- WordPress for Large Business
- Multisite vs. multiple WordPress Instances
- Why would a business need a website network?
- WordPress Multisite
- Visitors can tell its a Multisite
- Do you really need Multisite?
- Custom Post Types
- User Privacy
- Moving a Site within a Multisite
- Installing plugins and themes
- Stores and Multisites
- Shared content
- Scalability – Multisite and Splitting the Database
- Hosting a Multisite
WordPress for Large Business
For many business owners, the focus is on creating a traditional website. And for most business owners, WordPress is their method of choice. It is flexible enough to play a key role in your company’s online content management while allowing you to effectively manage your website and blog. The learning curve is not too steep, either. But what if you need many websites? WordPress is a good fit for businesses with multiple websites, whether they are completely separate business entities or somewhat related. But how do you manage multiple websites with WordPress and which strategy is best?
Multisite vs. multiple WordPress Instances
Picture this… you are the webmaster for a real estate firm. This firm requires several different websites and because they use the same plug-ins, themes, etc, you have decided to use WordPress’ Multisite feature. It saves you time when managing these websites, because your client has so many of them and you still want to have a personal life.
The other scenario exists when a client of yours wants several different websites (that are completely unrelated to one-another). They do not share common plugins or theme. In this situation, it is best to use a separate WordPress instance for each site. But how do you manage all these sites as quickly and efficiently as you do your real estate clients’ websites? The answer to this question is simple and complex at the same time. There are many WordPress management platforms that simplify your WordPress management tasks into one. Some of the more popular ones are Infinite WP and WP Pipeline.
Why would a business need a website network?
Many business owners have discovered that one website does not fulfill the needs of their organization. In many cases, a business will have different departments, for example, such as Sales, Billing, Marketing. But managing a Multisite network can seem intimidating… even daunting.
The answer to untangling this seemingly complex task? With WordPress 3.0 or greater, you have the ability to create a network or a collection of separate websites using the WordPress Multisite feature. The websites contained in a WordPress network are not interconnected like one would think of when visualizing a "network". A Multisite WordPress network contains separate websites that are created in a single WordPress installation. The feature pre-installed in WordPress that provides this nifty solution is called the"Multisite feature".
End-users can create their own sites on demand, very much like WordPress.org capabilities. The single WordPress installation provides the ability to share plugins and themes. A Multisite network is a collection of sites that share the hosting resources while at the same time making the management of the sites easier because a webmaster can administer the various sites in one WordPress back-end administrator. As a seasoned Internet entrepreneur, I can tell you from first-hand experience that as your company grows and evolves, it can become a black-hole of time to manage your various sites with different interfaces. WordPress has solved this conundrum with their Multisite feature.
People who embrace WordPress usually also adore WordPress Multisite. But at the same time, some people do not consider what they are getting themselves into. With one installation, you can run as many sub-sites as you like. It is not recommended that you do this on shared hosting, however. With WordPress Multisite, managing many websites can be a fantastic time-saver. Think of it like WordPress.com — it is actually running multi sites. It is great at sharing. It has one set of core code, one set of plug-in base, one user base, one set of themes. You can constrain them how you want to within certain limitations. For example, If you want to update a theme on 70 different sites, with WordPress Multisite, you manage one install. If a new version of WordPress comes out, you only need to upgrade one WordPress instance.
Visitors can tell its a Multisite
When you visit a site on a network, seasoned Internet users can tell. If you have things that are needed to keep secret, then it’s better that you do not host that content on a network. Multisite is multiple, separate sites. Remember – multiple sites that are separate!
Do you really need Multisite?
Content is not shared, menus are not shared. It was not designed to share content and menus. There are plugins that can add this functionality, but if you use these plugins with Multisite, then you are adding a level of complexity. So just remember the word "separate". Multisite helps you to manage multiple separate sites. A big consideration to think of before using Multisite is "Will you always want this site on your network"? Plan for the future. Mapped domains and sub domain sites are allowed. What if the client wants e-mail access or shell access and you have that client on a Multisite? With a good theme and good plug-ins you can do just about anything, even manage multiple websites. If you use the right plugin, you can achieve what ever you want to do. Just remember that whatever plugin you choose will affect all your sites on a Multisite.
