11 Best WordPress Search Plugins Compared

Best WordPress Search Plugins

Just like Google helps you find information easily, the search facility in WordPress is meant to help you find the content you are looking for quickly and easily.

Whether you choose to use one of the Best WordPress Search Plugins below or not depends on the type and size of the site you have. Not all sites will benefit from having an extra search plugin installed, but some may benefit from at least an upgraded search frontend.

On smaller WordPress websites, perhaps 20-30 pages aren’t too much to navigate through (especially if they are split into correct categories with menus to help you on your way).

However, on a larger site with hundreds of pages or products then you need to be able to search to find the information you want. This gives a better user experience and stops users from leaving your site frustrated because they can’t find what they are looking for.

WordPress has a built-in search function, although it is fairly basic and the results it returns are literally anything related to your search term – you can’t even filter them easily if needed, so sometimes the search results can be just as overwhelming as trying to find the correct page or product in the first place!


Why WordPress Search Plugins?

By adding one of the WordPress search plugins below you’ll find that your WordPress Search results are much more relevant and easier for users to use in finding what they are looking for.

Most of the plugins build their own unique index within WordPress of all the keywords that your posts/pages and products contain. Then they make sure that when someone searches that they only return the results intended instead of everything even slightly related to the keyword entered. By building their own index they also perform much faster than the default WordPress search function too.

Many of the plugins can cope with literally 10s of thousands of pages of content (or products) on websites and can significantly cut down on the resources used for searching compared to using the standard WordPress search facility.


Alternative to WordPress Search Plugins

You don’t need to use one of the plugins we list below, you can just use the WordPress built-in search as required and if you are very organized you can make sure that users can navigate to the content they want to find easily.

Some top tips for making your WordPress usable if you have a lot of content include:

  • Navigation menus – split up your content into sections and add some menus to the header (and footer ideally) of your website – users can then navigate to the section they require
  • Tags – you can tag your blog posts (as well as use Categories) – this allows users to search via tag or click on a tag to find all posts with that tag.
  • Breadcrumbs – these are the things that look like this
    Main Subject > Child Subject > Child of Child Subject
    You will often see those at the top of pages on websites – this lets users know where they are in the content.
  • Levels – Try to keep most posts or pages no deeper than three levels. That is, a main subject, a child subject and then finally the page or post itself. This way users are not buried deep in content!
  • Internal Linking – This is great for SEO (as it tells Google what is related to what!) but it the other benefit is for end users – if they are reading about a subject and you reference something that you have an article about, then link to it internally as this stops your users having to go search and find the article themselves!

There are plenty of ways to minimize having to using WordPress Search or one of the WordPress search plugins we list here – but eventually, when your site gets too big you’ll do more damage than not by not having a solution in place.


Best WordPress Search Plugins

There are many choices of WordPress search plugins and the ones we have listed below are made up out of popularity and also how well they work.

You should try at least one or two of the free ones to see if it works for you before moving to a premium plugin – some of the plugins listed below also offer a freemium version, this is great for trying a plugin before you decide to go and buy the full version.

Remember, premium plugins aren’t just usually more feature-laden but they also include technical support which can be useful if you have a massive site and need help with the perfect configuration.


SearchWP

SearchWP is a premium-only plugin with a host of extensions and pretty much corners the WordPress search market.

It is a very mature plugin, with excellent features including the ability to have multiple ‘search engines’ (for example if you want different settings for post results compared to product results).

The plugin comes with a whole host of extra extensions (some are free by third-party developers and some are from the SearchWP team themselves)

SearchWP
SearchWP

SearchWP has an extensive documentation library and also works in harmony with FacetWP, a plugin that allows excellent filtering of search results.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Premium plugin with excellent support and documentation
  • Excellent support for additional extensions from third-party devs
  • Multiple ‘Engines’ support
  • Indexes content from Docs and PDF
  • Fine-turning of indexing and search results possible
  • Good statistics dashboard for tracking popular searches
LicensePrice
Standard (1 website)$199/yr
Pro (5 websites)$399/yr
Agency (Unlimited websites)$699/yr
SearchWP Pricing

SearchWP is pretty much the king of WordPress search plugins, but it might be overkill for your site. We recommend this plugin if you have multiple complex sections on a website or have lots of data that needs indexing.


