Having a functioning search system is absolutely integral for a website in this day and age. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a blog, online store, business site or anything else, your website needs to have a way for visitors to find the content they are looking for. With the internet as saturated with content as it is, you can’t afford to lag behind when it comes to features. In fact, just having a search system isn’t enough these days. With people so accustomed to Google, you need a very well-designed one at the very least. Without a good search system in place, you are inevitably going to push many of your visitors away. This is going to have a significant impact on your Bounce Rate and consequently, your SEO. Fortunately, there are a ton of amazing WordPress search plugins designed to help out in that case.
While the default search function that comes with WordPress is functional, it’s nothing to write home about. Not only is it lacking in speed and flexibility, but it also has a generic and boring look. With the right plugin, you can have a search system for your site that is not only faster and more accurate but also more engaging as well. If you are looking for the right one for your site, then you’re in luck. In this article, we are going to showcase the best free and premium WordPress plugins. Before that though, let’s go over what makes a search system good.
What Makes a Search System Good?
- Fast and Accurate Search: This one goes without saying. Making your visitors wait too long is a surefire way to drive them away from your site. A good search plugin will ensure that the search is fast enough that nobody gets bored. Similarly, if the search system fails to provide accurate results then there is no point to it.
- Visible Search Bar: It should be extremely clear where the search box to your visitors otherwise your visitors are going to go somewhere else. They might assume you don’t have one at all or decide that it’s not worth the hassle to find. Regardless, it is extremely important that the search bar is clear and easily distinguishable.
- Phrase Searching: It is also important that your search system is able to effectively search for phrases. Through phrase searching, visitors can narrow down their search results but specifying how they want the words to appear. As a result, people will have an easier time finding what they’re looking for.
- Effective Sorting and Filters: Sorting and filters can be of great help when it comes to narrowing down the search results. When they are well-designed, sorting and filters can not only going to help your visitors narrow down the results but it also provides a way for them to engage with your site.
- Clear and Concise Results: When your visitors are served the results of their search, it needs to be immediately clear and easy to parse. For online stores, all the relevant information about the product should also be visible.
- Search Logs: You can gain a much better understanding of the visitors of your website if you know what they search for. If you understand what your users want, you will be able to cater to their needs much more effectively. Search logs are much more useful that you might have thought.
Now without further ado, let’s go through our list of the 10 best free and premium WordPress search plugins.
10 Best Free and Premium WordPress Search Plugins
1. ACF: Better Search
ACF: Better Search is a simple but effective plugin that can massively improve the search experience of for your visitors. This plugin requires your WordPress site to have Advanced Custom Fields enabled and activated. Through ACF, your users will be able to use the default search engine in WordPress in order to search from a selection of advanced custom fields. While it may seem like a small thing, it can make searching much more accurate and less frustrating.
Using this plugin, you can search by text, text area, Number, Email, and URL, just to name a few. You can even enable a lite mode that makes searching much faster but doesn’t check field types. This plugin is extremely lightweight and simple when compared to the other WordPress search plugins around. Furthermore, ACF has also been designed to be easy to understand and use.
- Faster and more accurate search
- Search for whole phrases
- Lite mode for faster search
- Supports 10 different field types
- Simple and easy to use
- Integration with Advanced Custom Fields
2. Advanced Woo Search
Advanced Woo Search is a powerful WordPress search plugin that is designed to add a useful search to WooCommerce powered websites. With this plugin, your visitors will be able to effectively search through all of your products. To make things even better, it is fast, easy to use, and comes with a ton of amazing features. To place a search box, you can simply use a shortcode or a widget wherever you want and you’re good to go.
Advanced Woo Search allows users to search in the product title, content, excerpt, categories, tags, as well as SKUs. Each search result can show the product image and price to help make things clear. It also utilizes Smart Ordering in order to show search results by the priority of the source where they were found. That is just the tip of the iceberg however, as this plugin provides a ton of helpful options. To make things even better, Advanced Woo Search is also compatible with plugins such as WPML, Polylang, WooCommerce Multilingual, and qTranslate to make translation much easier.