Custom Post Types
Posts, videos, text content… they can all be "custom" post type. A custom post type is a new post types you can create. A custom post type can be added to WordPress via the register_post_type() function. This function allows you to define a new post type by its labels, supported features, availability and other specifics.
A custom post type does everything you ever needed for your videos. You can restrict certain users to specific post types. With the template hierarchy, you can create a specific action. Archive, categories, post in a category and another category simultaneously — these are all things that can be done with custom post type and a Multisite is not needed. Do you actually need a Multisite?
As a user, when you are on a network, you can tell. If you are making a site for a company that cares that one department such as RND does not share communication with another departments, such as marketing, then you need to make sure that these things are separate. There is no user privacy on a Multisite because all the users are shared between sites. If you are logged into Site A, you can comment on Site B.
Moving a Site within a Multisite
Always consider the experience of the user before putting their small site on a Multisite. Unless you are going to be there holding their hand forever, don’t do it. Moving a site from a Multisite to it’s own site is not a simple task. So, don’t do it.
Installing plugins and themes
If you are running a Multisite, you will be in charge of installing your own themes and plugins. There are no work-a rounds to this. You are the site owner. You manage an entire network, so you are in charge of vetting your themes and plugins. This is how it needs to be. Your users should not be in charge of installing plugins and themes.
Stores and Multisites
There is no master over-ride for shared network sites for stores. All sub-sites share — so remember that shared network sites for stores are not a good idea.
If anyone ever asks you to put the same post on every single website within a network, don’t. Explain that you are the expert that was hired to do these things and you can’t do it. If you do—you will seriously tank your SEO efforts. The reason why you would never want the exact same post on every single site, is because it is the fastest way to tank SEO strategies in every single search engine. Duplicate content penalties are serious in Google and this is the fastest way to shoot yourself in the foot.
The only exception is WPMU Site-wide Tags Plugins. It is the only plugin to date that will let you post a master blog and link back to the children blog. It is SEO friendly. It is the only way you can share content on multi sites that is SEO friendly. Any other way you do this is a lost cause. Sharing content across all sites of a network causes your users to not know where to go. It makes for a bad user experience. You make more work for your readers. You make more work for yourself. You are diluting your own brand.
Multisite can be daunting to setup. There are a few things that should be mentioned about roles and permissions. Applications that are being shared by a school , for example, can be used to distribute the applications across a network. The process is not exactly simple and it needs to be thoroughly thought out before implementing. If you are 100% confident that you want to support a person forever, then you can put them on your Multisite. When you make sites for other people, generally you should think about the future. In most cases, when the project is complete, you will want to hand-off the admin responsibilities to another person. Also, the client might not always want to host with you. Limit a Multisite network to the people that logically fit together. In order for the group of people on the network to be cohesive, they will need to have the same needs.
Scalability – Multisite and Splitting the Database
Hyper DB and Shar DB are two plugins specifically setup to split a Multisite among multiple databases. With Multisite you have a separate tables in the database for every site on the network. This means that your database will grow by ten tables every time you add a new site. So when you get to about 100 sites, your sites will slow down. Just think about how databases are indexed. For the most part, your database can handle it, but this is something you need to consider before planning a Multisite.
Hosting a Multisite
Vault press will make a backup of your entire network. We do not recommend a Multisite on anything less than a VPS hosting plan because you will want the ability to have server backups. E-mail, databases, and everything in-between needs to be backed up. This is handled on the server level outside of WordPress. Some web hosts make it easy to do. There is a way to make complete backups on a schedule. Backup Buddy does not support Multisite at this time. So, for this reason alone, when setting up a WordPress Multisite, you will need a VPS hosting plan.