Many people are thinking about building their own car listings website to connect local sellers and buyers or even turn it into a more extensive marketplace that matches customers and vendors around the country. It’s a pretty popular idea since owning such a website may become a profitable online business. What is even more tempting is that you can create a fully functional car directory website without writing a single line of code.

If you’re thinking of building your own directory, keep in mind that the easiest way to launch a car dealer website is by using a content management system instead of coding it from scratch. We recommend using WordPress and some of the directory plugins combined with a premade theme. It’ll save you tons of time and effort in designing your unique website.

In this walkthrough, we’ll show you how to create a car dealership website with WordPress. We’ll also use HivePress, a free multipurpose plugin and ListingHive, a free WordPress directory theme that goes with all the necessary features for building an automotive directory.

Let’s get started!

Installing WordPress Theme

The first step is to install the WordPress theme for your car dealership website. Since we’re using the free ListingHive theme, you can install it directly from your WordPress dashboard by going to the Appearance > Themes page. Next, click on the Add New button and use the search bar to find ListingHive. Then, proceed by installing and activating the theme.

Once you activate ListingHvie, there will be a link to install the recommended plugin – HivePress. It’s crucial to install this plugin since it’ll power the directory functionality on your website. Simply follow the suggested link and install the plugin.

When finished with the theme installation, you can move to the next step and install several add-ons to enhance your website with extra functionality.

If you have any issues with installing the theme, you can follow the step-by-step screencast below.

Installing Add-ons

Bear in mind that a car listing site is a complex platform that requires dozens of specific features, and that’s where ListingHive extensions come in handy. There are 10+ add-ons that you can install from your WordPress dashboard in order to extend the functionality of your car directory. Let’s briefly take a look at some of them.

For example, you can install the Favorites extension that allows users to keep a list of favorite car listings while browsing your website. It’s a useful feature that improves the user experience on your website.

Also, if you want to easily integrate your website with Google Maps, you can’t go wrong with the Geolocation add-on. It enables location-based search and allows your customers to search car listings by location. It’s a crucial search filter for any car dealership website since most of the users narrow down the search to some certain area.

One more helpful feature is to allow users on your website to communicate with each other via private messages. In order to enable this option, you can install the Messages extension, so customers will be able to reply to car listings, send attachments and simply chat with car sellers.

We mentioned only three extensions, but you can check the whole list of add-ons available for ListingHive and install those that are required for your website.

The list of the HivePress add-ons.

In order to install any extension, navigate to the HivePress > Extensions section, locate the feature you want to add, click on the Install button and proceed by activating it. Similarly, you can install other extensions necessary for your car listings directory.

Splitting Directory into Categories

Once you are done with setting up the core functionality, let’s dive into the content creation for your car dealer website. We suggest dividing your website into categories first. For example, let’s add several categories depending on the vehicle type, e.g., “Sedans,” “Vans,” and “Crossovers” categories to make it easier for customers to navigate your directory.

To add a new category, go to the Listings > Categories section. Within this section, you can enter the category name, fill in the description, upload the category image, set its order among other categories, and even organize your categories into a hierarchy.

When finished setting up your category, click on the  Add Category button. Keep in mind that you can add as many categories as required for your automotive directory and easily customize them in the way you like. 

Adding listing categories.

Adding Car Listing Attributes

Okay, now it’s time to add some fields specific to car listings. You’ll be happy to know that ListingHive goes without any hard-coded search filters or fields, so you can easily create custom ones in the Listings > Attributes section. For example, let’s add the “Make” attribute so users will be able to filter car listings by manufacturers.

Please note that any attribute can be customized in the following three types of context:

  • Editing. Here you need to enable the front-end-editing option in order to allow users to fill in the field when they submit new car listings. Also, you have to specify the attribute field type. In our example, we’ll set the “Select” type.
  • Search. In this section, you can set up your attribute as a search filter if you want to use it for sorting, filtering, or search car listings. Let’s mark our “Make” attribute filterable. Thus, customers will be able to narrow down the search when they are looking for a certain car make.
  • Display. The last section allows you to customize your attribute’s display format and assign it to different listing template areas, thereby changing its front-end appearance.

