Documentation

View the installation guide, browse the Knowledge Base, find out about SearchWP's many hooks, get support

WordPress Gutenberg Blocks in Search Results

WordPress version 5.0 introduced a new block editor which is often referred to as Gutenberg. This new editor completely changes how content is created in WordPress.

It also fundamentally changes how the content is stored in the database, which means it affects how native WordPress search works in many ways.

How Gutenberg stores data

Prior to Gutenberg, WordPress stored plain HTML markup that represented your content, and it was displayed as such on your website. Gutenberg, however, stores content in a serialized format that contains extra content.

(A couple of line breaks have been added for readability)

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus tincidunt nunc vel
consequat dapibus. Pellentesque aliquet felis nulla, sit amet efficitur mauris
finibus in. </p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->
<!-- wp:heading -->
<h2>Lipsum dolor sit</h2>
<!-- /wp:heading -->
<!-- wp:list {"ordered":true} -->
<ol><li>Massa dictum</li><li>Neque vitae</li><li>Porta ut morbi eu</li></ol>
<!-- /wp:list -->
<!-- wp:image {"id":47} -->
<figure class="wp-block-image">
<img src="http://site.com/wp-content/uploads/coffee-image.png" alt="" class="wp-image-47"/>
</figure>
<!-- /wp:image -->
<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Vivamus eleifend, erat eu scelerisque condimentum, justo dui dictum neque, rutrum ornare
est leo vel erat. Donec auctor tempor scelerisque. In dapibus elit velit, vitae tincidunt
urna porta ut. Morbi eu euismod massa. </p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->
view raw gutenberg.html hosted with ❤ by GitHub

This content is necessary for Gutenberg to operate in the way it does, but it introduces additional content that is stored in the database and subsequently searched by WordPress native search.

This isn’t new to WordPress because of Gutenberg, the problem has always been there, but Gutenberg exacerbates the issue by inserting quite a bit more data than the previous editor.

Further, there is no limit to what blocks you can use, and there are more blocks being created every day, each with their own machine language that’s stored alongside your content.

Why this is problematic for search

At first glance, the additions to what’s stored in the database don’t seem to affect much. Native WordPress search will check against all of the above content, including terms like “paragraph”, “heading”, “image”, etc.

Each Gutenberg block uses its own storage mechanism, which can introduce content that decreases native WordPress search relevance, or content you may not want searched at all.

By contrast, SearchWP processes your content prior to indexing it in an optimal way. That includes removing Gutenberg-generated markup, and indexing what your visitors actually see when they visit your site, not the machine language stored in the database.

This is a known limitation of native WordPress search and flagged as an acceptable circumstance: WordPress search, unexpected results due to Gutenberg serialization markup #3739

Additional search complications with Gutenberg

Gutenberg does a great job of empowering editors with many new tools beyond its concept of block editing. There is also a feature called reusable blocks.

Reusable blocks do what it says on the tin; allow you to create blocks that can be reused throughout your site. This is a fantastic way to save you time and effort in maintaining and writing content!

Unfortunately, while a reusable block looks like this when adding it to an entry:

Screenshot of Gutenberg reusable block

that block looks like this in the database (line 7) which is what native WordPress search can see:

(A couple of line breaks have been added for readability)

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus
tincidunt nunc vel consequat dapibus. Pellentesque aliquet felis
nulla, sit amet efficitur mauris finibus in. </p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->
<!-- wp:block {"ref":50} /-->
<!-- wp:heading -->
<h2>Lipsum dolor sit</h2>
<!-- /wp:heading -->
<!-- wp:list {"ordered":true} -->
<ol><li>Massa dictum</li><li>Neque vitae</li><li>Porta ut morbi eu</li></ol>
<!-- /wp:list -->
<!-- wp:image {"id":47} -->
<figure class="wp-block-image">
<img src="http://mysite.com/wp-content/uploads/coffee-cup.png" alt="" class="wp-image-47"/>
</figure>
<!-- /wp:image -->
<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Vivamus eleifend, erat eu scelerisque condimentum, justo dui dictum neque, rutrum
ornare est leo vel erat. Donec auctor tempor scelerisque. In dapibus elit velit, vitae
tincidunt urna porta ut. Morbi eu euismod massa. </p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->
view raw gutenberg.html hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Because of the way native WordPress search works, it won’t find the actual content of this reusable block, just the machine language reference to the block used by Gutenberg.

Reusable blocks are fantastic for content management, but do not work with native WordPress search.

This is also a known limitation of native WordPress search: Reusable block content not visible in search results #10307

SearchWP will parse these blocks and transform them from Gutenberg’s machine code into actual content prior to indexing, which makes all of your reusable content block content searchable.

This additional parsing by SearchWP can be customized, fine-tuned, or even disabled if you’d like!

Fix Gutenberg search with SearchWP

Maintaining a separate search index for WordPress sites allows you to take advantage of everything WordPress has to offer, without the shortcomings of its default search implementation.

Fix Search on Your Site. No Coding Required!

Now you can utilize all of the content that's gone unrecognized by native WordPress search instantly with SearchWP

Get SearchWP