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6 Best WordPress Search Plugins to Improve the Standard WordPress Search (2021)

Last Updated on July 26th, 2021

Published on November 7th, 2016

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While WordPress developed, its search bar isn’t as strong as we would like it to be in the modern age. It just looks like the search bar didn’t keep up with the updates, and that’s why you’re probably looking for a WordPress search plugin that will make the difference.

Luckily, this issue can easily be solved by installing an add-on plugin that’s more sophisticated, better, faster, and yields better results.

With plenty of options out there, a search bar in WordPress doesn’t have to be the “black sheep” of the whole CMS system.

And if you’re looking for an upgrade, you’re in the right place. Down below, I’ll show you some of the best WordPress search plugins you can upgrade to, so keep on reading!

Six Alternatives to WordPress Default Search Functionality

Guiding through a bunch of content can be difficult. However, if you upgrade to any of the alternatives reviewed below, you won’t have a problem doing a narrow and custom search that will save you a lot of time sifting through a bunch of your content.

1. SearchWP

SearchWP - WordPress Search Plugin

SearchWP is an excellent alternative because it can do everything a standard WordPress search bar can’t.

Yes, it’s simple as that. 

SearchWP can help you search for terms you’ve used in custom fields, attributes used for eCommerce searches from third-party plugins such as WooCommerce, content in your documents, information in your custom tables, and even taxonomies or shortcodes.

These are the things that you just can’t find using the standard WordPress search function. With minimal effort in installing SearchWP, you can turn your search bar into a database that will list everything you have on your website.

No matter the theme or third-party plugins you use, SearchWP is efficient at finding every bit of information you have on your website (no matter where it is), making it one of the best WordPress search plugins.

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Pros

  • Easy integration
  • It can be used with any WordPress theme
  • Offers multiple custom search bars
  • Offers stats and insights into your users
  • Increases the ability of a search engine

Cons

  • There’s no free version
  • Some extensions require Pro or Pro+ plans

Installation

  1. Visit SearchWP official website
  2. Click the “Pricing” or “Get SearchWP for $99” button
  3. Choose a pricing plan and purchase the SearchWP
  4. Download SearchWP files
  5. Log into your WordPress site
  6. Click Plugins and then click Add a New Plugin button
  7. Click Upload Plugin
  8. Choose SearchWP files and press Install Now
  9. Once installed, find SearchWP in your plugin list and click the “Activate” button.

Pricing

SearchWP offers 3 pricing plans:

  • Standard License – $99 – license for 1 site
  • Pro License – $199 – license for up to 5 sites
  • Agency License – $399 – license for unlimited sites

Get SearchWP

2. Relevanssi

Relevanssi WordPress Search Plugin

Relevanssi is an excellent add-on because it unlocks the types of searches you otherwise couldn’t do with the standard WordPress search engine.

With Relevanssi, you can look up and search PDF contents, custom fields, user profiles, taxonomy terms, shortcode outputs, and even do a search across multiple sites.

It’s a very simple plugin that fixes the standard search bar functionality by slapping dozens of features on top of the standard search bar.

I quickly learned that Relevanssi is also one of the most comprehensive search engines that can search even for author profiles, bios, and any other type of content on your website.

Pros

  • Available free version
  • Great indexing ability
  • Ability to run searches across multiple sites
  • Features highlighted searches

Cons

  • Live search is not built into the plugin, and you’d need a third-party app for this feature

Installation

  1. Log into the backend of your WordPress website.
  2. Click “Plugins” and then click the “Add New” button
  3. Search for Relevanssi plugin using the plugin search bar
  4. Relevanssi should be the first result, so when you see it, click the “Install” button
  5. Find Relevanssi in your plugin list and click the “Activate” button

Pricing

Relevanssi offers a free version that’s a bit limited but can be a good enough option for smaller sites.

If you would like to purchase a Premium version of the plugin, you have two options to choose from:

  • Annual – $120 – unlimited sites with support and upgrades for a year
  • Permanent – $427 – unlimited sites and lifetime support

Get Relevanssi

Toolset Search - WordPress Search Plugin

The Toolset is a well-built tool that helps WordPress users design their sites without getting into the code.

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However, Toolset also has a very powerful Search component to its drag and drop builder, allowing WordPress users to create custom search blocks.

With the Toolset Search block, you can help your users find anything they’re looking for on your website right from one search bar, and you have complete control in designing the search bar block.

Once you finish designing your ideal search bar, you can place it anywhere on your website so that it can benefit your visitors.

Toolset Search is often used to create specific search bars such as property search bar or travel-destination search bar. Mostly all search bars we use on other websites without giving it a second thought.

The ability to design a custom search bar from scratch also gives you the responsibility to create custom search results associated with each search bar you make.

Pros

  • Great for creating custom search bars from scratch
  • Ideal for providing a practical navigational experience for your visitors
  • No need to touch the code
  • Suitable for all WordPress themes and pages

Cons

  • Search bar blocks can decrease the page loading speed.

Installation

  1. Visit the official Toolset website.
  2. Click the “Buy Now” button
  3. Choose a pricing plan and purchase the Toolset
  4. Download the Toolset plugin files
  5. Log into the backend of your WordPress website
  6. Click “Plugins” and then click the “Add New” button
  7. Click the “Upload Plugin” button
  8. Upload Toolset plugin files and click the “Install” button
  9. When installed, find the Toolset plugin in your plugin list and press the “Activate” button

Pricing

Toolset offers 3 pricing plans, and no matter which one you choose, you’ll have access to the Search block:

  • 1 site – $69 ($51/year renewal)
  • 3 sites – $149 ($111/year renewal)
  • Unlimited sites – $299 ($224/year renewal)

Get Toolset Search

4. SiteSearch 360

SiteSearch 360 - WordPress Search Plugin

SiteSearch 360 isn’t only a plugin that will help you create and add a search bar to your website.

