In the world of powerful search engines, sadly the default WordPress search bar just doesn’t cut it. When visitors come to your WordPress website, they want to find what they are looking for and get out. Understandably, no one wants to spend time digging around on a website for the information they need and get frustrated in the bargain.
Think what would it be like if Amazon had no search bar? Or GoodReads? Or Quora?
Ergo – improving the default search feature helps you improve your website by miles.
It leads to better content visibility, reduces your bounce rate, and increases conversions significantly because now people find exactly what they are looking for!
Coming to your website, there are fortunately a lot of ways to enhance your WordPress search bar, the easiest being simply using a search bar plugin.
In this article, we’ve compared the top plugins to make your decision a little easier.
Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of each plugin, here’s a summary for you.
Comparison of Best WordPress Search Plugins
|Ease of Use||Indexing of Content||Search Features||Compatibility||Price|
|SearchWP||Easy to use||Good||Keyword stems, weighted & related results||WooCommerce, BBPress, EDD, Advance custom field||$99|
|Ivory Search||Easy to use||Good||Fuzzy matching, keyword stems||WooCommerce, BBPress||$99.99|
|Ajax Search Pro||Slightly advanced||Very Good||Adjustable search logic, responsive keyword suggestions||WP Bakery, WooCommerce, BbPress, Events Calendar, WPML||$36|
|Relevanssi||Easy to use||Good, some unique features||Did you mean suggestions, custom synonyms||WooCommerce, BBPress, WP CLI, WPML||$99/year|
|WpSolr||A little difficult to set up||Good||Uses Elasticsearch + Solr, faceted search,||WooCommerce, BBPress, Toolset, Listify, WPML, Jobify, Yoast, ACF||$220/year|
|Swiftype site search||Requires you to set up swiftype account||Very Good||Uses Elasticsearch, autocorrect & phrase matching||$79/mo|
|Better Search||Easy to use||Basic||Weighted results, boolean logic||WP-Super-Cache, W3 Total Cache||Free|
Let’s dive into the details now!
SearchWP is one of the most widely used search bar plugins in the WordPress space. It is really simple to set up even for a novice WordPress user. With SearchWP you can include content from a lot of fields that the default search bar misses. Moreover, features like weighted results can help you improve your result pages by leaps & bounds.
SearchWP was designed to have minimal overhead and can be enhanced further with extensions like Related, Metric, Redirects. In addition to that, you can find ample documentation and great support to help you through anything you may need.
SearchWP Indexes content from:
- PDF, Office and text documents
- E-commerce product details
- Taxonomy Terms- categories, tags, etc
- Custom Field content
- Post Title & content
- Shortcode output
Epitrove’s tip: Custom Fields are the additional fields or metadata you add to your posts. It is important to include this information in your search results for better clarity!
Search Capabilities of SearchWP:
- Uses keyword stems instead of exact matches to include all relevant results
- Choose to exclude or attribute anything from the search result page
- Use weighted results to decide which results are displayed prominently
- Seamlessly integrates with your website’s search form and result page
- Easily integrate the Related extension to display related content along with full customization of results
- Get statistics & insights into what users are searching for on your website
- Redirect users to a specific page automatically for a particular search query. Useful when a user is looking for certain pages like Home or Contact Us
WooCommerce, BBPress, EDD, Job Manager integration, Advance custom field, CMB2
Pro Plus: $299
Ivory Search lends a lot of advanced search functionalities like fuzzy matching and keyword stemming to your website search engine. This significantly improves how search results are displayed to your user. As a result, you have users who find what they need quicker and a better chance of making a conversion. Ivory search is also comprehensive when it comes to indexing content and it sure doesn’t hurt that it’s quite reasonably priced.
Ivory Search indexes content from:
- Any media, attachment & files – image, audio files, videos, pdf, documents
- Comments & dates
- Taxonomy terms/ categories
- Custom fields
- Product type/category
- Product custom fields, date, product attributes like color or size.
Epitrove’s Tip: If content visibility is your primary focus with your search function, the Ivory Search Starter version by itself is quite comprehensive and should take care of all your requirements.
Search Capabilities of Ivory Search:
- Fuzzy matching to display partially matching results for a broader search
- Keyword stemming to include results that contain different forms of the user’s query keyword. However, this feature is only available with the Pro Plus version.
- Choose to exclude any results from a search
- Displays an error for an empty search query
- Order search results based on certain attributes & put sticky search results at the top of the page
- Create unlimited search bars and display anywhere on the site
Pro: $19.99/year or $99.99
Pro Plus: $49.99/year or $189.99
AJAX Search Pro is your ideal plugin to create comprehensive search bars for professional websites. The reasons to choose AJAX search Pro are manifold.
Firstly, It comes with 4 stunning layouts to display your search results.
Secondly, it extensively covers the content on your website. You can even create a unique search index for your website with the ‘index table” option.
Finally, it’s compatible with and works for all popular plugins including WooCommerce, Events Calendar, and more.
AJAX Search indexes content from:
- Custom post type
- Users & user metadata
- Attachment content
- Product pages
- Shortcode content
- BBPress forums, topics & replies
- BuddyPress activities & groups
- Calendar events
- PDF, text and Office file
- Categories & Tags
Epitrove’s tip: Ajax Search Pro has an extensive list of features and is a plugin for people looking to highly customize their website’s search experience and cover all the bases.
