Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

Check out the best WordPress plugins to improve the native WordPress search functionality in an easy method and the best points of each plugin

Updated on September 4, 2022
Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

We made a list of the best free WordPress plugins that will improve the native WordPress search functionality. In an easy method and the best points of each plugin.

When creating your WordPress site, there are lots of things to consider. Such as hosting, themes, and widgets. But one of the most important things to consider is identifying the best search plugin. In this article, I’ll be addressing this question:

What Are The Best Search Plugins for WordPress?

You may ask yourself why search plugins deserve your time when WordPress comes with its own default site search engine. In a nutshell, there are two reasons: Better user experience and reduced bounce rates. The rationale goes a little like this:

Once a visitor has reached your website, it’s your responsibility to ensure they find your most important pages. The most obvious way of doing this is by listing critical areas of your website in your main navigation menus.

This is great for helping people find categories of content into sections. But the content is so much more than that. It’s also essential to give your audience a means of finding the specific types of content you offer that are relevant to them. This comes down to using tools such as categories, tags, archives, sitemaps, related posts, and, of course, search.

Search Is Not The WP Strongest Point

To put it politely, the search isn’t something at which WordPress excels. Set in a search request, the default WordPress search engine will frequently return irrelevant blog posts. In addition to custom posts and pages published years ago. It neither allows visitors to narrow their search down to specific categories. Or keywords nor view highlighted terms in search results. Nor does it allow you to limit user searches to particular items, such as posts, or pages. Comments and/or custom post types.

This poor search functionality can increase bounce rates considerably among users who expect a better experience. This is why it’s common for WordPress users to improve the default WordPress search engine. Or replace it altogether with something better. You’ll need to address the issue of search plugins if giving your audience a better experience is crucial to you.

So, let’s look at five of the best plugins (free and premium). For improving or replacing the default WordPress search engine.

Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

SearchWP Live Ajax Search

SearchWP Live Ajax Search enables AJAX-based live search for your search forms. Designed to be a developer’s best friend. SearchWP Live Ajax Search is up to get out of your way while allowing you to customize everything around you.

It is up to work with any WordPress theme and uses a template loader to display the results. The template-based approach allows you to customize your SearchWP Live Search implementation seamlessly. Without having to deal with dozens of messy options.

Ajax Search Lite

Ajax Search Lite is a real-time search plugin for WordPress. This responsive real-time search engine improves your user experience by providing an easy-to-use Ajax search form (live search bar). You can also filter results using the category and post type filter fields. It also includes Google autocomplete and keyword suggestions.

Very smooth animations with mobile device support and regular updates. Use Ajax Search Lite to replace the default WordPress search with a better-lookingand more efficient search engine.
Optimize user experience by providing visitors with a powerful Ajax search plugin. Support for custom post types and custom fields, etc. Boost your website’s search engine performance with this customized real-time search engine.


Touted by many as the best search solution for WordPress. SearchWP is a premium WordPress plugin with great support for taxonomies, custom post types, and custom fields.

Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

It allows you to determine how much weight each content type receives during a search. For example, you can add more weight to an article’s title and page slug so that probes containing those terms will be positioned higher in search results. Pages can also be out from searches by specifying post IDs or setting tags and categories.

One of the most exciting things about the plugin is its option to create supplemental search engines that only search a particular part of your website. SearchWP also boasts statistics, WordPress multi-site support, and a range of extensions that add additional functionality. What’s more, what excites me about SearchWP is its ability to index text content from PDF files uploaded to your website.

A license for SearchWP retails at $99 for one website, $199 for five websites, and $399 for unlimited websites. All rights come with one year’s support, updates, and access to all SearchWP extensions.

Relevanssi is a popular search plugin that sorts search results by relevance, not date. The plugin lets you define the weight of factors such as post titles, which helps you determine what is essential in search results.

Relevanssi – A Better Search
Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

Relevanssi lets visitors search through comments, tags, categories, and custom fields. Users can also restrict searches to categories and tags and use advanced filtering to help adjust search results to suit their needs. The plugin also allows content present in plugin shortcodes to be indexed — something other search plugins don’t offer.

Relevanssi is free to download. However, there’s also a premium version available that has many added features and guarantees support from the developers (to their credit, the developers of Relevanssi do try to support free users too). Premium features include user profile indexing, highlighting search terms from external search engines for visitors, and export/import functionality to help you transfer settings to other websites you own.

