How to string replace on all WordPress posts in MySQL


Learn how to replace content in your MySQL database in bulk with MySQL REPLACE. Sometimes it’s useful to know how to bulk edit content in your WordPress MySQL database, using MySQL’s REPLACE() function. Here is how to string replace content in WordPress wp_posts table to bulk edit WordPress posts through MySQL.

By MySQL REPLACE() function

The MySQL string function REPLACE() returns the string str with all occurrences of the string from_str, replaced by the string to_str. REPLACE() performs a case-sensitive match when searching for from_str:

REPLACE( str, from_str, to_str )Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Replacing strings in MySQL is useful, for example an use-case: on a WordPress blog there were some bad href’s in the WordPress content (MySQL table wp_posts). This can be fixed by executing a MySQL UPDATE search&replace on all posts:

UPDATE wp_posts
  SET post_content = 
  REPLACE( post_content, 'a class="url" href="www.', 'a class="url" href="http://www.' );Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

After executing this MySQL statement, all occurrences of href="www." in wp_posts are replaced with href="http://www." and thus fixing the hyperlinks.

MariaDB supports REGEXP_REPLACE. It was introduced in version 10.0.5: REGEXP_REPLACE seems to work like a charm for replacing content by regular expressions:

UPDATE `wp_posts`
  SET `post_content` =
  REGEXP_REPLACE( post_content, '<pre class="brush: php;">', '<pre>' );Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Since Gutenberg blocks

Since Gutenberg, WordPress saves block metadata into your wp_posts table. A real life example: I wanted to remove shortcode blocks displaying Google Adsense ads. In the MySQL database, the content looks like:

<!-- wp:shortcode -->
<!-- /wp:shortcode -->Code language: HTML, XML (xml)

Yikes, this is multi line content. I could remove only [saotn_in_post_shortcode_horizontal] and be done with it, but I also wanted to clean up the metadata. Fortunately, this is pretty easy done with MySQL’s REPLACE function.


MariaDB [exampleorg]> UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE( post_content, '<!-- wp:shortcode -->\n[saotn_in_post_shortcode_horizontal]\n<!-- /wp:shortcode -->\n','');
Query OK, 38 rows affected (0.114 sec)
Rows matched: 898  Changed: 38  Warnings: 0Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

As you can see, I replaced the newlines with a \n character, and this worked like a charm. So to recap, if you want to remove a shortcode in your WordPress database, use REPLACE() for a multi line replace:

UPDATE wp_posts
  SET post_content =
      post_content, 'search\nstring\n',
    );Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Replace all instances of a string in WordPress using a plugin

A safer way to replace all instances of a string in WordPress is using a plugin. One of such plugins is Better Search Replace by Delicious Brains.

Logo Better Search & Replace WordPress plugin
Logo Better Search & Replace WordPress plugin

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foto van Jan Reilink

About the author

Hi, my name is Jan. I am not a hacker, coder, developer or guru. I am merely a systems administrator, doing my daily SysOps/DevOps thing at cldin. With over 15 years of experience, my specialties include Windows Server, IIS, Linux (CentOS, Debian), security, PHP, websites & optimization.

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