Podcast Episode

441 – Plugin Review: SearchWP

Plugin Review

In today’s episode we look at the premium plugin SearchWP and how it can extend the lackluster default search in WordPress.

By default, WordPress will only search titles and body content for post and pages. This doesn’t work for sites that have full eCommerce stores or other custom post types.

I’d recommend SearchWP to any site owner that needs more comprehensive search capabilities.

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode we are going to look at a plugin that I've recommended a ton, but never actually played with myself. And that’s SearchWP. We’re gonna do a full review of it right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast, episode #441.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, I’m excited to be with you today, as always, as I am fresh on sabbatical. I'm three days into my sabbatical as I'm recording this. I'm getting ready to go on vacation with my family and so I am just getting a – doing a review and figuring this all out right before I get ready to go.

And like I said, in a couple of shows, in the last couple shows, I'm always looking for topics, so if you're interested in sending over a, hey, Dustin, check this out while you're on sabbatical, check this out while you're on sabbatical, I'd love to do that. I like to dig in and just spend a little bit more time in a non-work way, in just kind of a tinkering way within WordPress.

And this month I'm actually gonna do some reviews of plugins that I haven’t had a chance to even play with myself. And so today what we’re gonna look at is SearchWP. And SearchWP is one that I found and I've been aware of for probably a year or so or it might be even longer than that.

But this is a plugin that I always recommend to WooCommerce customers when they come and they say, hey, I have – the WordPress search is not able to find my products. I have baseball caps on my website and for some reason when you type baseball caps in, it says, no products found, or no listings found. And it’s like, that doesn’t make any sense. Like, so what's going on here?

And so I did a little bit of review years ago and figured out that SearchWP was the best plugin to do this. And I started recommending that, just knowing that this would be a good solution, but I never played with it myself. And so today I want to tell you a little bit about my review and just figuring out how SearchWP works.

One of the most annoying things that you may have found with WordPress itself is that there is a lack of power behind that WordPress search functionality. By default, WordPress search is limited to searching within the content field of posts and pages only. They don’t take into consideration the custom meta boxes or custom fields or any type of product or any other type of thing that you may add to your site, reviews, all that kind of stuff. So, it only looks in posts and pages and it only looks in the title and the body copy of the post and pages. So, that’s why so many websites, when you search for something, it says “no results found” when you know, in fact, there are results found.

And so what we’re gonna talk about today is SearchWP, a little bit about it, and how it works. Before I do want to dig in a little bit farther, I just want to let you know that this is a premium plugin. The standard plan is $79 for one site, it’s $149 for fives sites, or for unlimited sites, it’s $300 per year. So, just want to check that out and just make sure that you know that that is the price for them.

But SearchWP is an extremely powerful search plugin. It has a very – it’s got a lot of native integrations and so there's a WooCommerce integration and there's a few more. So, let’s go ahead and, again, let’s dive in.

Once you go through the simple installation of adding SearchWP to your WordPress website, you will turn it on. And then it’ll give you some options that you can make some adjustments to. And then it’ll do an index search and search through your entire site. It’ll really look through custom fields and taxonomy sites, any ecommerce products, details, and descriptions. It’ll even look through content generated by shortcodes or PDF’s, Office, Microsoft Word documents, all that kind of stuff that’s uploaded to your website; it’s going to look at all that stuff. Once it knows what all that data is, it’s going to help you and help your customers or your users be able to find the results they need on your website.

To customize this, you go to the settings panels for SearchWP and it will set up and show you all the different post types or page types that you have on your website. So, by default with WordPress, it just has posts and pages, but if you have your ecommerce site, it’ll say products. If it has reviews or testimonials or any type of other data that may be living on your website, it’s gonna show all of this right here in the default search engine.

From there, you can go in and you can give different weights to different pieces of information. So, maybe you want to give a title. So, if somebody is searching for baseball caps and you want to give the title a weight of 20, that means that if they use the word baseball caps in there as a product with the name of baseball caps, it’s going to find that really, really easily because that’s giving it the most amount of weight.

You're gonna also say that I want to weight the content or slug or categories tags, excerpts or comments, what the weight is on there, you can exclude things. Or if you wanted to exclude categories so they can't search for certain categories on your website or whatnot, you can set all that up and configure all of that there.

