How to pick the best search and filter plugin for your WordPress website (with recommendations)
Does your WooCommerce store offer a wide choice of products? Your customers will undoubtedly love to have options, but they’ll be quite likely to face difficulties exploring them if they have too many alternatives. You might want to help shoppers discover products and find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. An effective solution is to enable search and filter options on your product.
Product filters with the search option are an excellent way to help customers find what they’re looking for, faster. They can be used on categories, products, and even individual product pages. They let shoppers sort products by price, rating, brand, and other attributes.
In this post, we dive into the search and filter function, helping you understand what it can do and how to choose the best search and filter plugin for your needs.
Why should you enable search and filter?
The main benefit of the ‘search and filter’ function is that it speeds up shoppers’ product searches, which means they spend less time searching and more time buying. Filtering allows shoppers to take control of the products they want to see. It is one of the best practices for eCommerce UX.
When shoppers can find what they’re looking for in a timely manner, they will also be able to move swiftly to checkout. If your checkout process is quick too, the overall experience at your site is enhanced further, while your cart abandonment can potentially drop as well. This can have a positive impact on conversions and business growth.
A simple and enjoyable way to discover products can motivate shoppers to spend more time on your site, which can be good for your SEO. While Google hasn’t explicitly stated that time spent on a site or dwell time is a ranking factor, studies have found a link between a long dwell time and high search rankings.
How to enable search and filter on a WordPress site
WordPress allows you to add filters by attribute, price, and rating. These limited options apart, the filters are not powered by Ajax, so the page reloads after using any of the filters. This can get in the way of the fast and frictionless experience online shoppers desire and failing which, are likely to leave you for a competitor. So, it’s a good idea to enable a search and filter set-up that gives shoppers a better way to find your WooCommerce products. And that’s quite easy to do!
An option is to use custom code. However, this is doable only if you have experience writing code in PHP, not otherwise. Writing lines of code to create filters is also quite time-intensive, and you may have other valuable business tasks to handle. A search and filter plugin is the easiest way to enable this functionality, and there are many WordPress plugins that enable you to do just that.
To choose the right search and filter plugin, make sure it has the following:
- Ajax filtering for the fastest in-browser filtering
- comprehensive features that make it worth the price
- compatibility with your themes and plugins
Let’s look at how some popular WooCommerce search and filter plugins address these requirements.
Advanced Woo Search
This is an Ajax search filter plugin that enables search across all your WooCommerce products. You can search using various parameters, including product title, categories, description, tags, SKU, and ID. Each search result contains the product image and price. You can use shortcodes and widgets to place the search box anywhere on your site. The search and filter plugin supports plurals and synonyms but misses out on visual highlighting and auto-correction.
The free version has these search-related features and others, such as WPML multi-currency, Divi Builder, and Elementor support. Upgrading to the pro version brings advanced features such as filters, product attributes, custom taxonomies search, and shows child products, variable products, or both in search results.
Advanced Woo Search doesn’t have the best support and is quite slow. This can be a deal-breaker for some online store owners.
ACF: Better Search
The search and filter plugin enhances the default search functionality of WordPress websites. It allows you to search content from selected fields of the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin. But it doesn’t search hidden fields or support Flexible Layouts, an issue if you need it to loop through the flexible content across various field layouts. A neat feature is the ability to search by phrases, which brings up more accurate results faster.
ACF: Better Search is a free, beginner-friendly plugin. However, it’s quite limited if you need the ability to search a number of custom meta fields on your site.
Search and Filter Pro
The search and filter plugin allows faceted WordPress search based on custom fields, taxonomies, and post data. It supports over 12 types of inputs, including dropdowns, radio buttons, search boxes, single or multi-select, date/number ranges, and others. It can be integrated with ACF for custom fields. There is an option to use Ajax for faster, frictionless searches. Notable features include dynamic filters that update based on current search and page builders to control your site’s design, which is especially great for non-developers.
If you have development skills, there aren’t many hooks to help you easily customize search and filters. In addition, some issues regarding support and user-friendliness have also been reported.
The search plugin is available in free and premium versions. At $20 per site, the paid version is quite affordable.
Is search and filter the best option for an optimal user experience?
Conducting a search based on category or product attributes is quick and easy. Anyone who regularly uses a search engine will know how to search for products on eCommerce sites.
However, implementing search and filter can be tricky. The quality of implementation will affect your website visitors’ search experience. Specifically, your data management will come into play in determining how easily users are, in fact, able to find your WooCommerce products. A few other issues could crop up due to implementing the search function.
When it comes to data management for your WooCommerce site, assigning categories is one of the key things you can expect to do. Categories make products easier to discover in search as well as through navigation. The idea is to build a category structure that shows product relationships and leads shoppers smoothly to what they’re interested in buying.
A best practice is to design your category structure first and create it afterward. If you haven’t categorized your products correctly, the searches on your site can confuse shoppers, which can defeat the purpose of installing a search and filter plugin.
The other issue is that of caching. A cached version of a webpage is available so that shoppers can still access the page even if the site isn’t available. Caching provides fast responses to most user queries and is a good option for data accessed frequently but doesn’t change so frequently. For example, say you have a busy website that attracts thousands of people searching using hundreds of the same keywords each hour. Caching would be useful in this situation. However, there is no straightforward way of caching search results, and you’ll need a WP cache plugin to do that.
