4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins

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4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins

If you’ve ever searched a WordPress site, you have likely noticed the results you get back from any search query leave a lot to be desired. And if you use WordPress as your content management system of choice, you may have noticed pages finding their way into site search results, which you would prefer people didn’t see.

The unfortunate truth is that native WordPress site search needs some work to ensure it’s delivering your readers the best results. So what can you do to improve the relevance of your site search results? Fortunately, there are a number of easy-to-use WordPress plugins that can help – no need to mess around with code, just install, activate, and tweak the settings to make them work how you want them to.

1. Search Everything

4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins | SEJ

With over 80,000+ active installed, Search Everything has a solid user base and it’s served me well on several websites. There are no hoops to jump through, just activate, tweak the settings, and you’re ready to go. A useful feature included is search highlighting – whenever a search query is used, users will easily see it on the results page.

The main reason I started using this plugin was to stop particular pages such as landing pages and download pages being found in search results – you can choose to exclude entire categories or specific posts/pages. In the configuration menu, you have the option to choose exactly what taxonomies are used for search queries. So for example, search results can be generated by searching through custom post types, attachments, comments, categories and more.

2. Custom Google Search

4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins | SEJ

Custom Google Search is a premium plugin by WPMU DEV, which allows you to replace the native WordPress search functionality with Google’s Custom Search. There are a few more hoops to jump through to set up this plugin, in comparison to other plugins like Search Everything, but setup is still straight forward.

Whenever I try to search a website using the native WordPress search, I usually get far better results by typing “site:domain.com” into Google. This plugin will provide a much better experience for your readers. And it’s compatible with both BuddyPress and Multisite.

The only thing that I dislike about this plugin is the cost which comes in at a steep $19/month for the plugin alone, or $49/month to get all of WPMU DEV’s plugins and themes. The $49/month option holds the most value considering the sheer number of plugins you’ll get access to, although the important question to consider is – do you really need them?

There are several alternatives which include adding Custom Search manually following this tutorial by WP Beginner or a free plugin; WP Google Search.

3. Relevanssi

4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins | SEJ

Similar to Search Everything, Relevanssi has over 80,000+ active installs and receives regular updates. Relevanssi is a free plugin with the option to purchase a premium version that gives you extra control over your search functionality. The price of the premium version starts at $49.95. In comparison to Search Everything, the setup process is more complex but should enable the plugin to provide more accurate search results.

Results can be ordered by relevance or publication date and by default the plugin will use fuzzy matching when straight search terms get no hits. Fuzzy matching matches everything that begins or ends with the search term.

One feature in particular that stands out is the option to add a weight to particular elements. For example, post titles are given a weight of 5 by default and comment text is given 0.75. You can also select tag and category weights, but anything else would require a premium license. You will then be able to adjust the weights of post types, taxonomies and postdates. Other premium features include WordPress Multisite support, export/import settings, guaranteed support, sticky posts, and more. But neither the free version or premium versions support BuddyPress.

4. Swiftype Search

4 Great WordPress Site Search Plugins | SEJ

Swiftype Search is a newer plugin that boasts some powerful features. Unlike Search Everything and Relevanssi, this plugin won’t make your server work harder. Everything is hosted on their servers which is awesome.

Pricing is worked out on a quota based system. You can sign up for a free account, this will give you a quota of 500 total unique pages and up to 1,000 searches per month which should be sufficient for most small websites. Paid accounts range from $19/month to $249/month depending on the size of your website and the number of queries. Paid accounts also remove branding and unlock additional features such as search analytics.

One feature I particularly like is the option to customize specific search queries to make them more relevant. For example, if you notice particular terms are being searched for in the analytics, you can manually edit them to give more accurate results – if those results aren’t as accurate as you would like.

You can also utilize the Swiftype platform to add mobile search to apps and leverage their API, which I imagine can be incredibly useful for developers. And for marketers, the real-time analytics functionality can deliver some valuable insights, especially for larger sites.


This is not an exhaustive list by any means; however the plugins I’ve discussed will provide something suitable for almost any situation. Whether it is the option to leverage Google’s Custom Search, provide an easy way to remove particular pages/posts from your site’s search, power the internal search of a large e-commerce site or simply improve the relevance of search results for your personal blog – you’ll find a plugin to help you.

However, there are always other options out there. Are you using any of the above plugins? Or are you using a different one? What has your experience been with these types of plugins? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Gil C/Shutterstock.com
All screenshots by Adam Connell. Taken November 2015.

Adam Connell

Adam Connell

Marketing Director at UK Linkology
Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard and Marketing Director at UK Linkology – an ROI driven inbound marketing agency with a focus on... Read Full Bio
Adam Connell
Adam Connell

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  • Roger Rogerson

    Oh good, the self promoting post comment is gone πŸ˜€

    Good topic and writeup Adam πŸ˜€
    Search is an often under-appreciated area of a site.
    It’s something that can result in abandonment or improve retention/conversion – so it’s worth looking into, properly.

    To be honest, I’m amazed that we’re this far along with the internet and websites – and yet still using systems with such shoddy default search functionality.
    The fact that you have to add in additional plugins/mods to get anywhere near a half decent search is disturbing (not just WP, most platforms and ecommerce stores have the same issues).

