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How to Add Google Search in a WordPress Site

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Do you want to use Google search on your WordPress site? Although WordPress comes with a built-in search feature, it is not very good. That’s why many site owners add Google site search on their WordPress site. In this article, we will show you how to easily add Google Search in a WordPress site.

How to Add Google Search in WordPress

Why You Should Use Google Search in WordPress?

The default WordPress search feature is not very useful. It often fails to find the relevant results. This forces site owners to look for alternatives.

There are plenty of search plugins for WordPress like SearchWP, Swiftype, etc. The problem is that you still have to manage them, and they will have an impact on your server resources.

On the other hand, you can use Google’s reliable and powerful search feature instead. It is free, allows you to limit the search to your sites only, and can be run from your own site.

Other benefits of using Google search are speed, users already trust Google brand, and you will not have to maintain or update it.

Having said that, let’s see how you can easily add Google site search to your WordPress site.

To make it easy, we have created a video tutorial on how to add Google search that you can watch below.

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However if you just want to follow text-instructions, then you can follow our step by step tutorial on how to add Google search in a WordPress site.

Method 1: Adding Google Search in WordPress with Plugin

This first method is easier and recommended for beginners. It allows you to add Google search to your WordPress site without modifying your theme files.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WP Google Search plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » WP Google Search to setup the plugin.

Settings page for WP Google Search

The plugin will ask you to provide a Google Search Engine id. Here is how you will get a search engine ID.

Visit Google Custom Search website and click on New Search Engine link on the left.

Creating new Google Custom Search engine for your WordPress site

Simply provide your WordPress site’s URL in ‘Sites to Search’ field. Next, you need to choose the language of your website. Lastly, click on the create button to continue.

Google will now create your custom search engine and will show you a success message with links to further actions. You need to click on the control panel button to continue editing your search engine.

go to Google custom search engine's control panel

This will take you to the control panel for your custom search engine. First, you need to click on the ‘Search engine ID’ button and copy your search engine ID.

Copy your Google custom search engine ID

Next, you need to click on the ‘Look and Feel’ section. Under the layout tab, select results only.

Choose layout for search results page

Once you are done, click on the save button at the bottom of the page to store your changes.

Now you can switch back to your WordPress site. Paste the search engine ID you copied earlier in the WP Google Search’s settings page and then click on the save changes button to store plugin settings.

After that you need to visit Appearance » Widgets page. There you will notice WP Google Search widget in the list of available widgets. Drag and drop the widget to a sidebar where you want to display the search form.

Google custom search engine widget

Click on the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now visit your website to see the search form in action.

Google custom search form in WordPress

Method 2: Manually Adding Google Search in WordPress

This method requires making changes to your WordPress theme or child theme files. It is not recommended for beginners. Make sure to backup your WordPress site before making any changes to your theme files.

Visit Google Custom Search website and click on New Search Engine link on the left.

Creating new Google Custom Search engine for your WordPress site

Simply provide your WordPress site’s URL in ‘Sites to Search’ field. Next, you need to choose the language of your website. Lastly, click on the create button to continue.

Google will now create your custom search engine and will show you a success message with links to further actions. You need to click on the Get Code button to continue.

Get code for your Google custom search engine

On the next screen, you will see some code in a textarea. You need to copy this code.

For this next step, you will need an FTP client. If you need help, then see our guide on how to use FTP to upload WordPress files.

Connect to your website using FTP and then go to /wp-content/themes/your-current-theme/ folder. Replace your current theme folder with the name of your current theme.

Editing searchform file

Locate the searchform.php file in your WordPress theme directory. Download this file to your computer and open it in a plain text editor like Notepad.

Delete all contents of the file and paste your Google custom search engine code. Save the file and then upload it to back to your WordPress site using FTP.

After pasting Google custom search code, go to Appearance » Widgets to drag and drop the Search widget into your sidebar.

Adding search widget

Click on the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now visit your website to see the Google search in action on your WordPress site.

Customizing Google Custom Search Engine Colors and Looks

Go to Google Custom Search website and edit your search engine. This will show settings for your custom search engine. Click on Look and Feel from sidebar.

Google custom search has some pre-made themes available to choose from. You can also click on customize tab and choose your own font, border, and background colors.

Customize colors and appearance of Google custom search

Once you are done customizing the look of your search box, simply save your changes. You don’t need to paste the code again, these changes will be automatically applied to your search form.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add Google search in a WordPress site. You may also want to see our list of 19+ free Google tools every WordPress blogger should use.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

75 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
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  2. Cammy says

    Is there a way to set it up so the search results are served on a custom page of my website – i.e. the search results page or one with my sites header and footer?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      That is what the plugin should allow if we understand what you’re looking for correctly


    • WPBeginner Support says

      That would depend on your theme. If you reach out to your theme’s support they should be able to assist.


