How to Change the Default WordPress Search Settings

Are you trying to change the default search settings on your WordPress site?

The default WordPress search is quite limited. It is slow and doesn’t always give relevant results. But you can improve your site’s search experience by changing the default search settings.

In this post, we’ll show you how to change your WordPress site’s default search settings. You can do this by following 3 simple steps.

Let’s get to it!

Why Change Default WordPress Search?

The default WordPress search may be enough for some websites, even though it’s limited.

But if you have a large site with lots of content, you may need to customize your search settings.

For example, you may want to add search by category to your site like this:

search by category in WordPress

But the default WordPress search is not very flexible.

Customizing the search feature in WordPress helps you:

  • Make your site search faster. As your site content increases, the default search starts to slow down. You can use a plugin like SearchWP to replace your search forms and make them faster.
  • Control how your site looks for results. You can control how your site indexes and looks for search results. For example, you may want to restrict your WooCommerce product search to title only or even add search by category to your site.
  • Add extra features to your site search. You can add extra search features to your WordPress site and boost the search experience. For example, you can choose to make your site search content fields like custom fields, comments, and PDF document content.
  • Make site search more efficient. Custom WordPress site search is both faster and delivers more relevant results. Changes to your default search can help you fix common WordPress search errors like the search box not appearing.

You can change your default search settings by either adding code to your site or using a WordPress plugin. Using a plugin is very easy and will save you a lot of time.

Let’s show you to change your default search settings using a WordPress plugin.

How to Change the Default WordPress Search Settings

The fastest way to change your default WordPress search settings is to use a WordPress plugin called SearchWP. The plugin helps you to customize your WordPress search without writing any code.

SearchWP best WordPress search plugin

As the best WordPress search plugin, SearchWP gives you a lot of control over your site search. With the tool, you can add so many search features to your site. It makes your site search faster and also gives more relevant search results.

Here are some of the most important features you’ll get to enjoy:

  • Search everything on your site. Is your site not returning the search results you expect? SearchWP improves your site search. With the plugin, your site will now look for search results in comments, reviews, and even custom fields.
  • Advanced WooCommerce product search. The tool also integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce. So, if you own a WooCommerce store, your site visitors can now find your products faster too. They can find your products using attributes like product tags, categories, and shipping classes.
  • Site search insights. One way you can improve your business is by making data-backed decisions. SearchWP logs your site searches and shows you what your users are looking for. You can use these insights to satisfy their needs better.

SearchWP still packs lots more features. The good thing is once you install the plugin, you can make a lot of changes to your search settings. And you don’t need any prior experience to do this.

Let’s show you the 3 easy steps to follow to do this.

Step 1: Install and Activate SearchWP

Are you looking to change your default WordPress search settings the easy way? You can start by getting your copy of SearchWP here.

Once you have your copy of the plugin, you’ll get 2 links to download different versions of the tool.

You can click any of them to get the version you want. We generally recommend the latest version of the plugin for the best experience.

SearchWP product download links

SearchWP also sends your product license key to your email. Make sure you save it somewhere secure. You’ll enter it in your WordPress dashboard when it’s time to activate the plugin.

Now, it’s time to log into your WordPress admin area and upload SearchWP to your site.

Need help doing this? You can follow this guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

By now, you should have installed and activated SearchWP. The next step is to activate the product license.

You can activate the license by going to the plugin settings page. To do this, click the SearchWP navigation button the plugin added after installing it. The button is at the top panel of your WordPress dashboard.

go to SearchWP settings page

On the next page, navigate to the License tab. Then enter the license key from the email you got earlier and click Activate.

Activate SearchWP license

You’ve now fully activated the SearchWP plugin. The next step is to customize your site’s search engine.

Step 2: Set Up Your Search Engine

Search engines work like a small Google search algorithm. SearchWP uses them to control how your WordPress site looks for search results.