Search capabilities of AJAX Search:
- Four built-in layouts for search results display: Vertical, Horizontal, Polaroid and Isotopic
- Realtime search results with autocomplete and keyword suggestions
- Responsive search boxes for mobile devices
- Adjustable image parser for displaying high-quality images in search results
- Users can filter search results by date, categories, custom fields
- Weighted/Priority search results & Adjustable search logic(AND, OR, NOT)
- Search statistics, google analytics integration, multisite support
- Shortcode generator & handy widgets: search box, latest search phrase, popular searches
WP Bakery, WooCommerce, Jigoshop, BbPress, Events Calendar, WPML
Lite version: Free
Relevanssi has a lot of unique features that help it stand out from other search bar plugins. The ability to search across multiple sites, custom synonyms and stop words,’ did you mean?’ suggestions for users are some distinctive features that make Relevanssi a good choice of the plugin.
Additionally, it’s one of the few plugins that let you index content like arbitrary MYSQL columns in wp_post or comments/comment author. On top of that, the installation and set up process is quite easy & Relevanssi support is top-notch.
Relevanssi Indexes Content from:
- PDF, doc, epub content
- Taxonomy Terms
- Shortcode output
- Search comments and comment authors
- Custom fields
- Post excerpts
- User profiles
- Product pages
- MYSQL columns in wp_post
Epitrove’s tip: Relevanssi is built with smaller websites in mind and it does a fantastic job with them. But it might not be suitable for very large websites. It also doesn’t work with BuddyPress and Beaver Builder modules.
Search Capabilities of Relevanssi:
- Displays ‘Did you mean?’ suggestions
- Fuzzy matching for broader search results
- Complete control over search results with AND, OR, NOT operators
- Weighted search results to display certain results higher on the search page
- Specify custom stop words & synonyms
- Sticky post search page based on the search term, query logs
- Throttling for better search performance on bigger databases
- Search across multiple sites
WooCommerce, BBPress, WPCLI, WPML and Polylang
WPSolr is powered by Elasticsearch and Solr which are two advanced open source search platforms that come with very powerful features. WPSolr takes out the headache and hassle of configuring & managing either of them while still being able to enjoy all the perks! It delivers results super fast and comes with useful features like live suggestions and extensive filter options.
WPSolr indexes content from:
- Custom Fields/ ACF custom fields
- Attributes/ Taxonomy
- PDFs, excel sheets, word documents
Search Capabilities of WPSolr:
- Superfast and accurate search result display
- Live suggestions with keywords
- Show live suggestions by keywords, content grouped by type or content flat
- Add filters using checkboxes, sliders, range pickers, etc
- Boosts specific results using weights
- Tune search results better with Elasticsearch and Solr using languages, synonyms, stopwords, stemming and specialized analyzer
WooCommerce, BBPress, Toolset, Listify, WPML, Jobify, Yoast, ACF
Swiftype is a search & index company that makes software that powers search functionalities of businesses like CBS, at&t, Shopify to name a few. Subsequently, it lends advanced search functionalities to your website with its WordPress site search plugin. It is an Elasticsearch-powered, secure cloud-based plugin that automatically syncs as you add, delete or change WordPress content.
Swiftype indexes content from:
- Once installed the plugin requires you to create a Site Search account
- Once connected you can sync all your WordPress site content with the search engine created
- Also works for PDF/Document Indexing
Epitrove’s tip: Site Search will definitely help you create a polished, advance search bar. But owing to the price this plugin might be more suitable for large business websites than personal websites
Search Capabilities of Swiftype search plugin:
- Bigram matching to display answers to multiple keyword searches that are similar but not exactly the same
- Faceted search
- Keyword Stemming for broader search results
- Synonyms & phrase matching & autocorrect for search queries
- Index content in real-time with JSON API
- Customize the search output of specific queries
- Control how different attributes impact search results with precise weights
- Refine results by attributes such as date, price, author, location, or content type.
- Get deep insights into what people are searching for
- Automatic updating & multisite support
Requires you to have a site search account, pricing starts at $79/mo
Better Search is the only fully free plugin on this list. It checks all the boxes for basic features a search bar plugin needs and is absolutely suitable for personal websites. Some of the features include being able to fine-tune results using weights and even create a heatmap of popular searches. Although, It may not be as comprehensive as some of the other plugins on this list it does the job well while still being easy on the pocket.
Better Search indexes content from:
- Posts & Pages
- Custom Post types
- Post title
Search capabilities of Better Search:
- Assign a greater weight to either post title or content
- Results automatically sorted by order of relevance
- Choose to sort results by date instead
- Use Boolean logic for your search results
- Track popular searches with a heatmap
- Display ‘Popular searches’ on your website
- Filter out terms using a defined list of stop words
- Seamless integration with WordPress theme and support for templates
- Supports custom CSS
WP-Super-Cache, W3 Total Cache
WP Google Search – It’s a free plugin that helps you add a Google Search feature to your website. You can configure it to only search your website or the entire web depending on your requirements.
Customize various aspects like layout, themes, custom colors, fonts, thumbnails
JetPack’s Search Module – If you’re not familiar with JetPack, it is one of the most popular WordPress plugins created by Automattic. It helps optimize all aspects of your WordPress website.
The search module available with the Professional plan enhances the default search facilities with real-time indexing of content, filter searches by tags/taxonomy, phrase search, boost recent searches by default, Elasticsearch query API.
So, which WordPress Search Plugin will you choose?
In case you’ve used any of these before, how was your experience?
Are there other plugins you think should be added to the mix? Let us know in the comments!