Relevanssi – A Better Search


Relevanssi replaces the standard WordPress search with a better search engine, with lots of features and configurable options. You’ll get better results, better presentation of results – your users will thank you.

This is the free version of Relevanssi. There’s also Relevanssi Premium, which has added features. For more information about Premium, see

Do note that using Relevanssi may require large amounts (hundreds of megabytes) of database space (for a reasonable estimate, multiply the size of your wp_posts database table by three). If your hosting setup has a limited amount of space for database tables, using Relevanssi may cause problems. In those cases use of Relevanssi cannot be recommended.

Key features

  • Search results sorted in the order of relevance, not by date.
  • Fuzzy matching: match partial words, if complete words don’t match.
  • Find documents matching either just one search term (OR query) or require all words to appear (AND query).
  • Search for phrases with quotes, for example «search phrase».
  • Create custom excerpts that show where the hit was made, with the search terms highlighted.
  • Highlight search terms in the documents when user clicks through search results.
  • Search comments, tags, categories and custom fields.
  • Multisite friendly.
  • bbPress support.
  • Gutenberg friendly.

Advanced features

  • Adjust the weighting for titles, tags and comments.
  • Log queries, show most popular queries and recent queries with no hits.
  • Restrict searches to categories and tags using a hidden variable or plugin settings.
  • Index custom post types and custom taxonomies.
  • Index the contents of shortcodes.
  • Google-style «Did you mean?» suggestions based on successful user searches.
  • Support for WPML multi-language plugin and Polylang.
  • Support for s2member membership plugin, Members, Groups, Simple Membership and other membership plugins.
  • Advanced filtering to help hacking the search results the way you want.
  • Search result throttling to improve performance on large databases.
  • Disable indexing of post content and post titles with a simple filter hook.

Premium features (only in Relevanssi Premium)

  • Indexing attachment content (PDF, Office, Open Office).
  • Improved spelling correction in «Did you mean?» suggestions.
  • Searching across multiple sites in the same multisite installation.
  • Search and index user profiles.
  • Search and index taxonomy term pages (categories, tags, custom taxonomies).
  • Search and index arbitrary columns in wp_posts MySQL table.
  • Assign weights to any post types and taxonomies.
  • Assign extra weight to new posts.
  • Let the user choose between AND and OR searches, use + and – operator (AND and NOT).
  • Export and import settings.
  • WP CLI commands.
  • Related posts.
  • Redirects for searches.


  • Cristian Damm for tag indexing, comment indexing, post/page exclusion and general helpfulness.
  • Marcus Dalgren for UTF-8 fixing.
  • Warren Tape for 2.5.5 fixes.
  • Mohib Ebrahim for relentless bug hunting.
  • John Calahan for extensive 4.0 beta testing.


  • Overview page
  • Indexing settings
  • Searching settings
  • Logging settings
  • Excerpts and highlights
  • Synonym settings
  • Stopword settings


  1. Install the plugin from the WordPress plugin screen.
  2. Activate the plugin.
  3. Go to the plugin settings page and build the index following the instructions there.
  4. That’s it!

Relevanssi uses the standard search form and doesn’t usually need any changes in the search results template.

If the search does not bring any results, your theme probably has a query_posts() call in the search results template. That throws Relevanssi off. For more information, see The most important Relevanssi debugging trick.


To uninstall the plugin remove the plugin using the normal WordPress plugin management tools (from the Plugins page, first Deactivate, then Delete). If you remove the plugin files manually, the database tables and options will remain.


Knowledge Base

You can find solutions and answers at the Relevanssi Knowledge Base.

Contextual help

Answers to many common problems can be found from the contextual menu. Just click «Help» in the top right corner of your WordPress admin dashboard on the Relevanssi settings page.

Relevanssi doesn’t work

If you the results don’t change after installing and activating Relevanssi, the most likely reason is that you have a call to query_posts() on your search results template. This confuses Relevanssi. Try removing the query_posts() call and see what happens.

Searching for words with ampersands or hyphens doesn’t work

Please read Words with punctuation can’t be found. This is a Relevanssi feature, but you can fix it from Relevanssi indexing settings.

Where are the user search logs?

See the top of the admin menu. There’s ‘User searches’.

Displaying the relevance score

Relevanssi stores the relevance score it uses to sort results in the $post variable. Just add something like

echo $post->relevance_score

to your search results template inside a PHP code block to display the relevance score.

Did you mean? suggestions

Relevanssi offers Google-style «Did you mean?» suggestions. See «Did you mean» suggestions in the Knowledge Base for more details.

What is tf * idf weighing?

It’s the basic weighing scheme used in information retrieval. Tf stands for term frequency while idf is inverted document frequency. Term frequency is simply the number of times the term appears in a document, while document frequency is the number of documents in the database where the term appears.

Thus, the weight of the word for a document increases the more often it appears in the document and the less often it appears in other documents.

What are stop words?

Each document database is full of useless words. All the little words that appear in just about every document are completely useless for information retrieval purposes. Basically, their inverted document frequency is really low, so they never have much power in matching. Also, removing those words helps to make the index smaller and searching faster.


