I am trying to search through post meta for keyword matches but I'm new to MySQL and I don't know how to write my query. I can write a basic query for post_title matches but I don't know how to properly jump across tables.

In pseudo code, my query would be

"SELECT post_id FROM $wpdb->postmeta 
WHERE meta_key LIKE '%$query%' AND post_type = 'project'"

My problem is that the post_type is only available in the posts table and I don't know how to make the connection between postmeta and posts to check if the ID is in fact the correct post type.

  • Once you get a list of posts, then filter out the non-wanted post types by unsetting them from the list with "project" !== get_post_type($post_ID) condition.. Just a thought. Or a custom WP_Query would help pastebin.com/jjEEgwsw
    – Ismail
    May 17, 2016 at 14:49
  • I need my query to be as efficient as possible since I have hundreds of thousands of records to search through. I can already see a noticeable difference between the speed of using $wpdb and WP_Query when searching for post titles. May 17, 2016 at 15:06
  • Caching is the key. WP_Query caches requests so you wouldn't worry about the performance and resource usage. Queries made through $wpdb methods won't be cached.
    – Ismail
    May 17, 2016 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


Is this what you're trying to do?

// WP_Query arguments
$args = array (
    'post_type'              => array( 'project' ),
    'meta_query'             => array(
            'key'       => 'meta_key',
            'value'     => '%$query%',

// The Query
$query = new WP_Query( $args );

I'm not an expert but try this one:

SELECT wp_posts.ID, wp_postmeta.meta_value FROM wp_postmeta
LEFT JOIN wp_posts ON wp_posts.ID = wp_postmeta.post_id
WHERE wp_postmeta.meta_key = '%$query%'
AND wp_posts.post_type = 'project'

it worked for me

  • After changing the table prefix and the changing .meta_key to .meta_value this wouldn't work for me but thanks May 17, 2016 at 18:15

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