A standard Relevanssi license — suitable for small businesses — retails for $60. Large businesses and companies designing client websites may need a developer license for $400. Both permissions allow use on unlimited websites and include one year of support and upgrades.

Google’s Custom Google Search tool allows website owners to add a Google-powered search engine to their website. Search results are narrowed down to results from your website.

Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality
Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

Several different WordPress plugins allow you to use this tool, but I believe the Custom Google Search plugin by WPMU Dev is the best of the bunch. To use the plugin, you must first create a Custom Google Search engine at Google and then add the code you receive to the settings area of the WPMU Dev plugin.

The WPMU Dev plugin enhances the Custom Google Search tool in a number of ways. It lets you change styling, determine where search results are, and hide the search button. It also comes with a helpful search widget so that Google’s search functionality seamlessly integrates with your website design.

The plugin is available from WPMU Dev for $19. WPMU Dev’s membership plans, which are available for an effective rate of $24.50 per month, grant access to this plugin and more than 350 other WordPress plugins.

Custom Google Search is not the best search solution for WordPress since it relies on the content indexed by Google and not the content contained within your database. It cannot enhance search as plugins such as SearchWP and Relevanssi can. However, earning additional money through Google Adsense is an enticing feature, particularly if you have a high-traffic website.

Swiftype Site Search Plugin for WordPress

Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality
Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

Swiftype Search is an attractive search solution for many high-traffic websites, but, to use the plugin, you’ll need to sign up for a free account to acquire an API key. (Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of WordPress plugins that are not useable unless you sign up for a third-party service.) Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

Swiftype helps you show more relevant search results by allowing you to customize their order using drag and drop. This is a valuable way of placing your most important content and pages at the top of results, and additional effects can be present manually. Autocomplete (aka ‘live search’) is available, too, and there are filters to help users refine results.

As you’d expect, the free membership plan for Swiftype is limited: It adds Swiftype branding to your searches, limits search result customizations to 50, limits content updates, and only allows use on one website.

You need to upgrade to a premium plan if you want access to all available Swiftype Search features. Upgrading to the pro plan at $19 per month allows you to remove the branding, search across multiple domains, and grant access to daily content updates and analytics that help track what’s being searched.

The business plan retails at $249 per month and offers real-time search analytics, recommendations, conversion tracking, spelling and synonyms, multiple search engine support, and more. A feature-packed enterprise solution is also available for large companies; this level of solution adds features such as real-time indexing.

Dave’s WordPress Live Search (Outdated)

Without updates, since WordPress 4.9.1 was Developed by David Michael Ross, Dave’s WordPress Live Search adds ‘live search’ functionality to your WordPress website (you’ll have seen this used on search engines such as Google and Bing to autocomplete a search term).

Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality
Plugins for Improve WordPress Search Functionality

The plugin lets you define the number of search results displayed and the minimum number of characters that need to be entered before the live search is activated. Once a person has entered the minimum number of characters you defined, a results box will appear. This box can display information from results, including metadata, post thumbnails, post excerpts, and a ‘view more results’ link.

Gray, red, and blue color schemes are included with the plugin, and you can also customize the output by creating a stylesheet named Daves-WordPress-live-search.css or simply use the default styling your theme provides.

While Dave’s WordPress Live Search doesn’t improve the default WordPress search engine, it enhances the user experience as users can go directly to the page they want without visiting a search results page.

Final Thoughts

Search is essential for providing a better user experience and keeping visitors on your website longer. If visitors can’t find the page they’re searching for, they’ll likely hit the back button and leave your website. It seems silly to let that happen when there are so many reasonable alternative search solutions available for WordPress that’ll deliver results to keep your audience happy.

Regarding how much you’re willing or able to spend for this better user experience, some people will still want to avoid laying down cash. If you’re looking for an excellent free solution, I recommend Relevanssi — I’ve used it with websites of my own in the past, and I’ve been thrilled with the functionality it adds. Additionally, Swiftype Search is worth checking out if you want to change search results manually.

If you like making money from people who use the search on your website, integrating Google’s search functionality into your website using a plugin such as Custom Google Search is your only option. It could add a few hundred dollars to your bottom line every year if you choose to monetize Custom Google Search — and maybe even thousands if you have a high-traffic website.

On the premium side, I feel that SearchWP is the best overall solution: It integrates well with other WordPress products, is particularly easy to set up, has excellent support for custom post types, and gives you complete control over search results are determined. I also love the fact that content from PDF files can be indexed.