    It’s more than worth your time/effort to go play with your search and see what you can find, and how easily. Note the time it takes, the accuracy and the relevance.
    Do try some of the plugins – or if you fancy a stab, have a go yourself (look at things like normalising search terms to non-plural, lower-case, alpha-numeric only, splitting the search into single terms and bi/trigrams etc. Even stemming can help (though lemmatising may do better).
    Then you can get clever and look at things like soundex/metaphone to cover mistakes and phonetic searches (slight fuzzing).

    Personally, I’ve always added my own search field, and populated it with specific terms, separated by pipes after normalisation (it will even pull in titles/keywords/date etc.). It makes for a heft column, but the results are often far superior to default functionality.

    • Adam Connell

      Good to see that spam comment was removed so quick πŸ™‚

      Thanks Roger – much appreciated!

      I agree, so much has been made possible with WordPress, and the functionality of plugins/themes has changed a lot about how we build our websites. But, the internal search function has been lacking for a good while. Curious as to whether this will get some focus in a future core update.

      That’s a great point – we can only truly get a good idea of how effective site search is by trying it ourselves.

      I like the idea of populating a search field with your own specific terms. Do you know of a good tutorial on exactly how to do that?

      Thanks for sharing your insights.


  • Alexander Trust

    “Everything is hosted on their servers which is awesome.” <– You really do believe this, Adam, do you? I don't like it that way. Not by principle, but by decision. If Google for example would offer a standalone version of Analytics for your own server… or if the comment system you use here at SEJ would be one, you could use on your servers too, would this not be awesome? You could make the decision then, to share your data or not to share it.

    • Adam Connell

      Thanks Alexander, I wasn’t as clear as I should have been about that part.

      It’s beneficial purely in the sense that having their server’s run queries, can reduce server load on your own server.

      But, I see your point – having the decision to share data, or not to share it would be far better.

      • Alexander Trust

        You’re welcome. And it’s not you I am worried about. ^^ Because I can guess you chose your solutions wisely. But people tend to first use and then think. Kind of everything moved into the cloud. Which is not per se a bad idea and sometimes even can be a good thing.

        But you can do your own “cloudy” things without an external solution. There are enough tools which allow you that, not only on your home computer or NAS, but you can even use your webserver as a cloud service for your own web-apps, that is if you know how.

        As I mentioned Google Analytics before. There is for example an open source solution like Piwik which you can move to your webserver and then manage nearly infinite numbers of website’s analytics. If you have a colleague who owns a webserver, he could install it, make you an account and you’re good to go. Your colleague you probably trust better than an external provider.

        And think of those cloud services shutting down… recently mailbox was shutdown and a lot of people got accustomed to using it. Now they have to start over. If a plugin author stops working, which happens quite often when the developers cannot monetize their work thoroughly… then what?

      • Adam Connell

        Great point. That’s one of the things I dislike about the move to the cloud.

        Last week MailChimp was down for around 10 hours or so – not a crazy amount of time but enough to cause a problem. I imagine plenty of people were running campaigns at the time and the result was a lot of lost business, and other problems.

        True, I like how Piwik gives the option to use the cloud or your own server. I’d like to have a go at installing that on my VPS at some point. The only concern I have is load times being sufficient but, it warrants testing.

        I’m still shocked about how Dropbox handled things with Mailbox. I never used it personally, but it’s horrible when companies buy an app/tool, then kill it off.

        I’ve had the same issues with plugins in the past. It’s usually with premium plugins that are put on the market for insane prices like $50 for lifetime updates/support – no way is that sustainable over the long term. It seems that some plugins with these insane price points are built for quick sales and no thought to creating a real business.

        Fortunately, for most plugins there are similar alternatives, but migrating over is entirely manual and time consuming, to say the least.

        Thanks for this food for thought, Alexander – it’s a solid reminder that there is far more to deciding what tool to use than what their features are.

  • stephen robbin

    Nice article. Recently i make a website using wordpress. These plugin gonna help me a lot. surely i will try these plugins for my website.
    Thanks a lot for sharing

  • stephen robbin

    Nice article.
    Recently I create a website using Wordpess. your recommended plugins gonna help me a lot.
    I have no good idea about these plugins before. Thanks a lot for sharing such a useful information. Keep sharing

  • Hemang Rindani

    Nice article. Thanks. WordPress is a great platform that can be used to manage blogging sites to some large powerful websites including e-commerce websites. Its USP lies in the simplicity. WordPress has easy-to-use interface that allows developer to control website activities. Thousands of built-in modules and plugins allows a developer to turn digital dream into reality. WordPress is highly SEO friendly and can efficiently control page indexing. However, to ensure proper indexing make sure to have a proper sitemap and submit it to google for indexing. Developers can also opt for WP indexer or WP section index tools to ensure proper page indexing.

  • Y Design Services

    Search Everything is a great plugin. I like it

  • Sara Leonard

    I have used Relevanssi and Google custom search for my website but not satisfied. Now, I came across searchIQ and this is the best search plugin that I have tried so far. It’s absolutely free and provides much enhanced features. Why to pay when the same thing is out there for free.