As I work on this site and many others, one area that needs improvement and is often overlooked by site owners is internal WordPress search. Site owners know where to find everything on their site, and human nature leads them to think everyone else should be able to find it also. Ahh, the human condition.
WordPress does come with an internal search feature, it is good but not great. Also, everyone expects everything to be as good as Google search and Google has put a lot of effort into their search engine.
So how do we improve our WordPress internal search? There are a few ways and initial steps
Get a baseline of what people are searching for. Use Google analytics to report on what terms people are searching for. This is a great post for setting up search tracking in Google Analytics. Does the wp search plugin have a tool for tracking searches? Great post from Yoast about how to improve the WordPress search results page
Change the search systWordPresshe default plugin to either a better search plugin or use an external search service.
These search plugins will replace the default WordPress search with a better more controllable internal search engine. Features vary but in general, you get much better control on what content is indexed, the importance you want to give to different types of content and more control on how the search results are displayed to the end user.
Some plugins are free, some have free and paid options, and some are paid only. In general, you are looking at about $40 to $80 per year for a quality search plugin replacement. This is just my opinion but if your site makes money directly or helps you make money, it is well worth spending money and the time needed to set up a quality internal search, so you can learn what visitors are searching for.
Plugins we have researched and tested
https://searchwp.com/ This is a very popular plugin, maybe the most popular paid solution.
This is a plugin that replaces the standard core features. They also have a Woo Commerce Plugin
No Limited Free Version
Relevanssi is another top-tier wp search replacement plugin. They offer a free and paid version.
This plugin replaces the default WordPress search and all the search indexing on your server, no 3rd party service used. It even uses the default WordPress search widget so you just need to install it, activate it, set a few config settings, and create your first index.
I am not sure how often the search index is recreated. I have the feeling it is a manual process, it could be that premium version has an option to automatically recreate the index based on a schedule.
This looks to be a pretty solid upgrade from the core wp internal search. If you are working with a lot of sites the Unlimited premium version may be the way to go.
After installing relevanssi on this site, I got no search results. Here is the support thread I started
Other Search Plugins
Better Search https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-search/
Omni Search by JetPack
WPSolar https://www.wpsolr.com/ https://wordpress.org/plugins/wpsolr-search-engine/
I think you have to install a solr search engine on your site.
Reactive Pro: https://codecanyon.net/item/reactive-pro-advanced-wordpress-search-filtering-grid/17425763
Search Everything https://wordpress.org/plugins/search-everything/
Ultimate WP Query Search Filter
This may seem extreme but it is very common and an excellent solution, when you need fast, accurate and highly customizable search results. This is also very common among e-commerce sites, where some services start at $4,000/month and go up from there. I am not kidding the search service starts at four grand.
What I like about external services is that they index your site from the outside, and do not care about custom fields, comments, categories, they just see your site as web pages, the same way that users do.
This is a pay for just what you use service, not sure if they have a free level or not. This sort of leaves me with the feeling it is only for the big companies.
Lift used to connect Amazon to WP Lift https://wordpress.org/plugins/lift-search/ This one maybe out of date. All this plugin does is connect Amazon Cloud Search to your website
They have extensions for Shopify, Magento and WordPress
Unless there is a free plan or a plan around 20/month. This is out of my price range
This product has been retired. I only mention it b/c it was a big player for a long time and many people are familiar with it. So I added it so that everyone will see it and see that it is retired and not waste time researching it.
Other Search Services
Add Search https://www.addsearch.com/
WPGoogle Search: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-google-search/
Daves WordPress Live search — This adds autocomplete to your search box. It does not improve the default search result, just the user search experience.
This is a code canyon purchase
Steven Johnson, a WP Hosting Reviews senior editor, works from Atlanta and covers all things related to WordPress and Hosting. He graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, has managed hosting companies and now builds WordPress and Joomla Websites for small to medium companies full time.