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How to Improve WordPress Search with Plugins

It is true that WordPress is a powerful building tool that allows you to set up any kind of website easily. However, this script also has some drawbacks, among which the search function is the most obvious one. The default WordPress search capability is really poor. Your readers cannot search the results based on the relevance, cannot search for the uploaded files and can hardly find the truly matching contents in some occasions. Due to this, we’d like to introduce how to improve WordPress search function in the following.

Frankly speaking, the proper searching tool or area can increase the page views of your website easily. After all, your audiences can find more contents they are interested easily. If your content is of the high quality, you can even retain them for a long time. This can indirectly improve your search engine ranking and increase the click-through rate.

WordPress Search Plugins to Replace the Default Search Feature

For the effective improvement, you firstly should replace the default searching function of WordPress with the advanced one. Here, you should rely on the WordPress plugins. Among all the WordPress search plugins, we highly recommend the Relevanssi one. It can replace the standard searching function automatically with the much better searching engine. With dozens of features, tools and configuration options, you can bring the best searching results for your readers.

After the installation, you can directly click the Settings > Relevanssi button to finish the following settings. Note that this plugin does not have the search widget. You can just use the default search widget on your site. After the configuration, the searching function can be improved automatically based on your needs.

Basic Options

Firstly, you should set up for some basic options. For instance, you can use the searching function in the dashboard interface, choose to show the date-based results or the relevance-based ones, enable the fuzzy matching and limit the searching results to your wanted restriction. Note that the fuzzy matching allows the results to match the partial words but not the complete words.

Relevanssi Basic Options


The value of the weights will affect the searching results greatly. For instance, if you give the post title more weights than the tag or category, the tool will consider the title relevance firstly.

Frankly speaking, the default weight is proper enough.


For the better user experience and feedback collection, this plugin also allows you to keep the log of the user queries. The log will appear on the WordPress dashboard in the “User Searches” part. This way, you can check what your audiences are searching for so as to better learn their needs. Here, you can prevent your searching queries from getting into the logs via the omit feature.

Exclusive and Restriction

This is one of the big advantages of this searching plugin. You can restrict people from searching something on your site. These include the special tags, categories, pages, posts and custom post types. You only need to enter the related IDs into the proper fields.

Exclusive and Restriction

Custom Snippets and Highlighting

This plugin can create the custom searching snippets. Once you enable this feature, it will create the excerpts containing the searching term hits. In addition, you have the freedom to highlight the query terms in the search results. Here, you can choose the color scheme based on your preference.

Custom Snippets and Highlighting

Enable the Faceted Search

If your website is the e-commerce one or is content-rich that has lots of categories, you’d better enable the faceted search function. After enabling it, your readers can access their target contents by applying the pre-determined filters easily.

Faceted Search

If you feel confused about this kind of searching feature, you can have a look at the above screenshot. Here, we search for the “technical writer” and get 486 results in total. Here, the faceted searching system categorizes these results into different groups that are defined in advance. Thus, we can target the right categories so as to get their wanted contents easily.

Frankly speaking, this kind of searching system can save people’s efforts a lot when searching for a large website.

More WordPress Search Plugins

Besides Relevanssi , there are also some other great WordPress Search plugins you can use, such as:

Consider the Display Location of the Search Box

After improving the function of your search box, you also need to consider the display option. Among all the proper locations, we highly recommend you to show it on the top section of your page sidebar. This is the most common place to see when people want to search for something.

We have found that many webmasters place the search box at the footer of the webpage. Surely, this can save the space of the sidebar. But frankly speaking, this cannot bring the best searching experience for your readers.

How to Disable Search Feature in WordPress

There is a fact that the search feature is useful for some WordPress sites. But it will also do harm to websites in some cases, leaving a bad impression on audience. Indeed, some WordPress sites can function better with the search feature disabled. Since we have often been asked how to disable the search feature in WordPress, we write this article to benefit more readers who come across the same situation.

Why Disable Search Feature in WordPress?

Websites which come along with much limited content and those who work with a one page theme have no need for the search feature at all. Under these circumstances, the removal of search feature can deliver a better user experience. One of the benefits is that you now have the ability to avoid unrelated links in the search results.

Method 1. Disable Search Feature in WordPress via a Plugin

The extension of WordPress functionality can be possible with a pool of plugins. In most cases, newbies will find it much easier to extend the WordPress functionality with the selection of a proper plugin. This is because plugins will provide the possibility to achieve the same goal without editing code snippets.

With much limited knowledge, you will probably be blind to which one can be selected from the market. Our research into the market points out that Disable Search plugin should deserve your choice.

Disable Search Feature in WordPress - Plugin

What comes first is to install and activate the plugin in your WordPress site. The Disable Search plugin is available from the WordPress Plugin Directory without any money required. Take a close look at the below steps in detail.

  1. On your admin area, Plugins > Add New is the place where you should go and use the search box to find the Disable Search plugin.
  2. Click on the ‘Install Now’ and ‘Activate’ button.

The Disable Search plugin which works out the box has no settings to configure. Once activated, the plugin will automatically remove the default search feature from the front-end. Then users will be redirected to a 404 error page when entering a search query URL.

An attention should be paid that your admin area can still work with the search functionality. You have the freedom to use the search bar for the selection of your posts and pages.

Method 2. Disable Search Feature in WordPress via Code

There is a great possibility that some of our readers continue to look for a manual method. With the aim to control the number of plugins, you will be more willing to edit code if possible. Before the adding of the below code, the theme’s functions.php file should be found from Appearance > Editor. This is a place where the code can go to work properly.

After saving your changes, the code will return a 404 page to all the search inquiries. From now on, the search form can be invisible from the front-end.

Disable Search Feature in WordPress - Code

Wrap Up

It is up to you whether to use Disable Search Plugin or edit code through manual efforts. Without more advanced technical skills, however, you are advised to adopt the former method.

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