Do you need WordPress search enhancement? Why?

WordPress Mobile Speed


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“As the developer of Relevanssi, I have to agree with your premise: for most users, the WP default search is good enough, now that it can sort results by relevancy and not just date (that search was awful, and something that had to be replaced in most cases).

I wrote Relevanssi, because I own two sites that are basically information warehouses. When you have 4000 book reviews, you need a good full-text search. But not every site is like that.” September 30, 2014 – Mikko Saari

Search Enhancement
Myth: Plugins can increase the power and relevance of your searches to users.
The most common recommendation is Relevanssi plugin. But our comments here this pertain to any search field enhancing plugin claims.

Read why the Relevanssi plugin author says not to use this particular plugin any more:

We get better results without the search enhancement plugin Relevanssi. It shuts down or bypasses normal search functions. There is no failsafe or fallback when Relevanssi malfunctions.

We tested the Relevanssi plugin free version long ago. (100,000+ installs, 235k download size). Many reviewers were sold on it. But real-world testing by us didn’t reveal much value from it. It was theoretically better. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it if you want. But we see no reason to recommend it to clients.

Relevanssi is available as free and paid versions. It doesn’t appear to slow down a website with any HTTP requests. It adds 10 to 19 milliseconds to load time. Big deal. It’s seems another benign plugin taking up space.

We’ve never had a circumstance where WordPress search wasn’t enough. And even sometimes impressive. We use it all the time to find obscure content on PagePipe. We know WordPress “search” has improved over time.

The WordPress search is much maligned. But it’s not justified.

Site search function is often overstated in importance. Follow the herd? We often don’t even use the WordPress default search field. For a small site, it indicates you site is bloat and needs a “helper” to find content. A potential indicator of bad UX.


Steve Teare
performance engineer
May 2022


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