WordPress

What is WordPress Multisite? The Most Complete WordPress Multisite Guide!

Building a network of interconnected websites and blogs can be difficult work, but if you’re using WordPress, there’s a fairly easy way to do it – by using the WordPress Multisite feature.

This feature of WordPress allows you to make and manage multiple websites on different domains by using only one WordPress install.

In this article you’ll learn how to install, setup, manage and maintain a WordPress multisite network all on your own. Let’s get straight into it.

Table of Contents:

What is WordPress Multisite?

Who is WordPress Multisite Intended For?

Who is WordPress Multisite Not Intended For?

How to Create a Website with WordPress Multisite

How to Enable an SSL Certificate on a WordPress Multisite Network and allow sites to run over HTTPS

How to Use Custom Domain Names with WordPress Multisite

How to Configure Your Settings

The Best Plugins to Use with WordPress Multisite

The Best Themes to Use with WordPress Multisite

Troubleshooting Common Issues with WordPress Multisite

Alternatives to WordPress Multisite

How to Migrate a Site into or from a WordPress Multisite Network

Frequently Asked Questions

Conclusion

What is WordPress Multisite?

WordPress Multisite is the successor to an older feature named WPMU, short for WordPress MultiUser project. This was a separate product from regular WordPress, and it was paid separately. It allowed users to create multiple websites using one WordPress installation.  

When the project was stopped, its features were integrated into the core of WordPress in version 3.0 as WordPress Multisite and continue to be developed and improved upon to this day. Today, anyone who has a regular installation of WordPress can enable the multisite feature, for free.

WordPress Multisite is designed to allow users to create a network of websites and manage it under just one installation of WordPress with one dashboard.

Here are some of the differences and new features you get with you enable multisite:

  • The Super Admin Role: With multisite enabled, you become a new type of user that doesn’t exist in normal WordPress installations – the Super Admin. This gives you admin-level privileges on all websites within the network.
  • The Network Admin Dashboard: This dashboard allows you, as the Super Admin, to quickly manage network-wide settings that pertain to all websites within the network.
  • Managing Plugins and Themes: Unlike in regular WordPress, plugins and themes are handled on a network-wide basis in WordPress Multisite and installed through the network admin dashboard. You can make themes available or activate plugins for all the sites in a network with one click, or enable them for a single website.
  • Subdomains and subdirectories: When WordPress Multisite is enabled, you can have a network full of websites, each with its own subdomain or subdirectory within a network, making it easy to identify websites that belong to a network. You can choose between the two, and we’ll go into that later.

But, how do you enable multisite on your WordPress install? Well, it’s not too difficult but also not as easy as just pressing a button.

Here’s how to enable WordPress Multisite in a few easy steps:

  • First, if you already have a WordPress website that you want to convert to a network installation, backup your database and all your files. Then, deactivate all active plugins before proceeding.
  • Before you proceed, you also need to check if your web host has enough resources for running a multisite network. If you’re on a shared hosting account or a free web hosting service, you should probably get a better host before proceeding.
  • Next, you need to enable the multisite feature within your wp-config.php file. You can do this by opening it and adding some text at the end of it, just before the /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ line. What you need to add is this:
    /* Multisite */
    define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );
  • Then, restart your browser.
  • Congratulations, you’ve just enabled the WordPress Multisite feature!

However, this is just the start. Before you go into creating and setting up new websites within your network, you need to set up the multisite feature within your WordPress dashboard.

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Here’s how to do that:

  • Log back into your WordPress account.
  • Go to your dashboard, then go under tools and find the new “Network Setup” option and click it.
  • You’ll be lead to a page where you can choose the name of your new network and, if you’re doing this on a fresh install of WordPress, you’ll also be presented with a choice between using subdomains or subdirectories. This cannot be changed later, and if you’re not running a fresh install, it will default to using subdomains.
  • Here you’ll also assign the super-admin role to someone by typing their e-mail into the ‘Network Admin Email” box – presumably, this will be you.
  • Once you’ve set up everything, you should click the ‘Install’ button in the lower left corner of the screen.
  • Now you’ll be lead to a screen that should contain some info along with two pieces of code. This is the code you need to add to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files. You can find both of these files in your WordPress root directory through your FTP client.
  • Paste the first piece of code at the end of the wp-config.php file.
  • Next, you need to find the .htaccess file – if you can’t see it straight away, expose hidden files by adding ‘&showhidden=1&saveoption=1’ at the end of your file manager’s URL.
  • Open your .htaccess file and find the “RewriteEngine On” line. Replace it and everything down to, and including, the “Rewrite Rule. index.php [L]” line with the code from the page. Save the file.
  • Now, re-log into WordPress, and everything should be set up.

