How to Customize the Search Results Page in WordPress

Written by WordPress Expert

February 7, 2024
How to Customize the Search Results Page in WordPress

The default search results page in WordPress might not always meet the specific design and functionality requirements of your website. Fortunately, WordPress is highly customizable, and with a bit of effort, you can tailor the search results page to better suit your needs. In this step-by-step guide, we'll explore various methods and techniques to customize the search results page in WordPress.

Why would you want to customize the search results page in WordPress?

If you’re wondering why you’d want to customize the search results page in WordPress, here’s some reasons why:

  • Enhanced User Experience
  • Brand Consistency
  • Improved Relevance and Context
  • Showcasing Additional Information
  • Tailoring to Niche Requirements

Enhanced User Experience

Customizing the search results page in WordPress allows you to create a more intuitive and user-friendly experience. By presenting search results in a visually appealing and organized manner, visitors can quickly find relevant content, reducing frustration and enhancing overall satisfaction with your website.

Brand Consistency

A customized search results page enables you to maintain brand consistency throughout your site. By aligning the search results page with the overall design and style of your website, you reinforce your brand identity. Consistent branding contributes to a professional and cohesive online presence, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

Improved Relevance and Context

The default search results page may not always prioritize the most relevant information. Customization allows you to fine-tune the presentation of search results, emphasizing key details, custom fields, or specific content categories. This ensures that users receive more accurate and contextually relevant results, increasing the likelihood of them finding what they're looking for.

Showcasing Additional Information

Sometimes, standard search results may not provide sufficient information about each result. Through customization, you can integrate additional details, such as custom fields, featured images, or excerpt previews. This not only helps users make informed decisions about which result to click but also provides a richer preview of the content directly from the search results page.

Tailoring to Niche Requirements

Different websites have unique content structures and user expectations. Customizing the search results page allows you to tailor the presentation of results to meet specific niche requirements. Whether you need to highlight specific post types, filter results based on custom taxonomy, or showcase specific metadata, customization empowers you to adapt the search functionality to the specific needs of your website and audience.

How to Customize the Search Results Page in WordPress

Here are the steps to customize the search results page in WordPress:

  • Identify the Search Results Page Template
  • Create a Child Theme (Optional but Recommended)
  • Edit the Search Results Page Template
  • Add Custom Fields to Search Results
  • Integrate Search Form Styling
  • Implement Ajax-powered Search (Optional)

Identify the Search Results Page Template

Before diving into customization, it's crucial to understand the structure of your WordPress theme and locate the template responsible for rendering search results. The common template for search results is usually named search.php. However, some themes might use alternative templates or even rely on the generic index.php. To find the appropriate template, navigate to your theme folder and look for files related to search.

Create a Child Theme (Optional but Recommended)

Customizing the search results page involves making changes to your theme files. To avoid losing your modifications during theme updates, it's recommended to create a child theme. If you don't have a child theme already, create one by duplicating your theme's folder and adding a style.css file with the necessary information.

Edit the Search Results Page Template

Once you've identified the correct template, open it for editing. You can use a code editor or the WordPress theme editor for this purpose. Locate the section responsible for displaying search results, often denoted by a loop. Here, you can customize the HTML structure, styling, and the information displayed for each search result.

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : ?>
  <div class="search-results">
    <?php while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
      <div class="search-result">
        <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
        <p><?php the_excerpt(); ?></p>
    <?php endwhile; ?>
<?php else : ?>
  <p>No results found.</p>
<?php endif; ?>

Feel free to modify the HTML structure, add additional CSS classes, or incorporate custom fields to enhance the search results page according to your requirements.

Add Custom Fields to Search Results

To provide more information in the search results, you can leverage custom fields. Add the following code within the loop to display custom fields associated with each post:

<div class="search-result">
  <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
  <p><?php the_excerpt(); ?></p>
    $custom_field_value = get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), 'custom_field_name', true );
    if ( ! empty( $custom_field_value ) ) {
      echo '<p>Custom Field: ' . esc_html( $custom_field_value ) . '</p>';

Replace 'custom_field_name' with the actual name of your custom field.

Integrate Search Form Styling

To maintain consistency across your website, it's essential to style the search form. Locate the search form code in your theme, often found in the searchform.php file. Customize the HTML and CSS to match your website's design.

<form role="search" method="get" class="search-form" action="<?php echo esc_url( home_url( '/' ) ); ?>">
    <span class="screen-reader-text"><?php echo _x( 'Search for:', 'label' ); ?></span>
    <input type="search" class="search-field" placeholder="<?php echo esc_attr_x( 'Search...', 'placeholder' ); ?>" value="<?php echo get_search_query(); ?>" name="s" />
  <button type="submit" class="search-submit"><?php echo esc_html_x( 'Search', 'submit button' ); ?></button>

Customize the classes and styles to match your theme's aesthetics.

Implement Ajax-powered Search (Optional)

Enhance the user experience by implementing Ajax-powered search, allowing users to view search results without reloading the entire page. You can achieve this using a plugin or by adding custom JavaScript.

    var searchQuery = $(this).serialize();
      type: 'GET',
      url: '<?php echo esc_url( home_url( '/' ) ); ?>',
      data: searchQuery,
      success: function(response){
    return false;

Ensure to enqueue this script properly in your theme.



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In Summary

Customizing the search results page in WordPress provides you with the flexibility to tailor the user experience and present information in a way that aligns with your website's design. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily make the necessary modifications to create a more personalized and user-friendly search results page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I monetize my WordPress plugin?

Monetization options include offering a premium version with advanced features, providing paid support, or integrating affiliate marketing. You can also consider selling your plugin on third-party marketplaces.

How much traffic can my WordPress site handle?

Most shared plans can manage around 1,000 to 2,000 visitors per day. If you expect more than this we’d recommend opting for VPS or dedicated WordPress hosting.

How do I get help with my WordPress site?

There’s never a moment we won’t be here to support the development of your website and your business. Unlike many of our competitors, we’re online 24/7, providing support to our users whenever they need it. We provide a live chat experience so we can quickly communicate in real time, meaning you can swiftly get back to enhancing your customers’ experiences.

How do I keep WordPress plug-ins up to date?

In most cases, your plug-ins will scan for updates automatically, but it’s always worth logging into your dashboard on a regular basis and performing a manual scan. This can usually be done in just a few clicks.



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