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A restaurant directory is a website that allows foodies to find all the info about a certain place, check its reviews, rates, take a look at its menu, and so on. With such websites, anyone can find a place that matches all their requirements, starting with the cuisine and ending with an average check. Moreover, you can enjoy your meal without even leaving your home, by simply ordering food delivery.
However, besides being really useful websites, they may be a great source of income for their owners. Just take a look at Yelp or Zomato, the most popular restaurant directories around the globe, with millions of dollars in revenue. These are the most prominent examples of how to make money with a restaurant directory.
In this short tutorial, we’ll show how to create a restaurant directory website using WordPress. We’ll go step-by-step from the basic installation to extending the website functionality. Also, we’ll briefly cover several ways of monetization of a restaurant directory to show how you can make money as an owner.
Before we start, make sure that you have a clean WordPress installation. Also, in this guide, we’re going to use HivePress, a free multipurpose WordPress plugin that allows you to create any type of directory and listing websites. Also, we need a WP theme to create a restaurant directory. As an example, we’ll use ListingHive, a free WordPress directory theme that is minimalistic and fully compatible with HivePress.
So let’s go to the first step.
The first step is to install the theme for a restaurant directory. You can install ListingHive directly from the WordPress dashboard like any other free theme. Simply go to the Appearance > Themes section and click “Add New”. Now find it with the search bar, install it, and finally activate the theme. Once activated you’ll get a suggestion to install the HivePress plugin. We recommend installing and activating it to enable the core functionality of your directory.
Also, if you have any troubles with installing ListingHive – you may follow the screencast that shows the whole process step by step.
That’s it, you’ve made the first step towards building your own restaurant directory website. Let’s move to the next one.
Now you need to split the directory into categories to make it easier for users to browse restaurant listings. Let’s imagine you want to add the “Breakfasts” category. In order to do this, navigate to the Listings > Categories section. Then specify the name of the category, fill in the description field if necessary, and don’t forget to upload the category image. Finally, just click the “Add Category” button to make this category available on the front-end.
Now let’s add some more categories in the same way, for example, “Lunches” and “Evening Meals”. Keep in mind that you can create as many categories as you need. It may be different cuisines or types of meals as in our example.
Once you are done with categories it’s time to add some basic listing attributes. You can do it in the Listings > Attributes section, just click on the “Add New” button and fill in the fields depending on the type of attribute you want to add. For example, let’s add an “Average Cost” attribute. To get a better understanding of how it works let’s go over each section:
- Editing – in this section, you’re dealing with the main settings of the attribute. Set the type of the attribute, choose whether to allow its front-end editing. For our example with the price, we’ll select the “Number” type and allow front-end editing so users can set the average cost when adding a new listing.
- Search – here, you adjust the attribute search settings. For the price example, we need to mark this attribute as sortable and filterable so users can easily find the restaurant according to their budget. But if you’re creating some text attribute (e.g. “spicy”) it’s recommended to mark it as indexable too, so users will be able to find it via the keyword search.
- Display – finally, you can define how the attribute appears on the listing pages. Set the area where you want to display your attribute and choose its format. For our Average Cost attribute, let’s set a
$%value%format to add the currency symbol before the value.
That’s it, now you can add as many attributes as you want in the same way. For example, it may be a “Delivery” one or “Outdoor Sitting” or “Cuisine Type” – this depends on your restaurant directory niche and requirements. But don’t forget to make them searchable so users can narrow down the search and find exactly what they were looking for.
Now, let’s add a new listing. For example, let’s add the first listing to the Breakfasts category and name it “English Breakfast”. However, let’s do it from the front-end to get a better understanding of how it works for users. To do this go to your website, click the “Add Listing” button and select a certain category.
Upload the listing image, fill in the listing title (e.g. “English Breakfast”), description and other required fields. Once you complete the listing submission, you’ll be redirected to the listing page. If the listing moderation is enabled in HivePress > Settings > Listings > Submission section, the listing has to be approved by the admin before it appears on the front-end.
