by Juan Robin II
The Internet is full of directories. In fact, your website might already be listed on some directories right now.
Depending on the scenario, directories have multiple applications and use cases. For example, Yelp is a popular option for consumers to find a restaurant or service in a specified area based on their search parameters, while a directory like Angie’s List connects people with contractors for things like electrical work, landscaping, and plumbing.
Both of these websites are very different, yet, they are both directories.
Essentially, directories are databases. They serve as an easy way for users to find more information about a particular subject or business.
Regardless of your business type or industry, there’s a good chance you can find a way to implement a directory on your website. Law firms use website directories to list their lawyers and employees. Real estate companies have directories for their listings as well as their agents. A retail chain probably has an online directory for its store locations.
If you’re using WordPress, adding a directory to your website is simple. You just need to install a plugin.
Key features of a WordPress directory plugin
Since the word “directory” is so vague and has tons of potential applications, it can be a bit challenging at times to find the best WordPress directory plugin for your website. So before I go through my list of the top options for you to consider, I want to briefly explain what to look for in a directory plugin.
- Payment options (for those of you who will charge for directory listings)
- Location-based searches with integrated maps
- Fully customizable form fields
- Easy ways to add and adjust directory listings
- Ways for customers to rate and review businesses
- Back-end tools
- Front-end submission features
- Shortcodes that make it easy to add a directory anywhere on your site
- Media support
You won’t necessarily need every feature on this list. It really depends on your company, your website’s purpose, and the type of directory you’re trying to create. As we continue through this guide, you’ll see these features and many more offered by the directory plugins I’ve listed. So use this list as a reference to help you find the best WordPress directory plugin for your site.
GeoDirectory has one of my favorite search interfaces of all the directory plugins on the market. With GeoDirectory, you’re able to create a massive global directory on your website. This is a great option for those of you who are looking for a free WordPress directory plugin as well.
They make it easy for website visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for without sacrificing the look and visual appeal of your website.
This plugin offers a front-end form that allows other businesses and users to submit listings, so scaling your directory is limitless.
When someone searches for a business on your website, the listings are displayed by proximity, so users can see the closest and most relevant options to them first.
As the name implies, GeoDirectory is integrated with Google Maps. There is a large and clickable map next to every listing in the directory. Users can find directions to the location directly from that map without having to leave your website.
While most of the features are free, you can buy add-ons for things like:
- Paid listings
- Multi location support
- Advanced search
- Option for businesses to “claim” their listing
GeoDirectory is also multi-site compatible, so I recommend it to developers who will add it to their clients’ sites or to those of you who plan to build a network of directories.
If you’re building your directory website from scratch, you could also consider purchasing the directory themes from GeoDirectory as well. But, this plugin will work with any theme, so you’re not obligated.
Merchants with listings on your directory will have access to Google Analytics data. This feature will show them how much your site is helping their company. You can use that to potentially justify your pricing if you plan to charge for listings.
Overall, GeoDirectory is a top option for anyone who wants to build a large and scalable business directory.
2. Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro
Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro made my list is because its potential applications are seemingly endless. You can use it as a platform for classifieds, similar to Craigslist, or go a completely different direction and use this plugin for something like a directory of movie ratings. Maybe you want to add a travel guide directory, wedding directory, restaurant guide, or real estate portal to your website. All of these options are possible with the Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro plugin for WordPress.
Similar to other plugins on our list, Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro is free to install. But it offers premium add-on features that you can purchase. One of my favorite add-on features is the listings slider.
The plugin has a user-friendly interface for businesses to manage their listings on your website. This area also lets those businesses see their payment history and renew their listings directly from the platform. This plugin can integrate with Stripe, PayPal, and WooCommerce for payment processing, and even supports offline payments, meaning you can accept checks from local businesses that don’t want to pay online. This can be a way for you to save some money by avoiding a payment processing add-on. Merchants will automatically be notified via email when their listings expire. They will also receive a confirmation message when payments have been received.
Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro lets you organize listings by category, which is something you should take advantage of. An advanced search widget is also available from Advanced Classifieds and Directory Pro, so users can narrow their options by category, location, keywords, and more. All of these flexible features make this one of the best WordPress directory plugins you’ll come across.
