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how to start a directory website

How to Start a Directory Website Like Yelp

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Creating a Business Directory

Welcome to our easy to follow, step by step tutorial on how to build a website like Yelp. In this guide we will explain everything you need to start your own online business directory.

Our aim is simple; we want to help absolute beginners get started online, Without the need to Learn any Code.

build a site like yelp

Follow the steps in this FREE guide and you will have your own business directory up and running in no time.

You will even be able to charge customers for premium listings and turn your website into a fully operational enterprise earning real money.

This Build A Site Like tutorial consists of 3 easy to follow steps:

  • Step 1. Which Website Platform to use and why (CMS)
  • Step 2. How to choose your Domain name & Hosting provider
  • Step 3. How to Install the Website Platform & Classifieds Theme

Once completed, your directory will be ready to accept listings from your target market.

Click here to see a demo of what your completed business directory will look like

In a little over 30 minutes this website could be yours

So if you are ready, let’s dive in with step number 1..

Step 1: Which Website Platform to use & why

Choosing a CMS

One of the fastest ways to build a site like Yelp in 2018 is to use an already established website platform. This is called the “Content Management System” or CMS for short.

Why do website owners need Content Management System (CMS)?

A Content Management System makes life a lot easier for website owners. As a beginner you will definitely need one.

A good CMS will take away all the difficult stuff that creates a barrier of entry to web design. It provides a simple to use interface from which you can manage your website.

It also means a beginner can build a website without the need of knowing any complex code.

Another added bonus is that the world’s most popular CMS, a system called WordPress, is absolutely free.

We will take a closer look at WordPress in a moment. First, let’s explain a little on what the Content Management System does.

What does a Content Management System (CMS) do?


As we mentioned previously, the content management system allows the website owner to control every aspect of their site from an easy to use admin area.

You can think of this process similar to the way in which you login to your Facebook account.

Once you have access to your page you can post pictures, comments and updates all with just a few clicks of a button.

The CMS will allow you to do the same with your website. Once you are logged in you can alter the whole look of your website, (by choosing one of the many themes available).

You can also add new pages with written content and images, as well as install plugins that will increase the overall functionality of your website.

When creating a business directory website we will choose a theme and plugins, that will allow users to post business details, select the type of listing they require as well as accept payment for premium listings.

And we can do all of this without touching a line of code.

The whole system is very intuitive and is designed for absolute beginners to pick up and run with.

Why choose WordPress as the CMS for your Business Directory?


There are many reasons you should use WordPress as the CMS to your website like Yelp; here’s a few of them:

  • WordPress is absolutely FREE and perfect for beginners to use.
  • The internet is chock-full of WordPress guides and tutorials that can help you with any query you may have.
  • There are thousands of themes to choose from. These can be used to transform your website into any type of online business.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to increase the functionality of your website in line with your changing needs.
  • Your site will be ‘responsive’ which means it will adapt its design to any screen size.
  • WordPress is updated all the time in order to provide superior website performance, functionality and security.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to a build a business directory using WordPress

The rest of this guide will cover the practical steps of building your new website. This is what we will cover:

  • Choosing the best Web Hosting for WordPress
  • How to Register a FREE Domain Name
  • How to Install WordPress on to your hosting plan
  • How to Install a Business Directory Theme into WordPress
  • How to Upload the demo content that Builds your Website

Step 2: Hosting & Domain Name

In step one we talked about choosing our website platform and why you should use WordPress. This next step is all about choosing our hosting and Domain name.

Let’s spend a moment explaining the terms we have just used there:

  • Domain Name – The domain name is the web address that people will use to reach your website. is a good example of a well known domain name.
  • Web Hosting – Web hosting is the service you use to store all the data of your website. Every website online needs to have Web Hosting.

We’ve partnered with iPage, one of the best WordPress hosting providers available for beginners. If you sign up using the link below you will receive a whopping 75% Discount on your hosting plan & a FREE Domain Name


Note: If you sign up by using our links, we will earn a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you. We use those funds to run as a completly free resource. We aim to continuing improving the site, adding more valuable guides and helping beginners get started online.

In our opinion, iPage is the best beginner hosting service online today.

