Better Search


Better Search replaces the default WordPress search engine with a more powerful search engine that gives search results relevant to the title and content of the post. This means that visitors to your blog will find will find what they are looking for quicker than if you didn’t have Better Search installed.

Better Search can search through not just posts, but also pages and other custom post types. Let your visitors find what they are looking for.

The plugin is packed with options to allow you to easily customise the output. You can also fine tune the results by assigning a greater weight to either the title or the content. The default mode is a seamless integration with your WordPress theme. And, for power users, Better Search supports templates for that extra something.

Additionally, the plugin also tracks the searches and you to display a “search heatmap” of the most popular searches. Support for WordPress widgets will allow you to easily add this heatmap to your theme’s sidebar or footer.


  • Automatic: Once activated, Better Search will automatically replace your default WordPress search with more relevant search results
  • Seamless integration: Search results are perfectly integrated into your theme without the need for custom search templates
  • Relevance: Search results are automatically sorted by relevance. You can also turn off relevancy based searching, in which case, results are sorted by date
  • Control the results: Fine tune the results by changing the weighting of post title and post content. Turn on BOOLEAN search to override the default NATURAL LANGUAGE search of mySQL
  • Popular searches: Find out what visitors are searching for on your blog. Display a list of popular search terms (daily and overall) on your blog in the form of a heatmap. Widget support for easy integration in your theme as well as a shortcode [[bsearch_heatmap]]
  • Customisation: Support for a template file for perfect integration into your blog template. Alternatively, just input your own CSS styles in the Custom Styles tab in the Settings Page. Check the FAQ for more information
  • Supports cache plugins: Works with caching plugins like WP-Super-Cache and W3 Total Cache
  • Profanity filter: Customise the list of stop words that will automatically be filtered out of search queries
  • Translation ready: Better Search is translation ready


Better Search is also available on Github
So, if you’ve got some cool feature that you’d like to implement into the plugin or a bug you’ve been able to fix, consider forking the project and sending me a pull request.


  • Options in WP-Admin - General options
  • Options in WP-Admin - Search results options
  • Options in WP-Admin - Heatmap options
  • Options in WP-Admin - Custom styles
  • Options in WP-Admin - Reset count and Maintenance
  • Better Search widget


If your question isn’t listed there, please create a new post in the support forum. I monitor the forums on an ongoing basis. If you’re looking for more advanced paid support, please see details here.

Installation Instructions

WordPress install

  1. Navigate to Plugins within your WordPress Admin Area

  2. Click “Add new” and in the search box enter “Better Search”

  3. Find the plugin in the list (usually the first result) and click “Install Now”

Manual install

  1. Download the plugin

  2. Extract the contents of to wp-content/plugins/ folder. You should get a folder called better-search.

  3. Activate the Plugin in WP-Admin.

  4. Goto Settings > Better Search to configure

  5. Goto Appearance > Widgets to add the Popular Searches sidebar widgets to your theme

  6. Optionally visit the Custom Styles tab to add any custom CSS styles. These are added to wp_head on the pages where the posts are displayed

Can I customize the output?

Better Search has a huge set of options that help you customise the output or fine tune the results without leaving the comfort of your WordPress site. Goto Settings > Better Search to configure.

The plugin also supports the use of template files within your theme. You can create a file called better-search-template.php in your theme’s directory and the plugin will use it to display the results.

My search words are getting filtered or *How does the profanity filter work*

Better Search includes a very cool profanity filter using the script from Banbuilder. You can customise which list of words you want to filter out from the Better Search settings page. Find the setting called “Filter these words:”. The plugin will automatically strip out both partial and complete references of these words.
You can turn the filter off by emptying the list.

Know of a better profanity filter? Suggest one in the forums.



Returns a formatted heatmap of popular searches. You can use this function in your search template or anywhere in your WordPress theme pages.

Example Usage:

<?php if function_exists( 'get_bsearch_heatmap' ) {
    $args = array(
        'daily' => FALSE,
        'smallest' => '10',         // Heatmap - Smallest Font Size
        'largest' => '20',          // Heatmap - Largest Font Size
        'unit' => 'pt',             // Heatmap - We'll use pt for font size
        'cold' => 'ccc',            // Heatmap - cold searches
        'hot' => '000',             // Heatmap - hot searches
        'before' => '',             // Heatmap - Display before each search term
        'after' => '&nbsp;',        // Heatmap - Display after each search term
        'heatmap_limit' => '30',    // Heatmap - Maximum number of searches to display in heatmap
        'daily_range' => '7',       // Daily Popular will contain posts of how many days?

    echo get_bsearch_heatmap( $args );


works perfectly!

been very satisfied with this plugin until changes made in my website forced me to use GSE.

all the best.


Tried multiple plugins and have found this one to have the strongest relevancy in terms of search results. Weight feature is great.

it does work… to break the layout

– with “seamless” on, it didn’t apply anything of my settings and my search page stayed the same
– with “seamless” off, my page search completely missed header/container, plus I didn’t see any heatmap or any search improvement
I won’t bother investigating as I will get the usual reply: “it’s your theme’s fault.”
Well, maybe it just isn’t, since this plugin is not been updated for a year and maybe, just maybe, it is the one with the fault in it.


Love it! It works just fine!

My default search was pulling all sorts of pages, so imagine the mess. I just wanted the blog page to be in the search results. This plugin offers the option to pick from blog, pages and custom post types. Love it! Quite easy and fast to set up. Now my search results are pretty clean and precise! Thank you guys!

5 stars for being great, but also a request

After it took me a bit to fully understand the plugin, I saw how amazing it is. The only issue I have with it is that it doesn’t display the content on search results that use shortcode. It shows the Title of the page, and the relevance %, but it doesn’t show the excerpt.

Read all 31 reviews

Contributors & Developers

“Better Search” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.


Translate “Better Search” into your language.

Interested in development?

Browse the code, check out the SVN repository, or subscribe to the development log by RSS.



  • Bug fixes:
    • Sanitisation doesn’t strip out + and –
    • Highlight works properly when using quotations, plus or minus


  • Features:

    • Cache enable/disable option + Clear cache button. Replaces “Delete transients”
    • Search form widget. Find it under Appearances > Widgets or in the Customizer
    • Heatmap search widget: Display the popular searches heatmap using [bsearch_heatmap]
  • Enhancements:

    • Query filters now work for the LIKE search as well
    • New filter to override the censor character (currently a space) e.g. usage at
    • Banned terms will now filter the main search query and will no longer display the search term even in seamless mode
  • Bug fixes:

    • Highlighting now works when the search term has double or single quotes


  • Bug fixes:
    • Bug where highlighting search terms broke HTML in links


  • Features:

    • Network Activate and Deactivate the plugin on WordPress Multisite
    • Option to highlight search results. If missing, add: .bsearch_highlight { background:#ffc; } under Custom Styles
    • Fully filterable search query
    • Recreate Index button in the settings page
    • Delete transients button in the settings page
  • Enhancements:

    • Better Search will now try BOOLEAN MODE and non-FULLTEXT modes in case FULLTEXT search doesn’t return any results
    • Deprecated always dynamic heatmap option that bypassed cache
    • Reorganised admin interface
    • Seamless mode is now the default mode
    • Better Search uses transients to catch results when not using seamless mode
    • Search form uses class instead of id
  • Bug fixes:

    • Seamless mode would overwrite all queries, even those outside the loop
    • WordPress widget settings

For previous changelog entries, please refer to the separate changelog.txt file