3. Business Directory Plugin
The Business Directory Plugin is an all-in-one option for WordPress directories. It offers some of the key features that I look for in a directory plugin:
- Media support
- Customized form fields
- Payment processing
You can also purchase add-ons to enhance your directory with the Business Directory Plugin. If you’re going to use these add-ons, I’d recommend buying the package. The combo pack is $199.99 for a single site and $399.99 for multiple sites. It may sound pricey initially, but considering the price for each add-on starts at $69.99 and $139.98 (for a single site and multiple sites, respectively), it’s actually a great deal.
They have add-ons for premium features like:
- 2Checkout gateway
- Discount codes
- Ability for businesses to claim listings on your site, similar to Yelp
- Google Maps integration
- File attachments module
- PayPal gateway
- Stripe integration
Even though you’ll have the option for premium add-ons, you can install and use this plugin right out of the box for free. The plugin also comes with a built-in reCAPTCHA tool to avoid spam listings on your directory.
The Business Directory Plugin also has a featured-levels module. This is perfect for those of you who are using this directory to generate recurring sales by implementing subscriptions. Here’s how it works: You can set up your site to offer specific features for paid listings. For example, a business that pays to be listed can have unlimited character counts, images, and maps, whereas a free listing wouldn’t get these features. Business Directory Plugin even lets you specify between payment tiers based on the features you offer.
This plugin really gives you all of the tools that you need to compete with the giant names in the directory industry. I’m not saying that all of you should try to be the next Yelp or TripAdvisor, but if that’s your goal, you should definitely consider trying the Business Directory Plugin. I think it’d be super smart to create a directory in a very niche area that’s not well-represented or easily searched for in an existing directory.
4. LDD Directory Lite
LDD Directory Lite is extremely easy to install, which means you can get a directory up and running on your site in just minutes.
It’s another free WordPress directory plugin with add-on options available for purchase. Compared to some of the other plugins out there, these premium upgrades are fairly inexpensive, ranging around $10 to $20.
The LDD Directory Lite shortcode makes it possible for you to add a directory to any page or post on your WordPress site. Once the shortcode is added, the directory gets generated automatically. This solution makes it one of the most lightweight (hence the name) directory plugins available.
Once the plugin is installed, you have seemingly endless customization options. You completely control how the directory looks and feels on your site. Some of the top add-ons include social media and Google Maps integrations.
By using this plugin, you’ll benefit from a modern design. It’s ideal for WordPress users who aren’t too tech-savvy and don’t want to play around with confusing features, but still want a good looking result.
LDD Directory Lite is compatible for front-end submissions. It’s easy for website visitors to view your listings and navigate without any trouble as well.
You can set up email notifications related to listings. Businesses that have listings on your site have the power to customize and make edits from the front end as well.
I recommend it to anyone who wants a simple directory plugin that’s powerful and won’t weigh down your website.
5. Directories Pro
Last, but not least, is the Directories Pro WordPress plugin. It’s extremely responsive and uses caching to optimize the performance of the directories from both desktop and mobile devices.
The plugin offers an advanced search and filter for your visitors. You can even enable an auto-suggest feature in the search forms.
All of the fields are completely customizable. Each listing can have fields like tags, locations, reviews, and categories.
One of the best features of Directories Pro is the content display editor. It’s easy for you to use the drag and drop editing options to customize the directory without having to use any code. Some of the other top features include:
- Map integration
- Paid listings
- Claim listings
- CSV import and export
- Customized email notifications
With Directories Pro, customers can rate and review the listings on your directory without having to register, login, or create an account. So you’ll likely get more reviews that will improve your directory.
It’s easy to build multiple directories with this plugin as well. You also have the option to clone or migrate your directories from one site to another. All of these features make Directories Pro one of the best WordPress directory plugins for developers and average users alike.
There are so many different ways to add a directory to your website.
Some of you might be trying to create giant business directories that will compete with the big players in this industry. Other websites will create local directories in niche categories. You might even just want a directory for something simple, like your staff.
Regardless of your situation, you can add a directory to your WordPress site with ease by installing a plugin. So use this guide to narrow your search. Look for the option that has the specific features you need to help you find the best WordPress directory plugin for your website.