Whilst the SearchWP Live AJAX plugin isn’t an actual search engine in itself, it is a free plugin provided by SearchWP to enhance even the standard WordPress Search feature.

Live AJAX search is what you see when you type into most search boxes these days – that is, as you type the results will start to appear before you hit enter to see the full results.

SearchWP Live AJAX Search
SearchWP Live AJAX Search

Installation of the plugin is quick and easy and there is plenty of support documentation to help you configure it to your liking on your website.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Totally free plugin
  • Well-supported with over 50,000+ active installs
  • Works without SearchWP main plugin
  • Quick and easy setup
  • Customizable results available
LicensePrice
Free (unlimited websites)Free
SearchWP Live AJAX Search

This is a great plugin to just enhance the standard WordPress search function – it won’t make it any quicker, but it will stop users from becoming frustrated after typing a full query and getting the wrong results!


ElasticPress

ElasticPress is a powerful search engine for your website but it does require an external Elasticsearch server. Some hosting platforms can provide this for you for an extra charge or you can signup at ElasticPress.io.

Once connected, the Elasticsearch server will index the content of your choice. You can choose from Posts/Pages, WooCommerce Products, Comments or even inside PDFs and you can even include protected content if you run a membership website too.

ElasticPress Search
ElasticPress Search

After your content has been indexed, you can configure options such as weighting – this allows your engine to take different parts of your indexed content into consideration when someone searches for it – i.e. you may wish to pay more attention to a post title rather than the category it sits in, or who authored it.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Professional search plugin – well-supported
  • Hands indexing off away from your hosting platform for max speed
  • Plenty of good documentation
  • Configurable options to fine tune your search index
  • Relatively easy setup
  • Free trial available
LicensePrice
Essential (Up to 100K Queries/mo)$79/mo
Extended (Up to 3M Queries/mo)$299/mo
Enterprise (Unlimited Queries/mo)$699/mo
ElasticPress Pricing

Whilst ElasticPress is certainly at the higher end of most people’s budgets, if you run a membership site or large eCommerce shop then being able to hand off the indexing to a third-party service whilst still providing excellent relevant results on your website then it is a must.

Thankfully, there is also a free trial available which makes it a worthy contender on our Best WordPress Search Plugins list! (Plus, a plugin below uses this engine!)


Relevanssi

Relevanssi is one of the best WordPress search plugins to try as it is a freemium plugin, this means you can get started with it and see if it fits your needs before you purchase the premium version.

Installation is very straightforward, afterwards, you just select the post types you wish to index (including Custom Post types if any).

After indexing, you’ll then be able to use the WordPress search box anywhere on your site to add search facilities for your content without having to change anything else on your site.

Relevanssi Search
Relevanssi Search

The premium version of the plugin allows indexing of content within files (such as PDFs) and Redirects (i.e. if someone searches for ‘job’ it sends them to your career page).

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Freemium version – try before you buy
  • Well-supported with over 100,000+ active installs
  • Premium version has an annual or lifetime option
  • No need to replace front-end search boxes
  • Option of lifetime license instead of annual fee
LicensePrice
Free (unlimited sites)Free
Unlimited sites (Annual)$99 USD / year
Unlimited sites (Lifetime)$329 USD / once
Relevanssi Premium

This plugin should be on your shortlist to try – the free version is pretty powerful and you’ll see throughout the well laid-out configuration screens just which options are premium only (which are useful for advanced requirements).


Ivory Search is another freemium plugin, however, this one doesn’t create an index as such – it just helps organize the initial search form(s) and helps dictate what sort of results it should send back.

You can create custom search forms for different areas of your site (for example, search posts in the blog section, a product search in your shop).

You can also set certain posts or categories to be excluded in the search results and the Pro version allows filtering of things such as by author, post status or if an article has a certain number of comments.

