Searching for the best WordPress search filter plugins to help your visitors drill-down into your products or content?
By default, WordPress only lets visitors search by keyword, and it’s quite basic at that. If you have a WooCommerce store, you’ll get a few dedicated filter widgets, but it’s still quite basic. Other WordPress sites don’t even get that.
Thankfully, there are some quality advanced search plugins that let you create your own custom faceted search/filter system based on any information on your site, including custom fields, taxonomies, and other data.
In this post, we’ll compare five of the top options to help you decide, with a special look at FacetWP and Search & Filter.
A quick note – in this post, we’re 100% focused on plugins that help you add a search and filter system, such as faceted search. We’re not including plugins that only function to improve the regular WordPress search function. For that, check out our collection of the seven best WordPress search plugins instead.
Why Use WordPress Search Filter Plugins?
Put simply, sometimes a single keyword search isn’t enough to help your visitors quickly find the content that they’re looking for.
The most common example would be eCommerce stores. Most shoppers aren’t just looking for a “Sweatshirt”, they want a sweatshirt that’s available in their size, within their budget, and comes in the colors they like.
A search and filter system, or faceted search*, lets them add all of those queries at once so that they can immediately find the perfect product. Faceted search can also function as a kind of navigation, guiding people towards the content they’re looking for.
* faceted search and search filtering are technically different things, but most people just lump them together.
This approach is so common that you’ll see it on virtually every eCommerce store, including Amazon:
However, this type of search is by no means limited to eCommerce stores – it can be useful in tons of other situations, including yours. Or maybe even helping your users search your knowledge base.
Basically, in any situation where your visitors might want to search content by more than just a keyword, WordPress search filter plugins can help them find content faster, which helps you create a better user experience and/or sell more products.
FacetWP vs Search & Filter
When it comes to WordPress advanced search plugins, the two most popular options are FacetWP and Search & Filter. Both plugins let you create advanced faceted search systems based on taxonomies, custom fields, post data, and more.
We’ll start by comparing these two plugins in depth. Then, we’ll share three other quality advanced search plugins.
FacetWP is one of the most popular search and filter plugins for WordPress. It helps you add highly-customizable faceted search to WordPress sites and WooCommerce stores.
You can create your own faceted search layout using an intuitive builder or add faceted search to popular page builder plugins, such as Elementor.
Overall, FacetWP’s most standout feature is how flexible it is, especially when it comes to working with custom content.
To see how it works on the front-end, you can check out these three demos:
- Create search and filter systems for any post type or even WordPress users.
- Use 13+ input types in your filter system including drop-downs, range selectors, checkboxes, search box, and more.
- Create filters based on taxonomies, custom fields, and post data (e.g. author, post type, etc).
- Integrates with popular custom content plugins including ACF, Pods, Meta Box, and more.
- Create your own custom results template using a built-in layout builder, a page builder, or your own custom code.
- Via the page builder integrations, you can display your facets alongside existing page builder content list widgets. For example, you can add faceted search beside Elementor Pro’s Posts or WooCommerce Products list widgets.
- Option to use Ajax, which means users don’t need to reload the page to apply their filters
- Integrates with WooCommerce, WP Job Manager, Polylang, and more.
Pros of Using FacetWP
- It lets you create filters based on pretty much any content on your site, even custom fields.
- You get a bunch of different facet types, which helps you create filters for different types of content.
- It integrates with popular page builder plugins, which makes it easy to add faceted search to your designs or theme builder templates.
- You can build your own custom results templates using a simple template tag system.
- For developers, there are lots of hooks to customize things according to your needs.
Cons of Using FacetWP
- There’s no free version and the paid version is more expensive than most alternatives.
- It can be a little complicated for casual users, though the addition of page builder integrations makes it a lot simpler than it was before.
FacetWP only comes in a premium version. You can pay $99 for three sites or $249 for up to 20 sites. Additionally, you need the $249 Professional license if you want to create filters for users. Other than that, the features are the same between both licenses.
Search & Filter Pro is another popular WordPress search filter plugin that comes in a free version at WordPress.org as well as an affordable premium version.
Like FacetWP, it gives you the flexibility to create faceted search for any post type and based on custom fields, taxonomies, and post data.
If you want to see it in action, you can check out the demo here.
- 12+ input types including drop-downs, radio buttons, single/multi-select, search box, date/number ranges, and more.
- Drag-and-drop search form builder.
- Filter by taxonomy, custom fields, and post data (post type, author, dates, etc.).
- Dedicated eCommerce integrations for WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and WP eCommerce.
- Integration with ACF for custom fields.
- Dynamic filters that update based on the current search (to avoid pages with zero results).
- Option to use Ajax so that users don’t need to refresh the page to see results.
