What is a WordPress multisite?

Posted on: July 29th, 2022
By: Tadeo Martinez

WordPress Multisite is a renowned WordPress feature that allows you to create and run a network of multiple websites from a single WordPress dashboard. This network can extend from one or two sites to several.

WordPress Multisite is a broad topic with lots of aspects. This tool streamlines website management while providing some versatility to site owners. 

You can use it for several purposes, such as easily making changes and keeping all your websites updated in one place. 

But is multisite certainly a one-size-fits-all solution? Let’s start by understanding exactly what WordPress Multisite is and how it works.

Understanding WordPress multisite

WordPress Multisite was previously known as WordPress Multi-User or WPMU. It is not a newly introduced feature. It is an updated feature on the WordPress platform that has been around since the launch of WordPress 3.0.

WordPress multisite networks are a great solution for those wanting to manage separate websites from one dashboard. Each website has its domain name, theme, and set of plugins with multisite. Users can easily switch between any different number of sites via a dropdown menu without having to log out or anything. 

Multisite can be a massive timesaver for organizations that operate multiple websites. In fact, you can manage millions of sites from the same WordPress installation if you are up to the challenge. 

What is multisite used for?

Multisite is a network of websites that are all connected and share a common database. This allows for content to be shared between the sites, which can be helpful for large organizations with multiple locations or managing multiple websites for different purposes.

For example, a corporation might have a multisite network for its various locations, or a school district might use multisite to manage its multiple schools and departments. In addition, it can be used to create a network of blogs or websites that are all connected, such as a collection of sites about different topics. 

Multisite networks can help manage large amounts of content and keep everything organized. However, they can also be challenging to set up and maintain, so it is important to consider whether a multisite network is right for your needs before setting one up.

How does WordPress multisite work?

WordPress multisite works by creating a network of sites connected to the same WordPress installation. Each site in the network shares the same database and codebase, making it easy to manage and update multiple websites simultaneously.

You will be given a “super admin” account when you create a multisite network. This account will grant you access to all of the sites in your network.  You can add new sites, change themes and plugins, and manage users and permissions from your super admin account.

You will also be given a subdomain or a subdirectory to access your network. For example, if your main website is example.com, your multisite network might be located at network.example.com or example.com/network.

Each site in your network will have its domain name, which can be mapped to an existing or new domain name. However, all the sites in a multisite network will share the same WordPress core files.

WordPress multisite: most common use cases

There are multiple different ways you can use WordPress Multisite. Let’s have a quick look at a few examples:

  • Personal Sites
  • Business Sites
  • Government Sites
  • Company Intranet
  • Community Networks
  • Hosting Client Sites
  • Multi-author Blogs

Key features of WordPress multisite

Multiple benefits come with using WordPress multisite. Here are some key features you can expect.

More efficient code

Running multiple sites on one network means less code. There is only one set of core WordPress files and one copy of each theme and plugin, regardless of how many websites they are activated on.

This means your network uses less server space than if you were running a separate WordPress installation for every site. It can save you dollars on hosting and time keeping that code up to date.

Easier management

WordPress multisite makes it easy to manage multiple sites from one central location. You can add new sites, install themes and plugins, and manage users from your super admin account.

This is a great way to save time if you’re running a network of sites. You can also use this to your advantage if you’re selling sites as part of a web design business.

Increased flexibility

WordPress multisite gives you the flexibility to create the type of network you want. Depending on your preference, the sites in your network can be independent or interconnected. Additionally, you can control who has access to your network and what they can do on it.

This flexibility makes WordPress multisite perfect for many users, from small businesses to large organizations.

Improved search engine optimization (SEO)

WordPress multisite can help you improve your SEO. When you’re running a network of sites, you have the potential to link those sites together. This can help you rank higher in search engines and increase site traffic.

Sites in a WordPress multisite network can also share content. This means that if you have a popular post on one site, it can be seen on other sites in your network. This can help you get better exposure for your content and attract new visitors to your site.

Installing and setting up WordPress multisite for existing and new websites

To get started with multisite, you first need to install WordPress on your server.

Once WordPress is installed, you can enable multisite from the Network Settings page. 

After that, you will need to add the following code to your wp-config.php file:

define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );

After adding this code, you must save your changes and upload the file to your server.

Once you have done this, you can access the WordPress multisite settings from the Tools menu in your WordPress dashboard.

You can add new sites, manage existing sites, and change the network settings.

That’s it.

Who should and shouldn’t use WordPress multisite?

WordPress Multisite offers several features but is not always suitable for every situation. The main concern is that all sites in your network share the same WordPress core files. This means that if one website gets hacked, all the other sites in your network will also be affected. In other words, you simply cannot back up only a single website. 

Moreover, if you are not comfortable working with code or making changes to your server, then WordPress multisite is not the best choice. Setting up and maintaining a WordPress multisite can be complex, and it is not recommended for beginners.

If you are only running one WordPress site, then there is no need to use WordPress multisite. You can manage everything from the single site dashboard.

Additionally, multisite networks could help banks and financial institutions with national or global branches, digital publications with multiple sections, government offices with multiple departments, hotel chains, e-commerce companies, and stores with multiple outlets.

Listed below are some examples of well-known institutions, companies, and brands that use multisite networks:

Having a multisite can improve organization and speed up management

WordPress multisite is worth considering if you’re looking for a way to streamline your online presence! 

However, it does come with a learning curve, so be prepared to spend some time getting used to this dashboard and features. Once you’ve got everything set up, though, managing a multisite can be a breeze. 

Have you tried using WordPress Multisite for your brand or company? If not, it’s time to give it a try.

Have any questions or comments? Write them below!

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