Directories are a popular and profitable kind of website. Directory websites list products and services for users to browse. They are databases that deliver information based on location and category. They can contain a large amount of data in the form of listings under different categories.
Directory websites come in all sizes and shapes: complex, simple, local, national, global, or niche. Some well-known examples of directory websites include Yelp, Angie’s List, Craigslist, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and many more.
If you want to start a directory website, the best place to begin is identifying a niche in your local area. You can make money by charging listings for normal or featured listings. You can also earn money by displaying advertisements or offering membership packages.
However, keep in mind that creating a custom directory website can be a massive undertaking that costs a ton of money. Directory plugins are the best and cheapest option. Their authors have thought of just about anything a directory website will need.
In this post, I’ll show you some premium directory plugins available on CodeCanyon.
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Suppose you’re on vacation in a city you’ve never been to before. You went to a popular website and read about the attractions the city offers. You read reviews of several hotels before booking one. Now you want to go out for dinner. You check that popular app on your mobile to see what restaurants are in the area. A few interesting places catch your eye. You read reviews by customers who’ve eaten there. You decide on one that has the best ratings based on the reviews you’ve read. There is even a map to show you how to get to the restaurant from your hotel!
Or another scenario: imagine pipes in your house are leaking, and you have to find a plumber fast. You go to a website that lists plumbers in your area, see how they have been rated by other users, read some reviews, and find the right one.
Maybe you want to buy a car. You search through the massive online listings for cars available in your town.
When you rent an apartment or buy a house, you look on websites with local real estate listings.
If you want to buy a blender, you go to Amazon and search for blenders that fit your budget.
If you're looking for a job, you search through job postings on job websites.
Examples of directories are endless. They are the most popular kind of website.
What Is a Directory Website?
Directory websites contain a massive amount of data in the form of listings under different categories. They list products and services and even personal information for users to browse. Essentially, they are databases that deliver information based on location and category. You can list just about anything.
Directories are curated listings. Directories are community driven. Directories produce user-generated content. Directories generate a lot of traffic!
Directories provide tools like robust search bars, searching by filters, pictures, location information with maps, product information, contact details, and more.
Some directories are public: to help customers find store or business locations, list the names of doctors and their specialties, etc. On the other hand, some directories are private for the internal use of a business or organization.
Types of Directory Websites
There are so many kinds of directory websites. If you’re looking to start your own, these niche examples should give you some ideas:
- classified ad listings
- lists of coupons and deals—e.g. Groupon
- business listings—e.g. Yellow Pages
- job listings
- event listings
- real estate listings
- automotive guide
- hotel and restaurant guide
- city guide or local directory
- travel websites
- video directory—e.g. YouTube or Vimeo
- web link directory
To start your own directory website, you will require a WordPress directory plugin.
What Is a Directory Plugin?
A plugin is a piece of software that allows you to add a specific function to your WordPress website. It saves you the time and headache of creating that functionality from scratch.
A directory plugin is a piece of software you add to your WordPress website to help you create your own directory website.
Why Should You Use a Directory Plugin?
Building a directory website from scratch is a massive undertaking that will cost you a lot of time and money. Fortunately, directory plugins have all the groundwork covered, and they are very affordable.
Once you buy and install a directory plugin, you get many out-of-the-box features to get you started. Your main focus will be running your directory website.
Ways to Make Money Through a Local Business Directory
- displaying advertisements
- charging listing fees—normal listings and featured listings
- membership subscriptions
- booking and reservation—users trust directories and prefer to do the booking and reservation through them
What to Look for in a Directory Plugin
- Front-end submission: An efficient and manageable front-end submission system is a must. This will make it easy for you to maintain the listings and will let you crowdsource listings.
- Location-based searches with integrated maps: any directory that deals with physical locations, stores, or services will need location-based search and maps.
- Tools for customers to rate and review businesses.
- Ease of use: it needs to be easy to add listings and make changes to them.
- Easy to customize: so it can integrate seamlessly with the design of your website.
Compatibility across all browsers and devices—especially mobile devices, including touch responsiveness.