When you’re done, your WordPress will look a little bit different than usual. You’ll have some new options available to you and some new tools that you can play around with. Here are some new settings that you’ll see and what they do:

  • Language Settings: This is the setting for changing the default language for your entire network.
  • Upload Settings: Here you can set the type of content that other users and the admins of websites within your network can upload, as well as the size limit of those files.
  • Menu Settings: You can turn these settings on to allow the admins of the sites within the network to choose which plugins they want active on their websites. Or, you can keep it turned off, so you retain all the control.
  • New Site Settings: This is where you can create custom messages for admins of the new websites within your network.
  • Registration Settings: With these settings, you can open up registration for people who want to create sites under your network. You can also allow individual admins to create new users on their websites and assign them specific roles.

When WordPress multisite is enabled, you might encounter a few issues at first. Here are some of them:

  • Some of the plugins and themes might not be working – disable them and test them.
  • You might get a fatal crash – restore your backup in that case.
  • Images not working correctly – this can easily be fixed by pointing to the new location of the images in the .htaccess file.

There are some more complicated problems which might arise, but you’ll learn more about them later, along with some common solutions.

Who is WordPress Multisite Intended For?

While WordPress multisite can be great, it’s also not for everyone. Here are some of the cases in which you should use the multisite feature, before going on to cases where you shouldn’t.

  • When Managing a Network of Similar Sites – If you’re looking to make multiple websites that all deal with similar topics and can interlink with each other, making a multisite network is the way to go. Cross-promoting all the sites becomes much easier this way.
  • When Managing a Small to Medium Number of Websites – In case you own a few websites and want an easy way to manage them all at the same time, WordPress multisite is a good feature to use. It will allow you to manage all the plugins and themes easily and you’ll be able to make posts and pages with just one login.
  • If You’re a Web Developer – Web developers that create a lot of mock-up websites for different clients can get a lot of use out of the WordPress multisite feature. With it, they can create a lot of different example websites that they can show to their customers and create functioning websites to order and modify them as a site in the network, before delivering them to the client’s domain when the client is satisfied, all with a single login.
  • When Creating Different Versions of a Single Website – If you want to have multiple versions of your website for whatever reason, you can have them as different sites within a network with just a slight change in domain. For example, you could have versions in different languages, like en.example.com and rus.example.com.
  • If You Want to Let Others Create Websites – In case you want to grow your clout or your business by letting others create websites as part of your network, WordPress multisite is one of the best ways to do it.
  • Cutting Down on Webhosting Costs – If you already own multiple websites and want to make more, you might want to consider moving them all into a WordPress multisite network. That way you’ll cut down on the cost and make managing them all easier.

There are a few other scenarios, but those are the most important ones.

Who is WordPress Multisite Not Intended For?

As mentioned, WordPress multisite is not always the right solution for managing multiple WordPress-based websites and here are some scenarios in which you shouldn’t be using the multisite feature:

  • If You Only Have a Few Websites – When you’re managing only a few different websites or just one website, there is no need to enable the multisite feature. In that case, it might even turn out to be a detriment since it will make things that much more complicated.
  • You Have a Huge Amount of Websites to Manage – In the opposite case if you have a huge amount of sites that you need to manage, WordPress multisite might prove to be inadequate. This is especially true if all those sites use wildly different plugins and themes or their admins need more control than a multisite network can provide them.
  • When You Don’t Want to Fiddle With WordPress Files – If for some reason you can’t edit your WordPress files, or you don’t want to, multisite is not the right feature for you. You will most likely need to fiddle with some files and add code to them regularly if you’re using WordPress multisite.
  • For Extremely Different Websites – Beginning multiple websites into a network can be quite beneficial if they’re similar. However, if they’re vastly different, it can turn out to be a detriment. In case you have a website dedicated to lawnmowers and another dedicated to a law firm, you might not want to have them under the same banner.
  • When You Can’t Support It – Some people run their websites on a low budget, at a cheap web host and with relatively low bandwidth, hoping to make it big. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but running a network of websites requires a lot of resources and going into that when you’re limited might be biting off more than you can chew. Make sure you have the resources necessary to run a multisite network before you get into it.
  • If You Can’t Manage It – Having a network with a lot of sites is good, when you have the time and expertise needed to manage it all. If you don’t have enough trustworthy people to place as admins and you can’t get to it all on your own, you shouldn’t use WordPress multisite.
  • You Need Plugins/Themes not Compatible with Multisite – Not all plugins or themes are made to be compatible with the WordPress multisite feature. Sometimes you might absolutely need one of them for your site to run as intended and if that’s the case, you should steer clear of multisite altogether.

