Joomla! uses full text search. Full text means that Joomla! searches for all keywords you enter in the search box directly in the database.
This may sound obvious to most people, but it isn't. Many search engines first create a search index consisting of words used on your website. During the actual search, the search index is browsed for matches. These matches are linked to the actual content. The search result page is based on these matches and links.Index-based search is faster than full text search but the index has to be updated with every website change; otherwise the new content cannot be found. In order to compensate for the performance advantage of the index-based search function, Joomla! is highly configurable.
Search Term Analysis
To get a a first glimpse of what visitors are searching for on your site, you have to switch on the statistics feature (Components → Search → Options: Gather Search Statistics - Yes). Then all the terms will be recorded and listet in Components - Search. Don't forget to also switch on Show Search results (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Search statistics
You can choose between a search box appearing on various pages of your website or a link to a seach form. The search extension provides a search module for the single box and a search layout for menu items. The search module is activated by default and most templates provide a special search position for it. It offers numerous options, including text configuration of the buttons as well as setting the box width (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Search module
The search result page consists of a more detailed search form at the top of the page and the search results below (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Search result page
The user can configure search settings (all keywords, any keywords, exact phrase) and change the order in which the results are displayed. The search can also be limited to different content items like articles and categories.
Behind the scenes
You are able to configure the search in the existing search plug-ins. Have a look at Extensions - Plug-in Manager and filter for type search (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Search Plug-ins
For every search only checkbox in the search form there is a plug-in. You can change the order of the plug-ins, activate or deactivate them. You can also configure several options for every plug-in, e.g., whether it should search in archived articles or not.
Each additionally installed extension may contain a search plug-in and integrate itself into the search process.
With this plug-in-based search structure, Joomla!'s search component is easy to use and easy to extend!