In the simplest of terms, a business directory is a list of businesses in a certain industry, niche, area, etc. It’s used by people who are interested in one of those fields to find potential businesses that can help meet their needs.
While it may seem simple enough, there’s a lot you can do with a business directory and there’s even money to be made from it. Business Directory Plugin (BDP) exists to help those interested in starting a directory do so on their WordPress page with the least amount of hassle. This article will walk you through how to get the most out of your directory right from the start.
Determine Why You Want to Create a Directory
Establish your purpose from the very beginning. Why you wish to create a business directory in the first place? There are a number of reasons that could be motivating you.
For example, you may be looking for a way to drive user interaction on your site. Having a business directory is a good solution, as it gives users something they can browse, revisit and reference.
A business directory can also be an effective way of making revenue. A Chamber of Commerce is a good example of this. Build a successful directory and many businesses may be willing to pay you for the benefit of being featured or listed on your site as well.
Building a successful business directory can also go a long way in building your own influence. For example, if your website is focused on a particular niche, having a business directory that also focuses on this niche can be another reason people look to you as an expert in the field.
Lastly, you could simply feel compelled to create a business directory due to market demand. People may constantly be asking you for references or information about businesses in your field or you may have noticed these conversations happening elsewhere. Building the directory on your own can fill the existing need.
Business Directory Plugin fits all of these use cases very nicely, as well as others. These are just a handful of the many reasons you may feel it makes sense to build a business directory. The important thing is to establish why you want to build a business directory, as this will ultimately influence the entire process and the end result.
Use the Language of Your Target Audience
For example, would your business directory be better served if it could be understood in different languages? After all, many sites nowadays focus on users who aren’t necessarily fluent in English. Likewise, consider how many tourists would enjoy the services of a reliable local business directory. Coming from other countries, though, means they might not be fluent in English either.
Business Directory Plugin makes it incredibly easy to cater to this audience. You can simply use poEdit in conjunction with BDP. This will allow you to translate from one language into POEdit Text File Editor another or to change the values of certain labels.
After you’ve downloaded poEdit, go to “File > Open…” and find “WPBDM.po.” If you haven’t already, you can download the default one from wp-content/plugins/business-directory-plugin/languages. Then do the following:
- Right-click on the field you want to change and choose “Copy original to translation field.”
- In the bottom box, change the wording to how you want it. For example, I changed “Item Price” to “Item Price (don’t use a dollar sign).”
- Repeat the last step for ALL strings in the file or those you wish to change.
- Save as “WPBDM-[language_code].po.” It will automatically create the .mo file: “WPBDM-[language_code].mo,” where “[language_code]” is your ISO country/language code, like en_US (English in the US), fr_FR (French in France), de_DE (German), es_ES (Spanish from Spain), etc. Valid ISO language codes can be found here.
- Upload both of these files to the wp-content/plugins/business-directory-plugin/languages directory (PO and MO).
Note that not every string is included in the PO file. For example, the form field labels are translated by going to “Directory Admin->Manage Form Fields.” Some strings are also in the general tab of “Directory Admin->Manage Options” as well. Please be aware of this.
Bootstrap the Directory with Content
No matter how great your website is or how niche the market you’ve targeted is, you can’t expect your business directory to be successful if you can’t provide users with something useful in it almost immediately. Where that content comes from or how you get listings will depend greatly on your local industry.
The good news is once your business directory gains enough content to be successful, it should create a snowball effect with other businesses seeking you out to volunteer their information. Since you have a chicken-and-egg problem until you do get this effect, the question is how to start.
The best way to get started many times is simply input it manually yourself. Once you have a source of data, it’s just a matter of typing it in. Of course, if it’s a lot of data, you can always CSV Import the information as well. This is another function Business Directory Plugin is tailored to assist with.
Start with a CSV that is the correct format. If you’re going to import images within your listings (more on the importance of that in a moment), you’ll need to include a separate ZIP file that has all the images contained on it. Your CSV file should reference the names of these images in its “images” column. The details of a successful CSV import can be found here.
Business Directory Plugin can manage categories for import two ways, either by “Auto Create Categories” or “Generate Error If Category Is Not Found.” “Auto Create” is especially good for new installations where you already have a set of categories you want to use. On the other hand, if you already setup your categories manually, the “Generate Error” option is beneficial, as it will make sure your import conforms to the existing structure.
If needed, you can assign your imported listings to a user by using the user_id column in the CSV file. This is helpful where you want the users to manage their listings directly instead of the burden being on you.
The user_id needs to match a login name of an existing user on your WP site. There will be an appropriate box to check for this option. If you check the box and a listing does not have a defined user_id in the CSV, you can simply assign it a default user such as the site admin.
That’s enough for today. We’ll cover more tips including the use of images, customizing the look and feel of the directory and advanced features in Part Two.
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