I currently have the following code, and a user named "Clark Farm" in the user_business table. The code below returns nothing. If I remove the search term then all of the users are listed. I'm trying to determine why the search is not working..

 * @package WordPress
 * @subpackage themename

get_header(); ?>
    $url = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
    $tokens = explode('/', $url);
    $search = $tokens[sizeof($tokens)-1];
    $searchQuery = str_replace("-", " ", $search);
<?php echo $search; ?>
<div id="main">
        <div id="primary">
            <div id="content">
                <?php the_post(); ?>
                <div class="contentLeft">

                <article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?> role="article">

                        <h1 class="entry-title">Search Results for: <?php echo $searchQuery; ?></h1>

                    <div class="entry-content">

                            // WP_User_Query arguments
                            $args = array (
                                'search'         => 'Clark',
                                'search_columns' => array( 'user_business' ),
                                'count_total'    => true,
                                'fields'         => 'all_with_meta',

                            // The User Query
                            $user_query = new WP_User_Query( $args );

                            // The User Loop
                            if ( ! empty( $user_query->results ) ) {
                                foreach ( $user_query->results as $user ) {
                                    echo $user->user_business . '<br>';
                            } else {
                                    echo 'NOT WORKING!';

                    </div><!-- .entry-content -->
                </article><!-- #post-<?php the_ID(); ?> -->

                <div class="contentRight"><?php if ( dynamic_sidebar('main-sidebar') ) : else : ?><?php endif; ?></div>
            </div><!-- #content -->
        </div><!-- #primary -->
<?php get_footer(); ?>
  • What is user_business?
    – s_ha_dum
    Jul 2, 2013 at 17:05
  • That is, it sounds like you have a custom table and maybe a user meta data involved.
    – s_ha_dum
    Jul 2, 2013 at 17:08
  • yes, user_business is a custom table, are those not permitted when using wp user query? Jul 2, 2013 at 17:11

1 Answer 1


WP_User_Query searches the $wpdb->users table. It will not join on your custom table. How would it know what to JOIN? The possible tables names and structures are practically infinite.

I believe you might be able to use a filter on pre_user_query to insert your own values in the WHERE clause but there is no JOIN value so you will have to alter query_from and query_where. It could be tricky but should be do-able.


Given new information, it now sounds like what you need is a meta_query.

$args = array(
    'count_total'    => true,
    'fields'         => 'all_with_meta',
    'meta_query' => array(
            'key' => 'user_business',
            'value' => 'Clark',
            'compare' => '='
$user_query = new WP_User_Query( $args );

That assumes that your user meta key is user_business and that you want an exact match. See the Codex for other values for compare.

  • Isn't User Meta kept within the Users table? Jul 2, 2013 at 17:23
  • User meta is kept in the $wpdb->usermeta table but that isn't relevant since you told me that "user_business is a custom table".
    – s_ha_dum
    Jul 2, 2013 at 17:25
  • Sorry, must've used the wrong word. user_business is a custom meta field for users, stored the same way as all meta. Jul 2, 2013 at 17:39

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