Ivory Search
Ivory Search

There are multiple Pro or Pro Plus versions that add features such as ordering in the search results, excluding WooCommerce products that are marked out of stock and also searching by WooCommerce Product SKU codes.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Freemium plugin – try before you buy
  • Well supported with over 70,000+ active installs
  • Ability to create unique search forms for different areas of your website
  • Can exclude posts/products based on many different options if needed
  • Extensive documentation
  • Annual or Lifetime pricing available
LicensePrice
FREE (Unlimited sites)$0
Pro (1/5/25 site2)$19.99/$39.99/149.99 year
Pro Plus (1/5/25 sites)$49.99/$89.99/$249.99 year
Pro / Pro Plus Lifetime$99.99 – $499.99 one-off
Ivory Search Pricing

Ivory Search is a good contender in our Best WordPress Search Plugins list because of the freemium option – although it doesn’t create a unique index like the others, for some sites this will still be a great advantage of having the standard WordPress search facility.


Better Search is a free plugin that replaces the default WordPress search function like other plugins on this list, however, it doesn’t create an index like some of the premium plugins do.

The installation is very quick and it works immediately upon activating the plugin in your WordPress dashboard.

You are presented with four separate configuration screens which allow you to set things like search tracking (to display the most popular searches) and also what type of posts or categories you wish to exclude from results.

Better Search
Better Search

One of the configuration screens (Heatmap) allows you to use a WordPress shortcode to display your most popular searches on other areas of your website (i.e your footer) this is great for encouraging users to read other content on your site.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Totally free plugin
  • Fairly well supported with 8,000+ active installations
  • Allows searching of all post types – including Custom Posts
  • Exclude posts, categories or individual posts easily
LicensePrice
Unlimited WebsitesFREE
Better Search Pricing

Better Search is one of those plugins that you should try to at least spruce up your WordPress search – it might not make it any quicker, but it will certainly improve the user experience of searching across your website.


Jetpack is a freemium plugin service by Automattic. It is one of the most popular plugins used on WordPress websites with over 5+ million active installs.

Although it is extremely popular, some people aren’t so keen on it as it does perhaps too much. However, it does have a good search indexing service built-in (although it is paid only, unfortunately).

When you connect Jetpack to your site the plugin indexes all of your content offsite and provides a direct connection from your WordPress search boxes to the engine – that means nothing to change on your website, just install and go!

Jetpack
Jetpack

Jetpack search uses the Elasticsearch engine for indexing your data, so you can tell it is going to be a good service using that infrastructure. It also changes your WordPress search to automatically utilize AJAX Live Search.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Powerful search indexing backed by Elasticsearch
  • Relatively low cost option for a premium option
  • Quick install and easy setup
  • Well supported with over 5+ million active installs (not all using search!)
LicensePrice
1-99 Records$5/mo or $50/yr
100-999 Records$10/mo or $100/yr
1,000-9,999 Records$25/mo or $250/yr
10,000-99,999 Records$60/mo or $600/yr
100,000-999,999 Records$200/mo or $2,000/yr
Over 1 Million Recordsper million $200/mo or $2,000/yr

Jetpack search is a low-cost option for sites that want a powerful search engine as their site grows. Ideally suited for business or corporate sites, but equally as good for small eCommerce stores too.


AJAX Search Lite

AJAX Search Lite is a freemium plugin that has over 60,000+ active installs and is well-supported with frequent updates.

The plugin allows you to create multiple search instances (Pro only) – ideal for having unique search forms for either your posts/pages and your products across your website.

One of the things we love about this plugin is the number of configuration options available to you, from backend to also frontend design.