- Search for WooCommerce products
- Search in title, content, excerpts, categories, tags, and more
- Use shortcodes and widgets to easily place the search box
- Smart ordering
- Google Analytics support
- Translation ready
3. Ajax Search Lite
If you want a highly responsive live search plugin for your WordPress site then Ajax Search Lite might be for you. Using this plugin, you will be able to include an AJAX powered search form into your site. The search is also designed to be extremely user-friendly, with a clean interface, mobile support, as well as some smooth animations. The plugin will enable your visitors to search not just in posts and pages but in custom post types, custom fields, excerpts, categories, descriptions, and much more.
Ajax Search Lite also allows for custom filter boxes for different categories and post types. It is also easy on the eyes to look at due to its vectorized and retina-ready SVG and CSS3 icons. The search results include images as well, with caching being used to make things faster. Compatibility with WPML and Qtranslate also ensures that localization is easy as it can be. You can even integrate Google Analytics to understand your customers better. All in all, this is a solid plugin with a lot of useful options.
- Search in posts, pages, custom post types, title, description, etc
- Custom Filter boxes for categories and post types
- WPML and Qtranslate compatible
- 8 built in templates + options for color adjustments
- Retina ready vectorized SVG and CSS3 icons
- Fully AJAX powered
4. Ivory Search
Ivory Search is a highly versatile search plugin for WordPress that manages to be user-friendly to use in spite of its advanced features. This fantastic plugin allows you to create your very own custom search form. You’ll be able to create an unlimited number of search forms and configure each of them individually to suit your needs. The plugin also allows you to display the custom search forms on different parts of your site, including the header, footer, sidebar, widget area, posts, pages, and more.
Ivory Search provides you with a large degree of control when it comes to searching for items. You will be able to search for specific content through post titles, content, excerpt, custom fields, taxonomy terms, metadata, etc. It even allows you to search for content based on whether or not it has been password protected. You will be able to freely exclude posts based on certain criteria as well. Despite a large number of options available, it is all quite intuitive.
- Create an unlimited number of search forms.
- Configure each search forms separately.
- Exclude specific content from search results.
- Display Search Forms anywhere on your site.
- Supports multilingual search.
- Integration with popular plugins such as WooCommerce, bbPress, etc.
5. Better Search
Better Search is a free WordPress plugin that will replace the default search form with a much-improved version. Not only does it improve the search speed, but it also provides users with more relevant answers. Easily search through posts, pages, and even custom post types with this fantastic plugin. Not just that, but Better Search also allows you to customize the output of the search in different ways. You can also pick whether a larger emphasis is on the title or the content.
Advanced users can benefit even more from this plugin. There are a ton of filters and actions that can make this plugin even more useful than it already is. For one, you can input your own CSS Styles to customize the plugin. Another useful feature that Better Search has is the ‘search heatmap‘. The plugin can track the searches and show the most popular ones in an intuitive manner. To top it all off, this plugin seamlessly integrates itself with your WordPress theme.
- Extremely easy to set up and use
- Features a heatmap of popular searches
- Custom CSS Support
- Supports cache plugins like WP-Super-Cache and W3 Total Cache
- Profanity filter
- Translation ready
6. Swiftype Site Search
Anyone looking for a polished WordPress search plugin which still manages to be highly customizable should check out Swiftype Site Search. With no programming or coding required, you can have a fast and secure search for your website. It comes with an intuitive dashboard that contains all the important tools to help customize your search. Swiftype Site Search allows you to present a search system that is not just effective but engaging as well.
This plugin also features automatic updates, meaning that search results will automatically synchronize if you make any sort of change to your content. A few other important features include typo tolerance, bigram matching, stemming, synonyms, phrase matching, etc. Swiftype Site Search can also help you better understand your visitors through its powerful search analytics. You can also choose between 13 different languages, including French, German, Chinese, Russian, etc.
- No programming required
- Pre-optimized typo tolerance, bigram matching, stemming, synonyms, phrase matching, and more.
- Automatically synchronizes when you save, delete, or change the content.
- Intuitive Dashboard
- Impactful search analytics actions.
- Supports 13 different languages
Those of you looking for a feature-rich and configurable search engine for their site should check out Relevanssi. This plugin is quite powerful and allows for fuzzy matching, as well as phrase searching, and even allows you to set the weight of titles, tags, and comments. To make things easier for the visitors, the plugin even highlights the searched term among the search results. You can engage your visitors even further with a “Did you mean?” styled suggestions based on the successful searches.