  3. Josh says

    How did you get your WordPress search icon via the header to show Google search results? That is actually what I am trying to do and it seems impossible with my scope of skillset. A tutorial would be great but I am sure it wouldn’t be as easy to give a tutorial on something like that. Thank you for this article, though!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      If your theme does not have the option to add a search widget to your header, you would want to reach out to your theme’s support for hot to add it to your specific theme.


      • Josh says

        I actually figured it out 10 minutes after sending my comment, of course. It involved two things of code from Google. One code replaced what was in my searchform.php file while placing the other code on the search results page. Super easy, but now I just have to customize the looks so that it looks better with my theme.

        Thanks and regards,


  4. Ruhul Mashbu says

    When I insert the google engine id the plugin automatically creates a page where the search result will be displayed. But what I need is to change the link of the page where the search result will be displayed. How can I do that?

  5. Yohan Perera says

    I am using the WP Google Search Plugin. I was so frustrated because I couldn’t get the search icon show. Your tip on customizing the search box through the dashboard in Google Custom Search solved the problem.

  6. Graham FB says

    Cool artricle but what I wanted to have a the custom search box in the centre of a blank page as if it was a google search page. I found the plugin Blank Slate which gives the blank page just not sure how to either center and limit the width of the search box either by code or shortcode any ideas ??

  7. Saurabh Saneja says

    Thanks wpbeginner your articles have always helped me a lot. I wanted to do it manually because that way wherever I have search form it’ll be replace by custom google search and your article did work for me as always :)

    When i tried it first it didn’t work because I registered website as http(s) or didn’t enclose the code within a div so it really gave e a hard time. Anyway i am all thanks for your help!!

    Thanks again :)

  8. Craig says

    It works exactly how I want it to, searching 2 different web sites, as long as I am logged into WP Admin. Once I’m no longer logged in to the WP Admin I get

    Not Found
    Apologies, but the page you requested could not be found. Perhaps searching will help.

    What step did I miss?

    • Dibyandu Pal says

      I don’t have much idea about web designing and further customizing. I am learning wordpress blogging from last 5 months, and I think it may be due to a problem while publishing your search result page. There is a visibility option in edit page mode. If that page is private or password protected, this problem you said may arise. If it is done so, make it public..

  9. Shri says

    Plugin method works well for me. But I am trying to replace theme’s native menu bar search functionality with CSE. Its wordpress native search only. So manual editing searchform.php method should work for me.
    But after editing searchform.php my search widget vanishes from sidebar. I am using Colormag theme by themegrill.
    Looking out for a help.

    I am also keen to see mentioned in above comment but this site is offline now. I tried to fetch it from wayback machine but couldn’t found in its past impressions.

    • Dana says

      The same thing happens to me when I paste that code into searchform.php. Not sure this is proper as searchform.php by default is an HTML form. The code copied from Custom Google Search is a JavaScript tag…. should this even work??

  10. Waleed Younas says

    Really Helpful topic as always.

    I am using a Plugin in my Site. How can I exclude ads from Search Results

  11. Jackson says

    Hi Wpbeginner,

    This worked like charm! The manual method is just as awesome as you wrote. Google custom search now showing on my site!

    Thank you so much.

  12. Claire Brotherton says

    Can you only implement custom search when the site is live and indexed by Google? If it’s hidden or password protected, can it be added then?

  13. Susanna says

    I am trying to add Google Search with the Plugin to my website. I got as far as the step where I am supposed to paste the search engine ID into the WP Google Search’s settings page. My settings page does not seem to have any place where I can do this. Can you tell me where the ID should be pasted and what it is called?


  14. fdecicco says

    the manual way of doing this is poorly described and a total waste of time. If you gonna do something do it right ir dont do it at all.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      If you are having difficulty using the manual method, then please try the first method. It is easier to add Google Search with the help of a plugin. If you need to do it manually, then please let us know which part isn’t clear and we will try to explain it here.


      • saajan bedi says

        Manually Adding Google Search doesn’t work (I’m using colormag theme), U need to Update the article

  15. phil davis says

    By using this search plug-in will I be able to see a report on what words were typed in the box to search for?

    I want to know what people are searching for, so I can create content based on their search.

  16. Ameer Shaik says

    I have updated through plugin method. Only search button is not displayed properly. Please suggest(The text “Search” is moved down, only top portion is visible). Pl suggest

  17. Jennifer says

    Another awesome tutorial – I didn’t even know it was possible to use Google Search like this! I’ve now got this running on my website, thanks so much!

  18. Imran Khan says

    Nice post, very helpful as well as easily understandable. I have also created my custom search bar by following your steps. Thanks for sharing this great post with us.

  19. Angelo says


    Do we have to choose among among the 5 font options available or we can import a font we like better?

  20. Eric Kazda says

    Can somebody tell me why this is a more beneficial search than using the standard WordPress search form? Are there SEO implications? I’m just not sure why anyone would use this over the standard search.