Of course, there are some more extremely specific scenarios in which you shouldn’t use multisite. However, these are the general situations in which you shouldn’t use the WordPress multisite feature.

How to Create a Website with WordPress Multisite

When you’ve successfully setup WordPress multisite, you might wonder how to make a new website within the multisite network. It’s quite easy and here’s how you can do it.

First, go to network admin screen by clicking on My Sites and then on Network Admin in the super admin dashboard.

Next, go to the Sites tab and click the Add New option.

You’ll be presented with a screen that allows you to type in the following info: Site Address, Site Title, and Admin Email. You can also choose the Site Language from a drop-down menu.

With this, the new site is created. If you’ve appointed yourself admin by putting your email address in the ‘Admin Email’ field, you will be able to access it through the My Sites tab in your dashboard. In case you’ve appointed someone else as the admin, you will be able to access the site through the Sites tab in your dashboard.

Creating a site is as easy as that. It can be made even easier by plugins, allowing you to make a website through the front-end of your existing website. You can even allow users to create websites with the use of certain plugins.

How to Enable an SSL Certificate on a WordPress Multisite Network and allow sites to run over HTTPS

If you want your WordPress website, you should enable an SSL certificate and run your website over the HTTPS protocol. Even if you are already familiar with how to do this, you might not know how it would function in a multisite environment. Well, this section will explain everything you need to know.

One of the first questions that come to people’s minds when they think about installing SSL certificates for sites within a network is this – Will I need multiple certificates?

The answer is no – you only need one, which is one of the greatest benefits of WordPress multisite. However, there are some multisite-specific issues you need to be aware of when getting your SSL certificate.

If you’re running a multisite network that uses subdirectories, you can get a regular SSL certificate for the main domain. Once you do that and set everything up, all the subdirectories will automatically be running on HTTPS as well. An Extra Validation SSL certificate would also be good in this case, and it would provide extra security.

For a network with subdomains, on the other hand, you’ll probably need to get a Wildcard SSL certificate.

In case you’re running a multisite network using multiple separate domains, you can still use only one SSL certificate for all of them. In that case, you need to get a SAN SSL or UCC SSL certificate.

Once you have the appropriate SSL certificate for your particular WordPress multisite network, here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open your Network Admin Dashboard
  2. Click the Settings tab
  3. Go to the Domain Mapping section
  4. Locate the Force http/https subsection
  5. For the “Would you like to force https in admin and login pages” option choose “Yes.”
  6. For the “Would you like to force http/https in front-end pages” choose “Force https.”
  7. Once you’ve done this move back to the Dashboard, then Tools and Domain Mapping
  8. Add all the domain names you want to secure using your SSL certificate, and you’re done

With this, you now have an SSL certificate that’s enabled, and the websites in your network should now be running through HTTPS. Ideally, you’ve done this as soon as you’ve made the network, but if not, you will need to update all your interlinks.

The entire switch to HTTPS can also be done using a plugin like this one if you want to avoid all the hassle.

How to Use Custom Domain Names with WordPress Multisite

What if you don’t want to use either subdomains or subdirectories for the sites within your network – what if you want to use regular domains? Is that even possible? Well, yes it is, and it’s not too difficult to achieve that within WordPress multisite.

What you’ll see described here is often referred to as WordPress multisite domain mapping, and this will allow the websites within your network to show up for everyone as the domain you map them to, instead of the domain that they’re assigned to within the network. You can even map multiple domain names to one website.

This can be done fairly easily nowadays, but to start with you will need to purchase the domain names that you wish to use. Before 4.5 you had to use a plugin to perform this, but now it’s native feature.

The first step is reserved for people who have purchased the domain name or names they want to use from a different source than their web host. To use the domain names, you will need to edit your DNS zones. The specifics can be different depending on your web host and the source of the domain name, so contact them for additional info.

You should also make sure that every domain has an SSL certificate installed if you’re using HTTPS. You can also use Server Name Indication to point to all the other domains from the SSL certificate used on your primary domain.

