NodeBB comes with a built-in search plugin known as DB Search. This is a simple full text search that will work well for most forums.

  1. Open the administrative dashboard using the 'gear' icon on your forum.
  2. Go to Plugins > Install Plugins.  
  3. From the Installed tab, type dbsearch into the search.
  4. Select activate.
  5. Note that you need to restart your forum, which can be done from the dashboard.

If your forum has existing posts, you'll want to make sure these are indexed for search. After restart, select Plugins > DB Search, and hit the Reindex button. You should only need to do this once, since any new posts will automatically be added to the index.

Note that a direct link to the advanced search can be added to your forum by going to the General > Navigation menu in admin.  From here, you can select options for this link, including limiting it to only certain users.

YouTube Activating search for your NodeBB forum