Beginner's Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes

How to Highlight the Search Terms in Results in WordPress

In an attempt to make your WordPress search even more user friendly, you can highlight the search terms in the results. We did this for one of our clients, so we thought it would be useful for other users. In this article we will show you how you can highlight search terms in the results in WordPress.

Highlighting search terms in WordPress search results

First open your search.php and look for the following code:

<?php the_title(); ?>

Replace the above code with:

<?php echo $title; ?>

Make sure that you paste this line above the title code:

<?php $title = get_the_title(); $keys= explode(" ",$s); $title = preg_replace('/('.implode('|', $keys) .')/iu', '<strong class="search-excerpt">\0</strong>', $title); ?>

Now open your CSS file and add the styling for the class search-excerpt, and it will highlight the term. Currently the code is making the search terms bold. You can try this simple CSS in your theme’s stylesheet. { 

Source: Michael Martin

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit - a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

17 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. 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.
    Start sharing your thoughts below to stand a chance to win!

  2. Hej, thank you very much for this very helpful piece of code. Is there a way to exclude links? The code as is breaks many of the “more”-links on my site.

  3. Any chance you can update this neat tutorial for modern themes such as Twenty Seventeen where instead of title() in the loop, the loop goes through:

     get_template_part( 'template-parts/post/content', 'excerpt' );

    I’m comfortable with replacing

    <strong class="search-excerpt">\0</strong>

    with HTML5


    and the relevant CSS.

    Or will we need a different approach in themes using get_template_part ?

    • Hey Vernon,

      Thanks for the suggestion. We will try to update the article with more detailed instructions.

      Meanwhile, you will need to edit the /template-parts/content-search.php template. If your theme does not have it, then you can create it and then reference it in your search.php template.


      • That’s working. Thank you.

        Can we do the same for the_content as for the the_title or do we need a different approach?

  4. There is no “” in my search.php file..
    Mine looks like this:


  5. This doesn’t even come close to working. All it does is display the title of the page the search term is found on. The terms themselves aren’t wrapped in any tags whatsoever.

  6. Nice tutorial. And for those wo want to make some highlight with colors they must define their css class as div.highlight
    and replace the code with
    And that`s alll. Thanks and have fun.

Leave A Reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.