The service provides feature-rich WordPress hosting with excellent live support, starting at only $1.99/month.

Not only that, iPage will give you a FREE years domain registration as well as $500 worth of extras on sign up. It really is one of the best hosting deals around.

So let’s go ahead and purchase our iPage Hosting plan and register our FREE Domain Name.

Click this link to open the iPage Website in a new window

From the iPage home screen you need to click the Get Started Now Button.

You will find yourself on a screen where you will be asked to choose your domain name.

When creating this tutorial I typed in “”. I then pressed search to see if the name is available.

Nice, the domain name is available! 

If you find that the domain name you try has already been taken, don’t worry, this is very common.

The internet has been around for a long time and many of the more popular names have already been chosen. However, there are still many variations available.

You can either try a different name or maybe opt for a different extension, (the results page will display a list of alternatives with extensions such as “, or .site etc.)

You might even want to try “” as this is a new extension that is available without restrictions.

Anyway, once you have chosen a domain name that is available you can click Next, choose my term.

This will take you to a screen where you can choose a 1, 2 or 3 year term for your hosting plan.

The term you choose is up to you.

In the example above we have opted for a two year plan. (The plan total will be calculated on the right-hand side of the screen).

After choosing your hosting duration press Next, customize my plan.

This next page will display a number of options you can select for your website. They are as follows:

  • Domain Privacy – We recommend you select yes for this. Domain Privacy will help eliminate spam phone calls and texts from design agencies that have looked at the domain sale database and seen you are the new proud owner of a domain name. With Privacy set to yes, you details will not show up on the database.
  • Website Security & Daily Backup – We recommend yes on this. These are the most benginner friendly ways of ensuring your site stays backed up and virus free.
  • All in One WordPress Bundle – This unneccessary, we can show you what plugins you need.
  • SSL Certificate – We recommend having one of these. From July 2018 Google will penalise websites in search that do not have valid security certificates.

After customizing your plan, click Continue to Payment.

(Note, iPage will display more offer pages. Scroll to the bottom of each one and click ‘no thanks’, until you see the purchase confirmation page).

Well done, Step 2 is almost finished!

After the iPage payment confirmation, you will be taken to a screen where you can create your username, login password and other security details.

Once done, you will be able to login to your iPage hosting account by clicking the login button at the top right side of the screen.

Now it is time to begin installing WordPress and a new business directory theme.

Step 3: Installing WordPress & a Business Directory Theme

wordpress logo

i. Installing WordPress Using the iPage SimpleScripts

After logging in to your iPage control panel you will end up at a screen similar to the one below:

Click My Installs (SimpleScripts).

On the next page Click WordPress.

Here you can leave the default settings as they are.

Click Install and iPage will step in to do all the work for you.

During the install you will be asked to create your login details (Username and Password) for the WordPress admin area.

Finally, you will be asked to agree to the WordPress terms and conditions, click complete and…

Woo Hoo!!

Your WordPress Installation is finished.

By heading to the front page of your website (by entering the domain name; example:, you will see a very basic version of your site.

This is to be expected. With little content and only the default WordPress theme installed, your website will be a long way off the business directory you are aiming to launch.

However, this next step will see us take a giant leap towards your goal.

It is now time to purchase and install your business directory theme!

ii. How to install a Business Directory WordPress Theme

build a business directory website

With the WordPress installation up and running, we can now transform your site so that you can take on Yelp 🙂

First we need to login to the WordPress admin panel.

You can do this by adding /wp-admin after your domain name.

Using our as an example; the admin URL would be:

This screen will ask you to enter the username and password, you created during the WordPress installation process.

A screenshot of the WordPress admin dashboard.

After typing in your login details you should end up seeing a screen similar to the image above.

This is the main WordPress admin area of your website. The magic all takes place from here.

As explained in the CMS instructions earlier on, the WordPress admin area will allow you to publish new content, install plugins, change your menus and styling and much, much more.

For now though, we are are going to look at the theme installation page.

Head to the left sidebar menu and hover over Appearance. Cick on Themes.

