12 Best WordPress Search Plugins to Improve Site Navigation
A search function is an essential element of any website. It helps visitors quickly find information, especially on websites, blogs, news sites, online stores, and knowledge bases with large content repositories.
WordPress CMS has a native search system that can come in handy. However, it can only perform basic searches to retrieve essential information.
WordPress search plugins can improve your site search by replacing the native WordPress search system or enhancing it. To help find the right one for you, we will cover the 12 best WordPress search plugins.
Why Use a WordPress Search Plugin?
While the default WordPress search feature makes it easy to embed a form into a website, it lacks customization and configuration options. Therefore, it’s harder to deliver accurate and relevant results.
WordPress search plugins improve the site search function by integrating more features or letting you create custom search bars.
Each plugin may have a different set of features. Generally, here are some that you can expect from the best WordPress search plugins:
- AJAX live search. This feature displays the results as visitors enter the search queries, allowing them to find information and navigate the website quicker.
- Search analytics. Whether it’s a Google Analytics integration or a built-in tool, search analytics provide insights into what customers are looking for on your site.
- Product search and filter. For WooCommerce sites, the plugin lets you create search forms to find the desired products and filter the results.
- Search tuning. Most WordPress search plugins let you define what type of content should be included or excluded from the results.
Other than providing more accurate and relevant results, WordPress search plugins also provide the following benefits:
- More straightforward navigation. If your website has a lot of content, visitors can simply use the search bar to find specific information.
- More accessible content. Search plugins can perform extensive searches down to custom fields and post types, making your content more visible.
- Improve conversion rate. Search plugins help visitors quickly find the product, service, or information they need. This increases the chances of them becoming potential customers.
Top 12 WordPress Search Plugins
We’ve listed the 12 best WordPress search plugins, including free and premium ones. These plugins also cover various uses, such as WooCommerce-specific search plugins.
We’ve also ensured that these plugins are regularly updated to minimize vulnerability and compatibility issues.
- Downloads: 60,000+
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Price: free (paid plans start at $99/year)
SearchWP Live AJAX Search is a free WordPress search plugin that adds AJAX functionality to native WordPress search.
The plugin is simple to use. Install the plugin, and the AJAX function will be automatically added to the default WordPress search feature. There is no need to change any settings or configurations for this plugin.
For a non-block WordPress theme, use the legacy SearchWP Live AJAX Search in the widget editor. You can add the search form to any widget area easily.
This plugin works best with the SearchWP premium plugin. When both plugins are activated, you can customize and implement the live AJAX feature per search form instead of globally throughout the WordPress site.
- Works well with the native WordPress search function
- The simplest and easiest way to create an AJAX-powered search form
- Advanced customization options require the SearchWP premium plugin
2. Ivory Search
- Downloads: 80,000+
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Price: freemium (starts from $19.99/year)
Ivory Search is a freemium search plugin that allows you to create unlimited search forms and configure each separately.
With each form, you can configure the searchable content and restrict specific results from appearing.
Once you’ve configured the search form, the plugin will provide you with the shortcode to embed it anywhere on your site.
The plugin still uses the WordPress Customizer to customize search forms. Even if you’re using a block-based WordPress theme, the plugin will add the Customizer navigation so that you can use it to personalize search forms.
Ivory Search has Google Analytics integration. If you enable the feature and have Google Analytics installed on your site, you can track search activities as category, action, and label events.
You can configure the number of posts displayed and present them in an ascending or descending order. With its premium version, which costs $19.99/year, you can enable or disable search results based on specific authors, post status, and the number of comments.
Ivory Search is well-integrated with various WordPress plugins, such as bbPress and WooCommerce. Furthermore, by upgrading to the Pro Plus plan for $49.99/year, you can search WooCommerce products by SKU.
