I'm working on a plug-in which will override the search results returned by Wordpress, with results from a custom XML feed. However, I'm not looking to do this on a separate page, but to replace the results Wordpress would normally display on the blogs search page with the results from my XML feed.

I have been unable to find a filter or hook which would allow me to intercept or override the results wordpress returns, nor can I find one which allows me to override what is displayed on the page. My first thought was to look for something similar to the_content, but I'm unable to locate anything similar to that for use in this situation.

The plug-in is going to be used by sales staff, so the plug-in needs to work in such a way that it requires as little work and technical knowledge as possible on the part of installer. My reasoning for wanting to override the results instead of inserting a new widget is that I want the plug-in to use the same search form the theme uses by default.

Is this even possible? If so, how would I go about doing it?

  • To be clear. Will you return results from outside of Wordpress? Or just change the search result format to a custom XML feed?
    – Steven
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 18:34
  • Why would you over-ride the search results instead of just providing an alternative and disabling the default search.
    – Wyck
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 18:34
  • @Steven The results will be coming from outside Wordpress and replaced with results from an XML feed. The plug-in is only meant to be used by the company I'm developing the plug-in for,and they simply want to populate it with their own search results.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 20:47
  • @wyck It's going to be used by sales staff so it needs to be as easy to install as possible, without any manual work required. On the same note I would like for it just use the same search form the theme uses.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


You can use template_include filter hook to check if the current call is a search call and if so include your own template in which you can do what ever you want :


function my_custom_search_template($template){
    global $wp_query;
    if (!$wp_query->is_search)
        return $template

    return dirname( __FILE__ ) . '/my_search_template.php';

  • My concern with this is that the plug-in needs to be dropped into any WordPress theme without creating a new template page. I came across this method myself and I believe it would require me to create a template page for the results, or choose a fitting template page. As noted above, the plug-in is going to be used by sales staff so that's not an ideal option.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 20:49
  • In that case take a look at the_posts filter hook where you can run the same check if the current query is a search query and if so return your results.
    – Bainternet
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 21:06
  • I'll take a look at that and report back, thank you :)
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 21:11
  • The Posts was a good idea, but due to the theme I'm working for with it's not the ideal solution. However I ended up using a slightly different solution then expected, and I template_include was a key component in that.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 11:47
  • Are you able to share the solution that you came up with? Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 20:58

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