclude terms from the index or attribute them so you serve more relevant and useful results for your visitors.
- Easy Digital Downloads
- WP Job Manager
It integrates with WooCommerce, so if you have a store with many products you’ll have them easily found.
Remember that every good browsing eCommerce experience starts with a good search experience.
And if you sell digital products SearchWP integrates with EDD (Easy Digital Downloads WordPress plugin). It also integrates with bbPress, too. WP Job Manager is another thing SearchWP plays nicely with.
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
- 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.
This is where you can define if the product is meant for users in this age group and between certain price ranges. It’s a place where you can label products good as a gift, etc…
With Profi Search Form for WordPress, you can do a lot of things:
- 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
The search is completely Ajax based so the results will be shown automatically without leaving or reloading the website. Even though Ajax is in place, the “Back” and “Forward” buttons still work, like you expect them to do.
So, when the visitors click “back”, their search results will appear.
Swiftype is a fairly new WordPress search service.
Some nicer features of Swiftype include:
- Cloud-based service which doesn’t strain your servers
- Highly relevant search results
- Analytics of what users are searching
- Auto-complete feature
- Manually override for search results
- App search
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.
Whichever WordPress search plugin you choose, you’ll have an easy time implementing or upgrading your existing search bar. You’ll greatly improve your website user experience and keep visitors on your site a little longer. Good search functionality gives people a lot of power and is a major time-saver.
Happy users are the ones that 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 the search has always been my thing.