Want to change your default search settings? You can set up a new search engine or edit the default engine. The cool thing with SearchWP is that it supports multiple search engines on 1 site. This way, your users can search for things in different ways in different site locations.

To set up a search engine, go to the SearchWP settings page. Click the new SearchWP button at the top of your WordPress dashboard to access it.

go to SearchWP settings page

You can either choose to create a new search engine or just edit the default engine. To add a new search engine, click Add New.

Add new SearchWP search engine

You can add many changes to your WordPress search settings on this page. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to search for only posts published after a specific date.

To get started, choose the content sources you want to include in your site search. Click Sources & Settings to do this.

SearchWP search engine sources and settings

Next, select all the content sources you want in the pop-up that appears. In this tutorial, we’ll uncheck all the other boxes and select only posts. You can also enable other options like keyword stemming.

Keyword stemming allows your site to search for other keywords similar to the user’s search term. For example, your site will show results for “running” when a user searches for “run”.

When you’re done choosing your sources and other extra options, click Done.

Add only posts to WordPress default search settings

Next, it’s time to remove or add content attributes to your site search. Attributes like titles and excerpts carry extra information about your content. They make it easier for WordPress, external search engines, and users to identify your site content.

Click Add/Remove Attributes under the content source tab you want to edit. We’ll edit the attributes in the Posts tab.

Add or remove attributes from SearchWP search engine sources

The available attributes depend on the content source you’re editing. For example, you can add document content as an attribute for media content.

We’ll add all the default attributes available for posts. You can also add advanced attributes like post tags and categories. This will help the user find any post with a particular tag or in a specific category. Next, click Done.

Add or remove post attributes from WordPress search

Finally, you can also add extra rules to your custom WordPress search. To do this, click Edit Rules.

Edit post search rules in WordPress search engine

This is where you get to restrict WordPress search to only posts published after a specific date. To do this, click Add Rule.

Add new rule to WordPress search engine

Next, enter all the necessary details, based on your needs. Then click Done.

Edit rules for posts SearchWP

You can now click Save Engines to apply all your new changes to your default WordPress search settings.

Save all changes to default WordPress search engine

SearchWP will automatically start building a new search index for your site.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully changed your default WordPress search settings.

The final step is to make sure your site search works as you want on the front-end.

Step 3: Test Your New Settings

To test your new changes, go to your front-end by clicking Visit Site. You can find that in the top left corner of your dashboard after hovering over your site name.

WordPress visit site

Next, type a search term into the search bar and click Search.

Confirm if the search results reflect your new changes to the default WordPress search settings. For example, WordPress may still be showing posts published before the specific date we set. In this case, go back to the search engine settings to make sure you saved all your settings properly.

For example, here are the search results before changing the default search settings. WordPress includes a post from 2018.

Wordpress search results before changing default settings

After changing the default WordPress search settings, the user will now see only posts from a specific date in 2019.

Confirm changes to default WordPress search settings

In this article, you’ve learned how to change your default WordPress search settings.

This way, you can control how your site search works and help users find your content faster.

Ready to change your default WordPress search settings? Get started by getting your copy of SearchWP.

You can also check out our guide on how to fix WordPress search not working.

Want to make your search awesome right now?

More than 30,000 sites have chosen SearchWP!

You can utilize all of the content that’s gone unrecognized by native WordPress keyword search instantly with SearchWP.

Get SearchWP for just $99

  • Committed Support
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See what SearchWP customers have to say

  • “I purchased SearchWP for its ability to search inside more than 100 PDF documents on my website. My site visitors are able to see search results with pages, posts and PDFs weighted in my preferred order. Customer support has been very helpful.”

  • “With SearchWP, you can add weight to categories, tags, taxonomies and even custom fields. This yields a much better and richer search than the basic WP search. My clients love it.”

  • “2 things I’ve done based on data from SearchWP: create content people searched for that was missing, and customize results for important terms. Being able to see search data and customize results has been awesome!”