From there on out, the rest is relatively simple.

  • Move to your multisite dashboard and click on the My Sites option, then Network Admin and Sites
  • Click on the site whose domain you want to remap and click Edit
  • Here, go to the Site Address (URL) field and change it from the current value to the domain you want to remap the site to
  • After that click on the Save Changes button and you’re done

Previously, domain remapping was much more difficult to do, but the feature has been built into WordPress in recent years so it’s much easier to perform now, as you can see.

If you happen to get an error related to cookies getting blocked, just edit your wp-config.php file and add the following line after the code that was added to create your multisite network – define(‘COOKIE_DOMAIN’, $_SERVER[‘HTTP_HOST’]); – that should fix the problem.

How to Configure Your Settings

If you go to your new multisite dashboard, then to the My Sites section, then Network Admin and finally Settings, you’ll find a whole host of new settings that you can configure to customize your multisite network to your liking.

In here you’ll find six distinct sections, and we’ll go through each of them in order.

Operational Settings are the basics. Here you can change the name of your network and change the network admin email – this can be used to retain your privileges if you’re changing email or transfer them to someone else.

Registration Settings allow you to control who and when can register on the websites within your network. Registration is disabled by default, but you can turn it on with three different options.

The first allows user accounts to be registered on all the websites, like normal. The second one allows existing users to register new sites on the network but does not allow new user registration. The third option allows both. It’s up to you to choose which one’s the right one for your multisite network.

In here you can also limit the site registration to certain domains. For example, you can ban anyone with a yahoo email address for registering, or allow only people with yahoo email addresses to register.

New Site Settings allow you to modify welcome emails sent to new users that register to sites within the network, welcome emails to users who create new sites and the contents of the first post and first page that will appear on those new sites.

Upload Settings are used to control the size of the upload space of individual sites, which is 100 MB by default. You can also limit the type of files that can be uploaded and the max size of individual files. This is useful to prevent potential malware from being uploaded to the site without your knowledge since you can hardly monitor all the files coming in.

Language Settings are quite straightforward and used to set the default language used by the entire network.

Menu Settings allow you to enable or disable admin menus for plugins. Enabling them will allow the admins of individual sites to edit plugin settings and activate or deactivate existing plugins. This still won’t allow them to install new plugins, though.

So, there you have it, those are all of the most important settings and what you should do with them.

The Best Plugins to Use with WordPress Multisite

Once you transfer to multisite, you might find that a lot of your usual plugins don’t work anymore. A lot of the most popular plugins are not compatible with multisite and might cause serious issues if you try to use them with it.

On the flipside, there are alternatives and plugins designed specifically to work with multisite, making it better and making your life easier. Here are some of the best plugins that you can use with your WordPress multisite network.

Multisite Enchantments – Here we have one of the best multisite-specific plugins you could get, and it’s completely free. It provides a lot of different improvements, including the ability to see the themes and plugins activated on specific sites, extra links for managing individual sites from the super admin dashboard, and more.

Gravity Forms – This is an incredibly popular plugin, both for single sites and for multisite installations. It can make the process of creating a site for a new user much simpler and quicker. With this plugin, you can create custom registration forms that you can fill with any info you want and then place them in any area of the site.

WP Multisite Content Copier – If you’re running a network of websites that need to share a lot of content between them, this plugin will be your new best friend. With it, you can copy any information to one site within the network or all sites at once. This includes posts, pages, tags, files, categories and more. It’s easy and incredibly helpful.

Networks for WordPress – This free plugin allows you to create networks within your network. This might seem superfluous, but for certain people or organizations, this can be immensely useful. School networks or business networks might find this to be particularly useful.

Anti-Splog – When you allow your users to create new sites within your network you open yourself up to attacks by malicious spammers. This premium plugin is designed to help you combat that. You can configure it to detect blogs that might potentially be spam and instantly remove them. It can also block the creation of blogs from certain emails or domains.

Multisite Cloner – This plugin allows you to easily clone a site within the network and it’s immensely useful for web developers. You can select a site within the network, and any new sites you create from that point on will be a copy of it. This is great if you want to create a lot of new sites from a template or have a good template for new users that create sites within your network.

User Switching – If you’re running a multisite network you probably won’t be logged into your super admin account all the time, and you’ll have sub-accounts within the network for testing or posting. This free plugin will allow you to easily switch between your different accounts with the click of a button.