It’s a complete package that includes a great list of search features, easy installation, excellent compatibility, and full & easy customization.

With complete control over the customization, you can create a unique search bar that will custom-fit your website.

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Every search bar offers semantic search, instant results (and autocomplete suggestions), and analytics to help you understand what your visitors search for and how they search for it.

Even though SiteSearch 360 allows you to completely customize your search engine (or create one from scratch), this isn’t something you should worry about as it’s straightforward to do so.

Pros

  • Great value to cost ratio
  • Easy to use
  • Fully customizable
  • Great insights that help you understand your audience’s searches

Cons

  • Search results are keyword-driven, so the ranking of the pages might not be overly optimized for all search terms.

Installation

  1. Log into the backend of your WordPress site.
  2. Click “Plugins” and then click the “Add New” button
  3. Search for Site Search 360 plugin
  4. It should appear as the first result so when you see the plugin, click the “Install” button.
  5. When installed, click the “Activate” button.

Pricing

Search Site 360 offers a free trial, so you can search and install the plugin straight from the WordPress plugin database.

The trial isn’t limited by time, but it’s limited by several features and queries that come with it.

If you require more search queries or would like to unlock the features, here are the pricing plans you can choose from:

  • Columbo – $9/month
  • Holmes – $39/month
  • Batman – $99/month

I should also mention that the Batman plan is customizable to customize it to your needed number of page indexes and queries.

Get SiteSearch360

Ivory Search - WordPress Search Plugin

Ivory Search is a very dynamic search plugin that can easily replace the WordPress search by providing custom settings and options to modify your search engine fully.

Using Ivory Search, you can create as many custom search bars as you require, and each one can be modified to custom settings (which is ideal for having multiple search bars across your website).

Live results are another strength of Ivory Search, which is possible by integrating the Ivory Search with Ajax. This reduces the need to refresh the page to see the latest results.

You shouldn’t worry about integration as Ivory Search can work well with third-party plugins such as WooCommerce. Still, it can also work with multilanguage WordPress sites to provide search results for:

  • Custom fields
  • Image metadata
  • Post types

Pros

  • The free version is available
  • Easy to integrate with third-party plugins
  • Upgrades the basic WordPress search engine
  • Easy to create multiple search bars with customized settings

Cons

  • Some functionalities might be glitchy at times.

Installation

  1. Log into the backend of your WordPress website.
  2. Click on “Plugins” and then click the “Add New” button
  3. Search for Ivory Search plugin using the search bar
  4. Ivory Search should be the first result, so click “Install” when you spot it
  5. Find Ivory Search in your plugin list and click the “Activate” button

Pricing

Ivory Search comes with a free version, but if you would like to upgrade to unlock more features, here are the available pricing plans:

  • Pro – $19.99/year
  • Pro Plus – $49.99/year

Get Ivory Search

6. Ajax Search Lite

Ajax Search Lite - WordPress search plugin

I’ve earlier briefly mentioned integration with Ajax, and here’s why.

Ajax Search Lite is very user-friendly, and it gives you full control of how you would like your search results to look for each search query.

With an intuitive design and mobile support, Ajax Search Lite can improve the way users use the search engine on your website, along with the ability to provide quality animations to make the experience visually appealing.

There are 8 pre-built templates that you can use to help yourself or go off the template and create your search template.

Since Ajax fully powers it, it’s compatible with WPML and QTranslate, but it’s also loaded with CSS3 and CVG icons that won’t slow down the page speed website.

Pros

  • It’s free to use and affordable pricing plan for one site
  • Allows custom fields, categories, types, custom posts, descriptions, and more
  • Offers visually appealing aspect to the search engine
  • 8 pre-built templates
  • Custom filter box to allow search by categories or other aspects

Cons

  • Slight learning curve
  • Custom support costs extra

Installation

  1. Log into the backend of your WordPress website.
  2. Click on “Plugins” and then click the “Add New” button
  3. Search for Ajax Search Lite
  4. Ajax Search Lite should appear as the first result, so click “Install” when you spot i.t
  5. Go to your plugins, find Ajax Search Lite, and click the “Activate” button.

Pricing

Ajax Search Lite is free to use, but you will have the ability to upgrade to Ajax Search Pro for only $36 per site (sometimes discounted to $21).

Get Ajax Search Lite

What’s Your Favorite WordPress Search Plugin?

You’ve probably realized that the integrated WordPress search is a no-go. Each of the alternatives has its pros and cons, and even though they’re very similar, some just work differently.

Finding the right WordPress search plugin might take time, so I highly encourage you to try out alternatives that come with a free or trial version.

Knowing exactly what features you might need can help narrow down the available alternatives.

Creating a list of things that you miss the most using the standard WordPress search engine can help you understand how to find an alternative that will be the right upgrade for you.

You’ll have plenty of choices, and these six alternatives are some of the best ones on the market. However, knowing exactly what you need and want will help you find “the one.”

What is it that you’re missing the most from the integrated WordPress search? If you could add only one functionality to the integrated WordPress search – what would it be and why?

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A team of WordPress experts that love to test out new WordPress related software, WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.