The WordPress themes selection page

The screenshot above is taken from

We have have many of the default WordPress themes installed, however only one theme is currently active. (We have chosen what is called a child theme; which allows us to customize the site to our needs).

However, none of what we have installed could help us launch a business directory.

For that we would need to purchase a premium theme.

Where to Buy Premium WordPress Themes online

[Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

The internet is full of WordPress theme marketplaces. Even a cursory Google search will prove that.

However, because there are so many available the buyer is in a strong position.

You should choose the most reputable marketplaces that offer extensive customer support, as well as a strict quality review process on the themes they are willing to sell.

The best Premium Themes can be found here:

What’s the best Business Directory WordPress Theme?

To create a website like Yelp or Yellow Pages we fully recommend an excellent directory theme called ListingsPro. You can find this at one of the most reputable theme marketplaces online, ThemeForest.

We’ve trialled a number of Yelp style clone themes while researching this guide and ListingsPro is a clear winner.

It is currently the bestselling directory theme for WordPress, and at the time of writing has an average of 4.8 stars out of 5 (with over 400 reviews and more than 6000 sales).

All those satisfied customers cannot be wrong! 

Not only does ListingsPro feature one of the best interfaces for users to easily login and create their own business listing, it can take all manner of payment methods, is simple enough for the complete beginner to use, and has all the functionality you need to grow your site over the long term.

With all that said, it is now time to visit ThemeForest so we can purchase our new theme.

Click here to open the ThemeForest website in a new tab.

ListingsPro payment page

The link above will take you to the main ListingsPro sales page.

Click the Buy Now button.

On the checkout page, fill in your First name, last name & email address then click Next.

If you haven’t signed up to ThemeForest website already, you will be asked to create a username and password

Verify the captcha, click the Create account & Continue Button.

This next step will ask for your billing details.

After completing these, click Save and continue.

Available Payment Methods

ThemeForest offers 3 secure payment methods; Debit/Credit card, PayPal and Envato Credit.

Debit/Credit Cards and Paypal will incurr a 2$ surcharge. The convenience of using these options far outweighs the extra cost.

However, if you see yourself using the Marketplace regularly basis, you might want to think about adding credit to your Envato account. You will avoid the surcharge by using this option.

After making payment you will receive a confirmation success message.

Now it is time to download your new theme.

Hover over your username (you will find this in the top right corner of the screen) and click downloads.

The ListingsPro theme will be there, ready for you to download (similar to the screenshot below).

Themeforest Downloads Page

Click the green download button.

This will reveal two options:

  • All files and Documentation – This download contains the theme, licence information and other related documentation, all in one zip file.
  • Installable WordPress files only – This is just the theme files only, in one single .zip file.

We will be selecting option number 2; the installable WordPress files only.

Click and download the zip file to your desktop.

Once that’s done, head to your main WordPress dashboard again (

We will now be returning to the WordPress theme selection page so that we can upload and install ListingsPro. (Hover over Appearance and then click on Themes.)

Installing ListingsPro into WordPress

This is where your website really starts to come alive. Very soon we will have a fully functional site like Yelp.

To make life easy for the beginner, the authors of ListingsPro have created a video showing you exactly how to install your theme, and all the demo content to get started.

With your downloaded theme file ready on your desktop, follow the video above to quickly and easily, launch your new business directory.

An overview of the final steps

To make sure we take you to the very end of the process, here’s a quick overview on what the installation video will cover.

  • How to install the ListingsPro theme.
  • How to one-click install all the plugins that came packaged with your new theme
  • How to upload all the demo content to get started

Remember, the beauty of installing the demo content means your website will be in a complete state for you to begin marketing and adding your own customer listings.

With the demo framework in place, you can add and delete content as you see fit, until you have a finished product that is uniquely yours.

Move aside Yelp, there’s a newcomer in town.

Congratulations you’ve just built your very own Business Directory!

Further Details:

How was your experience building this website like Yelp? Was the guide easy to follow? Is there anything you would like to see added? Post your comments in the message section below as we would love to hear your feedback.

And finally, if you like what you found here please Share it with friends. It will help us get the word out on what we are trying to do here; getting absolute beginners started online so they can buildaSitelike… 🙂