- Create unlimited search forms
- WooCommerce integration lets you create custom search forms for products
- Integrate with Google Analytics to track searches on your website
- It still relies on the WordPress Customizer for search form customization
- Downloads: 70,000+
- Rating: 4.7/5
- Pricing: freemium ($24 for a lifetime license)
AJAX Search Lite provides a live AJAX search bar to improve the user experience.
Use this plugin to replace the theme’s search form with AJAX easily. This feature works with themes that use the WordPress searchform.php file. Alternatively, use the provided shortcode to display search forms anywhere on your site.
It is highly customizable and has numerous features, including search in posts and pages, eight built-in templates, custom filter boxes, and post exclusions.
You can also change the placeholder text for the search field. All appearance customization options are accessible through the plugin’s settings panel.
The Google Search autocomplete feature can be enabled from the plugin settings page to help users finish their search query as they type. Another Google tool is search keyword suggestions, which shows recommendations when there are no matching results.
There’s an option to add images to the search results, adding interactive elements to the website design. You can define the image size and the source on the search results – whether for the featured image, post content, or post excerpt.
The free version can perform searches in custom post types, such as WooCommerce products, events, and portfolio items.
- Simple toggle button to replace the default WordPress search form.
- Google Analytics integration.
- Supports Google Search autocomplete and search keyword suggestions.
- The plugin’s admin user interface can be tricky to navigate
- No option to add more search forms
- Downloads: 100,000+
- Rating: 4.8/5
- Price: freemium (paid plans start from $99/year)
Relevanssi improves the default WordPress search by giving you total access and control over your website search results through its wide variety of search filters and functionality.
The plugin requires minimum setup. No need to worry about embedding it using a shortcode or a different WordPress block as it replaces the standard WordPress search widget. Simply use the default WordPress search widget, and Relevanssi will improve its features.
That said, you have to index your site first. Navigate to Settings -> Relevanssi and open the indexing tab. Click Build the index to create the site index.
It sorts search results based on their relevance by default, but you can change it to post date in the plugin’s settings panel. The results highlight the search terms and offer “Did you mean?” suggestions, making it easier for visitors to find content on the website.
Visitors can search through all WordPress post types, from comments and tags to categories and custom fields. However, you can only show results from specific categories.
Relevanssi also lets you search images by title or description. This is useful for photography, portfolio, or other image-heavy sites.
You can purchase the premium version for $99/year or the lifetime license for $349 to unlock more features and functions.
Furthermore, Relevanssi provides a comprehensive knowledge base to help you learn more about the plugin.
- Relevance-based search results
- Image search
- The admin search option lets you use Relevanssi for the WordPress admin interface
- Comprehensive knowledge base
- Requires an additional plugin to enable AJAX search
- Downloads: 100,000+
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Price: freemium, paid plans start at $49/year
FiboSearch for WooCommerce is a popular WordPress search plugin built for WooCommerce stores.
It improves the default WooCommerce search system with an advanced live search feature, where customers can immediately see search suggestions as they type. They can be displayed simply with only the products’ names or include photos, prices, and descriptions.
The plugin can perform searches in product titles, descriptions, and product SKU to improve your website’s search experience. You can customize the search form and result template by navigating to WooCommerce -> FiboSearch.
In this panel, you can configure the search form placeholder, and the submit button label. On the Autocomplete tab, you can set the live search result item limit and make the search results show the product image, price, detail panel, or SKU.
What makes this configuration panel great is that it has a preview section that shows what the search form and results will look like.
You can embed the plugin using a shortcode or place it as a search widget.
The premium version starts at $49/year and provides fuzzy search, fast search engine, synonyms, and search for custom fields and attributes.
- Intuitive configuration panel with a preview of the search form and results
- Options to show the product image, price, detail panel, or SKU on the search results
- Features like synonyms, fuzzy search, and custom field search are only available in the premium version
- Downloads: 70,000+
- Rating: 4.8/5
- Price: freemium (paid plans start from $59)
Advanced Woo Search is another plugin for creating AJAX search forms and results pages for WooCommerce sites. It’s easy to use and highly customizable, even for the free version.
