Joomla 4 has been officially out for a while, August 17, 2021 to be exact. This is a major release, and everything has been revamped, redesigned to be more modern, powerful, and functional. Of course, with it come great new and updated features. In addition to launching/adding and updating cool, awesome stuff, Joomla 4 Smart Search is one of the most important new features that brings a lot of improvements and quality. Users can now search most website content (articles, contacts, users, tags) quickly and easily. Unlike Joomla 3 which uses two types of search systems in its core, Joomla 4 uses only Joomla Smart Search with an improved code base. It no longer uses the com_search component to display the search. If you’re looking for website templates for Joomla! 4, take a look for our Joomla 4 templates collection.
In this tutorial, we’re gonna look at the new Smart Search in Joomla 4 to see what’s new and how it would be handier than it was in Joomla 3.
Smart Search in Joomla 4
Smart Search was first introduced in Joomla 2.x (the Smart Search content plug-in) and with Joomla 4 keeping forward this amazing feature, it has re-introduced them in a more improved manner such that users now will have even more search possibilities. E.g. Those new options for the active search index. If previously in Joomla 3 only provided a manual index option that was required to run every time you added new content on the site. Joomla 4 now has the ability to automatically index new items for search results. Joomla 4 Smart Search also comes with new advanced options for search filters and content maps.
How Smart Search Works in Joomla 4
The way the new Smart Search works in Joomla 4 is different from the way it is performed in Joomla 3.
Navigate to Components > Smart Search from the Home Dashboard in the back-end. You will then see Index, Content Maps, Filters, Search Terms.
Click Index from the list to open it.
Every time you create a new article or a new contact item, Joomla will automatically index them for search results.
In case you don’t see any results (no content has been indexed), click the Index or Start the indexer button.
And your items will be automatically indexed.
From this view, you will see all your content listed here.
Content Maps is a new feature in Joomla 4 Smart Search that gives you a complete breakdown of all the content (published and unpublished) in your website’s index.
Smart Search – Content Maps
Clicking on the Statistics button brings up a small window showing how many terms, links, attributes, and branches are included in your site’s indexed content.
Smart Search Filters allows you to create filters for your website visitors, such as articles, categories, and contact items. For example, if you choose to let users see only content in a specific category, they will only see the results from this category. The same goes for content published between a specific start date and end date.
These settings make the search idea more flexible, as you can use it in a variety of ways. Search filters are not only useful for searching. You can also create search filters and then link to them from your menus as well.
The new search is certainly far more powerful than the old one. Joomla 4 Smart Search brings up more advanced controls over search results. You can choose to use or show/hide Result Date, Result URL, Query Explanation, Search Suggestions, Advanced Search, Advanced Tips, and/or Highlight Search Terms, etc. Remember that, all these options can be overridden by menu or module settings. You will see that you can customize your search results in different ways once you dig into the Smart Search options.
The screenshot below shows the options available in the new com_finder, on the Smart Search tab.
Advanced Smart Search options in Joomla 4
Notice here we have a very useful option, especially for those who are interested in knowing what their visitors really want to find and see. This way, you can better your website and content to fit their search. This works by showing the results to the users on front-end and at the same time updating the search statistics in the back-end on how many times this search has been performed for the search terms, hits and no of results.
Simply toggle/switch the Gather Search Statistics option to Yes to enable the feature.
Turn this option to Yes to enable Gather Search Statistics
And on the Index tab, you can customize the value of indexing options. They indicate the level of importance given to different parts of your search results. For example, you can choose to add more weight to Title Text, Body text, Metadata, and/or other parts of your content.
Advanced Indexing options
The new smart search supports multiple content types including articles, categories, tags, contacts, news feeds, and more. To use each search page feature for all the content you need to index, you must enable the supported plugins so extension developers will need to adapt their code for the new search.
Below is a list of the smart search plugins in Joomla 4:
Smart Search Plugins in Joomla 4
In addition, you can publish the search module anywhere on your website at the selected module location and with your selected configuration filters. No limits – show different search modules with different filters.
Those are all about the new Smart Search in Joomla 4. Hope you enjoy this article. If you haven’t tried it out yet, give it a try and by the way, explore other great new features as well. Besides, check out our awesome Joomla templates to get your own responsive, high-performance, and SEO-optimized websites.
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