November 15, 2019

SearchWP vs Relevanssi: Comparing WordPress Search Plugins

Think of how you google forgotten songs. 

The frustration, the typing in of the few lyrics you think you know, all to come up empty-handed.

Imagine that happening every time a user searches for something on your website. Bound to get annoying right?

Truthfully, the default WordPress search feature is not that great.  If you want to revamp your search feature, show more relevant results to your users, and help them navigate your site better – a good search plugin might be the answer you seek.

Here we take a look at two of the most popular WordPress search plugins – Relevanssi and SearchWP, to decide which one is better!

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – The Overall Picture

Your checklist for a good search feature should include a couple of important things.  

  1. All relevant content shows up in the search results and, 
  2. The results that show up are genuinely useful for the user

Both Relevanssi and SearchWP are an upgrade from the default search for either aspect. 

You can now include PDF content or User Profiles in your search results and help users get definite answers with techniques like weighted results & fuzzy matching. 

But… more on that later.

SearchWP also has additional extensions like Metrics, Related, Redirects, etc. to help you add functionality as you scale. 

However, keep in mind that both plugins are made for small to midsize websites. Anything under ten thousand posts should work fine.

The standard plans for both are priced at $99 for a year. However, Relevanssi also has a free version.

Now, let’s delve a little bit into the specifics of both.

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – The Search Index

Creating an index with a search plugin is similar to say, an index in a book. So, needless to say, you want it to be comprehensive.

This index should contain every bit of content on your website, so the search results can contain all the relevant answers.


PDF/Document indexing is a popular feature and advantage of SearchWP. Also important, it indexes custom fields and shortcodes. This is in addition to the standard indexing of Post titles, categories, etc.

This index is automatically updated as new content is added

The way the SearchWP algorithm works is it indexes everything that has a ‘post id’. This includes posts, pages and everything you store in the WordPress Media Library. So anything stored outside the Media Library won’t show up in the results. 


Relevanssi is a tad bit more comprehensive than SearchWP. You can include author bios, shortcode content, comments & comment authors.

Shortcodes can contain highly relevant keywords and help users find exactly what they’re looking for. Similarly, comments on forums & blogs can often contain answers relevant to the user’s query. With Relevanssi, users can find this information easily with the search bar. 

If you’re interested to know how it all works, here’s a tutorial on how to set up a search bar with Relevanssi.

Relevanssi also automatically updates its index.

Elements users can searchSearchWPRelevanssi
Post Title & content
Tags, categories
E-commerce product pages
Custom Fields
User Profiles
Shortcode Content
Comments & Excerpts
MY_SQL columns

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – Displaying Relevant Results

Wrong search results are often more frustrating than finding no results at all. A user shouldn’t have to flip through vaguely related results to find what they are looking for.  

A common technique both SearchWP and Relevanssi apply to get relevant results is assigning weights to attributes. Basically, you can decide if the title gets more importance or the tag or the custom field when deciding what result goes at the top of the list. 

Others include Keyword Stemming, Stopwords, Synonyms, AND & NOT logic, etc. 

A unique feature of SearchWP is that you can set up multiple search engines, each modified to give the best results depending on where it is. 

Relevanssi uses fuzzy matching – matching partial words if complete words don’t match. It also shows “Did you mean?’ suggestions to guide users to the correct results.

Search techniques

Why is it useful?


Weighted attributesAssign priority to
Fuzzy MatchingShows result for partial
StemmingMatches stem words
(add= adding)
Using filter
SynonymsMatch synonyms
(bag = clutch)
Stop WordsIgnore certain words
(a, the, their)
Boolean Logic AND = show results
that contains any
of the terms
OR = show results
that contain both terms
Using an

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – Compatibility

Integration with other popular plugins like WooCommerce & BBPress allows content from those plugins to also be available in search results. This way, users can access complete content directly from the search bar.

Compatible withSearchWPRelevanssi
WP Job Manager
Easy Digital Download
Advanced Custom Field

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – Pricing

SearchWP doesn’t have a free version. This is probably one of its prominent drawbacks.  

Standard plans for both are priced at $99 annually. But a lot of the functionalities are available with the Relevanssi free version. 

Extensions for SearchWP like Metrics, Related Content, and WooCommerce integration are only available with the Pro($149) and Pro+($299) plans.

SearchWP vs Relevanssi – Pros and Cons



  • Set up multiple search bars with different settings for showing results
  • See statistics and insights on your users
  • Compatible with a lot of popular plugins
  • Add functionalities like Live search, Related Content with extensions


  • No free version
  • Some extensions like Related Content, WooCommerce integration are only available for Pro and Pro+ plans 
  • Multisite implementation is tricky
  • To get highlighted search results, you need to use a separate extension



  • A free version is available & enough for personal websites
  • Better Indexing
  • Run searches across multiple sites
  • Query Logs & Highlighted searches


  • Live search is not inbuilt. Although SearchWP Live Search extension works perfectly with Relevanssi
  • Conflicts with BuddyPress, WP Job Manager & Beaver Builder
  • Search techniques like Stemming need filter hooks to implement


Relevanssi and SearchWP are both excellent search plugins. A search bar created using either of the two will definitely be a step-up from the default WordPress search bar. 

The availability of a free version is a plus with Relevanssi. It allows you to try out the plugin without any commitment, and you can always choose to upgrade. However, SearchWP comes with features like multiple engines & several extensions you can use to enhance search even further. 

Additionally, if you want to explore more options, here’s a list of good search plugins you could use.

Are you using any of these on your WordPress website? What made you choose that plugin? Is there a different plugin you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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Lavanya Deshmukh
Lavanya Deshmukh

Computer Engineer, food enthusiast and die-hard Harry Potter fan that now writes content full time for Epitrove


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