Directory websites can be extremely popular and with good reason. They allow us to quickly find a restaurant, see all the movie theaters in our area, find a car mechanic or a plumber, or any other type of service provider or attraction with a few clicks of the mouse.
In essence, a directory website is simply a collection of links divided into topics, categories, and interest areas. They can cover a broad niche or even several different niches, like tourist attractions in your town or they can specialize in covering a very tight-focused niche such as a listing of all car repair shops in your area. You can even use them if you are in a certain business niche such as real estate or car dealership.
Creating a directory website doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to launch a directory website using WordPress. In today’s tutorial, we’ll walk you through the steps necessary to create a directory website no matter how general or specific your niche is.
Why Should You Create a Directory Website?
In today’s economy, almost everyone is looking for a way to make additional income. And some are even considering ditching the 9-5 and creating their own online business. An online directory website can be a great source of income. It doesn’t take a lot of investment upfront and it’s a sound business model that can be monetized in several ways, such as:
- Paid Listings - Charging business owners for submitting their business to your directory is the most common type of monetization. You can offer different pricing plans, each of which has their own set of benefits.
- Featured Listings - You can expand the paid listings by offering listing owners to appear on special spots on your website which tend to draw more attention from your audience
- Membership Fees - This monetization method works similarly to the ones above, but instead of charging for a single listing in a given period of time, you could allow them to place all their listings on your website for a monthly or annual fee.
- Advertisements - You can also sell ad space and allow banners, text, and video ads to be placed at specific positions on your website.
However, directory websites aren’t limited just to people looking to break into the entrepreneur arena. Existing businesses can use a directory website to create a company intranet. You can use it to list all your employees and facilitate collaboration, as well as to list all the important company events and news so your employees can easily stay up to date.
What Type of Directory Website Can You Build?
With a directory website, the sky’s the limit. You can go as broad or as narrow as you want, as long as you create a directory about something that people would find useful and that interests you.
Here are some of the different types of directories you can build with WordPress:
- Website Directories: This type of directory works similarly to business directories but here your focus is on websites. You could list them similarly to how you would list businesses but you can also create a directory of different types of blogs, scientific websites, educational websites, and more. You are only limited by your imagination and with a little thought you can create some pretty interesting directories.
- Business Directories: Like the name suggests, the focus here is on different industries like lawyers, car repair shops, plumbers, computer repair shops, etc. These could focus entirely on your geographical area. Also, once you’ve grown significant traffic, you can consider expanding your website to include neighboring states or counties.
- Coupon or Daily Deals Directories: These directories have been gaining in popularity recently and they usually include coupons for specific stores, daily deals, or even price comparisons. In some cases, they include ecommerce features as well.
- Real Estate Agents or Vehicle Dealerships: If your business revolves around selling real estate or vehicles, you can create a directory of your entire inventory to make it easier for potential buyers to find their new home or vehicle.
- Job Boards: Looking for a job is never easy and most job board websites usually have a very broad focus. Put your own spin on it and create a job board for your city specifically or consider creating a job board for a specific industry.
Now that you have a general idea of different directory websites, let’s go over creating your own business directory website.
Creating a Directory Website With WordPress
Creating a directory website with WordPress is rather easy. All you need is a high-quality WP directory theme—one that's been designed specifically with business directory websites in mind. Discover more great WordPress business directory themes in this curated article:
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m using the Point Finder directory WordPress theme. Let’s dig into how to install and setup this theme.
1. Install Your WordPress Directory Website Theme
Once you’ve selected the theme and downloaded the zipped file to your computer, you’ll need to get it installed on your WordPress website. Navigate to your WordPress dashboard and click on Appearance > Themes. From there, click on the Add New > Upload theme.
Click on Choose file and select the zipped theme file from your computer. Then click on Install and once the theme is installed click on Activate.
2. Install the Necessary WordPress Plugins
Once the theme is activated, it will notify you that it requires additional plugins to function properly. It is highly recommended to go ahead and install them to get the most out of your website.
In the notice that shows up in your dashboard, click on Begin installing plugins. It will take you to the screen with all the plugins necessary for the theme. Click on the checkboxes next to each plugin and then click on Install. When all the plugins have been installed and activated, we can move on to setting up the theme.
