WordPress has a good built in search function, and to use it to the fullest, all you have to do is use WordPress. If you want to adapt the way the search results are displayed, or if you want to deliver a better 404 page, using the search function, read on.
Providing a seperate page of Search Results with WordPress is a neat article explaining the long of short of how to make WordPress’ search results look like, well, search results using a seperate page to display the search results (WordPress, by default uses index.php for displaying the search results).
Raena’s solution, on the other hand, enables you to stop WordPress from redirecting the searcher to the matching post, without any explanation, and to add a friendlier note to head off the search results.
Finally, Mark Ghosh has a 404 page enhancement that redirects visitors to pages that may be similar to the ones they requested. I wish it was more user-friendly by including a note to the visitor saying that the exact page was not found, and that the page he/she is about to see might be the right match.
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