How to improve the search function of your WordPress website

Improving search results in wordpress

Using the Relevanssi plugin to bring more order to search results (Image koalazmonkey via Flickr)

WordPress has always been good at indexing your content in its internal search function, but there is a plugin that improves it even more.

What sent me searching for improved search (yes, ironic) was my increasing need to search our site for blog posts when needing to send article links to people from our workshops.

Unfortunately, because our blog has so many articles now, the default WordPress search results are a little cumbersome.

This is because, by default, WordPress search results are generous in scope (broad settings allow any of the words you type in to the search box to bring back results rather than ALL words needing to match) and presented in reverse chronological order (most recent content is displayed first).

While this can be helpful, sometimes it means the result you really want is buried on pages two or three.

This is where Relevanssi enters.

This plugin gives you great control over deciding which factors are more important to your and your visitors when displaying search results

Search: When less is best

I believe less is more when it comes to search.

Fewer items that are highly relevant should be more helpful to your visitors because:

  • Better search results should appear at the top of results
  • Users will not be overwhelmed by seeing dozens of pages of results waiting for them to scroll through

What Relevanssi does is allow you to choose tighter search controls and trim the length of each individual search result, allowing more results per page.

What I also liked was that Relevanssi allows you to turn on a feature that makes actual search words in search results appear in bold to help them stand out.

One final bonus is that you can turn on a log to see what people are searching for on your site. This will be a great help in improving your content and discovering roadblocks.

In my first experiment I saw drastic results.

A search for ‘how to use Hootsuite to listen locally’, previously bringing up 3 pages of results, now brings just one single result – the actual article in question!

Try it via our search box at the bottom of the page [at the top of the page Рsite updated April 2013] and on your site. Let me know how you go.




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