In this article, you will learn how to create a website like Yelp and turn it into a successful local business directory portal.
1. Market Research
Yelp is a local business directory portal with reviews & information on millions of business around the world. “Yelpers” create profiles and submit personal reviews on dining, hotels, transportation and any other service they used in specific cities.
When you start a website like Yelp, it’s important to understand who the average “Yelper” is. Here’s a screenshot of Yelp.com’s demographics:
From this data, you know that the average Yelp visitor is:
- Mostly female
- College educated
- Browsing from work and/or school
I use Yelp and I know the website is around 66% female, if not more. Think about building a website that caters to the female audience because they will be your average visitor. Females use social networking sites more than average so remember this when you think about your domain name and brand logo.
2. Get a Domain Name
You will need to acquire a short yet brandable domain name for your new website. Brainstorm a bunch of domains then try to select a domain that is:
- Easy to Remember
- Avoids any trademarks
- .COM extension (or a country level domain if you want to target a certain country)
Domain Name: $9.95 per year
I use Godaddy for all my domain needs. Every website needs a good domain name from a reliable company. I’ve registered my domains with Godaddy ever since I got started back in 2006. They offer the best pricing and deals for repeat customers. You can also get private domain registration for an extra $3 per year. It’s the best investment if you want to keep your identity secret to the public.
What if my domain name is unavailable?
Type your desired domain in your web browser to see if it’s available. If you land on a blank internet service page, then the domain is available.
If not, then you can either choose another domain or buy the domain name from someone else.
Get a custom logo
Every website needs a custom logo to establish their brand. If you are on a limited budget, get a cheap logo from Fiverr for $5. If you have a bigger budget, I recommend 99designs.
3. Get Dedicated Hosting
Web hosting allows your users to access your website on the internet. Most people don’t have web servers in their homes, but many companies provide access to their servers for a monthly fee. Your website is 100% dependent on good reliable web hosting. If your web hosting goes down, then nobody can visit your website.
Managed dedicated hosting will handle 100% of your server’s tasks without you having to lift a finger. Good managed dedicated hosting costs between $100 to $500 per month.
Dedicated Server Hosting: $279 per month
LiquidWeb is my recommended dedicated server hosting company. Their clients include: MTV, ESPN, Michigan State University, Audi and Home Depot. LiquidWeb’s Intel Dual Process Dedicated server is the best web hosting for websites. The Intel Dual Xeon E5-2603 v2 comes with:
- 8 Cores Total @ 1.8 GHz
- 8 GB RAM (DDR3)
- 250 GB SSD MLC, RAID 1 (Primary Drive)
- 1 TB 7200 RPM SATA (Backup Drive)
- 5 TB Outbound & FREE Incoming Bandwidth
The server is fully managed. LiquidWeb takes care of everything so you don’t need a degree in Computer Science to get started. Don’t worry about server administration because they have 24/7 phone customer support and will even help you install your website script on your server.
4. Purchase a Business Directory Script
There are several options available when you build a website like Yelp. Many people choose a Yelp clone script or business directory portal script.
You can purchase a ready-made website script or hire a developer to build a custom solution.
Yelp PHP Scripts
Hire a Developer
If you want a custom solution, then hire a freelance developer to make a website like Yelp. Here’s a few recommend websites to find a developer:
5. Add Local Businesses
In the beginning, nobody will visit your website. Creating content is the most important thing you must do yourself or outsource.
Gather a list of local businesses then begin adding them to your website. You should add at least 1,000 businesses (if possible depending on your niche/location) before you think about driving traffic.
Yelp is popular because people can leave reviews about millions of businesses. Don’t wait for people to add business. It’s your job to add them.
Use this list of local business directories to find many local businesses. These websites are your competitors as well.
6. Drive Traffic to Your Website
Once you populate your website with lots of business, then your next goal is to drive traffic to your website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be your main focus for traffic generation. When people want information about local businesses, they search on Google. Here’s a few SEO tips to help your website attract organic search traffic.
- Create clean static URLs – Don’t use dynamic URLS with ? in them
- Use the footer of your website to link to your most popular cities (New York, Mumbai, Bangkok)
- Use Breadcrumb navigation to help users get around your website
- Setup Google Markup to show star reviews on your website and Google SERP listings.
- Add as many business images as you can find. If you are building a local directory, visit each business and take a picture yourself.
- Contact local businesses and ask them to link back to your website.
- Search for “local business directory list” and ask the author to add your website to the list.
- Build social signals to your homepage. Buy a $5 Fiverr campaign or use DripRevolution.
7. Make Money with Your Website
When your traffic increases, you can think about generating revenue with your website. Yelp makes money with advertising campaigns that drive traffic for local businesses.
Another potential revenue source is Google Adsense. If you earn a $5 CPM, then you can make some decent income if you have lots of traffic.
Tarik Pierce is a 15 year WordPress veteran. He writes about blogging, SEO, and personal finance.