The Digital Agency for International Development

A low bandwidth WordPress plugin for Google Site Search

By Martin Burchell on 17 June 2015

We've recently published an open-source plugin to add a lightweight Google Site Search to WordPress websites.

CDKN search results

The plugin was developed for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) website. CDKN were finding that their users were not using the built-in search facility based on Solr because they were getting better results from Google. So we replaced the simple keyword search on the site with Google Custom Search. At the same time we improved the search results for Solr, which the CDKN site still uses for the advanced search.

There are other WordPress plugins to add Google Site Search to a website but they all use JavaScript, adding weight to the page. Running on the client side also means that they don't integrate well with the rest of the site's navigation and in CDKN's case, the alternative search options on the site. What we needed was a lightweight alternative that would run on the server.

We based our code on Jason Clark's Digital Collections Custom Search API used by Montana State University. Thanks to the free software license, we were able to change this code to suit the needs of CDKN.

You can download the plugin from WordPress or get the latest version from GitHub.