The default search engine for self-hosted WordPress installs is not very good and organizes search results by chronology and not relevance. Over time, a number of companies like Lijit and others have tried to improve this and many WordPress users also resort to custom Google search engines to offer their readers acceptable search results. For the most part, though, WordPress search remains an unsolved problem. Tigerlogic’s yolink Search for WordPress plugin, which was co-developed with WordPress host WP Engine and is officially launching tonight, aims to change this by offering bloggers a good search engine that is easily customizable and deeply integrated into WordPress.
Better Search for Your WordPress Site
Once installed, you tell the WordPress plugin the kinds of content you want it to index (posts, pages etc.), set up your account (more about that below) and your standard WordPress search is now powered by yolink’s back end (the company’s name is not capitalized!). Your users won’t have to go to Google to search your site anymore and won’t get distracted by ads there that could potentially take them away from your content.
One nifty feature of the service is that it doesn’t just give you the posts’ headlines, but also highlights the keywords your readers were looking for in the context of the post. Once a reader clicks on one of these keywords in the search results, the actual page on your blog will show a yolink-powered sidebar that makes it easy to jump back and forth between different passages where this keyword appears in the text.
Yolink also aims to offer a bit more than just better search results. It also adds sharing functionality to all search results pages. Publishers can customize this feature, but out of the box, it supports sending results to services like Facebook, Twitter, Evernote and Google Docs.
For personal sites that don’t promote a business, have fewer than 5,000 pageviews per month and don’t feature ads, the service is going to be available for free. Unless you fall into this free category, though, using yolink can quickly get pricey. Once you get beyond the free and $5/month tiers for small personal sites with ads and basic business sites, prices immediately go up to $25/month and more (yolink argues that most WordPress sites have fewer than 5,000 pageviews, so most bloggers will likely never have to pay). Depending on the site you run, paying that price is potentially worth the money, but sadly, it’s too hard to know exactly how much you will need to pay before you install the plugin as the service’s pricing wizard doesn’t work until you have already installed everything and received an API key (I would argue, too, that if you need a wizard to explain your company’s pricing plans – those pricing plans are probably too complicated).
No matter the issues I have with yolink’s pricing scheme, though, the service itself works just as advertised and it’s nice to see search results on a blog that look and feel like they are deeply integrated into the site and not the result of a messy integration with a third-party tool.