    • Adam Connell says

      I generally find that whenever I search a website for a topic, and it’s using WordPress default search – I’ll get VERY poor results.

      They’ll lack relevance.

      By using Google’s custom search, you won’t get any SEO benefits but your readers will find it easier to get what they’re looking for.

  21. Priti says

    In “Search by Google” how to we specify the our google search id ? In widget don’t we have to keep the google search engine id?

  22. Carol Long says

    Hi – can you tel me please how to remove this? I have just seen it appear on all my pages and I don’t want it at all!

    Many thanks

  23. Richard Bishop says

    Hello, and thank you for creating this post and video. I really found it to be helpful in terms of providing better search results for my site WarCraft Press.

    I would however say that you should have pointed out at the beginning of the lesson there are 2 ways to accomplish this task. I did it once with out the plugin then later realized there was a plugin for it.

    That said thanks again for a great lesson and I certainly look forward to future lessons!

    WarCraft Press

  24. cowboy Mike says

    I have seen you recommend editing wp files and wp theme template files like you have in this article for the searchform.php file.

    My concern is when there is a theme update or wordpress update wouldnt the changes to the searchform.php suggested here be lost after for example a theme update?

    Happy trails, Mike

  25. Shahadat Hossain says

    can i use google custom search box and wp normal box all together in my site. or i will have to use only one search box between two of this search box

  26. Nasser says

    How to make a search bar that join to google? Not just a small windows as Custom google search. Exactly work as google search.

  27. Ramesh Tatipigari says

    Hi ,

    I want to add google search bar to every post of my wordpress site or i want to add google search bar to below main menu could you please help me regarding this.

  28. Javed Ahmadzai says

    Well, I have done the same procedure. my theme does not contain searchform.php i created it but it contain searchresults.php i think its theme’s search. but after creating the searchform.php and pasting the code there. another search widget not appeared. Only sahifa search which is theme’s so please can you tell me what the problem. :(

  29. Raghu says

    Hi, I would like to know if I can use google custom search for my intranet portal. I have setup wikipedia for internal purpose and I would like to integrate google custom search for this, however I am not getting result when I integrate.
    So the question is: Is google custom search meant only for public websites?

  30. Chris says

    Hi, I went through these steps exactly for my WordPress site, but the search box doesn’t appear anywhere. There are no .js errors in the console. I put a border around the containing div and the border appears, but there’s nothing inside it. I pasted the code I generated from Google inside searchform.php. As a test I also tried pasting the google code on a test page, but still no luck.

    Any ideas on troubleshooting?

  31. Deepak Singh says

    Can you please guide me how we cana dd Custom Search in genesis child theme. I tried many tutorials but none of them work.

  32. Joy Baker says

    Forgive my newbie status, but when pasting the code into the search.php of my theme’s search page, do I replace the code in the page with Google’s code? I am an idiot when it comes to php code. I know what it looks like, what the opening/closing tags look like, but I have no idea what you mean when you say paste the code in the page.

    Where? Replace it all or between the opening/closing tags or… ???

    Current code looks like this:

    So, do I replace the entire code in the page with the custom Google Search I’ve created?
    Google code:

    Thanks for any help you can give.

  33. David Trees says

    Thanks for a very well written article. It is easy to read and follow,even for a complete newbie.

    The only thing I don’t get, is how to do this;

    “If your theme does not have a searchform.php file, then you need to create one using a text editor like Notepad and upload it to your theme directory using FTP client”

    Remembering I am a newby. I did instal my WP site to my shared hosting by following clear instructions, using FTP. So I guess I am saying how does one create the searchform.php file?

    Thanks again.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Open your FTP client and connect to your shared hosting site. Navigate to /wp-content/themes/ directory. Click on the theme you are using. For example if you are using twentytwelve theme you will see a directory twentytwelve there, open it. Once you have opened your theme directory in your FTP client, right click and select ‘Create new file’. A new dialog box will appear enter searchform.php as the file name. That’s all you have created searchform.php file.

      You can also create this file on your computer by opening a plain text editor like notepad and save file as searchform.php, after creating the file you can upload it to your theme directory using an FTP client.

      You can edit this file from inside your WordPress Admin area. Go to Appearance » Editor and click on searchform.php file from the list of files on the right.


      • Patricia says

        I tried to do just that but something else happened. The search box disappeared and was replaced by an ad. The widgets below the search widget area in my primary sidebar also disappeared. I’ll figure this out soon. It’s a pretty nifty feature.

  34. Abhisek says

    This is a very simple and easy to digest. But, if anyone want to use his/her theme’s default search bar and display the search results then how will he integrate google cse with his theme’s search, I found a great and simple method, it just requires editing your search.php file of your theme, just replace the php statement that is responsible for showing the search results. Feel free to read the full post at my blog :

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