How to add smart advanced search to your WooCommerce website: Complete plugin guide

How to set up smart advanced search for your WooCommerce website Complete Plugin Guide

Want to replace the default search in your online store with WooCommerce advanced search? Keep reading to learn how.

The product search that comes with WooCommerce out of the box is pretty limited. It doesn’t let customers search for products by category, price, or attributes. Smart advanced search is all about helping customers find products quickly and easily, especially in larger stores.

So, instead of expecting customers to know exactly which search queries to run, you can help them narrow down their search to quickly find the exact products they’re looking for.

With this in mind, in this article, we’ll talk about how to:

  • Add advanced search to your online store, and;
  • How to further enhance this by adding advanced product filters.

The search functionality that comes with WooCommerce is pretty basic:

  • When a customer runs a search query, it doesn’t look for matches in the product description, attributes, custom fields, or reviews. It's just not very smart.
  • In addition to this, the default WooCommerce search is slow. After a customer runs their search query, they have to wait for a page refresh to see the search results.

This means that customers will have a difficult time finding what they’re looking for in your online store.

The solution is to use a WooCommerce advanced search plugin that can build on the default search with AJAX and advanced search logic. This way, you’ll be able to deliver a better user experience to customers - without refreshing the page.

You can add a WooCommerce search bar on its own but for best results, we recommend using it alongside a filtering plugin. A WooCommerce filter plugin lets customers narrow down their search and gives them a clearer idea of the types of products you sell.

Keep reading to learn how to add advanced search to WooCommerce, along with advanced filtering - the perfect combination.

WooCommerce Product Filters and YITH AJAX Search
A smart search box complete with advanced filter widgets (keep reading to learn how to add these to your own site!)

While regular WordPress sites can benefit significantly from implementing advanced search, WooCommerce stores are a beast of their own. As an online store owner, you need to add advanced search and product filter widgets to your WooCommerce store.

This is particularly useful for stores that sell dozens or hundreds of products such as grocery stores, clothing stores, cookware stores, hardware stores, and arts and crafts stores.

Here’s what you need to do to improve search on your WooCommerce store:

Step 1: Add a WooCommerce search bar to your store

First, you need to install an advanced WooCommerce search plugin. We recommend the YITH WooCommerce AJAX Search plugin.

It adds a predictive search engine to your WooCommerce store making it easier for customers to find the products they’re looking for. The search results load in real-time so customers won’t have to wait for a page refresh.

In addition to this, this advanced search plugin lets users search within specific product categories or tags as well as search by SKUs.

Get the YITH WooCommerce AJAX Search plugin and install it on your WordPress site.

YITH WooCommerce AJAX Search settings

Go to YITHAjax Search from the WordPress admin panel to configure the plugin’s settings.

General settings

You can set the WooCommerce advanced search input label and submit label here. The plugin also lets you set the minimum number of characters required to trigger autosuggest. For example, if you set it to 3, the plugin will start showing results to customers after they’ve entered three letters in the search box. You can also set the maximum number of results to show in the autosuggest box.

Search settings

The search settings tab lets you refine how the search functionality works on your online store. You can set which element types to search when a customer runs a search query and which metadata to search. For example, you can choose to have the plugin search in titles, excerpts, product categories, product tags, and content.

In addition to this, you can also show items for multiple-word searches, hide out-of-stock products from search results, and much more.

Output settings

The output settings tab lets you configure how the search results appear to customers on the front-end. You can choose where to show the product’s thumbnail, show or hide the product price, including product variations in search results, and more.

Once you’re done setting it up to your liking, preview the shop page on the front-end. The WooCommerce advanced search bar will look something like this when you run a search query:

YITH WooCommerce AJAX Search preview

Step 2: Add filter widgets

As mentioned earlier, online stores can benefit from having both a WooCommerce advanced search and filter widgets. They work together to help customers find what they’re looking for.

This gives customers the option to run a search query if they know exactly what they want or use the filter options to narrow down their search if they’re looking for a specific type of product. For example, customers looking for t-shirts within $20 to $50 can use a price filter widget to narrow down their search.

Install and activate the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin

Get the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin and install and activate it on your WordPress site.

You’ll receive the plugin files along with the license key in a confirmation email. Head over to WooCommerce SettingsFilters from the admin panel. Enter your license key.

Finally, click the Save changes button at the bottom of the screen to validate your license key.

Create filters and group filters

The next step is to create filters and group them together in a logical way.

To do this, head over to WooCommerce SettingsFilters from the WordPress admin panel and click on the Filters tab. Fill in the details to create a new filter.

Set the name, filter by, filter type, and assign to group options. Repeat this step to create as many filters as you’d like. Depending on the types of products you sell, you might want to create:

  • Categories filter
  • Attributes filter
  • Colors filter
  • Tags filter
  • Custom taxonomy filters
  • Price filter
  • Ratings filter
  • In stock filter
  • On sale filter

Once you’ve created all of the filters you need, structure the individual filters into logical groups. This makes it easy to add a widget for a group of filters on your WooCommerce site.

WooCommerce Product Filters also lets you choose the filter style. You can display the WooCommerce category filters as dropdowns, checkboxes, radio buttons, labels, or images. Think about which types of filter will work best with the WooCommerce advanced search field so that customers can easily find what they need.

Add filters to the page

Finally, it's time to decide whether to display the product filters in your store.

WooCommerce Product Filters and YITH AJAX Search

There are two options, so think about which location(s) will look best under the WooCommerce advanced search:

  • Filter widgetsThese can appear in any sidebar area, for example the left or right column of the WooCommerce Shop page. To add filter widgets, go to Appearance Widgets in the WordPress admin and add
  • Horizontal filtersHorizontal filters appear below the advanced search field and above the list of products. On the plugin settings page, you can select which filter group you want to display above the products in the store.

It's time to add advanced search and filters to WooCommerce

Setting up smart advanced search for your store involves adding an advanced search bar and filter widgets to your WooCommerce website.

This way, customers can choose to search for products using the search bar if they know exactly what they’re looking for and also narrow down their search using filter options. That way, they can quickly narrow down the results by factors such as price and attribute.

To recap, we recommend using the following plugins to set up smart, advanced search in WooCommerce:

Ready to set up an advanced WooCommerce search on your online store? Get WooCommerce Product Filters today!

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