WP Super Cache – This is one of the most popular caching plugins on the market, and it’s one of the best. It is fully compatible with multisite, and it will allow you to easily cache all the pages, greatly increasing the speed of all the sites within the network. It is easy to use – you only need to install it, and it will work its magic.

Autoblog – With this plugin, you can enable automatic posting to multiple blogs from RSS feeds. It is easy to set up, and it will save you a lot of time if you’re running multiple sites by yourself.

Multisite Global Search – If you’re having trouble parsing through all the info on the multiple sites within your network and checking that it’s all up to your standards, this plugin will make life easier for you. With it, you can easily search through all the sites in the network and find exactly what you’re looking for.

Organizational Message Notifier – Contacting all the users within your multisite network can prove to be difficult, especially since not everyone checks their emails these days. This plugin makes communicating with all your users a breeze.

Overall, those are some of the best plugins that you could use with WordPress multisite, though there are more of them out there. Explore a bit, and you’ll probably find exactly what you need.

The Best Themes to Use with WordPress Multisite

While you can use most themes with multisite, there are some better suited for the experience due to how modal they are. With multisite the best themes are those that are easy to change and customize so they can fit a wide variety of functions. Here are some of the best ones out there:

One Page Express – This is a beautiful theme that’s easy to use and incredibly intuitive. With it, anyone can easily create a good one-page website, and if you intend to let your users create websites within your network, this might be a good default theme of choice.

Mist – Touting itself as an “Advanced Multi-concept Theme” it lives up to that lofty description. It is highly customizable with plenty of business web themes, mobile support, and greatly customizable sidebars. If you’re building a network of business websites, this is a great theme for you.

Fildisi – While being fairly uncomplicated and easy to use, this theme is incredibly comprehensive, and it can be made to fit almost any type of website. It has plenty of differently colored layouts, great shortcodes and SEO compatibility. You can also design the menus to fit almost any function.

Specular – This is a highly flexible theme that is highly accessible to new users, and it’s great if you’re looking to expand your network by letting users create their own websites. It has some impressive features, including video backgrounds, CSS3 animations, speed optimization, smooth scrolling, and nine different header designs.

Tower – Made for business and intended to be multipurpose, this is a highly versatile theme ideal for a business-focused network. If you’re looking to build a network of sites dealing with different, but connected business, this is one of the themes you should consider. It is easy to use with an integrated builder plugin, and it is compatible with everything you can think of.

Those are just some of the best themes around, and one of them will most likely fit your multisite installation. There are plenty more out there if one of these doesn’t satisfy you, though. Find more and experiment until you get what you want – that’s what WordPress is all about.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with WordPress Multisite

Whether you’ve just installed WordPress multisite or if you’ve been running it for a while, some problems are likely to occur sooner or later. Luckily, most problems that occur aren’t unique, and someone probably encountered them before.

To help you deal with such issues, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the most common problems that might arise when you’re using WordPress multisite and how to fix them in a flash.

Subdomain Sites Don’t Work – This is a fairly common problem, and it can easily be fixed by setting up a wildcard subdomain. You can do this by setting it up like you would any other subdomain – you just * for the subdomain name. Register it in your DNS records, and you’re good to go.

Pretty Permalinks/Images Don’t Work – Another fairly common issue with WordPress multisite. You can fix this by going to your Settings and Permalinks, then reseting your permalinks. In case this doesn’t work, the issue can also be fixed through manually editing your .htaccess file and adding the following piece of code:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

</IfModule>

White Screen of Death – A common problem in all WordPress installation that can be caused be a wide variety of issues. However, in multisite it’s most commonly caused by a plugin or a theme that’s incompatible with multisite.

If you can access your admin screen, disable all the plugins and themes and see if that fixes the problem. Then, enable them one by one. Alternatively, you can disable the plugins and themes by logging in through your FTP client, finding your wp-content/plugins and wp-content/themes folders and renaming them, then running your website again.

There are more, but these are some of the most common problems you might encounter and how to fix them.

Alternatives to WordPress Multisite

You might want to run a network compromised of multiple sites, but WordPress multisite just doesn’t seem like the right thing for it. What can you do in that situation? Well, luckily, WordPress multisite is not the only option that you have available to you. There are alternatives that offer similar functionality with some key differences.