7. januar, 2022
I fond this when looking for a PDF search solution, and tend to use it everywhere now. A great plugin, both free and pro. Mikko's support is second to none, which is a great reassurance when setting the plugin up to do something complex.
27. desember, 2021
I use "whole word" search option, and the results are correct. But in the result page, the excerpt generated by Relevanssi may still only contain a partial match. For example, if I search for "lx", the generated excerpt maybe like this: ... zxl ... Pls visit my site wolfccb dot com and try to search "lx". Hope it can be fixed in the future. Great plugin, thanks a lot, and happy new year!
13. desember, 2021
I happened to contact Mikko Saari, the creator of Relevanssi, without having even known the plugin or its creator, let alone installing it. Still, he took care to reply with his brilliance to explain why I was facing a google indexing issue for my site. That email led to a series of inquiries from others, including google community, that has now clarified the problem for me. So, I got in touch with him again, realizing that his plugin and expertise could actually help solve the problem, and I was correct in that, since he did everything feasible to make that happen, like an artist painting his plugin for my site's canvas. Mikko is a kind of friend and brother you always you wished to have with not just WordPress or search plugin expertise, but a person who cares about the use-value of what he does far before and beyond its exchange-value, and that explains his success in winning the hearts of those who approach him. How could I not opt for a lifetime package of his plugin! Mikko does his best to offer precise and always thoughtful help, and when you reread his feedbacks you even learn things you missed the first time. Relevanssi is a labor or love for him and it shows, and he does his best to help you. It is an amazing, highly nuanced and detailed plugin. Yet, he even goes beyond that to customize its helpfulness for you, and it works perfectly. You will not regret installing Relevanssi because it is a superb plugin with lots of useful features that immediately make its difference for your site, making you wonder how you could have done without it in the first place! Mikko is not only a wonderful plugin creator but just a good person, caring and helpful. In an increasingly estranged world, he makes hope and helpfulness and just being a good person helping others more relevant again. Thanks for all your help and being there, Mikko.
29. november, 2021
We struggled with finding a decent site-search. The one we used, Ivory Search, was good but updates too often required repairs. We switched to Relevanssi, and noticed an improvement in the quality of the serp it produces, and it has highlighting of search terms in snippets even on the free version. When I came across a compatability bug (one particuar page wasn't showing in the serp) Mikko, the Developer, helped me hunt down the cause, (via the plugin support forum) and add a line of code to our Theme's functions.php file that fixed the glitch. Very impressed, I think you will be too. 🙂
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  • User interface: The synonym settings page now alerts if the synonyms aren’t active because of the AND search.


  • Security fix: Extra hardening for AJAX requests. Some AJAX actions in Relevanssi could leak information to site subscribers who knew what to look for.


  • Security fix: Any registered user could empty the Relevanssi index by triggering the index truncate AJAX action. That is no longer possible.
  • New feature: The [searchform] shortcode has a new parameter, ‘checklist’, which you can use to create taxonomy checklists.
  • Changed behaviour: The relevanssi_search_again parameter array has more parameters the filter can modify.
  • Changed behaviour: The relevanssi_show_matches filter hook gets the post object as the second parameter.
  • Minor fix: The cats and tags parameters work better and support array values.


  • Minor fix: relevanssi_orderby did not always accept an array-format orderby parameter.
  • Minor fix: Removes a highlighting problem stemming from uppercase search terms.
  • Minor fix: Relevanssi removes highlights better from inside multiline HTML tags.
  • Minor fix: When image attachment indexing was disabled, saving image attachments would still index the images. Image attachment blocking is now a relevanssi_indexing_restriction filter function, which means it’s always active.


  • Security fix: User searches page had a XSS vulnerability.


  • Minor fix: Remove unnecessary database calls from admin pages.
  • Minor fix: Improved Oxygen compatibility.


  • Adds a missing file.


  • New feature: New filter hook relevanssi_render_blocks controls whether Relevanssi renders blocks in a post or not. If you are having problems updating long posts with lots of blocks, having this filter hook return false for the post in question will likely help, as rendering the blocks in a long post can take huge amounts of memory.
  • New feature: The user searches page has been improved a lot.
  • New feature: The [searchform] shortcode has a new parameter, ‘post_type_boxes’, which creates a checkbox for each post type you list in the value. For example [searchform post_type_boxes=’*post,page’] would create a search with a checkbox for ‘post’ and ‘page’ post types, with ‘post’ pre-checked.
  • New feature: You can now have multiple dropdowns in one [searchform] shortcode. Anything that begins with ‘dropdown’ is considered a dropdown parameter, so you can do [searchform dropdown_1=’category’ dropdown_2=’post_tag’] for example.
  • New feature: New filter hook relevanssi_search_params lets you filter search parameters after they’ve been collected from the WP_Query.
  • New feature: New filter hook relevanssi_excerpt_post lets you make Relevanssi skip creating excerpts for specific posts.
  • Changed behaviour: Filter hooks relevanssi_1day, relevanssi_7days and relevanssi_30days are removed, as the user searches page is now different. The default value for relevanssi_user_searches_limit is now 100 instead of 20.
  • Minor fix: In some languages, iOS uses „“ for quotes. Relevanssi now understands those for the phrase operator.
  • Minor fix: Stops Relevanssi from blocking the admin search for WooCommerce coupons and other WooCommerce custom post types.
  • Minor fix: Fixes problems with the WP-Members compatibility.
  • Minor fix: New parameter for relevanssi_tokenize() introduces the context (indexing or search query). The relevanssi_extract_phrases() is only used on search queries.
  • Minor fix: Relevanssi won’t let you adjust synonyms and stopwords anymore if you use Polylang and are in ‘Show all languages’ mode.
  • Minor fix: Highlighting is improved by a more precise HTML entity filter, thanks to Jacob Bearce.