Additionally, we recommend going through all the HivePress settings in the HivePress > Settings section, just to make sure that your website will function in the same way as you expect it to.
Setting Up a Front Page
Now it’s time to add and set up a homepage for your restaurant directory. Since HivePress is integrated with the WordPress block editor, it’s really easy to create and edit any layouts. For example, let’s add a new page to display the search bar and the categories. To do that go to the Pages section in the WP dashboard and click the “Add New” button.
Next, you can fill in the page title (e.g. “Home”) and start adding the layout blocks. Simply click on the “Plus” icon and select the “Listing Search Form” block. That’s it, now there’s a search bar on the page. In the same way, you can add any of the directory-specific blocks, for example, a “Listing Categories” block that displays the restaurant listing categories.
The finishing touch is to navigate to the Settings > Reading section and set this newly created page as the front page. Now you can check the homepage and the new blocks you added.
Extending the Functionality
The next step is to enhance your website with extensions. In the previous steps, you’ve created a restaurant directory and set up its basic functionality but now it’s time to extend it a little bit. There are many different features you may add to your website to make it great instead of just good.
For example, you may install the Geolocation extension that allows users to search listings by location. It’s vital for the restaurant directory to have a location search, so foodies can easily reach the place that they found on your website. Another useful extension is Reviews, which allows visitors to rate and review each restaurant. It’s an essential feature for any successful restaurant directory because users always check the place rating before visiting it.
One more necessary feature for a directory is to show users when the place is open for visitors. You can enable this functionality with a few clicks by installing the Opening Hours extension.
As you can see there are lots of options of how to extend the functionality of a restaurant directory and make it more user-friendly. All the top-level directories, like Yelp or Zomato, have the features mentioned above. Remember that there’s always room for improving the usability of your website.
Monetize a Restaurant Directory
Finally, we are going to talk about the revenue and how to make money with the restaurant directory. The first thing you should bear in mind is that monetization is possible only with decent traffic on your website. So, first of all, you should take care of the user experience and the quality of content. Only after you gain enough credibility and build a wide audience, it’s time to think about monetization.
There are several ways to monetize a directory website but we’ll cover three that are the most popular for a restaurant directory:
Let Users to Claim Their Listings
The first way is to let businesses claim their listings for a fee. For example, you can list restaurants by yourself and then get in touch with the owners of those restaurants and offer to claim the listings. They will be able to edit their listing details, view statistics, reply to customer messages and reviews.
Besides being a highly profitable yet simple monetization model, it’s also a great method to keep your directory up-to-date. The business owners will be updating their listing by themself so the correct and relevant info will always be displayed on your website.
With HivePress, you can do it by using the Claim Listings extension that is created especially for this purpose. Once you install it you can start charging users for claiming listings.
Promote Listings for a Fee
Another great way to monetize a restaurant directory is to make certain listings featured for an additional fee. For example, some restaurant owners may want to have their listings at the top of the search results on your website. If you have a sought-after directory then many owners are probably willing to stand their listings out from the hundreds of similar ones.
Here you may find helpful the Paid Listings extension that allows you to mark any listing featured and as a result, it’ll appear at the top of search results.
Host Ads on Your Website
One more killer option to make money is by hosting ads in your restaurant directory. You can simply integrate your website with Google AdSense and earn money by displaying ads. In this case, your revenue will depend on the number of clicks on those ads.
However, beware of displaying too many ads in your directory. It may negatively affect the experience your users receive, and too many ads will make your site look unprofessional and as a result, users are less likely to return to it.
That’s it! As you can see, creating a restaurant directory with WordPress is as simple as following the 6 steps discussed before. After you build a restaurant directory you should focus on driving traffic to your website. Once there is a decent amount of traffic you’ll be able to turn your directory into a profitable business in several different ways.
So, if you decided to build a restaurant directory website using WordPress, keep in mind that you can easily create it with the ListingHive theme and the HivePress plugin. They are both free, lightweight and suitable for building any type of directory and listing websites.
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