Yet another problem is that the search function can conflict with your WordPress theme or another plugin installed on your site. So serious problems in functionality are certain, which can affect users’ experience and drive them away from your site.
Pay attention to these issues when you decide to use a search and filter plugin. Or you could consider another solution that enables fast search, is easier to implement and prevents a frustrating site user experience.
Acsell product filtering
Acsell is a product filters plugin for WooCommerce sites that makes the process of finding products on your online store simple and fast. It keeps best practices of eCommerce user experience to help store owners boost conversions and keep customers coming back for more.
Rather than using a search and filter plugin based on enabling search on your site, you can add product filters with Acsell – here’s why.
- 30% of shoppers use filters. They also convert 2-3 times faster than those who don’t use filters. That means adding comprehensive and accurate product filters to your site can directly impact your sales.
- Product filters narrow down results from a vast data set. While eCommerce stores with a large product catalog benefit most from filters, any site selling a wide variety of items can use them to make product exploration and discovery easier for shoppers.
- Filters support your marketing efforts! They show shoppers items they hadn’t thought about before they began their search. For example, shoppers may be looking for a specific brand of shoes, and a ‘For Sale’ filter may pique their curiosity and lead them to discounted products from the same brand, potentially motivating them to add more items to their cart.
Many WordPress plugins allow you to add product filters. But Acsell gives you more filtering options and is not only fast but gets faster as your site traffic increases. Look at the features of Acsell and their impact on your site’s user experience.
- Ultimate customization: You can filter by items, featured products, stock, attributes, tags, price, and sales that appear on the sidebar. You can also create filters for every category page or use one group of filters globally.
- Extremely fast: The Ajax-powered plugin creates a product list from the HTML stored in the browser’s cache memory. This ensures that the product HTML loads quickly and filtering is instant.
- Handles high traffic: Edge caching, where the servers utilize resources closer to the end-user (shoppers) and reduce the load on your own servers, is possible with Acsell. This method can make the plugin faster with an increase in site traffic, which is unique for a WooCommerce filter plugin. It is also an advantage over a search and filter plugin.
- Accurate and faster search: You can create a global filter set or a page-specific set of filters. This flexibility is unmatched by the typical search and filter plugin, where your data management quality and shoppers’ queries determine the accuracy of search results and overall search experience.
- Easy and intuitive filtering: Acsell has all the possible filtering mechanisms used on eCommerce sites. They include dropdown (single select/multi-select), ranges, checkboxes, switches, swatches, sliders, links, link boxes, as well as search, limit display, and a collapsible filter menu.
Case Study – Using Acsell product filters versus search
Enabling search with a search and filter plugin aids product search, but it doesn’t give customers the product options they were hoping for. On the other hand, adding filters is useful to engage and guide shoppers.
In the example below, shoppers need to type their search query to find the air fresheners they want. They don’t have the option to filter their search by a particular fragrance, price, or another product attribute. Once they’re on the relevant page, they have to scroll down to see product images and/or read product names and descriptions to locate their desired product.
With Acsell product filters, visitors to your site can quickly refine their search using various product attributes. They have the flexibility to narrow down their search as much or as little as they’d like. For example, a shopper can choose to filter by brand and size only, while another would like to filter by brand, color, size, and price. In either case, they’ll find what they’re looking for quickly by applying the relevant filters.
The filter options stay in place to aid subsequent searches. Shoppers can also remove filters in one click to reset their search and begin again. This especially comes in handy when they’re exploring the products on your site. They will be able to quickly see the breadth of your range or conduct a couple of highly specific searches with the intention to buy several products at once – say, for Christmas shopping. This ability is missing with a search and filter plugin that doesn’t offer multiple filtering options.
Also, Acsell filters include colors and swatches that act as a visual guide to enhance the search experience. Getting a perfect or close match is faster and simpler when presented with color options.
User experience is a sum of many aspects. Among them is ensuring that shoppers are not overwhelmed or confused during their product search. Buyers can hide options they don’t wish to see under a specific filter and ensure visual harmony consistent with their preferences.
Acsell is the only filter plugin you need
Product search has its advantages, but it isn’t the ideal way to help your site’s visitors find the products they want to buy. Adding multiple filters that allow shoppers to perform a live search and narrow down their search from a database of your products offers more benefits. Filter selections and visual guides like colors yield more accurate results. Multiple options and multi-select dropdown filters speed up the search. Searching for products using filters is far less effort-intensive than manually typing key phrases or words, regardless of the search and filter plugin you’re using!
Acsell is the fastest WooCommerce filter plugin offering in-browser filtering that reduces server calls. It has the most comprehensive suite of filter customizations and options. In addition, it allows you to create your own custom filters. The WooCommerce filter plugin offers advanced filter options like filtering by featured products, tags, stock, and sales. You can also create filters for every category page or use one group of filters globally.
See Acsell Product Filters in action with a 7-day trial. It’s a risk-free way to try the WooCommerce plugin and understand how it might make a difference to your business.
Acsell Product Filters
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