  • Perfect Dashboard – This multi-website management tool can make a network compromised of sites running on WordPress or Joomla and provides a backup service as well. It will also keep your website up-to-date automatically.
  • ManageWP – This service offers much of the same features as WordPress multisite, though it has a bit extra on top. It offers automatic updates, security checks, performance checks, a cloning/migrating service, Google analytics, SEO rankings and more.
  • Flywheel – With this web hosting service you can manage all the sites under it with just one dashboard. Of course, this means you’ll have to choose it as your web host, which might be an issue for you.
  • InfiniteWP – One login is all you need with this service, and it will allow you to manage multiple sites from one dashboard and update them all easily. It is also free by default though it does have a premium version. It also offers website backups.
  • iControlWP – Among things you get in this tool is a backup service, additional security and more. It comes with a free 30-day trial but is otherwise a paid service. With it, you can create an unlimited number of site groups and subgroups.

In case you’re satisfied with everything that multisite offers, you needn’t go for one of these services. However, if you, for example, want to use plugins that aren’t compatible with multisite, one of these services might be the solution for you.

How to Migrate a Site into or from a WordPress Multisite Network

If you happen to have a site outside of a multisite network and want to incorporate it into it, or you want to transfer one of your sites into someone else’s multisite network, it might seem like daunting task.

While it’s not an easy and risk-free endeavor, it is also not as complicated as it might seem at first. Here’s how to do it.

Before you do anything, make sure to backup your website. If you’re moving it into your own network, backup the network as well. Also, if you’ve heavily customized the website, be ready for the fact that a transfer like this won’t be able to migrate everything and have it be exactly as it was – things will break.

So, let’s get started!

  1. First, go to the website you want to transfer to your multisite network.
  2. In the admin dashboard go to Tools then Export
  3. Choose the All Content option and click the blue Download Export File button
  4. Next, open your network and create a site in the way that was previously described
  5. Then, on the newly created site install all the themes and plugins that you used on the site that you want to import
  6. Go into the Posts and Pages section of the new site in the admin dashboard and delete all the dummy content that comes with the new site
  7. Next, install a plugin like WordPress Importer
  8. Go to the admin dashboard of the new site and move to Tools then Import and then WordPress at the bottom of the list
  9. Click on the Choose File button and find the file you previously downloaded from the old site, then select it, then click the Upload file and import button
  10. At this point you’ll be asked if you want to assign existing authors to posts or import authors from the existing site – choose the option that fits you the best
  11. At the bottom select the Download and import file attachments option which will copy media files from the old site and place them in the correct spots in the new one
  12. Click the Submit button
  13. Next, you need to move the widgets from your old site to the new one, which can be done with the Widget Settings Importer/Exporter

With that, you’re done! For the most part, that is. You’ll probably have quite a lot of editing to do to make sure everything is in order and running correctly. This might include editing descriptions and titles, changing the settings of your plugins and themes, checking the navigation menus and so on.

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But, there is also the question of how to do the reverse – how to move a site out of a multisite network and onto a single install?

Well, it’s also not an easy thing to do, but it’s not much more complicated than moving a site into a network. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:

  1. First, log in to the dashboard of the site you want to migrate
  2. Next move to the Tools tab then to Export
  3. Click the Download Export File button like before
  4. Next, create a new, single install of WordPress on a domain you previously bought and intend to use for the new site
  5. Login to the admin dashboard of the new site, then go to Tools, then Import and finally WordPress
  6. Here, click on the Choose File button, pick the file you previously downloaded and click on the Upload file and import button
  7. At this point, you can choose if you also want to import users or not, as well as the choice to import attachments
  8. Once the installer is done, the site is imported
  9. At this point, you might have to set up a redirect if you’ve used subdomains or subdirectories on your multisite network for this site

Once you’ve done all that, you have now migrated your site to a new location. This is made even easier if you used domain mapping on your multisite network and moved the site to the domain you used there.

Of course, either of these two migrations will impact your SEO rankings and some of the content on the sites, but you’ll recover in time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Even though we’ve tried to give you as much info as possible, this article is not comprehensive by any means. So, to wrap everything up, here are some quick answers to a few major questions that we couldn’t get to in the rest of the text.

Q: What’s the difference between WordPress multisite with subdomains and WordPress multisite with subfolders/subdirectories?

A: The main difference visible from the outside is in the way that the URL is presented. If you use subdomains, it will be presented as site.network.com while a network using subdirectories will have it presented as network.com/site.

The other difference is that some hosts won’t allow subdomains, in which case you’ll be forced to use subdirectories, but if you’re not starting a network from a new install, you’ll be forced to use subdomains.

