What comes to mind when you think of ways to monetize your WordPress website?
It’s easy to come up with common techniques like advertising, e-book or course sales, or membership sites.
But what about directories?
Thinking of directories might bring to mind the early days of the web, when browsing Yahoo’s web directory was easier than relying on primitive search engine algorithms.
But directories are still a relevant marketing method for businesses today. One of the most important things a local business can do to improve their SEO is submit their information to various online business directories – not only the big directories like Yelp, but also niche directories catering directly to their target audience.
Adding a directory to your WordPress website can not only be a monetization method for your blog, but it can also be a great resource for your audience. You can pick and choose which listings will provide the most value to your audience, and position yourself as a go-to expert in your niche.
If you already have an existing WordPress blog, it’s easy to add a directory to your website with a simple plugin. Here’s how.
About the Business Directory Plugin
The aptly-named Business Directory Plugin is a free plugin available from the WordPress directory. The free version allows you to add a directory to any website, and there are also premium modules available to add more functions and features.
Business Directory Plugin is frequently updated, and it has a 4.7 star rating. Many of the reviews focus on the ease of setup and use of the plugin, useful tutorials and documentation, and the fast and knowledgeable support provided by the developers.
With the free version, you can:
- Add a directory listing to any page with a shortcode
- Create submission forms with fully customizable fields
- Create a free directory, or accept one-time or recurring payments via Authorize.net
- Charge a premium fee for sticky/featured listings
- Enable reCAPTCHA to weed out spam listings
- Allow submitters to edit their own listings, without WordPress dashboard access
Various premium modules allow you to:
- Accept payments via Paypal, Stripe, or other methods
- Set up coupons and discount codes
- Add Google Maps embeds to listings
- Allow users to upload images
- Allow users to claim existing listings
- Offer different levels of featured listings
- Add 5-star ratings to your listings, with rich snippets
- …and more
Individual modules start at $59.99 for a single site license, but there’s also a combo pack available that includes all of the modules together, starting at $199.99 for a single site.
How to Use Business Directory Plugin
Step 1: Install and activate the plugin
You can download it from the plugin directory, or search for it and install from your WordPress dashboard under Plugins > Add new.
After activating it, the plugin will prompt you to create a directory page to display your listings.
Step 2: Create your directory listing page
Go ahead and click the “Create required pages for me” button to create the directory page.
Under Pages on the dashboard menu you’ll see the new page has been created with the required shortcode:
Step 3: Adjust your basic settings
You’ll notice that there are two new menu options in your dashboard: Directory and Directory Admin. The first is to add and manage your listings, while the second has all the settings and options.
Go ahead and click on Directory Admin. You’ll see a little welcome message with links to documentation and quickstart guides.
You can click on the first button, Configure/Manage Options, to get started.
Here you can choose options like:
- Require visitors to register before submitting, or allow anyone to submit
- Enable reCAPTCHA to prevent spam submissions
- Set terms and conditions submitters must agree to
- Publish submissions automatically, or set them as pending until you approve them
- Enable and customize various email notifications to you and to submitters
- Choose your payment settings, including currency
Step 4: Modify your form fields
There are already some default form fields set up for a basic business directory, but you can customize them by navigating to Directory Admin > Manage Form Fields.
Review the current form fields, and decide if there are any you’d like to add, modify, or delete.
Step 5: Create categories
You’ll notice that with the current settings, the Business Genre is required. That means we’ll have to set up categories.
Just navigate to Directory > Directory Categories, and add them as you would for your posts. Make sure to include an “Other” category in case a listing doesn’t fit the available options.
Step 6: Test your form
Navigate to your new business directory page (by default located at www.example.com/business-directory/) and click the Submit a Listing button.
Fill out the form and submit to make sure it works correctly. (You may want to logout of your WordPress dashboard and use an alternate email address to test the form, just to be sure.)
Be sure to double check that any email notifications you have set up are working properly, too.
Step 7: Link to your directory page
Once you’ve verified that everything’s working as it should be, you can add a link to your directory to your main menu.
You can also consider adding a link to submit a listing (located at www.example.com/business-directory/?action=submitlisting).
Step 8: Let everyone know!
Make sure to let your audience know about your new directory!
To get the ball rolling, add a few listings yourself. Then share your new directory on social media, your email newsletter, your blog, etc.
Tips for a successful directory site
- Get the word out and ask for submissions! Be sure to include a CTA (call to action) in prominent places on your website, asking for submissions.
- Make it easy to submit new listings. Test your submission form yourself to make sure it works as intended.
- In order to have a successful directory, just like with blogging, it’s best to have a narrowly defined niche. A general business directory will have a tough time competing with Yelp et al, but a hyper-local or industry-specialized directory won’t have many direct competitors.
- If you’re selling listings, consider creating a click-through landing page to convince visitors of the benefits of buying a listing. (Check out our post on 4 Powerful WordPress Landing Page Plugins For Serious Bloggers for more info and tips on landing pages.)
Adding a directory to your site is a great way to monetize a blog that not many people think of in this day and age.
But directories are still relevant and useful to businesses! And by using the right WordPress plugin, you can completely automate the process to create a nearly passive income source.