AJAX Search Lite
AJAX Search Lite

The Pro version of the plugin allows multiple frontend instances and over 100+ different frontend themes for your search instances, additional filtering and exclusion options are also available.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Freemium version – try before you buy
  • Well supported with 60,000+ active installations and frequent updates
  • Multiple search frontend instances (Pro)
  • Easy backend configuration with drag and drop settings
LicensePrice
Free version (unlimited sites)$0
Pro version (1 site)$36 (one-off)
Pro version (Unlimited sites)$255 (one-off)
AJAX Search Lite / Pro Pricing

AJAX Search Lite is one of our top recommendations on our Best WordPress Search Plugins list because it is so flexible – plus, being a freemium plugin you can try it out on your site before you commit any funds to it! Give it a try!


WP Extended Search is a lightweight popular free plugin with over 20,000+ active installations.

The plugin lets you extend the standard WordPress search functionality, but doesn’t create its own search index – so if you have a lot of content this might not be the plugin for you.

That said, it does let you decide what can be searched – perhaps you might only want to search through all blog posts and not your large WooCommerce shop (although it does support WooCommerce if needed!)

WP Extended Search
WP Extended Search

WP Extended Search allows you to create multiple frontend search instances, configured to your choosing and with some extra CSS you can style it to exactly how you wish.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Totally free plugin
  • Multiple frontend search forms options
  • Filtering of search by post type
  • WooCommerce support
  • Well-supported, frequently updated plugin with over 20,000+ installs
LicensePrice
Free version (Unlimited sites)$0
WP Extended Search Pricing

WP Extended Search is a great plugin to just enhance your current WordPress search if you are not suffering from any performance issues.


Algolia

Algolia Search is an external search engine that can be used on any website. WordPress plugin company WebDevStudios have made a free plugin that lets you connect your WordPress website to the power of Algolia very easily and quickly.

They provide some great documentation to get you started, but in essence, it is as simple as signing up for a free account at Algolia (you can get 10,000 records / 10,000 searches per month for free).

After you have connected the plugin to Algolia and they have indexed your content everything just works!

Algolia Search
Algolia Search

Configuration of the plugin is just a couple of screens to choose what posts you want indexing by Algolia. The rest of the configuration takes place on your Algolia dashboard.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Very powerful search engine powered offsite to save resources
  • No front-end changes needed to your WordPress search boxes
  • Free version which scales with your site expansion
  • Easy to setup and install – just minutes to get working
LicensePrice
10K Records + 10k Searches$0/mo
20k Records + 20K Searches$10/mo
50k Records + 50k Searches$40/mo
100k Records + 100k Searches$90/mo
Algolia Search Pricing

Algolia is a powerful search engine and one of the best in its class (we use it on WP Champion) – it is really quick and easy to get started, provides amazingly fast results for end-users and the free (or paid) tier account can be used across multiple websites if you operate more than one. We absolutely recommend it!


Search & Filter

Search & Filter plugin is a freemium plugin that has over 50,000+ active installs. It offers an advanced version of the WordPress Search form but does not have an indexing engine built-in.

The free version is very quick to install but does require you to handwrite a WordPress shortcode with all the options you require for the configuration of your front end search forms.

Search & Filter
Search & Filter

The Pro version includes a user interface with drag and drop form builder, dynamic filtering and support for Advanced Custom Fields, EDD and Elementor.

Why is this one of the best WordPress search plugins?

  • Freemium version – try before you buy
  • Well supported with over 50,000+ active installs
  • Powerful Pro version with good user interface
  • Low pricing for extra features
LicensePrice
Free version (Unlimited sites)$0
Pro version (1 site)$20
Developer version (Unlimited sites)$75
Search & Filter Lite / Pro Pricing

Search & Filter is one of the more popular WordPress search plugins but is often overlooked because of the lack of a user interface in the free version.

Thankfully, the pro version does address this and for $20 it is worth taking a look at to get all the extra features.


Final Thoughts

So there is our roundup of the Best WordPress Search Plugins. This list is a combination of the most popular and most powerful options available for your WordPress website – whether you are just getting started or you have a mature site with lots of content or products (or both!).

We recommend giving AJAX Search Lite or Relevanssi a try first before using either SearchWP or ElasticPress later on!

If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments or head over to The WordPress Lounge – our private Facebook group for WordPress users of all levels!

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