Wondering about the best way to create an online business directory website that improves audience engagement? Here are three steps to help you get started!
When you're building an online business directory website, connecting with your users is very important. An involved audience can lead to more listings and page views, and this in turn can help your site succeed. However, finding a way to boost user interaction can be tough.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies that should help you improve audience engagement. By providing your users with plenty of opportunities to interact with your directory, you can both capture and keep their attention.
In this article, we’ll look at why your business directory site can benefit from an active audience. Then we’ll show you how to make an online business directory website that encourages viewer interaction. Let’s get started!
Why online business directory websites need an active audience
Having an engaged audience is a positive thing for any website, but online business directories in particular can really benefit from this. Here’s why.
First, user-submitted listings are essential for site growth. Listings are what drives visitors to your directory, so it’s important to encourage as many businesses as possible to submit them and keep them up to date. Maintaining an engaged audience can encourage businesses to stay active on your site.
Second, working on audience engagement can help you to build a community around your website. Having a strong community where users actively engage with one another can keep visitors coming back again and again.
Finally, engaged audiences are more likely to submit reviews. Reviews are very important for directory sites, given that 87 percent of shoppers read online reviews for local businesses. The more reviews you have, the more appealing your directory site should be to new visitors.
How to make an online business directory website
Now, we’ll show you how to build a business directory with audience engagement in mind. All of the steps below use the Business Directory Plugin for WordPress. Be sure to have it installed and activated before you begin. You’ll also need the Claim Listings Module and the Ratings Module.
1. Set up your basic online business directory website
It's a good idea to start by creating the business directory page. When you activate the Business Directory Plugin, this may happen automatically. You may also be presented with the following alert:
If you see this message, click on Create required pages for me to complete the directory page setup. You can also build a directory page manually by entering the following shortcode onto any page:
Next, you can adjust the default listing settings. You can see your options by going to Directory → Settings → Listings:
There are many helpful options on this page that can help you boost engagement. For example, you can add time limits to your listings using the Listing duration for no-free sites (in days) option.
Setting a time limit may encourage businesses to keep their information up-to-date, which will also make your site more helpful for visitors. We highly recommend using this feature if you run a WordPress event directory.
On this page, you can also set up a comments option for listings, using the Include comment form on listing pages? option. This is a simple way to invite more feedback from your users and encourage interaction with your listings.
Finally, you can set up pricing plans. To do this, go to Directory → Fee Plans → Add New Listing Fee:
Fill out the fields as you like. You may want to pay special attention to the Is featured listing/sticky? and Listing background color options. Both of these settings can help premium listings stand out from free business listings.
2. Enable users to claim listings
Next, you may want to enable users to claim their listings. This can encourage businesses to pay more attention to their presence on your online business directory website. Plus, your audience might feel more confident contacting businesses listed on your site if they can see that you have verified their information.
To set this up, navigate to Directory → Settings → Module Settings → Claim Listings:
First, you can decide who the default owner of listings that are not claimed will be. We recommend that you choose the site admin. You may also want to select Notify admin of new claims?, as this can help you stay aware of what's happening on the site.
It's also a good idea to customize your claim listing templates. These are the default messages sent to users if their claims are approved, require payment, or are rejected. Just like with adding geodirectory features, these messages can make your online business directory website seem more professional.
Additionally, you may want to add a reCAPTCHA to claim listings. This can cut down on spam entries.
Finally, we highly recommend that you require businesses to enter a Claim Reason along with their contact information. This can help you ensure that all of your listings are high quality.
3. Add ratings and reviews
Finally, you can add star ratings and reviews to your directory. These offer users an opportunity to share their opinions about businesses listed on your site.
This can really help to boost engagement and foster a sense of community among your audience. Additionally, this can encourage more interaction from listing owners, as your site will become a valuable source of feedback for their large and small businesses.
To add a ratings and reviews option to your site, head to Directory → Settings → Module Settings → Ratings:
First, make sure that you’ve checked the Enable ratings box. This will allow your front-end users to submit their opinions.
Next, consider adding a Ratings threshold. This is the minimum number of ratings that must be submitted before they’ll be displayed (so a business won't have a very low rating from a single review).
Requiring registration for ratings may encourage more users to sign up for your online business directory website. However, you may also want to allow unregistered users to post reviews. Doing so can increase the number of reviews you receive.
If you choose to allow ratings from unregistered users, be sure to keep a close eye on their quality. One way to avoid any problems is to approve all of the reviews before they go live on your site. You can do this by clicking on the Admin must approve reviews? box.
Finally, you might want to notify each listing owner of any new ratings. This can help them reach out to potential customers and address any complaints quickly.
An online business directory website succeeds or fails based on its users. As such, you may be wondering what the best way to cater to them is. Fortunately, if you build your directory with user interaction in mind, you can easily boost audience engagement.
Here's a recap of how to build an online business directory website that does this:
- Set up the basic aspects of your online directory.
- Enable businesses to find their business and claim their listings.
- Add ratings and reviews for your audience on your review site.
If you’re looking for extra ways to perfect your online listings, Business Directory Plugin has plenty of other powerful features. Check out what else our plugin can help you do today!