A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Directory Website with WordPress

Directory websites are wide and varying, covering a host of industries and categories. WordPress also makes it quite easy to create professional directory sites. We’ll talk about the steps needed to build one of these websites, but before, let’s find out what exactly a directory website is.

What Is a Directory Website?

 A directory website is an index of the web on the web. In simpler terms, it’s a site that lists products and services you can look through. If you are interested in creating a directory website in WordPress here’s the ultimate step by step guide to getting it done.

To set up you WordPress site, first check out reliable web hosting to power your website. View WordPress hosting plans here.

How to Create a Directory Website with WordPress

To create a directory website with WordPress, there are five major steps you’ll need to take. These include:

  1. Choose a niche
  2. Find a way to monetise
  3. Take care of branding
  4. Set up your directory website
  5. Implement the main features

1. Choose the niche

It’s easy to want to skip to choosing a theme, web host and features for your directory site, but don’t. Before you start doing those things, you will need to decide on what you will be listing on your directory site. If you need help deciding on a niche, here are a few things that should help you.

  • Research
    • What would you be interested in listing
  • Analyse 
    • What is there a demand for?
    • What’s the trend in the area you’re interested in?
    • How large is the market?
    • Who are your competitors?
    • Who are the target customers?

2. Find a way to monetise

You’ve researched, analysed and decided on a niche. The next step is to decide, how you will make money from it. When you get to this question, you’ll want to consider the three of the most common ways to monetise.

  • Sell space for advertisers
  • Charge for listings
  • Create a membership
  • Sell space for advertisers

You will be able to sell advertising space on your website once traffic starts to grow and you can use Google AdSense to ensure you get the most relevant ads for your clients.

  • Charge for listings

Monetisation has a lot to do with the traffic to your website. The more your traffic grows, the more able you are to diversify your income stream.

So not only can you sell advertising space, you’ll be able to charge companies to list their products and services on your site.

  • Create a membership

Work on making your directory website a reliable source of listings in whatever niche you decided on. Once that’s done, you will be able to charge users to access your information and because your listing will have loads of potential clients, businesses will be willing to pay big bucks for access.

3. Take care of branding

It’s almost time to start the actual building of your directory website, but there is one more thing you’ll need to do before.

Plan your branding strategy and you’ll want to do this by considering your clientele, which will more than likely fall into two categories- those looking for listings and those who are looking to sell listings.

You’ll also want to contemplate important aspects of your brand like:

  • Your name 
  • Is there a particular look you want your website to have? Think of things like theme, colors, font style, etc.
  • Your blogging style – What’s your tone?
  • Content wise, what will work best for you?

You can also use social media to drive traffic to your site and grow and expand your brand. Read more about what to do after publishing your website.

Setting up Your Directory Website

It’s finally time to set up your directory website. How do you do that?

There are four basic things you will need to do.

  1. Choose your website platform
  2. Select a reliable web host
  3. Customise your site
  4. Pick the Plugin

1. Choose your website platform

WordPress.com and other free website platforms are good options if you are trying to be cost effective. But, if your intention is to monetise your directory website, you should opt for a more robust website platform like WordPress.org.

WordPress hosting has a number of advantages, including the fact that it gives you total freedom to customise your site to suit your needs and those of your users.

2. Select a reliable web host

It is crucial that you choose a reliable web host for your directory website, particularly if you are planning to monetise it.

Traffic to your site is also expected to spike and this requires a reliable host to manage that increase. Otherwise, you’ll be experiencing frequent downtime, which is pretty bad for business.

So when you’re selecting a web hosting provider, look for one with a track record of reliability.

3. Customise your site

Each website boasts a certain level of uniqueness; something that makes it stand out from others. This ‘uniqueness’ is achieved through customisation.

So as soon as your WordPress website is installed decide how you want it to look and then choose a theme that best captures the look you are going for.

To ensure you are choosing the best theme, ask about the frequency with which the theme is maintained; how responsive the layouts are to different screen sizes or if it supports plugins, among other.

4. Pick the Plugins

Not sure which plugins to pick? Do a quick search for directory plugins and you will get a list to choose from.

But how do you know which one is best for your site? It’s not very difficult.

Ensure the plugin you choose can help make life easier for you as it relates to creating the features you will need to power your site and add to its uniqueness. However, remember to install only the plugins you need as too many poor-quality plugins can slow down your system and cause security issues. Read more about ways to handle WordPress breeches here.

The rule of thumb is quality, not quantity.


Directory websites are easy to create, thanks to WordPress. The steps are pretty simple and straightforward and once followed, can open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.