Could WordPress Multisite Be a Game Changer for You?

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wordpress-multisite

Are you managing multiple WordPress sites? Yes? Did you know you could manage them all from a single dashboard? No? Well you can with WordPress Multisite.

Multisite was introduced in 2010 but a surprising number of site administrators and users are still unfamiliar with it. This post will demystify WordPress Multisite to help you evaluate whether it is a good solution for your business; and show you how to install it.

Let’s begin with the basics.

What is WordPress Multisite?

Multisite is a feature that enables you to create and manage multiple websites & blogs from a single WordPress installation. That means that you can manage as many sites as you want from one Dashboard. Just one.

Important Features

  • It allows for a network of subdomains and directories
  • You can enable other users to create accounts and WordPress blogs on your Multisite Network
  • Super Admins can install themes and plugins for sites within their Multisite Network. However, site administrators on the network do not have that capability
  • Super Admins can also make changes to themes for all websites on their Multisite Network while site administrators cannot

Installing, managing and updating a Multisite Network is not as difficult as it sounds; in fact, the installation is almost similar to a standard WordPress installation. It also has the same core files, folder structure and code base as a standard WordPress site.

Another great thing about WordPress Multisite is that all the themes and plugins on your network are stored once, regardless of how many sites are using them. That means that your server space would be smaller than if each site had its own WordPress installation.

There are, however, a few differences between a Multisite and a standard installation: the admin screens and how they are used, the files, folders and the database tables. Let’s go over them.

Files and Folders

The wp-config.php file and the wp-uploads folder in a Multisite Network are a bit different from the ones in a standard WordPress installation.

The wp-config.php file contains additional lines that activate Multisite and notify WordPress on how it functions or operates.

The wp-uploads folder has a subfolder for each site on the network and the files of each site are stored in the site’s folder, as you normally would expect to see them in the wp-uploads folder of a standard WordPress installation.

At the end of the day, these are differences you don’t need to concern yourself with – WordPress takes care of it for you!

Database

A standard WordPress installation has 11 database tables to store your site’s content and settings. Nine of those 11 tables are duplicated for each site on a Multisite Network. So the more sites you have, the more tables you’ll have.

This is another difference you do not need to worry about.

Arnaud, a foodie from Bruges, Belgium, is the editor for the Semper Plugins blog. He also manages the translation teams for All in One SEO Pack (over 58 languages!).

11 comments on “Could WordPress Multisite Be a Game Changer for You?
  1. > < a n n o says:

    Hi there

    it sounds really easy, thanks for the clear steps.

    Is a WP multisite installation possible afterwards, if the existing base installation is already on a sub.domain.xy?

    • Arnaud Broes says:

      I believe this is possible.

    • Do yourself a favor and make sure that you make a full backup of your site and your databases before you start changing things on your site, especially if your site is already indexed on the search engines you have to make sure that you don’t change any URLs because that would generate a lot of 404 errors and that’s killing for your rankings.

      404 errors of URLs you aren’t using anymore should be properly redirected to another related blog post or page permanently with a 301 redirect.

      WordPress makes it super easy to manage all your redirections by installing a plugin which you can download for free from the wordpress repository here:

      https://wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/

  2. Ron Charest says:

    Thank you for this excellent article. One question: once this multi-site is activated, and other sites are added, is it possible to continue managing a site “locally” from the local site admin screen?

    • Arnaud Broes says:

      I believe you can only manage your multi-site domain from within one global admin screen.

      • rodinux says:

        I have already two multisite in production. You can manage each site from his own admin dashboard. You have a interface which is dedicated to another role, superadmin from where you can load the extensions, plugins, themes (the admins of each site can not). If you want the users of the others sites to use the themes, you may activate them from this superadmin dashboard. For the plugins, the admins of each site can activate or deactivate them, except if they are activated from the superadmin dashboard… A link with explanations: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/ultimate-guide-multisite/
        I use an extension call WordPress MU Domain Mapping to to map the blog/site to another domain…

  3. ATRYNA says:

    This article very nice and can help us to manage some of my sites. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Arturo says:

    How do Multisite affect SEO ranking and what’s the best subdomain or subfolder?

    • Search engines such as Google consider sites in subdirectories to be all part of the same site, so mydomain.com/blog is part of mydomain.com and counts towards its SEO. However, sites in subdomains are considered as different sites and do not count towards the SEO of the main site, so blog.mydomain.com is a different site to mydomain.com.

  5. sounds all great but I didn’t found the answer to my question. in my case I’ve my website already online for years but a couple weeks ago I found 2 new domains that I want to use but those are not the typical domain names you normally see.

    my main domain is soharddbwarez.com and my new domains are soharddbwarez.host and soharddbwarez.download, I only bought them to make sure those are reserved for me because it looks nice and branded but I don’t know what to do with the new domains and I don’t even know if these domains can be used just as any other domain.

    My problem will be resolved if I knew that I could just point those domains to my main website to a specific page within the wordpress installation or for safety reasons use those domains to point to a folder on the server outside of wordpress.

    Do you have any answers?

  6. rodinux says:

    Yes you may create a multisite, you then create 2 others sites as subdomains like anythingyouwant.soharddbwarez.com and foo.soharddbwarez.com,
    then using an extension call WordPress MU Domain Mapping to to map the blog/site to another domain. You can redirect each site to another adress with their ID. you need to redirect each site with two redirection on primary for http://www.soharddbwarez.host and one secondary for soharddbwarez.host.

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