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Remove Search Feature from WordPress for Security

April 18th, 2023

All WordPress sites come with a search function built in whether your website needs it or not. If your website is not making use of the search feature you can use this helpful code to remove the functionality entirely helping to block an easy way for spammers to gain access to your site.

How Do Spammers Target WordPress Search Functionality?

Spammers target the default WordPress search function by manipulating it through tactics like keyword stuffing, the insertion of fake or low-quality content, and link injection. These actions distort search results, damaging a website’s reputation by making it appear spammy or unreliable. The consequences include a poor user experience, reduced trust from visitors, and potential penalties from search engines for hosting or linking to malicious or low-quality content.

I do not use WordPress search, how can I remove it?

If you are an experienced WordPress developer or have some knowledge of the WordPress files present in your theme you should know about the functions.php file. The functions.php file in WordPress is a vital part of a theme, containing custom PHP code and functions to enhance and modify a website’s functionality and appearance. It’s commonly used for theme customization, adding widgets and sidebars, hooking into WordPress actions and filters, and enqueuing styles and scripts, making it a versatile tool for web developers and designers to tailor their WordPress themes to their specific needs.

In order to turn off WordPress search functionality you need to add a snippet of code to your themes functions.php file.

To add code to the functions.php file in WordPress, you can access it via your theme’s directory. Simply navigate to your WordPress dashboard, go to “Appearance” and select “Theme Editor.” From there, find and click on the functions.php file. You can also edit this file with an FTP program in which you have access to your websites files. You can then insert your custom PHP code within the opening and closing PHP tags. Remember to be cautious when making changes to this file, as incorrect code can lead to errors or break your website. It’s advisable to create a backup before making any modifications and to have some knowledge of PHP to ensure the code is properly formatted and serves your intended purpose.

Once you have access to the functions.php file add this code to remove the search functionality:

function fb_filter_query( $query, $error = true ) {
if ( is_search() ) {
$query->is_search = false;
$query->query_vars[s] = false;
$query->query[s] = false;
// to error
if ( $error == true )
$query->is_404 = true;
}
}
add_action( 'parse_query', 'fb_filter_query' );
add_filter( 'get_search_form', create_function( '$a', "return null;" ) );

Once added be sure to refresh your site to ensure the code is working properly and not negatively impacting your website. Removing the ability for users to search will greatly reduce the chances of your site being targeted with spam. If you need assistance increasing your website security or want information on other ways to ensure you are not the victim of spam contact our SEO Consulting team today.

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