- Integration with payment gateways.
- Integration with email marketing platforms like MailChimp.
- Ability to integrate with booking and reservation plugins so visitors can book and reserve without leaving the directory.
- Search engine optimization (SEO).
- Shortcodes to make it easy to add a directory anywhere on your website.
- Back-end tools—for analytics, generating reports, etc.
Finally, keep in mind that directories generate a lot of activity. High activity has the potential to slow down your website, which can turn off your visitors. Your hosting provider should have the capacity to handle it.
Now let’s take a look at some of the best directory plugins on CodeCanyon.
Web 2.0 Directory Plugin is a multi-purpose WordPress directory plugin. You can use it to build classified ad websites, events directories, listings for cars, bikes, boats and other vehicles, restaurants directories, real estate listings, wedding directories, yellow pages, local directories, etc.
That’s not all: Web 2.0 Directory Plugin can convert any existing website into a full-featured directory.
Some features of this multi-purpose directory plugin include:
- fully compatible with WPBakery (Visual Composer) and SiteOrigin page builders
- customizable search by content field and location-based search
- CSV import/export/update with the ability to import image files
- ability to include YouTube and Vimeo video attachments for listings
- Google Maps and MapBox (OpenStreetMap) integrated
- SEO friendly—fully compatible with Yoast WordPress SEO plugin
They have done an incredible job putting this plugin together. It's loaded with features and for the price is an incredible value!
Directories Pro is a WordPress directory plugin that you can use to build all different kinds of directory websites.
Features of Directories Pro include:
- robust front-end for submitting listings
- integration with WooCommerce, PayPal, Stripe, MailChimp, WPBakery (Visual Composer), and Yoast SEO
- 13 language files in the language directory inside the plugin: Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Persian, Arabic, and Swedish
Using Directories Pro, you can earn money by charging for any of the following:
- add a listing
- claim a listing
- view a listing
- make a reservation
- sell a VIP badge
- book an appointment
User jordannktelco says:
A very robust plugin that is functional. Excellent customer support when requested, couldn't ask for more.
If you want to build any number of directories with a single install or easily clone and migrate directories by exporting and importing directory settings, then Directories Pro has got you covered.
Types of directories you can build with this versatile, feature-rich WordPress plugin include website directories, property directories, and community-driven local business directories like Yelp.com or Yahoo! Local.
- Allow users to submit and manage their content from the front-end without going to the back-end dashboard.
- Display listings on custom styled maps with advanced features such as custom area search, geolocation, and full-screen map.
- Let businesses or users claim their own listings. A verified listing will allow them to edit their data and keep it fresh and relevant.
- Use popular contact form plugins to add a contact form to listings. Supports Contact Form 7, WPForms, and Gravity Forms.
I tried other directory plugins in the past and this one is top of the line. Totally customizable, tons of features and support is remarkable. All at a great price.
Sabai features the ability to build community-driven local business directories like Yelp or Yahoo! Local.
Some key features include:
- Search listings by keywords, category, distance, and location, with user-friendly auto-suggestion features.
- Add any number of rating criteria such as price, quality, service, and food, with beautiful rating charts to help users visualize ratings.
- Monetize your site with paid listings. Create multiple pricing plans. Process orders and track their progress with complete order history.
- Support for PayPal, Authorize.net, 2Checkout, and Stripe payment gateways, including recurring payment options.
User simplifiedrs says:
Great product, tried different tools in the past but always come back to this one as it simply suits all my needs.
This plugin is easy to use—once you install the plugin, it will create all the necessary pages, email templates, and settings.
You can also customize your own listing detail page using WPBakery (Visual Composer).
Features of the Real Estate Pro directory plugin include:
- Integration with WooCommerce, PayPal, Stripe, MailChimp, WPBakery, and Yoast SEO.
- New listings will display with a new badge icon. The website administrator can set the number of days the badge icon will appear.
- Create unlimited subscriptions and memberships, including a free account tier.
- Offer coupons for signup or coupon packages and set coupon limits and expiry dates.
- Users can interact with each other: for example, users can see who is interested in their listings and contact them directly.
