The default search of WordPress doesn’t performs great. Many people have reported that they are not satisfied by the default search results. It doesn’t finds relevant results and the biggest problem is that the results are based on date rather than relevancy. This means that recent posts will come first and then older posts and because of this it doesn’t delivers relevant search results.
In this article, let’s take a look at some of the best WordPress plugins that improves the default search engine. If you’ve got a site with hundreds of articles, then you should definitely try out a plugin that best suits your needs.
1. Google’s Custom Search
Well, there’s no debate that Google is the number one search engine, and you can easily integrate Google’s search engine to your WordPress powered blog. There are a number of plugins that will help you to integrate custom search to your site, but those who prefer to do it the manual way, can always head over to google.com/cse to create a custom search engine which can be integrated to the site.
There are a number of sites that uses Google’s search and not to mention that it comes up with very relevant search results. You have the option to change the style and looks of the search results and search box, which helps you to match your site’s current look.
However, there’s a minus point of using Google’s search and that is that you will have to opt-in to show Google ads on your results page, or else you will need to pay $100 per year. Those who are using Adsense can get a cut of the ads that are delivered to your search page. But those who are not using Adsense and don’t want to display ads will need to shell out money to deliver a cleaner search experience.
Relevanssi plugin replaces the default WordPress search with a partial-match search that sorts results by relevance. It promises users of better search and better results, compared to the default results.
On testing out this plugin, it surely delivers better results. Some of the key features of this plugin are:
- Search results sorted in the order of relevance, not by date.
- Fuzzy matching: match partial words, if complete words don’t match.
- Find documents matching either just one search term (OR query) or require all words to appear (AND query).
- Search for phrases with quotes, for example “search term”.
- Keep a Log of queries that user types out.
- This plugin also searches comments, tags, categories and custom fields.
Many of the options are configurable from the settings page. For example, you can set weights for post titles, comment text, tag and category name so that these factors will affect the results quality. The more the weight, the more chances of appearing that element in the results. The plugin can also keep a log of queries. The options page is quite long which allows users to configure the search as they want.
Apart from the free plugin, there’s also a premium version that offers more features. For many of you, the free plugin should suffice.
If you want to improve the default WordPress search engine, without much hassle and complications, install this plugin and have a peace of mind by providing relevant search results.
3. Dave’s WordPress Live Search
This plugin adds “live search” functionality to your WordPress site. It includes drop-down suggestion for your queries related to your search term, just like Google.
The plugin continually queries WordPress, looking for search results that match what the user has typed so far. This means that most of the time the user will find results before he finishes typing the query.
Here’s a screenshot of the plugin.
4. Better Search
The Better Search plugins replaces the default WordPress search engine with a more powerful search engine that sorts results based on relevance. It gives more importance to post title and content as opposed to date published.
You can fine tune the settings to give more weight to title or content. There are options to change number of search terms to display in a page, font size, color of search term, title of search results and more. The plugin will track the searches and allow you to present a “search heatmap” of the most popular searches.
Below you can take a look at some of the settings of this plugin.
This plugin also works with W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Give it a shot.
5. Search Everything
Search Everything plugin claims to “increase WordPress’s default search functionality in three easy steps. It helps you to add a number of elements to search that’s normally not possible in a WordPress search.
This plugin comes with options such as:
- Search Highlighting
- Search Every Page
- Search Every Tag
- Search Custom Taxonomies ( new )
- Search Every Category
- Search non-password protected pages only
- Search Every Comment
- Search only approved comments
- Search Every Draft
- Search Every Excerpt
- Search Every Attachment (post type)
- Search Every Custom Field (metadata)
- Exclude Posts from search
- Exclude Categories from search
It’s true that this plugin let’s you add more elements to search from, but it doesn’t improves relevancy.
If you want to offer better search experience to your visitors, it is very much essential to start using any one plugin from above five.
My personal favorites are Custom Google Search and Relevanssi. If you don’t have much time to research, then go for any one from these two and you can’t go wrong with them. But as mentioned earlier, if you want to provide an ads free search experience to your visitors, then Google’s custom search is not for you and you can go for Relevanssi.
Relevanssi surely seems to work very well in my tests and the best part is that you don’t need to spend even 10 minutes to configure it. Just install, activate and hit the “build the index” button. Once you do this, you can configure other options if you want, but it’s not really required. In short, you are spending just 5 minutes to provide relevant search results which are better than the default (or native) search results. This plugin is surely worth giving a shot at.
If you come upon any other useful plugin that’s worth mentioning here, then let me know in the comments.