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How to Improve WordPress Search with SearchWP (Quick & Easy)

Do you want to improve your WordPress search with SearchWP?

By improving WordPress search, you can help your users find what they’re looking for and get more sales and pageviews.

In this article, we’ll show you how to improve your WordPress search with SearchWP easily.

How to improve WordPress search with SearchWP (quick & easy)

What is SearchWP?

SearchWP is the best custom search plugin for WordPress, used by over 30,000 websites. It lets you improve your WordPress site search to deliver more relevant results to your visitors.

This plugin puts you in complete control over your website’s search feature.


With SearchWP, you can make sure your site is prioritizing the right content in its search results by creating your own relevance scale and adjusting the search algorithm.

SearchWP also lets you make any part of your site searchable, including PDF files, custom tables, ACF files, text files, WordPress custom fields, WooCommerce products, and more.

SearchWP engines example

You also get access to detailed search metrics so you can see what your visitors are searching for and the types of content they’re finding.

This gives you actionable insights to improve your existing content and plan new content.

SearchWP metrics example

Plus, SearchWP automatically integrates with all major WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, bbPress, Meta box, Easy Digital Downloads, and more.

Beyond improving your default WordPress search, it has more features like redirection after a search is performed, excluding specific content from search, keyword stemming, support for multiple search engines, and more.

With that said, let’s show you how to set up SearchWP to improve your WordPress search.

How to Install and Set Up SearchWP

The first thing you need to do is activate and install the SearchWP plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit the Settings » SearchWP page and then click on the ‘License’ menu option.

Then, enter your license key in the ‘License’ box and click the ‘Activate’ button.

Enter SearchWP license key

You can find the license key by logging into your SearchWP account.

Once you’ve done that, you need to click on the ‘Engines’ tab.

SearchWP engines settings

This brings you to a screen where you can set your search engine settings. Think of it like creating your own Google search algorithm for your WordPress blog or website.

With SearchWP, you need to create a site-wide search engine before you can customize your website’s search feature.

You can adjust the search engine settings for the different content types by scrolling to the ‘Posts’, ‘Pages’, or ‘Media’ sections.

Every section has an ‘Attribute Relevance’ slider that changes how your site’s search engine values and ranks that content. For example, if you want the post title to carry more weight than the post content, then you can drag to adjust the sliders accordingly.

Adjust SearchWP slider settings

After you’re done customizing your default search engine settings, make sure to click the ‘Save Engines’ button to create your first search engine.

If you see a message asking you to rebuild the index, then click on the ‘Rebuild Index’ button.

After it’s created the initial index, SearchWP will replace the default WordPress search with your new and improved search.

If your WordPress theme already has a search box, then you don’t need to make any further changes. If your site doesn’t already have a search box, then it’s easy to add one.

Simply head over to Appearance » Widgets and find the section where you want to add your search bar, such as the Right Sidebar section.

Inside this section, click the ‘+’ icon to open the widget block menu.

Add new widget block for search

After that, type ’Search’ into the widget search box.

When it appears, click on the ‘Search’ block.

Add new search block

This will add a search form to your sidebar or similar section.

You can customize the title of your search form and add optional placeholder text.

Update and save search form widget

Make sure you click the ‘Update’ button to save your changes.

Now when visitors type into your search form, they’ll be using the new and improved SearchWP search.

SearchWP search widget

There are all kinds of ways you can customize the search experience on your site with SearchWP, so let’s take a look at a few of them below.

How to Make PDF Files Searchable in WordPress

By default WordPress doesn’t search any PDF files that you upload to your website. If you upload lots of PDFs to your site, then visitors may be missing out on lots of great content.

SearchWP can allow your users to search the text in the PDF files and displays the files in its search results.

To make your PDFs searchable, go to SearchWP » Settings to bring you to the engines page.

In the ‘Media’ section, you’ll find a slider called ‘Document Content’. You need to make sure this slider is enabled.

Media engine slider SearchWP

For some users, the slider won’t be enabled yet.

To activate the slider, click on the ‘Add/Remove Attributes’ button.

Add new attribute to media search

This brings up a popup where you can control what attributes SearchWP looks at when searching your site’s media.

To make your PDF files searchable, simply check the ‘Document Content’ box and then click on the ‘Done’ button.

Select document content search box

Now, you can adjust the slider settings to give weight to your PDF content. After that, go ahead and click on the ’Save Engines’ button.

Now, your visitors will be able to search through your PDF content and find relevant results.

PDF search results example

When your visitors click the PDF result it will take them to a page where they can view the entire PDF document.

Add a Search By Category Feature to WordPress

If you have multiple categories of content on your WordPress website, then you might want to let users search within a single category at a time. For example, if you have an online store then customers may want to search within a particular product category.

You can do this by adding a category dropdown to your search forms.

Category select drop down example

For more details, see our guide on how to search by category in WordPress.

Add a Live Ajax Search Function to WordPress

Another feature you’ve probably seen is live Ajax search, also called instant search. This adds a drop down autocomplete feature that’s common in search engines like Google.

Instant search helps your visitors to find what they’re looking for more quickly, which can keep them on your website longer.

SearchWP makes it easy to add this feature to your website.

Live Ajax search widget example

For more details, see our guide on how to add live Ajax search to your WordPress site.

Add a Smart Product Search to Your Online Store

If you run an online store, then you want to make sure your visitors can find the products they’re looking for.

SearchWP WooCommerce search results

SearchWP makes it easy to improve your product search and get more sales.

You can fully customize your WooCommerce search engine and give weight to the product attributes that matter most.

Add WooCommerce search product attributes

For more details, see our guide on how to make a smart WooCommerce product search.

Create a Custom Post Type Search Form in WordPress

With SearchWP, you can create all kinds of advanced search forms, like a custom post type search form.

To do this, you’ll create a separate search engine that only searches a single post type. For example, here is a search form that will only search through coupon posts.

Custom post type search form example

For more details, see our guide on how to create advanced search forms for custom post types in WordPress.

We hope this article helped you learn how to improve WordPress search with SearchWP. You may also want to see our picks of the best live chat software for small businesses and our guide on how to get a free business email address.

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8 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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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