Turbo-charge your WordPress internal search

Raise your hand if you’ve ever plumbed the depths of your website’s archives for a post, only to find it on page 11 of the search results or not at all. It sucks, right?

WordPress’s default search function returns results based on keywords and in date order, but if your site has a large volume of articles dating back years, it can be harrowing trying to find the right results.

We’re not the first to point out the shortcomings of WordPress’s out-of-the-box search functionality, and perhaps because of that, many alternative solutions have popped up aiming to improve it. Here are our five favourite plugins for ratcheting up your WordPress internal search.


With a 4.7 star rating and over 80,000 active installs, Relevanssi is the go-to plugin for enhancing your search experience. As its name suggests, Relevanssi prioritizes relevance over chronology, and includes unique features like fuzzy matching, boolean expressions and phrase searching. You can do a lot with the free version, but if things like multi-site support and export and import settings get you going, you’ll want to check out the fully-loaded Premium plugin.

Better Search

Better Search is a great little plugin if you want to improve functionality to your site while keeping things simple. As with Relevanssi, Better Search will generate search results that are relevant to both the title and content of the post, or you can fine-tune your settings to add greater weight to either the title or content. You can also track searches and display a “heatmap” of the most popular searches in your site’s footer or sidebar.

Google Custom Search

Want to harness the power of Google on your site? Google’s Custom Search is your golden ticket. You can opt to search just your site or across multiple domains and sites, plus choose from a variety of ways to display results. And, of course, being powered by the biggest name in web searching, you’re guaranteed accurate and speedy search results.

Search Everything

Search Everything does exactly what it says, allowing your visitors to search absolutely everything on your site. In addition to posts and pages, this includes comments, attachments, tags, taxonomies and custom fields. You can switch these on and off in the plugin settings, so your password-protected content will always be safe. The plugin also has a feature called “Research Everything” that makes it easy to find and link to previous posts.

Dave’s WordPress Live Search

If you’re looking for something that offers live search functionality and plenty of customizability, we know the guy for the job. Dave’s WordPress Live Search gives users instantaneous results as they type in the search field, directing them to articles as soon as it finds them. Results become more refined as the visitor keeps typing. And because Dave is such a thoughtful guy, he integrated his plugin seamlessly with Relevanssi for the ultimate in relevant live searching.

1 Comment

  1. ray April 25, 2016 Reply

    As a way to contribute back to the community, our team has built one and release it on https://wordpress.org/plugins/searchiq/. It has autocomplete with image, search analytics, cross-domain, customizable search ranking and more. Basically, it does what Swiftype is doing without limitation . On top of that, it is Free. You can learn more from http://www.searchiq.xyz.

PSA: As of Sept. 29, 2017, you can no longer purchase themes from this website. We will continue to provide limited support, including bug fixes and security updates, until March 31, 2018. Thank you for everything. We'll miss you dearly.