Starting with WordPress 3.0, wordpress introduced a new and powerful feature called WordPress multisite which provides the webmaster with the ability to create networks of WordPress websites. In a multisite setup all the users use the same installation of the WordPress and do not have separate installations and directories though they do have separate media folders as well as different tables in the database. A multisite can have multiple administrators/users managing the different sites or a single administrator managing all the different websites. The websites in a network can share plugins and themes amongst themselves. The end users/administrators can create websites on demand in a multisite architecture.

We will now delve a bit deeper into the structure of multisite setup and explain how it differs from a basic WordPress installation:

  • It must be decided whether sub domains, subfolders or separate domains are to be used for the other websites apart from the main site.
  • The main site can install plug ins and themes but the sub – sites individual sites apart from the main site can only activate and deactivate themes and plug ins but cannot install these.
  • Each individual site provides administrative powers limited to it but the administration for the main site is super-administrator and has access to administrative functions of all the websites.
  • In addition to the regular dashboards for the websites there is another dashboard called Network-dashboard available to the super-administrator only from where network-wide settings can be managed. The super-administrator can also activate and deactivate plug ins and themes on the network websites via this dashboard.

There are a number of benefits that WordPress multisite accrues on it users:

  • Quick access to multiple sites/blogs through a single administrative area: This is especially useful for authors managing multiple blogs as it saves time and increases efficiency.
  • Shared plug ins and themes: Multisite allows the super-administrator to setup a single plug in on the network sites through the network dashboard. Even when a plug in is updated the updates are propagated to all the websites in the network automatically. The same goes for the themes as well.
  •  Shared users: Multisite allows the super-administrator to assign multiple users to different websites on the network as per the requirements.
  • Upgrading WordPress: When the WordPress version for the main website is updated; the update is propagated to all the websites in the network.
  •  Each website in the network is recognized by the search engines as completely separate entity allowing the webmasters to separately optimize each website for search engines targeting different keywords and niches.
  • WordPress Multisite setup provide content syndication: This means that posts from all the websites can be taken and published on a single website.

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