The plugin uses a shortcode and widget to insert the search form into the WordPress site.
There’s also an option to enable seamless integration, replacing all default WordPress site search functionality with Advanced Woo Search. However, some themes may not support this feature, so be sure to perform testing before launching it on the production site.
The settings page lets you add stop words – search terms that will be excluded from the search. In addition, you can add synonyms to list similar words and expand the search results.
The search form comes with three different pre-made themes. Other search form customization options include disabling AJAX search, showing a clear button, and mobile full screen.
The premium version starts at $59 and provides features like search results filters and an add-to-cart button, allowing users to directly add products to the cart from the search results.
- Add-to-cart button on the search results
- Intuitive plugin admin panel.
- Listing stop words and synonyms help fine-tune the search results.
- The seamless integration feature doesn’t always work with all WordPress themes
- Downloads: 60,000+
- Rating: 4.6/5
- Price: freemium ($26 for a lifetime license)
WOOF Products Filter improves the functionality and search experience of your WooCommerce store. This plugin provides accurate search results and lets visitors filter products based on their categories, colors, or tags.
WOOF Products Filter still supports its legacy widget to integrate the product filter into the site. It’s accessible through the WordPress widget editor and available for non-block WordPress themes.
The plugin now focuses more on shortcodes, giving better compatibility and flexibility for block-based WordPress themes.
That said, working with shortcodes can be difficult for beginners. While the shortcodes documentation is helpful, there is no guide in the plugin’s admin panel.
Its AJAX product search feature allows users to filter the WooCommerce product page without reloading it. This feature is great for improving user experience as visitors can search and filter the results quickly to find products they want.
While this feature works in most WordPress themes, we recommend testing it on a staging environment to ensure its functionality.
- AJAX search makes product filtering quicker without reloading the page
- Plenty of customization and embedding options using shortcodes
- Turbo mode speeds up the search and product filter by not generating big MySQL queries when filtering products
- You have to open its documentation page to see the shortcode list
8. ACF: Better Search
- Downloads: 30,000+
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Price: free
ACF: Better Search enhances the default search function for Advanced Custom Fields plugin users. It adds the ability to search for content using custom fields.
Upon installation, the plugin will automatically replace the default search function. It modifies your existing SQL database and extends the standard search to selected fields of the Advanced Custom Fields. You can also do some fine-tuning options from the plugin’s settings panel.
This free search plugin includes several custom fields such as Number, Text, Text Area, Email, and File that you can select on the plugin’s settings panel. There are also options to fine-tune the search performance, such as making the plugin search for exact phrases or words to make the results more accurate.
ACF: Better Search also offers a Lite Mode to enhance the searching speed. This will bypass the custom field selections, making the search less accurate.
This plugin works with free and premium versions of the Advanced Custom Fields plugin.
- Easy setup and user-friendly settings
- Lite Mode makes the search faster
- Supports various custom fields from the Advanced Custom Fields plugin
- Requires the Advanced Custom Fields plugin
- Downloads: 20,000+
- Rating: 4.9/5
- Price: free
WP Extended Search is a lightweight and free WordPress search plugin that lets you create custom search forms with various settings.
Once the plugin is installed, it will apply a global setting similar to the default WordPress search function.
To create a custom search, go to Extended Search -> Settings Names and click Add New Settings Name. Once you’ve added the search form name and published it, you’ll see the shortcode to embed it and the option to configure the search settings.
The custom search settings let you control whether to search in title, content, excerpt, or all of them. If you have WooCommerce activated, there’s also an option to optimize the plugin for searching product SKUs, attributes, and custom fields.
The plugin also lets you exclude posts from a specific period. This way, you can keep older and irrelevant posts out of the search results.
