8 Best Tools to Build a WordPress Directory

Have you ever wanted to build a WordPress directory site similar to Yelp, Linkedin, Biznik, or Foursquare? If so, you are not alone.

Business directory sites are great places to promote and build community in your industry niche. Not that you want to compete with Google search, of course. You are not that crazy. You just to offer a site with high-quality, localized listings of businesses that would otherwise be flung far and wide on Google.

And, a WordPress directory site is a nice source of passive income. Once built and marketed, the revenue rolls in from advertising and value-added listings.

So said Jeff Rose at the Vancouver WordPress Meetup last Thursday. Rose is a software developer and the creator of Shop Crosstown (Now defunct), a Vancouver business directory site. His talk focused on the tools required to launch a WordPress directory.

Rose said the reasons to start a business directory are many and varied:

  • Promote business, groups, locations and events
  • Local search is huge because people want to shop locally
  • Google loves this kind of unique content
  • Make money selling listings, add-ons and advertising

Among other things, he advised would-be directory builders to:

  • Know your audience
  • Get the most bang for your buck
  • Decide what features your site needs


Think Features

When planning a WordPress Directory site, he said, think about the features you need. Compare them with what the theme offers and what the add-ons will be later.

Here are some of the possible features your site might include:

[twocol_one]Unlimited Listings
Claim a Listing
Listing Categories
Ratings and Reviews[/twocol_one]
Multiple Cities
Google Map Integration
Multiple Price Packages
Feature Variance According to Price
Hidden WordPress Backend[/twocol_one_last]

Not only does Rose know a lot about building a WordPress directory, he also knows code. Having researched many different plugins and themes, he has strong opinions about which tools are good to the core and which to ignore.

Rose laid these out in a Powerpoint presentation, which he has posted here.

What it comes down to building a WordPress directory, there are two approaches:

Use your favourite theme and add directory-type plugins to it
Use a directory-type theme with all the features built in

Having researched the myriad of options available, Rose covered them all, good or bad. Of those, these are the tools he recommends.

WordPress Directory Plugins

biz directory plugin, blogsitestudio.com
Business Directory – Freemium.
Quick and features rich. A solid piece of software to start with. Upgrades start at $49, packages $199, multisite $399

wp directory plugin, blogsitestudio.com
WP Directory Plugin- Paid
Usable with any theme, has Facebook page integration, basic, it works, but is hyper marketed as witnessed by the landing page.

January 21, 2015: Click here to read about the newest incarnation of WP Directory Plugin, now named WP Directory Ninja. Its features will blow you away!

Start Your Free Trial Today!

WordPress Directory Themes

directory, blogsitestudio.comDirectory by Templatic
A brand new theme with nice child themes, full-width map, active support forums. But complicated. Basically 1 theme + 2 plugins. Confusing. Hard to change price packages. $99 -299

directory, blogsitestudio.com Directory Portal
Good theme but the map cuts off below the fold and it is hard to navigate. Comes in 5 colour schemes. Strange pricing: $55 for first installation, $2750 for additionals.

directory press theme, blogsitestudio.com
Directory Press
An old timer among WordPress directory themes. Its 20 themes are mostly colour and alignment changes. Good for website, business, affiliate or classifieds. Offers unlimited installations, and good admin and user experience on the dashboard. $79 -199,

sabai directory, blogsitestudio.com
Constantly updated, developer friendly, multiple maps styles, uses short codes and widgets $25 – 125

vantage directory, blogsitestudio.com
A very large map, modern design, was recently updated, and offers built- in Paypal. $99 – 159

geotheme, blogsitestudio.com
This is Rose’s favourite, the one he uses for Shop Crosstown. It’s branched from Geo places, with improved code, is responsive and iOS app integratable, offers great support and active development, and has a busy user forum. $85 + $94 per year for support.

Rose said GeoTheme will soon be phased out for Geo Directory, which is an as-yet unreleased theme in a Freemium model.

This future GeoTheme will include plugins like: Events, Multi Location Manager, Pricing and Payment Manager, Dynamic Custom Posts, Claim Listing Manager, Ratings and Review Manager, Marker Cluster, Advance filters, Autocompleter, Duplicate Alert, and Share Location.


In closing, Rose said marketing is key to success with a WordPress directory site. Think about how you are going to get the business to respond and place listings. Having a marketing plan will help.

Do you have aWordPress directory site ? What plugins and themes do you like? Please leave a comment and tell us how you built it and how your directory is working.

And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to Blogsite Studio and get my free ebook, Secure Your WordPress Website. Cheers!

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