Another difference is in the way the URLs are handled if you have a local installation of WordPress, which itself is stored in a subdirectory. Thus, using subdirectories makes everything consistent in that case.

Q: Can you convert a multisite with subdomains into a multisite network with subdirectories or vice-versa?

A: The flat answer would be – no, you cannot. Once you make that choice, it is done. That’s not exactly true though.

However, there are ways to force the change though that usually leads to massive errors and a broken multisite network, which is not exactly what you want. Even if you get through it well, it might impact your SEO heavily.

Here’s how to do it, but do it at your own risk and make a complete backup before you even try it.

Open your wp-config.php file and find either of the two following lines

If your site uses subdomains – define( ‘SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL’, true);

If your site uses subdirectories – define( ‘SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL’, false);

Change the value to one which suits you and then proceed to update your .htaccess file. Just go to tools > network setup on your dashboard and copy the rules for the .htaccess file displayed there into the file itself and save it. Then go to the super admin dashboard, and on the info, tab go to sites > all sites and change the URL of each site manually.

This will most likely work, but will probably break most of your links to other websites within the network.

Q: How does WordPress multisite affect the SEO of websites within it?

A: For the most part, it does not. Converting your single website to the core of a multisite network will not affect its SEO rankings. Transferring another existing website into a multisite network, however, will.

You can influence the SEO of the websites within a network through interlinking but, for the most part, that’s no different than interlinking with sites that are completely separate. It’s just a bit easier to do it.

Q: Can you create a multisite network within a multisite network?

A: Yes, you can, but it can get a bit complicated. There are plugins like this one that can easily do it for you, without all the complication of doing it manually.

Q: Can you duplicate sites within a multisite network?

A: Yes you can, and it is not too difficult. This is something that could be immensely useful to web developers. It can be easily achieved with plugins like this one or this one.

Q: Can you set up redirects within a multisite network based on location?

A: Yes, it is possible, by using plugins. You can use a plugin to set up sites identical to the source site, but in a different language, by using this plugin. Then you can redirect visitors to those sites, based on location, by using either one of these two plugins.

Q: How to make a single post appear on all sites within a network?

A: The easiest way to do this is with a plugin like Multisite Post Duplicator. There are more complex ways to do this, but we don’t recommend them since they could result in some serious errors.

Q: Does updating plugins and themes on one site within the multisite network update them for all sites within the network?

A: Yes it does. This is one of the main benefits of multisite since these resources use less server space than they would have if all the sites were separate.

Q: Which content can be shared across all sites within the network?

A: By default, themes, plugins and uploaded files can be shared across all sites, if the super admin allows it. Other content can also be shared with the help of certain plugins.

Q: Does WordPress multisite affect the speed at which sites within the network load?

A: Yes, but it is negligible for the most part and depends on your web host. If you attempt to run a multisite network with a lot of websites that get a ton of traffic on a bad web host, yes, you will see the impact. Otherwise, it won’t be too significant.

Q: Can you share plugin information and settings across all sites within a network?

A: Yes, it is possible to do so by default.

Q: Is it possible to set up post categories that can be used by all sites in the network?

A: Yes, it is possible to implement global categories and tags by using plugins.

Q: Do the websites within a multisite network share users and user privileges?

A: Yes, the websites within a multisite network share users and that can’t be disabled. Due to that, a user can’t register on two sites within a network with the same e-mail. However, user privileges are not shared, and they exist on a per-site basis – an admin on one site might be just a regular user on another. This is managed by the super admin.

Q: Is there a way to work on multiple sites within the network with one account at the same time?

A: Yes, it is possible, if you have the correct permissions from the super admin. The super admin can do this by default.

Q: Can you create multiple accounts on different sites within the network using the same email address?

A: No and it is nearly impossible to change that. Since all the sites within a network share the same user tables, the account you make for one site can be used for all of them, if you have the permission, but you can’t make a new one with the same e-mail address.

Conclusion

As you can see, the multisite feature can be quite useful but it comes with its share of problems and hoops to jump through. However, if you follow everything outlined here you should be able to make it work for you and reap the benefits!

If you want to learn more about the WordPress multisite feature, you might want to check out the WordPress Codex article on it. Or, if there’s something you’re not sure about you can ask us in the comments, and we’ll gladly answer any questions you might have. In case you know someone who might find this article helpful, share it around! We’ll see you next time.