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How to Improve WordPress Search with SearchWP

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How to Improve WordPress Search with SearchWP

WordPress is a great content management system, but the default WordPress search feature is not so great. Many users find it inadequate and want to replace it with a better alternative. In the past we showed you how to add Google Search to WordPress site, and how to add an advanced search box in WordPress using Facetious. In this article, we will show you how to improve your WordPress search with SearchWP.

What is SearchWP?

SearchWP is a WordPres search plugin offering an alternate to the default WordPress search feature. It is easy to use and displays more relevant results than the default WordPress search. After installation, it can replace your default WordPress search feature with the click of a button, and you would not need to add any extra code to your theme. It allows you to set weight for keywords in different positions. This means you can fine tune how it lists the results.

SearchWP indexes your content so that search results can be displayed quickly. You can also decide to include or exclude any content you want. It can search PDF files too (only those that have text in them and are not encrypted). For users who want to use supplemental search engines for different areas of their websites, they can create supplemental search engines with different settings than the default search.

Installation and Setting up SearchWP

SearchWP is a premium plugin available at $24.99 for a single site license. After purchasing SearchWP, you need to install and activate it (See: How to install a WordPress plugin). Once it is installed, go to Settings » SearchWP. You will notice that the plugin is indexing your content. Depending on how much content you got on your site, it may take a while. However you can continue to work on your website because the indexing will keep running quietly in the background. You will see a notice on the settings page when the indexing is complete. Meanwhile you can configure the plugin settings:

SearchWP Settings Screen

The plugin looks for your keyword in title, content, slug, categories, tags, excerpt and comments. You can assign weight to each content type from 1 to 10 where 10 being the highest. You can set different weighing rules for posts, pages, and media. You can also exclude any post IDs, categories, tags, etc. We would also recommend that you enable Keyword Stemming which will display results for stem keywords as well as the original search keyword. For example, run, runs, running will be displayed if user searched for run.

Once you are done with settings, click on Save Changes. Note that even if you do not change any default settings, you will still need to click on save changes to save your search configuration.

SearchWP integrates itself with the default WordPress search. If your theme already has a search area, then you don’t need to do anything else. Try a couple of keywords and see the difference. In case, you do not have search on your site, you can go to Appearance » Widgets and drag-drop the search widget to your sidebar.

Searching PDF File Contents in WordPress with Search WP

If you run a website that hosts a lot of content in PDF file format, then allowing your users to search this content would help them find things quickly. SearchWP indexes content in your PDF files and displays them in search results. To enable this feature make sure that you check the Media checkbox on Settings » SearchWP page.

In order for PDF search to work, your PDF file needs to be readable by the plugin. PDF files downloaded from Google Docs as PDF and encrypted PDF files may not appear in search. To see if SearchWP can read a PDF file, go to Media » Library and click on Edit link below the PDF file you want to check. You will see a SearchWP File Content box below the description. If your file contents appear correctly in the box, then this means that SearchWP can read and display it in search results.

SearchWP displaying indexed content for a PDF file

In case your PDF file’s content is not displayed, you can copy and paste the contents in the SearchWP box and manually tell the plugin about the contents of the file. Though this is not an ideal situation, it would work if you do not have too many PDF files in your library.

We hope that this article helped you improve your WordPress Search using SearchWP. For questions and feedback, you can leave a comment below or reach us on Twitter and Facebook.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Steven Denger says:

    Search WP cost $49.00 and I would not trust that it would work without problems – seeing how the search box that came with my wordpress site does not come out right let alone function at all. What is it with WordPress and search boxes? I do not believe I have had more trouble with anything else as I have had with this. I am definitely giving up the idea before I go crazy trying to find a functionable search box. Especially one that risks one losing money on- when it probably will not work anyway.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I do not add PDFs through the Media library. Instead, I upload my files through the content Upload folder. I have to do it this way because these documents are frequently changed and it is easier to manage and update this way. Is there a way to make SearchWP index PDFs using this method, or does it have to be done through the media library?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      It will have to be done through media library, but you should contact SearchWP support.

  3. Jon says:

    Will this tool also index other filetypes? Like a word document? I’m looking for something to search/index text, word, pdf documents (resumes) that are uploaded.

  4. Pippin Williamson says:

    I’ve started using SearchWP on my own site and have to say the results are phenomenal.

  5. Mike says:

    I would love to see a tutorial on how to replace WP’s search with a Google Custom search so as to garner a bit of AdSense cash from the search. Have I just overlooked a plugin for that, or is there an easy way to do this without a plugin.

    Thanks, learning lots from your site and I have used WP since 2006!

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