If your website is set up using WordPress, you might have used the built-in search feature of this script, with which you can help people navigate through your site and find their target contents quickly. Personally speaking, this default feature works fine if your site is simply a personal one or a blog site that contains a limited number of posts. However, if your WordPress site has hundreds or even thousands of articles that can date back for multiple years, you’d better do some enhancements to achieve a much more powerful search function, allowing people to find some specific posts effortlessly.
Here, we’d like to come out a special guideline about how to improve WordPress search function, along with the reasons and the best timing for doing so.
When and Why to Improve WordPress Search Function
In fact, there are a lot of complaints we have found online indicating the inadequacy of the default WordPress search function. Even though in the year of 2013, this core feature got a major update for some new functions, it is still less powerful for some large, content-rich and complicated websites and platforms looking for the advanced sorting and searching mechanism.
In this case, if your site is in the below situations, it is worth spending your time and energy to enhance and improve the search function.
- If your website is a truly large, professional and popular one, the advanced search feature is essential and useful to improve the overall reading experience.
- If you use Google Analytics or other tools to monitor how frequently your search box is used and find that the box is used hundreds or even thousands of times for each month, you definitely must tune the search function for the better performance.
- If your website is a complicated one or an e-commerce one with heavy contents and dozens of categorizations, you need to do this enhancement so that people can feel easy to target their wanted contents.
Benefits for Improving WordPress Search Function
It is possible that you are not sure whether you should take times to improve this default feature. If so, we highly recommend you to check the below benefits you can get after finishing the improvement.
- Great reading experience – This is the major benefit you can get. By doing so, your readers can get an effective search tool that comes out the most relevant searching results. Frankly, the enhanced search box can be preferred by people who are more likely to search rather than using the navigation menu.
- More page views – If people feel easy to find their interested contents on your site, they will keep around for a longer time and check more of your pages. Note that the average time spent on your website for each visitor along with the number of posts they have checked give a clear indication to the major search engines about your site quality. In this case, having the search function enhanced can benefit your SEO indirectly.
- More call to actions – This benefit just follows the previous one. With more page views, your readers can get more chances to make some call to actions, such as clicking your ads, registering an account and subscribing to your newsletter.
- More content ideas – People often enter some keywords to perform the search action. In this case, you can get more content ideas via your advanced search tool after evaluating the searching queries.
How to Improve WordPress Search Function
Once you decide to carry out this practice for website optimization, you can consider the below strategies.
Choose Advanced Searching Algorithm for More Relevant Results
Frankly speaking, the enhancement needs to start with the searching algorithm for a higher level of relevancy of the search results listed for your visitors. Especially, if your site contains tons of contents, you’d better choose a great algorithm to replace the default one.
To do this, the best way is to adopt the search technology of Google, which is named as Google CSE. As the major and the most widely used search engine, Google is good at the search function.
In this situation, we highly recommend you to install the plugin of WP Google Search, with which you can easily integrate the advanced Google search feature to your site. To use it, you only need to enter the CSE ID into its settings page.
If you want, you can also decide some extra settings, such as whether to showcase the search box above or before the results and determining the exact search page URL.
To display the advanced search box, you can leverage the generated widget by clicking the Widgets button of your admin.
Use Faceted Feature for the Search Function
If you set up an e-commerce website that has a large number of items coming with complicated grouping and categorizations, you’d better use the faceted feature for your search tool.
If you do not know what this feature is, you can check the eBay platform and enter any product into the search box. In our example, we search for WordPress related items. After that, the platform outcomes more than 1000 items. But on the left side, you can choose the target product category to drill down the final result.
This is simply called the faceted search feature, which is pretty useful for some sites that are heavily categorized.
To add this feature, you can consider the Faceted Search plugin. There are no further configurations required for this plugin. You can directly use the two widgets offered by it from the Widgets section – one is used to search for tags and another is for categories.
Here, you can decide category tree or the tag tree starts in a collapsed way or an expanded way and determine the search mode among the choices of Exclusive, Inclusive or the Smart Search.
Allow to Search Everything
It is possible that your website is not content-rich and you do not want to add the Google search and the faceted search features into your search box when carrying out the enhancement. If so, you can aim at ensuring the better and easier search experience for your readers by allowing them to search for everything.
This time, you can utilize the Search Everything plugin that better improves the default search functionality without the need to add extra widgets or code the current template. With it, your readers are allowed to search for not only the published posts and pages, but also the categories, taxonomies, custom post types, comments, media, excerpts, attachments and many more. All of these smart searches can be determined from its settings page.
In this part, you can also choose to highlight the search terms with an obvious color.
In addition, if you do not want your visitors to check some search results, you can exclude them from the display list by entering the ID.
Use the Special Search Function for Multisite
In fact, not all the common search tools and plugins can work well with the WordPress multisite network. Even the above mentioned suggestions are good for the single site only. In this case, if you want to achieve the powerful search function for your network, you’d better think twice.
At present, the most effective search plugin for the normal WordPress multisite is a paid option, which is named as Global Site Search. With it, you can display a special search box that allows people to search among the entire network.
In addition, many webmasters choose BuddyPress to set up the network. If so, the BuddyPress Global Search is a good option to try, which achieves the unified search for all the BuddyPress components. Besides, its utilization is pretty easy. You only need to choose the items to search in the settings page, and then, the advanced search function can be performed automatically.