Search feature is crucial enough to be added to your website as it will make it easier for your users to search the content on your website. WordPress already has a built-in search feature. However, its capability is quite limited. You can use a custom search plugin to improve the search capability on your WordPress site. We have curated the best search plugins that you can use.
Do you really need a custom search plugin?
As just mentioned above, the capability of the WordPress built-in feature is limited. It has no capability to search custom content (e.g., custom fields). Also, it has no capability to perform a more advanced search (e.g., search blog posts on certain a category). If you have a WooCommerce-powered e-commerce website, custom search plugin is getting more crucial. You can, for instance, provide a search form on the shop page whereby the search results are WooCommerce products only.
Here are some of the best WordPress custom search plugins to improve search capability on your website.
Best WordPress Custom Search Plugins
1. Essential Addons
Do you use Elementor? If yes, Essential Addons is the plugin you can consider for adding a custom search feature on your website. It’s true that Elementor Pro already has a Search Form widget to allow you to add a search box on your page/custom template. However, the widget uses the default search function of WordPress. It has no capability to perform a more advanced search.
Essential Addons comes with a widget called Advanced Search. Unlike the native Search Form widget of Elementor, the Advanced Search widget offered by Essential Addons allows you to filter search results by taxonomies. You can, for instance, provide a search form dedicated to searching for custom post type or WooCommerce products. You can also display category list on the search field if you want it.
The Advanced Search widget adds an Ajax-based search on your website. It displays the search results instantly as you type the keyword on the search form.
Here are the key features offered by the widget:
JetSearch is another great plugin if you want to add an Ajax-based search on your website. The plugin is developed by Crocoblock — who also develops JetEngine. JetSearch was initially only compatible with Elementor, but you can now use it on Gutenberg (block editor) as well. After installing the plugin, you will have a new widget on Elementor (and a Gutenberg block) called Ajax Search. You can simply drag the widget to the canvas are to use it.
The features offered by JetSearch are not much different from the Essential Addons above. You can also add a custom search for a specific term (category or tag) for more narrowed search results. Also, the Ajax technology means the search results are displayed right away as you type the keyword on the search form.
JetSearch also allows you to show category list (or tag) for more narrowed search. The advantage of JetSearch is that is has the capability to read custom fields. Also, it has more detailed styling options than Essential Addons above.
Key features of JetSearch:
3. Ivory Search
Ivory Search is a generic custom search plugin. Meaning that it is not designed specifically for a specific editor. Ivory Search uses a shortcode to allow you to add a search form to your editor. That being said, you can (should be) add an Ivory Search form to any editor that supports shortcode. From Gutenberg, Elementor, to Divi Builder.
Unlike the first two plugins above, you can make the settings of a custom search from the WordPress dashboard, not from the editor. To apply the stylings, Ivory Search makes use of the WordPress built-in customizer.
Ivory Search has more setting options than both JetSearch and Essential Addons. It has the capability of searching media files and custom fields. You also have options whether you want to display the search results instantly (Ajax) or in a search results page.
Key features of Ivory Search:
4. Divi Ajax Search
Do you use Divi? If yes, Divi Ajax Search is the perfect plugin. As the name suggests, the plugin allows you to add an Ajax search to your Divi-powered WordPress website. Ajax search means that the search results are displayed instantly as you type the keyword. In other words, the search results are not displayed in the search results page.
The way Divi Ajax Search works is pretty similar to JetSearch and Essential Addons whereby it offers a dedicated Divi module to add a search form. You can select a post type to be shown on the search results. Since the styling is made via Divi Builder editor, you have more design options to create a nice-looking search form on a page.
Divi Ajax Search allows you to select the elements to be shown on the search results. From post title, excerpt, taxonomies, and so on.
Key features offered by Divi Ajax Search:
5. Ajax Search Pro
If you are looking for a generic custom search plugin, Ajax Search Pro is another great option to try. Although it is not designed for a specific editor, you can add your search form to your favorite editor as the plugin offers dedicated elements for editors like Elementor, Divi Builder, Visual Composer, to Gutenberg. The way Ajax Search Pro works is pretty similar to Ivory Search whereby you need to create the custom search via the WordPress dashboard before you can add the search form to your editor.
Ajax Search Pro offers more styling options. It even comes with pre-made styles you can choose from. Regarding the search capability, Ajax Search Pro allows you create custom search for specific post types just like other plugins above. The plugin also has the capability to search custom fields and media files (JPG, PDF, and so on).
Key features of Ajax Search Pro:
Relevanssi is a bit different from the other plugins above. The plugin doesn’t offer options to customize the search feature from the frontend side. Instead, it works by adding a custom search function to your WordPress. You can easily include or exclude posts under the category from the search results page. The results page layout itself is controlled by your theme (or custom template in case you create one). Relevanssi only controls the search query, not the appearance.
Key features of Relevanssi:
The Bottom Line
The default search feature of WordPress is not enough for some website types that require more advanced search feature. You need a custom search plugin to allow your users to perform a narrowed search. Adding custom search feature is especially crucial if you have website types like listing website, e-commerce, and directory website. Instead of displaying all the content types on the search results, you can filter them based on the content types your users are looking for.