This amazing plugin is multisite friendly, bbPress compatible, and translation ready, with support for WPML and Polylang. If you are using a larger database then you also have the option of using Search Throttling to improve the performance. You can also use a simple filter hook to disable the indexing of certain content. Relevanssi will also long queries and allow you to view the most popular or recent ones.
- Search results sorted in the order of relevance, not by date.
- Fuzzy matching
- Multisite friendly
- Adjust the weighting for titles, tags, and comments.
- Support for WPML multi-language plugin and Polylang.
- Search result throttling to improve performance on large databases.
If you want a WordPress search plugin with features that go beyond the ones listed up to this point, you might want to invest in a premium plugin like SearchWP. This advanced plugin might not be free but it more than makes up for it by being feature-rich, effective, and intuitive to use. In spite of how advanced it is, SearchWP is extremely easy to set up and doesn’t require lengthy configuration. All you need to do is install and activate the plugin and your visitors will be able to search through all parts of your site. This even includes eCommerce products, custom field data, as well as the content of PDFs and other documents.
SearchWP also allows you to view unique visitor insights so you will be able to better understand and cater to them. Another important feature that SearchWP brings to the table is the ability to easily customize your search algorithm. This plugin also comes with seamless integration with WooCommerce, WP Job Manager, bbPress, and Easy Digital Downloads. It also uses Keyword Stemming instead of exact matches to provide more helpful results. With a ton of features, together with a user-friendly interface, SearchWP is definitely one of the best of its kind.
- Search eCommerce products and orders
- Keyword Stemming
- Search statistics and visitor insights
- Automatic integration with the native search
- Configure different search engines individually
- Easily customize the algorithm
9. Reactive Search Pro
Reactive Search Pro is one of the best WordPress search plugins out there and will help improve the searching experience of your viewers by a lot. There are a lot of features to work with here and they are all easy to configure and manage. It comes with over 15 search attributes, including Color Picker, Range Box, Min-Max Button, and many more. Map AutoComplete is another fantastic feature that this plugin gives you access to. Your visitors will be able to search for any location from the existing Geo-Box data. With Code Splitting and Lazy Loading, searching is also lightning fast.
Reactive Search Pro is compatible with WooCommerce, WPML and Grid Builder for the sake of your convenience. Speaking of convenience, this plugin also features an extremely intuitive drag & drop builder that make customizing everything super easy. You can mix and match the layout to best suit your site. As it is a premium plugin, you will have access to in-depth documentation and dedicated support if you are confused any step of the way.
- 15+ Search attributes
- Every post type, taxonomy, and metadata supported
- Translation ready
- Drag & Drop search page builder
- High quality support
- Google Map Integration
10. Ajax Search Pro
When it comes to WordPress search plugins, Ajax Search Pro is one of the best of its kind. Highly customizable, versatile, and feature-rich, it has everything you could need from a search engine. This plugin comes with 60+ customizable themes built-in so you can make sure that your search for compliments the rest of your site. Not only is the search form beautiful, but the back-end is clean and intuitive as well. You will be able to build an engaging and effective search form with live AJAX search in no time.
This plugin has a ton of other fantastic features to improve your search. It comes with caching, keyword suggestion and autocomplete, keyword highlighting, page builder support, and more. Google Analytics has also been integrated with the plugin to make things even better. For websites featuring a minimalist aesthetic, you can enable the compact layout mode. For those of you running a multisite network, Ajax Search Pro also has you covered. With regular updates and high-quality customer support, this premium theme is more than worth it.
- Many content types supported
- Smart image parsing
- Multisite support
- Custom field filters
- Easily export and import search settings
- Google Analytics integration and performance tracking
So that was our list! Those are the 10 best WordPress search plugins you can find. Both free and premium themes have been included so you can choose the best plugin according to your needs. There are a lot of great search plugins for WordPress, each with their own different strengths. Just take care and consider carefully before picking one for your site. We hope you found this article to be helpful. If you want to learn how to effectively implement a search system into your website, you can take a look at our article on WordPress Search. Any comments? Please let us know in the comment section below.
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