Site search functionality allows visitors to search for your website content from within your website. The website will have a search bar, usually placed unobtrusively on every page in a location like the header or sidebar. Visitors can enter text into the search bar and start the search. A script browses the website or trawls the website database, looking for the words entered. The website then redirects visitors to a page with results listed within the site. Websites usually use a magnifying glass icon to denote site search.
Web savvy visitors can search your website with search engines like Google from outside the website, so why do you need an in-house search bar? Answer: An in-house search engine prevents visitors from leaving your website when searching and provides them with a seamless experience. In-house search is also useful when content is restricted to members only and invisible to search engines.
For simple websites, in-house search is a luxury and not a necessity. As you accrue more content search becomes more and more desirable. It is particularly important for directory sites which have listings for things like businesses or real estate. In cases like these, search functionality can become much more complex than just a bar with text. Other parameters you could use to narrow down a search are location, price, category, services offered, number of bedrooms, etc. These all need to be coded into the search function.
Site Search Tools
You can build website search functionality as an integral part of the website or embed code from a third-party search provider. The most common third-party search is Google Custom Search. You can utilise Google Custom Search relatively quickly but you’ll have to put up with ads and Google branding. You can pay Google a yearly fee to remove this branding, which can be quite large if your website gets a lot of traffic.
Many WordPress themes come with an inbuilt search already aesthetically integrated into the website. Even without this, you can use the basic search widget which comes with WordPress out of the box. If necessary, you can enhance the WordPress core search with your own custom code. We have not yet found a situation with WordPress where third-party search was necessary.