WordPress Multisite and SEO: All Your Questions Answered

WordPress Multisite and SEO: All Your Questions Answered

One topic that comes up time and time again in the comments on our Multisite posts is SEO.

People often want to know how running a Multisite network will affect SEO, both for the main site and for other sites or blogs in the network.

There isn’t a simple answer to the question “How will Multisite affect my SEO?” The way in which SEO and Multisite interact will depend on how the network is set up, what kind of domains you’re using and how you want your SEO to work. Some network admins want the whole network to be treated as one site for SEO purposes, while others want each site to be treated differently.

In this post, I’ll look at three different scenarios and how they affect SEO – one will help if you want your network to share SEO juice, and the other two will work best if you want each site to be treated differently by search engines:

Let’s start by summarizing the options you have in Multisite.

Multisite and Domains: Your Options

Multisite gives you two options for managing the domains used by the sites in your network:

  • Subdirectories: If you set your network up with subdirectories, a site within it will have the domain http://mynetwork.com/mysite, where mynetwork.com is the domain of your network and mysite is the individual site.
  • Subdomains: With this setup, your site will have the domain http://mysite.mynetwork.com

You have to specify which of these you’ll use when you activate Multisite, and you can’t change it afterward. If you’re activating Multisite on an established WordPress installation you can only use subdomains, and if your network isn’t in your domain’s root directory you’ll have to use subdirectories.

However, there is a third option that will override either of these and that’s domain mapping. Domain Mapping lets you map a completely separate domain (or multiple domains) to any of the sites in your network, which means that your site can have the domain http://mysite.com and will behave as if it’s hosted on that domain instead of in your network.

Note: WordPress 4.5 introduced domain mapping as a native feature. So, you don’t have to use a third-party plugin. For the latest on domain mapping see our Ultimate WordPress Multisite Domain Mapping Guide.

Search Engines and Domains

As Google is the search engine most of us worry about, let’s take a look at how Google treats subdomains and subdirectories.

In a Google+ hangout in August 2016, Google’s John Mueller gave us a few clues as to how Google treats subdomains:

“With subdomains, the main thing I’d watch out for is that you’re not using wildcard subdomains because that can make crawling really, really hard. If we have to go through all of these subdomains and treat them all as separate hosts. But if you have a limited number of subdomains

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This article was written by Rachel McCollin and originally published on WPMU DEV Blog.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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