Want to build a local business directory using WordPress? Here are five tips to make your WordPress local business directory shine.
Looking to turn your WordPress site into a directory site? With a solid plan and the right tools, you can create a directory website in less time than you'd think!
To help get you started, we're going to give you five tips to build your WordPress local business directory. Here's what we'll cover:
- Tip #1 – Choose the best business directory plugin
- Tip #2 – Research your local market
- Tip #3 – Build your directory listings
- Tip #4 – Grow your audience
- Tip #5 – Enhance your site with plugins
When you are building a local directory site using WordPress, there is a lot to consider. No matter what type of directory you build, a solid plan will help keep you on track.
So with that in mind, let's go through our top five tips!
Tip #1 – Choose the best business directory plugin
Unless you are a serious developer with a lot of time, a WordPress business directory plugin is a must. When it comes to building a business listings site, the right plugin can make all the difference.
This is something we've written about in our post: Best Business Directory Plugins for WordPress. There we list our top business directory plugins – here are our top 3:
And we also listed some honorable mentions as well, these are:
- Sabai Directory Plugin
- Connections Business Directory
Some of these plugins are free WordPress directory plugins with premium add-ons. Others are premium-only plugins you would purchase on Envato Market and Themeforest.
Which one do you choose?
Essentially, any of these six options will help you to make your directory website. The top three options provide the broadest range of features though. Plus, they've all been around for several years and have dedicated support staff to back them up.
Whichever plugin you choose, you'll want to look for the following features:
- Drag and drop builders
- Advanced search options
- Ratings and reviews capability
- Custom field options
- Responsive layouts
As with any WordPress plugin, try before you buy! Not all of the above options have free versions though. Still, the point is to make sure you like the plugin before committing to it financially.
Every plugin is different, and many of them have a variety of options. For example, Formidable Directory allows you to make a business directory, a staff directory, or a user directory. GeoDirectory focuses on larger ‘global' directories (but can still work fine for a local one).
How about a WordPress directory theme?
Many users will be tempted to buy a WordPress theme specifically for directories. This might seem like a good idea, but there are a few issues:
- Themes are not updated often
- They offer limited support
- WordPress updates often break them
Of course, a popular and well-supported WordPress theme can be very useful for your site. But usually, a niche theme devoted to local business directories will suffer from the above problems.
Tip #2 – Research your local market
Next, you'll want to do a bit of research to figure out how to best serve your local market. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can my background and experience help me build a better directory than my competitors?
- Is there an underserved market that would benefit from a local directory?
- Do I have any competitive advantage in the local area?
You want to build a local directory that has a chance at success. If you really like eating out, your passion alone may not be enough. If there are a few local restaurant directories (plus Yelp and other competitors), then it might not be the best idea to create another one.
Don't be afraid to think big, though. Maybe a city guide style of directory could work in your area? Even Yellow Pages had to start somewhere!
Tip #3 – Build your directory listings
You'll need to get started by building up your directory listings. It's kind of a chicken and egg problem. Nobody will submit listings to a site that looks empty. But you need those submissions!
Here's are a few things you can do to get started:
- Contact local businesses and offer them a free listing
- Attend networking events and encourage local businesses to submit their listings
- Advertise on other popular sites in your local area
- Connect with businesses on social media
- Cross-promote and partner with businesses in your area
You've got to do a bit of leg work to get the ball rolling. It won't happen magically all by itself!
Tip #4 – Grow your audience
Once you've got some listings rolling in, your next step is to begin promoting your local directory to people in your area. You want to target people who you think will be potential users of the site.
There are many ways to approach this challenge. Depending on your area, you can try both online and offline marketing tactics.
Budget is always a concern, so think carefully. Here are a few ideas you can try to grow your audience:
- Advertise online: Try social media ads or ads on hand-picked local sites that aren't competitors.
- Newspaper ads: Although less targeted, newspaper ads could still be worth a try if you are targeting a local audience.
- Build a social following: Curated content from your listings could be a great way to connect people to your site.
- SEO: Optimizing your site for search engines could bring in new users passively.
- Blog: Content like blog articles can further boost your SEO and bring even more targeted traffic to your site.
Tip #5 – Enhance your site with plugins
Here's the reality: you're never really done building your site. As your audience grows, so should your site!
With that in mind, there's probably a lot more you can do to grow. One easy thing you can do to improve your site is to install some useful plugins. Don't go too far and install too many plugins though! That can slow down your site.
Here are a few no-brainer plugins that any site needs:
- Form builder plugins: There are a number of great WordPress forms plugins that can enhance your site's ability to collect data.
- Security plugins: Take a look at the WordPress plugin directory to find backup plugins and firewall plugins to prevent cyber attacks.
- SEO plugins: A WordPress SEO plugin can help you simplify your approach to SEO.
- Site speed plugins: There are many plugins that can help you speed up your site in various ways.
Building a WordPress powered local business directory is no small task. But once you get the basics figured out, it can become a very lucrative pursuit.