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Last active June 29, 2023 09:39
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PHP - Wordpress - Search - wordpress custom search function that encompasses ACF/advanced custom fields and taxonomies and split expression before request
* [list_searcheable_acf list all the custom fields we want to include in our search query]
* @return [array] [list of custom fields]
function list_searcheable_acf(){
$list_searcheable_acf = array("title", "sub_title", "excerpt_short", "excerpt_long", "xyz", "myACF");
return $list_searcheable_acf;
* [advanced_custom_search search that encompasses ACF/advanced custom fields and taxonomies and split expression before request]
* @param [query-part/string] $where [the initial "where" part of the search query]
* @param [object] $wp_query []
* @return [query-part/string] $where [the "where" part of the search query as we customized]
* see
* credits to Vincent Zurczak for the base query structure/spliting tags section
function advanced_custom_search( $where, &$wp_query ) {
global $wpdb;
if ( empty( $where ))
return $where;
// get search expression
$terms = $wp_query->query_vars[ 's' ];
// explode search expression to get search terms
$exploded = explode( ' ', $terms );
if( $exploded === FALSE || count( $exploded ) == 0 )
$exploded = array( 0 => $terms );
// reset search in order to rebuilt it as we whish
$where = '';
// get searcheable_acf, a list of advanced custom fields you want to search content in
$list_searcheable_acf = list_searcheable_acf();
foreach( $exploded as $tag ) :
$where .= "
(wp_posts.post_title LIKE '%$tag%')
OR (wp_posts.post_content LIKE '%$tag%')
SELECT * FROM wp_postmeta
WHERE post_id = wp_posts.ID
AND (";
foreach ($list_searcheable_acf as $searcheable_acf) :
if ($searcheable_acf == $list_searcheable_acf[0]):
$where .= " (meta_key LIKE '%" . $searcheable_acf . "%' AND meta_value LIKE '%$tag%') ";
else :
$where .= " OR (meta_key LIKE '%" . $searcheable_acf . "%' AND meta_value LIKE '%$tag%') ";
$where .= ")
SELECT * FROM wp_comments
WHERE comment_post_ID = wp_posts.ID
AND comment_content LIKE '%$tag%'
SELECT * FROM wp_terms
INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy
ON wp_term_taxonomy.term_id = wp_terms.term_id
INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships
ON wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id = wp_term_taxonomy.term_taxonomy_id
taxonomy = 'post_tag'
OR taxonomy = 'category'
OR taxonomy = 'myCustomTax'
AND object_id = wp_posts.ID
AND LIKE '%$tag%'
return $where;
add_filter( 'posts_search', 'advanced_custom_search', 500, 2 );
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thank you so much :))

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whitesided commented Jul 7, 2022

Amazing, thanks! One thing I'd add is $wpdb->prefix to the query in case of custom database prefixes :)

Quite right! Just in case anyone is trying to use this code and discovering it's not working: this will work great for most installs but NOT IF YOU OR YOUR HOST IS USING CUSTOM/PREFIXED TABLE NAMES. So for my customer install running at Flywheel, where the install has prefixed the tables so they look like wp_643cpbrg8g_postmeta rather than wp_postmeta, this will quietly fail.

The solution is pretty simple, and the function is mostly there and already includes the needed variable, $wpdb, which makes visible the table names. If you haven't changed them there's no harm in being compliant. If you have this is absolutely necessary.

So where the above code says

SELECT * FROM wp_comments

it instead needs to be

SELECT * FROM $wpdb->comments

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