- Integrations with Elementor Pro, Beaver Builder, and Divi for front-end display. For example, use Elementor Pro’s Posts widget to display search results.
Pros of Using Search & Filter Pro
- You’re able to create filters based on pretty much any content on your site.
- It includes a variety of filter/facet types and is pretty much equal to FacetWP in that respect.
- You can use page builders to control the design of your results list, which is super convenient for non-developers.
- The premium version is super affordable, especially compared to FacetWP.
Cons of Using Search & Filter Pro
- There’s no built-in results templating system if you aren’t using a page builder, though it does integrate with the third-party Custom Layouts plugin. Otherwise, you’ll need to use PHP to customize the template if you don’t like the default layout.
- There aren’t as many hooks for developers who want to easily customize things.
- You can’t create search filter forms to search users, which FacetWP allows.
Search & Filter has a limited free version at WordPress.org. However, you’ll most likely want to go with the premium version for serious sites. Thankfully, the premium version is still quite affordable – you’ll pay just $20 for a single-site license or $75 for an unlimited-site license.
Other Best WordPress Advanced Search Plugins
While FacetWP and Search & Filter Pro are two of the best WordPress search filter plugins, there are also some other quality options that might work for certain situations.
As the name suggests, Ajax Search Pro’s primary feature is to add real-time Ajax search to WordPress. However, it also includes a lot of features that go beyond that, including the option to build your own custom filter system to go along with your search box.
You’ll get a drag-and-drop builder to create your own filters from any taxonomy or custom field, which opens up a lot of flexibility. You can either add the filters to the built-in search box or display them alongside the Elementor Posts widget.
- Real-time ajax search box with instant suggestions.
- Create filters based on taxonomy terms or custom fields.
- Add filters to Elementor post list widget.
- Ajax filtering so no page reloads.
While there is a free version, you need the $36 premium version to access the filter features.
JetSmartFilters is an affordable WordPress advanced search and filter plugin designed to work with either Elementor or the native WordPress block editor (Gutenberg).
It lets you create a faceted search system for any post type on your site, including full support for WooCommerce.
You’ll be able to build your filter system via your editor of choice. For example, in the block editor, you’ll get 15 dedicated blocks to help you add different types of filters and control the layout – i.e. you get one block to add a checkbox filter, another block for a number range filter, etc.
- Build your filter system using dedicated blocks/widgets in Gutenberg or Elementor.
- Faceted search system – users can apply multiple filters at a time.
- Dynamic Ajax filtering to update the results without a page reload.
- Choose from 9 different filter types including checkboxes, ranges, search box, visual filter, and more.
JetSmartFilters costs $24 for use on a single site or $49 for use on unlimited sites.
ElasticPress is a heavy-duty advanced search plugin that helps you use Elasticsearch for WordPress, which makes a great option for sites with lots of content.
Elasticsearch will build a search index of your products using its own processing power, which both reduces the impact of search queries on your site’s performance (great for high-content sites, like a WooCommerce store) and also offers more accurate results.
You can also add faceted search to your site to let people filter by taxonomies and other information. You’ll get checkboxes, number ranges, drop-downs, and more.
Because of the added complexity of using Elasticsearch, ElasticPress is definitely not a good choice for casual users. However, developers and advanced users might appreciate its flexibility and performance-friendly approach, especially if your site has lots of content.
- Because it’s separate from your WordPress site, Elasticsearch can greatly improve search performance. It builds its own index so that there are no database queries to your WordPress site’s database.
- Very accurate search results.
- Create a faceted search system to let users filter search results.
- Can filter by custom taxonomy and custom fields, though you might need to work with custom code.
The ElasticPress plugin itself is free. However, you’ll need to connect it to an Elasticsearch instance.
You can self-host Elasticsearch for free because it’s open-source*. Or, you also might want to pay for a hosted service. Some hosts also offer tools/add-ons for Elasticsearch. For example, Kinsta has an Elasticsearch add-on and Cloudways offers an Elasticsearch installer tool.
*Note – as we were finalizing this post, Elasticsearch made some changes to its license. It’s too soon to know how this will shake out, but you might want to double-check before going this route. The ElasticPress team seems confident the plugin will still be functioning, even if there might be some changes (such as using Amazon’s fork of Elasticsearch).
Which Is the Best WordPress Search Filter Plugin?
In the end, the best plugin will depend on your needs and budget.
Overall, though, FacetWP is a great place to start because of its flexibility, solid and well-established reputation, and integrations. It’s also gotten more user-friendly thanks to its page builder integrations, though it’s still quite developer-friendly with its hooks and templating system.
However, FacetWP is a bit pricey. For a cheaper option, you might want to consider the Search & Filter plugin, which offers a similar feature list at a much lower price.
Still have any questions about these WordPress search filter plugins? Leave a comment!