With WordPress 3.0 came a brand new offering – the Multisite feature. At the time though multisite files were actually different from a conventional WordPress installation meaning plugins had to be remade to accommodate multisite. Then there were the teething issues as you would expect with any first generation language. However, come 4.2.1 update of WordPress recently, I have come to believe that this is a rather useful addition. Just recently I completed a project for a client who had three demands for their existing WordPress website.
- A single website that targets audiences from different parts of the globe with varying content.
- The ability to change languages so that translated pages may appear on the same site.
- Need for using multiple ccTLDs so as to garner more confidence from the target market.
In fact, consider these are your reasons why you should go for WordPress Multisite installation. If your reasons fall outside these three then it is always better not to install multisite.
Also, if your only desire is to translate your entire site and offer non-english speakers a native read, check our WPML plugin, it involves way less work and requires much less maintenance in the long run.
Now, for this project we WordPress multisite was an obvious choice but in the course I did learn many things and came to appreciate the true potential of this awesome network.
Power To Make Subdomains and Subdirectories
What’s so special about making subdomains and subdirectories, you ask? Well how about having the ability to either carry the home site’s theme over to the networked sites or making minute changes to the same theme or using an entirely different theme and layout? Keep in mind you can do this either using sub-directories or sub-folders.
My client wanted a different ccTLD for his target markets so I added another neat trick into the mix called domain mapping. I won’t get into it that much here as it demands an entire post to itself, so that’s for future.
Imagine having three websites each with a different ccTLD as clean slates. The home site obviously already had SEO done on it. Which meant that it has a good standing with the search engines. The moment these new satellite sites emerge, they are linked from the home site thus drawing ranking factors immediately. This in itself pushes them into high SERP positions. And what remains is to perform local search optimization. With global SEO taken care of, just a bit of local SEO tends to produce an amazing amount of SERP jump.
Some may feel that multiple domains defeats SEO as it makes it harder. This is true if your home site is not laden with excellent ranking metrics. If that is the case, my advice is to use subdirectories to start with and once each of your subdirectory based multisite has garnered enough of its own link juice they can be domain mapped to new directories thus carrying with them their link juice.
One Last Lesson – Helping Google And Bing Understand How to Read the Sites
Ok so we have multiple websites all tied up with a single home site but how will Google and Bing understand which site is supposed to be ranked higher as opposed to the home site. I mean, my client’s sites share a lot of the content so shouldn’t search engines penalize most of them? The answer is no. Duplicate content never leads to penalties other than when overdone. Google and Bing are intelligent enough to understand that the different ccTLDs are actually part of the same website but directed to different audiences. For starters they have ccTLDs so they are obviously targeting specific audiences. Hence, those sites are locally ranked rather than the home site.
Nevertheless, one neat trick for Google to help their bots understand which site is for which locale is to use the rel=”relative” link tag with the right hreflag attribute. You can find out more about this directly from google here.