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How to Change the Default Search URL Slug in WordPress

Do you want to change the default search URL slug in WordPress?

By default, WordPress search URLs are not user friendly so visitors may struggle to understand your site’s layout. They’re also not optimized for the search engines, so you may miss out on visitors.

In this article, we will show you how to easily change the default search URL slug in WordPress so it’s more SEO and user friendly.

Changing default WordPress search URL slug

Why Change Default Search URL Slug in WordPress

By default, WordPress uses SEO friendly URL structure for all the pages on your website. Typically, SEO friendly WordPress URLs might look like this:

As you can see, these URLs are quite easy for visitors to understand, which will help them find their way around your website. Visitors can simply look at their browser’s address bar and see where they are in your site’s layout.

These URLs also tell search engines useful information about the page, which can help them rank your content correctly and show it to people who are looking for content just like yours.

However, a typical search URL in WordPress looks something like this:

The extra ?s= characters make this URL more difficult to read and understand, which can confuse both the search engines and your visitors.

While some WordPress search plugins help you show more accurate and detailed search results, most plugins don’t change the search URL itself.

With that being said, let’s see how you can change the search URL slug and improve your WordPress SEO. Simply use the links below to jump straight to the method you want to use.

Method 1. Change WordPress Search URL Slug Using WPCode (Recommended)

The easiest way to change the default WordPress search slug is using WPCode.

WPCode is the most popular code snippets plugin used by over 1 million WordPress websites. It allows you to add code snippets in WordPress without having to edit your site’s functions.php file.

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

Upon activation, go to Code Snippets » Add Snippet.

Adding a custom code snippet with WPCode

This will bring you to the ‘Add Snippet’ page where you can see WPCode’s library of ready-made snippets.

Since we want to add our own snippet, hover your mouse over ‘Add Your Custom Code (New Snippet).’ Then, click on ‘Use snippet’ when it appears.

How to add a custom code PHP snippet to WordPress

You need to start by entering a title for the custom code snippet.

This can be anything that helps you identify the snippet in the WordPress admin area.

Adding a title to the WordPress code snippet

Since we’re adding a PHP snippet, open the ‘Code Type’ dropdown and choose ‘PHP Snippet.’

You can then go ahead and paste the following into the code box:

function wpb_change_search_url() {
	if ( is_search() && ! empty( $_GET['s'] ) ) {
		wp_redirect( home_url( "/search/" ) . urlencode( get_query_var( 's' ) ) );
add_action( 'template_redirect', 'wpb_change_search_url' );

This code snippet replaces the ‘/?s=search-term’ characters with ‘search,’ so your slug will look something like:

To use something other than ‘search’ in your URL, simply customize the code snippet above.

When you’re happy with the code, it’s time to change where the snippet runs by scrolling to the ‘Insertion’ box.

To start, make sure ‘Auto Insert’ is selected. Then, open the ‘Location’ dropdown and choose ‘Frontend Only’ since we’ll only use this code on our site’s public-facing facing frontend.

WPCode's auto insert code feature

You can also assign tags to the code snippet. This will help you sort your code snippets by topic and functionality.

When you’re happy with how the snippet is set up, you can make the code snippet live on your site by clicking the ‘Active’ toggle.

Finally, don’t forget to click on ‘Save Snippet.’

Saving a custom PHP snippet using WPCode

Now, visit your site and perform a search.

If you take a look at your browser’s address bar, you’ll see the new SEO-friendly search URL.

A custom WordPress search slug URL

Method 2. Change WordPress Search URL Slug via htaccess File

Another option is to edit the .htaccess file. This method is more complicated so isn’t recommended for beginners. However, it does allow you to change the search URL slug without using a code snippet plugin.

To access the .htaccess file, you’ll need an FTP client such as FileZilla, or you can use the file manager of your WordPress hosting cPanel. If this is your first time using FTP, then you can see our complete guide on how to connect to your site using FTP.

Once you’ve done that, open .htaccess and paste the following code at the bottom of the file:

# Change WordPress search URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} \\?s=([^&]+) [NC]
RewriteRule ^$ /search/%1/? [NC,R,L]

This will change the WordPress search slug to the following:

You can change this slug by customizing the code snippet.

Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to save your changes and upload the .htaccess file back to the server.

Now, if you perform a search on your site you’ll notice that it’s using the new slug.

We hope this article helped you change the default search URL slug in WordPress. You can also go through our guide on how to increase your blog traffic and the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools.

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Reader Interactions

15 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Thank you Respected Sir/Madam,

    I am looking for such code because I want to use theme default theme’s search box using “Google Custom Search Engine” for extra revenue. Finally I have done using this code (all credit goes to you Sir / Madam). I have basis knowledge about html ( I don’t learn @ any institution, I learned online….. Let’s go),
    Very Very Thanks again…..

    • You would use the first method and replace the word search with the word you wanted


  2. Works great. Any idea why this might leave off closing / as in instead of /search-term/

    • For the first method, depending on your permalinks it may not automatically add a trailing slash, if you wanted one you would need to add the trailing slash to the wp_redirect function or modify your permalink settings.


  3. Method 1 doesn’t work if I change “/search/” for another term. I triead “/busca/” that means search in portuguese…

    • Carlos is right. Same goes for method 2 (htacess method. The only word it will work for is “search”. If you try any other word like “result”, “busca”, “whatever”, etc, then you get a 404.

      Very confusing as to why it only works for the word “search”.

      • You may want to ensure you cleared your caching if you’ve edited the code from the article for a word other than search for one possible reason.


    • These methods alone won’t work, they only make the «pretty» slug, but the keyword you need to change is the WP rewrite rule for the query.

      You can use this code in your theme’s functions.hp to use any word you want (also includes the rule for the ‘page’ slug):

      function re_rewrite_rules() {
      global $wp_rewrite;
      $wp_rewrite->search_base = ‘buscar’;
      $wp_rewrite->pagination_base = ‘pagina’;
      add_action(‘init’, ‘re_rewrite_rules’);

  4. Do you meant that the search result page can be indexed by search engine?
    However, the content in the search result page is a kind of duplicate content as what we can find in the archieve, category or tag pages.

    PS. I am not an expert in SEO and might have wrong concept.

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