10 Useful PHP Snippets for Improving WordPress Search


It is no secret that the standard search within WordPress is not the greatest. The problem is that WordPress takes your search term far too literally.

In this post, we have ten useful WordPress search code snippets that will help improve the search accuracy for your readers. Just copy and paste.

You might also like these useful .htaccess snippets & hacks, these WordPress SQL Query Snippets, or these snippets that make WordPress user-friendly for your clients.

How To Exclude Posts or Pages from WordPress Search Results

If you would like to be able to control which posts or pages should be excluded from WordPress search results, all you have to do is copy and paste the code below into your functions.php file.

In this snippet, posts with the IDs 0 and 1 will be excluded. Edit accordingly to suit your needs.

function SearchFilter($query) {
    if ($query->is_search) {
    return $query;

WordPress Drop-Down Category Search Form

A useful function you could give to your WordPress search would be to allow your readers to filter the search results by targeting a specific category. This can be achieved by using a simple drop-down containing all of the category titles.

All you have to do is replace the standard WordPress search form (found within the searchform.php) with the snippet below:

<form role="search" method="get" id="searchform" action="<?php bloginfo('siteurl'); ?>">
    <label class="screen-reader-text" for="s">Search for:</label>
    <input type="text" value="" name="s" id="s" /> 
    in <?php wp_dropdown_categories( 'show_option_all=All Categories' ); ?> 
    <input type="submit" id="searchsubmit" value="Search" />

Search Within a Specific WordPress Post Type

WordPress gives you the ability to search specific post types by using this small snippet.

All you have to do is copy and paste the code below into your functions.php file.

function SearchFilter($query) {
  if ($query->is_search) {
    // Insert the specific post type you want to search
    $query->set('post_type', 'feeds');
  return $query;
// This filter will jump into the loop and arrange our results before they're returned

Display the Number of Search Results Returned

If you would like to show your readers how many results have been found per search term, you could use this helpful snippet.

Open search.php and locate the following:

<h2 class="pagetitle">Search Results</h2>

And replace it with this code:

<h2 class="pagetitle">Search Result for post_count; _e(''); _e(''); echo $key; _e(''); _e(' &mdash; '); echo $count . ' '; _e('articles'); wp_reset_query(); ?>

Highlight WordPress Search Terms with jQuery

To help make your search results that little bit clearer to your readers, you could use this snippet which will highlight the searched term within the results.

Copy and paste the following code into your theme’s functions.php file:

function hls_set_query() {
  $query  = attribute_escape(get_search_query());
  if(strlen($query) > 0){
    echo '
      <script type="text/javascript">var hls_query  = "'.$query.'";</script>
function hls_init_jquery() {
add_action('init', 'hls_init_jquery');
add_action('wp_print_scripts', 'hls_set_query');

And then add this code into your header.php file, just before the /head tag:

<style type="text/css" media="screen">
    .hls { background: #D3E18A; }
  <script type="text/javascript">
    highlight: function(search, insensitive, hls_class){
      var regex = new RegExp("(<[^>]*>)|(\\b"+ search.replace(/([-.*+?^${}()|[\]\/\\])/g,"\\$1") +")", insensitive ? "ig" : "g");
      return this.html(this.html().replace(regex, function(a, b, c){
        return (a.charAt(0) == "<") ? a : "<strong class=\""+ hls_class +"\">" + c + "";
    if(typeof(hls_query) != 'undefined'){
      $("#post-area").highlight(hls_query, 1, "hls");

Disable WordPress Search

If you are looking for a way to disable all of WordPress’s search functionality, you could use this small snippet.

All you have to do is copy and paste the code below into your functions.php file.

function fb_filter_query( $query, $error = true ) {
  if ( is_search() ) {
    $query->is_search = false;
    $query->query_vars[s] = false;
    $query->query[s] = false;

    // to error
    if ( $error == true )
      $query->is_404 = true;
add_action( 'parse_query', 'fb_filter_query' );
add_filter( 'get_search_form', create_function( '$a', "return null;" ) );

Make your WordPress Search Results Unlimited

Sometimes you may not want your search results to be limited by the confines of the standard WordPress Loop. This snippet allows your search to return unlimited results.

In search.php you can add the following code above the loop for this functionality.

First of all find this code within search.php:

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

And then add this code:

<?php $posts=query_posts($query_string . '&posts_per_page=-1'); ?>
<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

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