- Built-in WooCommerce support
- Simple to configure and beginner-friendly
- Option to exclude older posts
- Lacking advanced features like the AJAX live search
10. AJAX Search Pro
- Downloads: 18,000+
- Rating: 4.8/5
- Price: $24
AJAK Search Pro is the premium version of AJAX Search lite that comes with 65+ theme styles. Combined with four layout options, this plugin gives you hundreds of search form customization possibilities.
The plugin uses an OR logic by default to provide as many results as possible. However, you can change it to AND logic or enable a secondary logic in the plugin’s settings panel. Navigate to AJAX Search Pro -> General Options and choose Logic and Behaviour to fine-tune the search algorithm.
The plugin has a built-in cache feature that stores repetitive keywords. So when the same keyword is entered, the search engine retrieves the results from the cache instead of the database. As a result, the search speed and user experience are enhanced, especially for high-traffic websites.
Google Analytics is well-integrated with this plugin, allowing you to get insights into user behavior. A built-in statistics tool lets you quickly see the most popular keywords from the WordPress dashboard.
- 65+ built-in themes and four layout options give you hundreds of search form design options
- Customizable search algorithm
- Built-in cache speeds up the search engine for high-traffic sites
- A complicated admin panel may take time to get used to
- No search form design preview in the admin panel, even though there’s one in the free version
11. Jetpack Search
- Downloads: 20+
- Price: freemium, the paid plans start from $2.50/month
The plugin replaces WordPress’s default search functionality with Elasticsearch, a hosted WordPress search service. Elasticsearch improves search performance, accuracy, and overall user experience.
One of the plugin’s key features is its real-time search index that automatically updates every time you publish new content or make edits. It also comes with spelling corrections, fuzzy matching, and prioritized results based on site statistics.
Jetpack Search offers monthly subscriptions based on how many records are displayed in your search results. These records include posts, pages, custom post types, and other content on your WordPress website. Paid plans start at $2.50/month for up to 100 records.
- A real-time search index lets you focus on creating new content without worrying about the site index
- Spelling corrections, fuzzy matching, and prioritized results sharpen the search results
- It’s not the most cost-effective solution for content-heavy websites
- Price: from €199/year
WPSOLR is a premium WordPress search plugin widely used for eCommerce stores. It integrates with four search engines – Elasticsearch, OpenSearch, Algolia, and Solr. Choose the one that works best for you via the plugin’s admin panel.
The cross-domain search lets you index content from different domains – a helpful feature for a WordPress multisite network.
WPSOLR supports searches for custom fields, taxonomies, attached files, and custom post types. This plugin is suitable for scalable websites and has been tested for the following content-rich sites:
- A WooCommerce site with 400,000+ products
- A forum with 3.5+ million topics
- A website with 2 million posts
The WPSOLR plugin is available at €199/year. It includes free local installations for Elasticsearch and Solr, and some premium WordPress plugins.
- The cross-domain search feature makes this an excellent WordPress search plugin for a multisite environment
- It comes as a bundle with great plugins like bbPress, WooCommerce, Polylang, and Advanced Custom Fields
- Multiple search engines
- Perfect choice for highly scalable websites
- One of the most expensive options
Discover More Plugins to Improve Your Website Functionality
These 12 best WordPress search plugins have various features that make them suitable for different websites. For example, WPSOLR works best for WordPress multisite, while FiboSearch is specifically designed for WooCommerce sites.
If you are still hesitant to choose one for your site search, here are some of our favorites and recommendations:
- Ivory Seach – a great WordPress search plugin for creating various custom search forms.
- AJAX Search Lite – the best WordPress search plugin for adding the AJAX search feature to your website.
- Relevanssi or SearchWP Live AJAX Search – excellent free WordPress search plugins that replace the default WordPress search feature and require minimal configuration.
- FiboSearch – superb WordPress search plugin with vast customization options for WooCommerce sites.
Remember that most of these plugins are available on the WordPress plugin directory, and you can try them before making the final decision. For premium plugins, utilize the available demo sites to see how well they work.