Now, the other really cool part about SearchWP is you can have different search engines on different areas of your site. And so what that means is if you have a frequently asked questions or a knowledge base, when you want visitors to go there, you want them to be able to search only that information without blog posts or pages just skewing up the results. So, you can do that, you can create multiple search forms within SearchWP and you can do this. This is at the bottom of the search page. You can just add new and supplemental engine, which is really cool.

There are some extensions that can add on to the functionality of SearchWP. And some of the ones that require a pro or a pro plus license are WooCommerce integration, which is like helping you make your store much more powerful and make people being able to find your products.

You can also use search for related posts. And so this combines the ability for people to search on their website and be able to navigate across your website, which is really handy. There are other, some standard integrations that are completely available to all license holders, so you can do a live Ajax. So, this one is when you start typing and the search box just opens up and it gives you results as you're typing. I really like that.

The term, highlight, this will automatically highlight the search terms within the loop, so programmatically you can highlight search terms inside of the displayed results. And so that’s a really nice feature when you turn that on and you search for baseball caps, it’s gonna highlight it on the page. That’s nice.

I like fuzzy match. I don’t know if it’s best to turn all of these things on, but in theory they all work together really well. But you can do fuzzy matching, which aims – fuzzy matching aims to make SearchWP a bit more lenient with its search queries, so you can use this extension to include search terms that are close in spelling to terms within your index. You can use light terms, so it’s kind of like fuzzy matching, but it applies partial term matching, which is nice.

You can do synonyms, so if you wanted to manually define synonyms for common search terms that don’t yield the results you're looking for. So, that one takes a little bit more setup and configuration to do. So, you can – you actually have to tell SearchWP what the synonyms are for certain words and so they might be able to find that.

The list goes on and on. There's keywords for different languages, like German and Dutch that helps to figure into search for those languages as well. There's easy digital downloads, there's co-authors plus integration. Some of the themes like hero themes, directory press, are some other good ones that are built in as well. There's also WP document revision, so it integrates into the document revisions. There's a ton of different things there and you can find out more at SearchWP.com/extensions.

And so not only is the plugin super powerful and from my testing it worked phenomenal, I was able to just make up some gibberish and create a few posts and then do some searching and find those and actually find them on my website when it wasn’t in the title or the product or in the main description or the body of the page or the post. So, that was really helpful.

It’s got – I dunno, it’s just one of those plugins that out of the box it’s super, super powerful. And then when you add these extensions, it just really blows the WordPress search out of the water. So, I think it’s absolutely worth the money to buy it.

Like I said, it’s $99 for one site and $150 for up to five sites. And that includes those integrations like WooCommerce and metrics and related content. Some of those really expensive ones or the high-end extensions, those all come with the pro or the pro plus, which is $300 per year for unlimited sites.

It does have a 14-day full refund policy, so that’s really, really helpful. And it works really well on large sites, even if you have a big site. I would say if you have hundreds of thousands of posts and pages and content, it probably wouldn’t really work that well, but for small to midsize sites, it’s gonna work perfectly.

One other thing to note is that SearchWP doesn’t display search results; it just provides the results with the theme display. So, however your theme returns the searches, that’s how SearchWP is going to return those as well. So, they're not going to be – it’s not going to modify your existing search results template in any way.

Once you activate SearchWP, your search results will display exactly the same way they did before SearchWP, but SearchWP tells WordPress which results to include. And so if you wanted to customize the way the results are displayed, you'll have to go in and modify the Search.php file inside your template file or put it in your child theme or whatnot.

So, that’s what I wanted to cover with you today. It’s really cool and it’s really powerful and I'm looking forward to putting this onto my wife’s website. She's been complaining a lot about how you can't find things on her website and whatnot, when she's searching, and things don’t show up very well. So, this is definitely going to be a plugin that we install and get that up and running for her on her website.

So, that’s what I want to talk about today, just a short little review of SearchWP. And if you do have customers or clients or you're just frustrated with not being able to find the content on your website, especially like me, I've got 441 episodes, I want to make it so that people can find the content that they're looking for on my website.

So, that’s what I'm gonna – fully install it on YourWebsiteEngineer.com and maybe the search will be a little bit better. And then I'm gonna put it on over at my wife’s site, at FarmToTable.life. And so people can find her recipes and her blogs and all the good things that she's doing over there.

So, that's what I want to share with you this week. Take care and we’ll do another review next week. Until then, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Buh-bye.