How to Make a Directory Website with WordPress

Discovery.

It’s the main facet of a successful directory website.

Visitors will come searching for some sort of establishment, and your site provides a search experience that Google can’t. With a well-made directory website, you can help visitors discover new restaurants to try, hotels to stay at, or businesses to hire.

Regardless of whether you want to create a site like Yelp or a simple link directory, you’ll find the steps you need to follow outlined clearly here.

How to create a directory website

There are just a few simple steps to follow to put your site together. The most important aspect is that you select the right tools.

Here’s an overview of the process.

  1. Pick a great domain name
  2. Select a webhost
  3. Install WordPress on your site
  4. Pick a WordPress theme
  5. Launch your site

If you’re not sure where to start, this can all be a little intimidating, but by the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done.

Before we get started, here’s a little motivation to move forward…

Preview of your site

I have a variety of designs to recommend, but here’s a preview of the one I recommend first.

ListingPro

This directory theme can be used to create gorgeous and highly-functional directory websites. I hope you’re excited to create a site like this of your own.

Let’s move on to the first step.

By the way, you may also enjoy our guide on creating a site like Yelp or how to make a website like TripAdvisor.

Choose a domain name

The very first step is to get a domain for your website. This is the address visitors will type into their browser to view your site.

The domain name of this site is competethemes.com which includes the top-level domain or domain extension.

Visual representation of a domain name's components

Don’t be fooled.

At first, it may seem like the challenge is in coming up with a good name, but the real challenge is coming up with a name that is memorable, on-brand, and available for purchase. While you could buy a domain from a broker which will likely run you a couple thousand dollars, I always recommend trying to find an available domain first which will only cost about $10/year.

If you want some help with a process for finding an available domain name, our research guide here will help a lot.

Pick a host

Your website’s files will be stored on a server that will deliver them to each visitors browser when they arrive at your site.

You’ll be renting space on someone else’s server which is called hosting. There are lots of hosts available, but my first recommendation for new WordPress sites is always Bluehost.

Bluehost
Click here to make your site

They’re easy to signup with and use, and they’ve been around for a long time. My first WordPress site was launched using Bluehost about 8 years ago and they continue to offer a great service.

When you signup with Bluehost, they’ll also allow you to register your domain name with them for free when you create your account. This is a great way to save a few bucks if you haven’t registered your domain yet.

While Bluehost is a great web host, I also recommend WP Engine if you’re looking for something with a little more power. I use WP Engine to host this website and enjoy fast load times and great performance. This, of course, comes with a higher price tag, so I’ll let you decide if the service is a good fit for your business or not.

You can read my WP Engine review for more details.

Install WordPress

Installing WordPress on your site will give you access to the world’s most popular website builder. WordPress itself is free and always will remain free.

Another benefit when you signup with Bluehost is that they’ll automatically create a WP site for you so you can skip this step entirely. Right after you create an account, you’ll see a screen like this to select a theme.

Themes

They offer a few recommendations here, but you will be switching themes to something designed for a directory, which brings us to the next step.

Pick a WordPress theme

There are lots of themes designed for creating directories, but a few stand out. My first recommendation is the ListingPro theme.

ListingPro
Click here to see ListingPro now

This theme has an awesome design and works well with the modern type of directory site that has become popular. Namely, sites like Yelp. As you can see from the screenshot, it’s easily adapted to fit a variety of niches.

the amount of functionality included in this theme is extreme. Visitors can create accounts to leave reviews and favorite establishments, or signup as businesses to add their own listings. You can easily monetize the site by charging businesses to add listings to the site.

Listingpro Update
Some of the most recent additions to the ListingPro theme

The listing pages themselves can include a ton of details beyond user reviews and basic descriptions. You can also include hours of operation, distance, map embeds, and “near me” indicators just to name a few.

Since ListingPro auto-locates the visitor’s location, you can cover a huge range of regions with your site and have it automatically present only the most relevant places to each visitor.

Alternatives to ListingPro

As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of great themes to choose from when creating a directory website. While ListingPro stands out as a gorgeous, feature-rich option, there are plenty of solid alternatives.

To see the top alternatives, check out this list of the best directory WordPress themes.

Directory WordPress Themes

You’ll find more than a dozen awesome themes for building your website there.

As an additional alternative, you could choose any theme you want and then use a plugin to add the directory functionality to your site. If you’d like to explore that path, consider these top directory plugins for your site.

Directory WordPress Plugins

While the themes recommended will provide you with a complete solution, the plugins can offer a lot more flexibility by integrating with any WordPress theme.

Launch your directory site

With your site built, the final step is to prep for your launch.

There’s no right or wrong way to build a userbase for a site like this, but two-sided marketplaces typically work best when attracting content creators first. Focus on a niche to get started and get some businesses signed up, and then work on promoting your site to end users.

By following the steps included here, you can build an awesome site for your audience and you’ll be prepared to handle all of the visitors and signups.

To outline the steps one more time:

  1. Pick a great domain name
  2. Signup with Bluehost
  3. Install WordPress on your site
  4. Pick a WordPress theme (ListingPro is recommended)
  5. Launch your site

Once you have your site online you can begin promotion and attract a profitable audience. I hope this guide has shown you how possible it is to build an awesome directory without writing any code, so you can build the site you’re dreaming of.

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