I have had a recent inquiry on how to build a Local Business Directory using WordPress and thought that I would take the time to write a post about.
Using WordPress to build a local business directory can be a lucrative way to make money as well as to get local clients for Local SEO’s as well as Local Web Designers.
With WordPress becoming the Content Management System of choice more and more users are looking for ways to leverage and customize WordPress to do things other than blogging and building a local business directory is one of them.
That being said, a number of themes and plugins are available and while I have not used them all I will share them with you.
1. Directory Press from www.DirectoryPress.net
I have not personally used this theme but it does look promising.
Some of the strengths that I see in this theme is that it allows directory owners to set their pricing structure to free, one time payments or weekly, monthly yearly subscriptions with the ability to auto delete expired listings. Another plus to this theme is that advertising space is already built-in, which is missing in the current local theme that I am using (which I’ll share with you next) The theme also has a the ability to feature certain listings over others, which is another way to monetize a business directory as well as Google Maps integration to show exactly where business’ are located. The user admin looks fairly clean as well, although as I have stated, I haven’t purchased this theme (yet). It also includes 25 different templates for the theme so that you do not have your directory looking exactly the same as everyone else.
However, one weakness that it looks like it may have is the fact that it uses the native blog post categories for the business listings. Which frankly can get confusing and is not necessary since WordPress added the ability to add Custom Post Types to the WordPress installation that you are using.
The theme currently costs $79 which when you think about the cost that you would incur to hire a developer to build this from scratch is a very reasonable price.
This is the theme that I am using on www.edmontonlocalbusinesshub.com which is an online business directory for the city of Edmonton in which I live.
This theme has a lot of great features which influenced me to finally buy it over others. Those features being the fact that I can add coupons to the site for directory listings, with the popularity of sites such as Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com its no wonder that this is a feature that drew me to the theme as it gives me an advantage to make the site more popular. The front page is also fully customizable in the fact that you can choose between a map listing or an image slide show. Frankly I prefer to go with the map listing over the slide show as after all people are looking to find a business so I want to make it as easy for them as possible. Users can also manage their own listings by registering and signing up. Paid subscription management is also a feature of the theme that makes it appealing. The theme also has a built in Place Details listing page which you can view here and as you can see a photo gallery is created from the business listing and the business details are listed on the site in a very easy to read way. Built in reviews is another great feature of the site as visitors can rate their experience and share their thoughts about the business that they have visited. My one criticism of the theme is that it uses the native WordPress categories post types for the business listings rather than creating a custom post type, albeit they have done this for the events listings however I’m not sure why the didn’t implement it for the business listings. Reason being it can be very confusing as you have to use the word “blog” for your blog post category. It would be much, much easier if they had created a Custom Post Type for the business listings rather than using the native post types but I don’t want to beat a dead horse.
3. City Guide from Woo Themes
Again this is a theme that I haven’t used but looks promising. It is very focused on being a local business directory theme but doesn’t seem to have as many features as the previous mentioned themes. It does have all the features needed for a local business directory but frankly I’m not impressed with the design of the theme. The pages listings aren’t as detailed as Geo Places and it doesn’t have a photo gallery for each listing as with Geo Places. It seems to me from the demo that this theme also uses the Native WordPress categories for the listings rather than creating a custom post type and quite frankly I can’t see any reason to buy this theme over the other two mentioned but you can check it out if you like.
4. Directory from WPMUDEV.ORG
This is a plugin that I have access to but haven’t implemented. Just want to be straight with you as I have a membership to www.wpmudev.org but haven’t taken the time to test out the plugin yet. That being said it looks like it has a lot of promise as not only is it a plugin but it also comes with page templates to transform your WordPress installation into a powerful directory. It has similar features as the other themes such as the ability to charge for directory listings as well as space for advertising and the ability for users to submit ratings and reviews. Not only that but it also has what I have talked about before which is custom post types for the business listings (and you can even import the business listings, which is something I had to pay someone to do for GeoPlaces) Still a con of this solution is that it is a plugin that will work with your theme so you will have to customize the page and look of the site to match whichever theme you are using. Also it doesn’t seem to have as nice of a page listing as Geoplace nor does it include an image slider or image gallery for the individual listings.
5. WP Directory Pro http://www.wpdirectorypro.com
Frankly the only reason I’m mentioning this plugin is so that you DON’T BUY IT. I’ve not used it but really from the esthetic’s of the site it isn’t something that I would buy. The design is very sloppy and confusing. Even though the price is listed at $39 I wouldn’t even bother wasting my money. I don’t mean to be crude but if you seriously want to invest time in creating something that is going to attract people to your site you want to use something that has a bit more of a professional look.
There are other options out there for using WordPress to create a local business directory but its not worth your time or mine to mention them.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below.