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What Is Ajax Search? (How To Add It + Free Plugins)

what is ajax search

We received a lot of questions regarding what is Ajax search recently.

Quick answer: AJAX search displays results live, in a drop-down, before your complete typing the entire query. (Similar to Google search box.)

Super. Handy.

Need more?

My quick, beginner-friendly guide teaches you everything.

AJAX search is a GREAT solution for improving both search results and the end-user experience.

It allows visitors to quickly find the results they are looking for on your blog or website.

And if more people find what they’re looking for, they’re MORE likely to come back again and again.

This post covers:

WordPress has a search form to show search results on a specific page by default.

However, sometimes having a regular search box on your blog or website is not good enough.

Often, it will require correct spelling to work correctly. That’s where AJAX technology comes in.

Note: You can also check out our best WordPress search plugins collection.

Everything You Need to Know About Ajax Search

AJAX search is much more efficient by showing the live search results in a dropdown list as soon as people start typing.

This allows them to SEE the result they are looking for even BEFORE they complete typing.

This is the right option for you if you want your visitors or customers to have a more intuitive experience.

How Does AJAX Search Work?

When a user enters a character in the search form, JavaScript sends the request to the web server, which runs a database query. It then sends the response back with matching data to the client’s side.

Important: This happens without reloading the page.

Each time you enter a new character in the search form, a request is made to the web server.

The server responds with RELEVANT data and that data is displayed on the User-Interface (UI).

Low bandwidth and high loading speed

JavaScript is responsible for exchanging the data between the client and the web server.

There is no need to use headers, tokens or any other authentication methods in the request; only the required data is transmitted from both ends.

So it consumes less bandwidth which IMPROVES the performance of your web applications and ENHANCES the loading speed as well.

Rich user experience

AJAX search benefits website visitors by simplifying their search process and helps you get more data traffic on your blog or website.

For instance, an eCommerce website can show related product information by entering a few characters in the search box.

This helps your users find what they are looking for QUICKLY. (Key feature for online shopping!)

How to Add an AJAX Search Feature to Your Website

You can add AJAX search functionality to your blog or website in the following ways:

  • If you know PHP and jQuery, you can code a custom AJAX search functionality yourself. There are lots of ready-made JS libraries available to accomplish this.
  • You can also use a plugin to integrate it into your blog or website. (We like using this option more.)

In this article, I will focus on a fast solution to implement an auto-complete feature on your blog or website by using free plugins.

It will also be beneficial for less experienced WordPress developers. (0 coding is necessary!)

Best Free AJAX Autocomplete & Live Search WordPress Plugins

Here’s a selection of three free AJAX search WordPress plugins to consider.

1. AJAX Search Lite

ajax search lite free ajax search plugin
AJAX Search Lite is one of the most preferred autocomplete plugins by WordPress developers, with 70,000+ active installations.

We enjoyed using it the most on a few web projects, too. But the two below are very solid as well.

AJAX Search Lite is quick and easy to use. You can customize the plugin as you like and it comes with over 40 customizing options. (Easy configurations!)

While setting it up, you can set the look and other functions as you want.

This plugin has many features, such as Result Ordering, deciding the number of letters to activate the search, etc.

You can also CONNECT the search form field with Google Analytics.

You can enable this plugin and see the magic of how it turns a standard search form into a live auto-suggestion search bar. Like a champ.


2. SearchWP

searchwp free ajax search plugin
SearchWP is created by Jonathan Christopher. It has 60,000+ active installations.

This plugin works on the philosophy of “LESS IS MORE.” It shows the search results in minimalistic form so that only the posts or title is displayed.

This plugin allows you to customize EVERYTHING about it.

All you need to do is add data-swplive=” true” data attribute to the input field of your search form.

Simple? Yes!

If you are familiar with PHP, you can customize the plugin as per your needs by editing its .php file.

(Don’t miss checking official instructions if you’re new.)

If you want a simplified view of auto-suggestion search form, then SearchWP might be a good option.


3. Search In Place

search in place free ajax plugin
Search In Place is another free AJAX search WordPress plugin powering auto-suggestion search forms.

It has 3,000+ active installations.

After installation, you need to ADJUST functions and visual effects according to your needs.

You can set minimum characters to activate the search or styling of the search form.

Note: You do all the work without touching the code.

This plugin adds the expanded search functionality to the default WordPress search widget.

In short, add autocomplete search feature to the default search widget automatically.

The auto-complete function works really well.


Final Thoughts

Now that you’re FAMILIAR with AJAX search functionality and how it works, the only thing left is to decide which plugin best suits your needs.

We suggest going with AJAX Search Lite.

Adding the auto-suggestion search functionality to your website or blog can help your visitors quickly get the information they need.

Ultimately, it will help your online business.

You wouldn’t like the situation where users leave your site just because it takes TOO much time to find the things they are looking for. (This can hurt your SEO, too.)

Ensure them quick finds with the AJAX live search function!

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