- Translatable with 13 language files in the language directory inside the plugin: Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Persian, Arabic, and Swedish.
Fantastic plugin with amazing support! Perfect for my client's real estate website! Thank you for all your help!
Simple Link Directory Pro is your go-to plugin when you want to curate content.
Using this WordPress plugin, you can create the following kinds of directories:
- link directories, e.g. resource pages or listings
- video galleries, like a YouTube video directory or video database
- and so much more
Some features of this great plugin include:
- Easy to use: creating lists is a breeze. Each list item needs only a title, link, and an image. The subtitle is optional.
- Highly customizable templates with modern, fully responsive designs.
- Robust front-end user registration, login, and link submission forms.
- SEO friendly.
- You can monetize your directory by charging for paid listing and claim listing features.
Check out the live preview and see for yourself what makes this plugin great.
User drlitross says:
Nice plugin, nice code and nice support. It has everything or almost everything you want in a directory of links... 100% recommended.
Unlike the other items on this list, Business Directory Ionic is not a WordPress plugin. Instead it's a mobile app with a powerful content back-end included. Together, these make a complete store and business listing solution.
Users can easily browse through businesses and stores using filters like category, name, or distance. Store and business owners can display and promote their products, services, news, contact information, and more.
Here is why you should use Business Directory Ionic for your directory website:
- no code knowledge or tech development required
- clean and user-friendly interface
- highly customizable structure, with modular architecture
- comes with carefully curated color themes
- easy installation, detailed quick start guide
- easily maintainable data, via the Firebase or Backendless GUI
- free updates, with new features being added constantly
- works on Android and iOS with a single codebase
- quick and efficient support
Once you install this plugin, it will automatically create all the necessary pages, email templates, and settings. You can also customize your own listing detail page with WPBakery (Visual Composer).
Features of the Hospital and Doctors directory plugin include:
- integration with WooCommerce, PayPal, Stripe, MailChimp, Visual Composer, and Yoast SEO
- robust front-end submission system
- create unlimited subscription and membership types including free accounts, one-time payment, recurring payment, free trial, paid trial, and variable payment packages
- offer coupons with limits and expiry dates
- users can see who is interested in their listings and contact each other directly
- translatable with 13 language files in the language directory inside the plugin: Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Persian, Arabic, and Swedish
Check out a live preview and see if this plugin is what you’re looking for.
User ccollett says:
Quality plugin, does exactly what it says. Excellent support, author is very responsive.
The Hotel Listing plugin is a perfect choice if you’re looking to set up a directory website for listing hotels, motels, hostels, bars, and restaurants.
Once you install it, the plugin will create all the necessary pages, email templates, and settings. You can also customize your own listing detail page using WPBakery (Visual Composer).
Some features of this plugin include:
- integration with WooCommerce, PayPal, Stripe, MailChimp, Visual Composer, and Yoast SEO
- easy-to-use front-end submissions
- unlimited membership types and plans
- many options for creating and offering coupons
- translatable with 13 included languages
Lovely plugin which can be added to form a seamless feature on your website. Beautiful design and fantastic support. Thank you for designing something I had been looking for—for a very very long time.
The Everest Business Directory plugin is the easiest way to create and manage business directories. This advanced plugin is loaded with lots of powerful features that you need to create an outstanding business directory.
Some features of this plugin include:
- Front-end directory submission: users can easily submit their business or product to your directory right from the front-end, using the simple submission form.
- You can manage all your directory submissions right from the directory submission dashboard. You can label featured directories with a single click.
- Highly configurable submission form: you can ask your users to add any details that you need, such as contact information or links to social accounts.
- Elegantly designed form templates and advanced search, with options to search by keyword, location, category, and tag.
- Advanced Google Maps integration for directory listing and the ability to pull addresses from Google Maps directly.
By far one of the best directory plugins. Easy to use, light weight, and comes with great customer service.
Directory websites are some of the most popular sites on the web. And they can be very profitable. If you’re looking to start one of your own, the plugins I have covered—and more—are available on CodeCanyon.