3. Import the Demo Content
Many themes today come with one-click demo import which speeds up the setup time. It allows you to import example posts and pages and to set up the theme to look like the demo. It also allows you to spend more time on customizing your colors, fonts, and other visual aspects to get the theme looking the way you want it to.
The Point Finder theme comes with several options for demo content import. This option is found under Quick Setup and it will allow you to choose between several options:
- Default Without Demo Content: This option will configure the theme to use the colors used in one of the demos but no actual demo content will be installed.
- Default With Demo Content: This option installs the demo content without configuring the custom fields and the search field.
- Multipurpose Directory, Real Estate, and Car Dealer With Demo Content: These options will preconfigure the theme to look like the demos offered on the theme’s website and installs all the necessary content including posts, pages, custom, and search fields.
I’ve chosen the option to import the directory demo and you can see that the listings are taking shape:
The pages have been installed and the theme even configured a menu that’s ready to use. However, we are missing the images for our listings and we need to replace the content with our own.
4. Edit Your WordPress Directory Theme Pages
If you’d like to edit any of the pages, all you need to do is click on the Edit page link in the WordPress admin bar. The Point Finder theme comes with the Visual Composer plugin which allows you to drag and drop various page elements in place. Simply click on any of the preloaded elements to move them around, delete them, or click on the + sign to add a new element.
You can also change the number of columns in any of the content rows. Adding any additional pages can be done by clicking on Pages > Add new. You can then use the Visual Composer plugin or use the standard page editor to enter the desired information.
5. Replace Listing Information With Your Own
Editing preloaded listings is easy. Go back to your WordPress dashboard. In the sidebar menu, you’ll notice the theme includes a custom post type called Places. Clicking on it will allow you to view all the demo listings that were installed.
You can click on the individual listings and replace the information that’s there. There are also several custom fields which allow you to specify the listing type (or the category it belongs to). You can set it as a featured and verified listing, add a location, an image, and more.
To add a new listing, click on Places > Add New and enter all the necessary information.
6. Configure and Customize the Directory Theme Settings
Once you’re done adding your own listings, you can configure additional settings in the Options Panel. Click on PF Settings > Options Panel. From here, you can set up your PayPal account, upload your own logo, change the colors, set up your grid and search options, and much more.
What Should Your Directory Website Include?
No matter which type of directory website you decide to create, there are a few essential things you should include to make it more appealing for both visitors and those who would like to submit their own listing.
1. Focus On Quality
It goes without saying that the primary focus of your directory website should include quality listings rather than quantity. While you might be tempted to let anybody submit their own listing for the sake of increasing your profit, bear in mind that people visit directory websites to find reliable and quality information.
Since some of the themes include the ability for visitors to leave ratings, you don’t want to find yourself running a website that points out nothing but bad service providers or dubious listings. It could seriously hurt your credibility and leave the impression you’re only in it for the money. It’s worth spending a few extra minutes to verify the submitted listing and deciding on whether or not you should include it on your website.
2. Search and Filter Options
Considering directory websites usually have a lot of information, it’s necessary to include search functionality so your website visitors can look for a specific listing quickly. If you take it a step further and include the ability to search by location, industry, or a specific category, you’ll make your website that much easier to use for visitors who need to find a specific service provider or a specific business fast.
3. Front-End Submission Form
Most directory websites include a submission form so any business owner who is interested in submitting their own listing can easily do so. After all, it would be unrealistic to expect you to have all the information and know absolutely every business in your area.
By allowing business owners to submit their own listing, your workload is cut down and it allows you to monetize your website which is the appeal behind owning your own directory websites. Front-end submission forms are especially useful considering you don’t have to give anyone the access to your WordPress admin area.
4. Integration With a Payment Processor
The last but not least important feature is the ability of the theme to integrate with payment processors. This will ensure payments are processed in a timely manner and in a lot of cases it avoids manually having to remind customers that their invoice is due. Most modern themes offer integration with PayPal which is an easy way to collect payments.
Launch Your Own Directory Website!
Directory websites come in many shapes and sizes. Thanks to our professional WordPress directory themes, creating your very own directory has never been easier. Take advantage of this unique niche to create an additional income stream or to launch your first online business. Also, if you're on a budget, you can still get a premium website design with one of our free WordPress themes.