Once you are done with the attributes settings, click on the Publish button.

Adding car listing custom fields and search filters.

Your next step is to add the attribute options by clicking on the Edit options button. For example, let’s add  “Toyota” and “Chevrolet” options. Similarly, you can add as many options as needed for your automotive directory.

Adding car listing custom fields and search filters.

Additionally, you can add the “Year” attribute to allow setting a year of manufacture for each car listing. To do that, navigate to the Listings > Attributes section one more time and click on the Add New button.

Now set the attribute name, allow its front-end editing and select the attribute type. For this one, we’ll use the “Number” field type. In the next section, mark it as filterable and sortable. Then select the search field type. It’s better to select the “Number Range” field type to allow filtering listings by the year range instead of some specific year. Finally, set a custom display format if required.

That’s it! In the same way, you can add more custom fields and search filters, depending on your automotive directory niche and requirements.

Adding a Car Listing

In order to get a better idea of how your car dealership website works for users, let’s check the workflow of adding a new listing from the front-end. For example, let’s add the first listing to the “Crossovers” category. To do this, go to your website, click on the Add Listing button, and select the “Crossovers” category.

You’ll be taken to the submission form containing several required and optional fields that you have to fill out to submit a new listing. Firstly, you can upload the listing image and enter the listing title, let it be “Toyota RAV4 in perfect condition”. Then, you need to indicate the car make and set its manufacturing year (the custom attributes we previously added). Finally, fill in the description and submit the listing.

A car dealer website built with WordPress

If moderation is enabled, an admin has to approve a new listing in the Listings section. Once it is approved, the car listing will appear on the front end. However, if you don’t want to validate every new listing manually, you can disable moderation in the HivePress > Settings section.

Customizing the Front Page

Finally, you need to set up a homepage for your car listing website. You can easily customize the page layout using familiar blocks since ListingHive is fully compatible with Gutenberg and Elementor page builders.

In order to add a new page, go to the Pages > Add New section. First of all, enter the page title (e.g., Home) and add some layout blocks. For example, you can add the listing search bar to allow customers to search car listings by keywords right from the homepage. Simply click on the ➕ icon and choose the necessary block. Also, you can add a block that displays your directory categories and another one that shows recently added car listings.

Once you’re done with homepage settings, click on the Publish button. Your next step is to set this page as a front page of your car dealership website. To do that, go to the Settings > Reading section and choose your page in the drop-down list. Then save changes.

The homepage of the car listing website.

Monetizing an Automotive Directory

We’d like to devote the last step to the possible monetization models for a car dealer website. One of the best ways of making money with your directory is by charging car sellers for adding new listings. For example, you can create various listing packages with different restrictions and sell them to users.

Additionally, you can easily set up network adverts using Google AdSense, thus creating adverts that are relevant to a visitor’s recent internet search. Also, one of the simplest ways of making money on your website is by displaying banners or text ads in different areas of your website.

There are multiple ways to make money through a website. Some monetization methods are simple, some a bit more complex, but each of them can be a reliable source of revenue.  We strongly recommend not to chase them all at once and pick one that resonates with your website, especially if you have a new website with unstable traffic.

Conclusion

That’s it! As you can see, building your own car dealership website with WordPress is not a big deal if you’re using the right tools, so even a rookie can do it. However, launching a website is only half the battle, and now you need to put a lot of effort and time into making your automotive directory a rising star. You have to be patient and consistent in order to win customers’ trust, but once you get solid traffic – you can start monetizing your website.

If you are thinking of building your own automotive directory with WordPress, you may consider ListingHive. It’s a multipurpose WordPress theme that goes with all the necessary features for building an automotive directory right of the box. Couple it with the HivePress plugin, and you will get a ready-to-go site tailored to your business niche.

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