Best WordPress Default Search Alternatives

After theme installation a lot of folks prefer to remove the search bar which normally comes by default and you would wonder why. One of the main reasons is the fact that the search bar which appears usually at the top of the home page does not have wide range of functionality as modern search bar tools would have and also looks pretty unsightly in most of the cases; not to mention the fact that these guys are usually have no options to be customised and needed to be deleted from the theme code or if you are that bold to make it pretty, write a lot of CSS.

This is why I have come to this commitment to search for the best search function plugins available in WordPress bank.

Although there are some long-overdue search improvements included since the launch for WordPress in 2003, many chose to replace the standard WordPress search functionality utilizing the existing WordPress search template. And the update that took place last week did not bring any changes to the default search engine particularly. Default search bar does not help at all, especially if there is a blog post or an article or even a comment posted year ago – for such cases default search is slim to none.

So let’s consider couple of alternatives which have proved to be trusted engines to be used both on small and big websites. You would like to consider these options, especially if your theme has no improved search functionality as normally premium themes would have.

Google Search plugins

WordPress has some 30+ Google Search plugins with more than 2,000+ active installs. Such plugins are basically bringing Google search bar to your website allowing to find the URL located on your site. So on top of 20 search results you commonly see links to your website with the words entered to search bar. There is usually a simple option allowing to configure the plugin and search in multiple sites as well.

Some users use Google search widget and keep standard WordPress search bar as well, allowing visitors to have some search experience alternatives. This is not a plus nor a minus, when it comes to functionality, just an additional search bar on your side.

The most attractive thing about Google search bar plugins is probably the fact that it doesn’t require any signups. Users only place the widget and it works as simple as a,b,c. But plugins of this category require some CSS skills, as the such plugins do not come with variety of options to customize styles.

Probably the most advanced Google Search plugin belongs to WPMU DEV’s team. The plugin with the same name, but this time with some more options, including search results to pop-up on a new window or not, hide and show the search bar, show a sidebar on search page and most importantly, this plugin changes the default search widget automatically. It also comes with color scheme for the search box.

SearchWP Plugin

SearchWP can stand among the dominant search plugins available in the market. Not only the history of the plugin, but also popularly brings a lot of interest to this tool. After installing this plugin, it takes over the default WordPress search and provides much better user experience.

From the settings menu in the back-end of this plugin users may search for selective media types including PDF’s, video, audio and more…This is another unique functionality that is not included in most of the free plugins we had a chance to test.

SearchWP offers 3 subscription plans, single license costs only $49, followed by a business license for five web sites is $129 and $249 for a developer license.

The biggest losing point for SearchWP is the fact that you have to subscribe to one of the available plans, when compared, for example, with the 2 next plugins we are going to mention.

Same with the price policy. This time I did not bring cost differences for Premium plans, because the subscription plan prices are pretty similar costing around $25-$70 and having approximately the same features, including multi-site search support, option to search and index user’s profiles, options to index arbitrary columns in wp_posts MySQL tables, export and import settings and couple of more. The reason why I am not basically concentrating on these is because the main purpose of search bars is covered and fully available in free versions. The Premium ones rather have fancy tools for way bigger websites, like news agencies and other portals with hundreds of new daily posts.

Relevanssi

Relevanssi means relevant in Finnish language, which is try in case of Relevanssi Search plugin. With the highest number of 80,000+ active installs this plugin is the cherry at the top of the cake of similar plugins.

This plugin has a number of nice features including an option to bring results sorted in the order of relevance, but not only by date. Option called “Fuzzy Matching”, which brings matching partial words, if completed words do not match. And this is probably the most attractive thing I personally enjoyed using. Some websites use a simple ‘placeholder for any symbol/value’ when entering words on search bar, but “Fuzzy Matching” replaces this function with default option. Among other options are ability to search for phrases, find matching documents, search for comments, tags , categories and custom fields.

Search Everything

Not sure why most of bloggers do not give a credit to “Search Everything” plugin, but this absolutely free tool is really useful and the number of 80,000+ active installs and great reviews only provide it.

The basic configuration of this plugin includes options to search by names, tags, custom taxonomies, category names and description, search by comments of authors or/and users, search in draft pages or posts. I also like the option to search for image captions as well. However, it cannot search for the password-protected content.

There are couple of nice search plugins, like Search Meter with 40,000+ active installs or Swiftype Search (I do like the detailed analytics tools) for example, that have very huge potential, but yet not being constantly updated and have some bugs and errors coming on the way from time to time.

As a conclusion, let me remind you once again that the search bar is essential for websites whether it is a simple blog with daily or weekly updates or, especially a website with bigger audience and archive of materials coming with different subjects and sources. Make your search bar visible for visitors, add proper functionality, pick the one that fits your needs the best.

Gregor is an experienced technology blogger, focused on covering WordPress related topics. He is a regular contribur at Web-Dorado blog, mainly writing on the latest premium WordPress plugins and themes.

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