Directories are highly useful to find new businesses or providers based on particular search criteria. Not only that, but directories can also be used by a company to provide an online listing of their employees, for instance.
There are a myriad ways to use online directories, and if your site is powered by the website builder and web hosting solution WordPress, then you can add a directory simply by installing a plugin. But which one should you use? That’s always the daunting question, so in order to make the selection process easier, we’ve looked at five of the best on offer.
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Business Directory Plugin is a good all round tool. It’s easy to install and set up, and it’s highly customisable. It’s also integrated with Yoast SEO (check out our guide on the best WordPress SEO plugins), to easily associate keywords to Google searches. This plugin offers you full image support, is easily scalable, is able to be monetised and can even process recurring payments.
Not all features are available to all though: there are three plans, and as usual, the next one up the chain offers more than the one beneath it. The cheapest option is Basic, currently valued at $99.50 per year, and allows you to take payments through PayPal, enables file uploads and supports category images. Pro ($199.50 per year), lets you embed Google Maps, allows you to offer your visitors discount codes, and enables search filters. And Elite ($299.50 per year) includes support for Stripe payments, grants access to all themes, and can be installed on an unlimited number of sites.
Connections Business Directory has a great hook to get you to start using it: it’s free. At least the basic plugin is free, however it’s a good way to include a simple directory on your website.
The developers make their money by offering a range of premium templates and extension packs. These include features such as CSV import, a Form so visitors can submit their details to be added to your directory, and Custom Category or Entry order, to let visitors list your directory in a specific way rather than just alphabetical.
These extensions can be purchased separately, or acquired through a bundle (if you’re looking to get a few, a bundle is often the cheapest option). Prices can range from $29.99 for all Extensions for one site, to $299.99 for all Extensions and Templates on an unlimited number of sites.
GeoDirectory is another free plugin which comes with a raft of features, some of which would be considered “premium” by others. These include being able to drag and drop custom fields onto your listing, adding custom sorting options, check a business’ opening hours, and even search by proximity. It can also be integrated with Ninja Forms to support unlimited contact forms. You could easily design a complex and thorough directory without spending a penny.
There are of course more advanced features which come at a price. These include Location Manager (to turn your local directory into a more global one), Pricing Manager (to help you monetise your directory), and GD reCAPTCHA (to filter out spam).
You can buy each add-on individually or grab yourself a membership which gives you access to all add-ons and templates for a discounted price. This would cost you $199 per year (other more expensive options are $129 half-yearly, or $99 quarterly), and there’s also a one-off Lifetime price of $995.
Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro is a pretty powerful plugin, with enough power to let you create a directory (or an army of directories), on any subject you’d care to imagine. Best of all, this plugin offers many of its features for free, such as Custom Fields, Frontend Listing Submission, Featured Listings, and Email Templates to name but a few. You can create pretty intricate custom directories with this plugin with little effort.
If you want to make money out of your directory, then you’ll need to pay for the privilege. Unlike other similar plugins, there’s only one plan, which simplifies everything really: a yearly subscription of $95.88 grants you access to all premium features which include PayPal and Stripe payment gateways, WooCommerce integration, and CSV import and export features.
Directories Pro is an elegant plugin, and although it doesn’t offer a free option, it's pretty affordable next to many of its competitors. Its use of caching makes it very responsive, both on desktop and mobile platforms. It offers advanced search and filter capabilities, drag and drop editing, map integration, CVS import and export, and also paid listings (although there’s a catch to that one, see below).
One feature we quite liked was the ability to clone a directory to build multiple directories quickly and easily based on the original.
The price of the plugin depends on whether you’ll be charging visitors for access to the directory or not. For free access, it’s $39 per year for a single site. Paid for access bumps the price up to $195.
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