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The InterNetX Blog provides you with news and background information on innovations concerning domains, servers, SSL and other industry-related topics.

Domain mapping with WordPress Multisite

Domain mapping with WordPress Multisite provides an excellent means of making multiple subsites running on independent domains accessible and managing them efficiently via a single interface.


Domain mapping InterNetX blog cover

In addition to the actual web addresses, domain mapping can be used to access the websites or specific web content via an alternative domain specified by the user. The advantage is quicker and more purpose-driven access to specific content. This helps to highlight the brand and simplify user access to websites.

WordPress Multisite can be used in order to manage different domains (or also subdomains) simultaneously via a single WordPress installation, regardless of whether the content is interdependent or not.

Multi-domain strategy with WordPress Multisite – requirements

The question is, how does it actually work? How can multiple domains be allocated to a specific domain? WordPress Multisite enables subdirectories and subdomains as well as parts of websites on multiple domains to be collected under one main domain. This is called domain mapping.

In this way, the following scenario becomes possible: domain-a.de, domain-b.com and domain-c.eu are mapped on a maindomain.de and managed through a WP-CMS. The feature makes using a multi-domain strategy practicable and easy to implement. In order to use it, virtual hosting is an essential requirement.

This refers to the simultaneous operation of multiple server environments on a single shared server. Each one of these environments is called a virtual server and can be individually configured and used to host multiple domains.

The advantages of using domain mapping with WordPress Multisite?

  1. Simplifies web addresses
    Domain mapping makes it possible to redirect subpages with fewer “speaking” URLs  to catchy or campaign domains. This facilitates user access to the content and helps them get there faster.
     
  2. Extremely effective for promoting commercial offers
    A representative domain plays an important role as a touchpoint for marketing commercial content. It has a less serious appearance when companies market their own content or products over domains using domain names that cannot be clearly identified.
     
  3. Specific addresses for short customer routes
    Corporations and brands use domain mapping to give services or career portals special domains. In this way, users can be led directly to the relevant offer on the company website.
     
  4. Independence for domain and hosting
    With domain mapping, it is possible to connect existing websites with another domain, even if they are not hosted by the same provider. This means that you are free to choose the registrar when registering a domain. However, it also means that the domain must continue to be managed at the registrar where it was activated.

    Tip: An alternative would be to transfer additional domains to a domain management tool that allows you to manage domains centrally. In AutoDNS, you can also manage domains from external providers – ideal requirements for a successful multi-domain strategy and domain mapping.

Set up domain mapping with WordPress

The feature Multisite is already included in the current WordPress installations, so you no longer need to install additional plugins. These days, experts advise against using plugins as these are usually expensive and require maintenance.

To enjoy the advantages of the domain mapping features via WordPress Multisite, you need to configure a number of settings. Use this step-by-step guide to help you set it up successfully:

  1. The first step is to deactivate all plugins.
  2. And create a secure backup.
  3. Then you can activate the Multisite feature.To do this, the file wp-config.php must be adjusted. You can find the file in the main directory (usually called public_html) next to the index.php file.

    After this, the following text should be included above the line /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */«:

    define('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);


     
  4. The next step is to enable the network.
    To do this, you have to log in again to update the backend. Then select the entry network setup under Tools. You can select subdomains and subdirectories under Addresses of Sites in your Network.
    Please note: The subdirectory option can only be activated with the new WordPress installation. If a website is already in live mode, only subdomains can be selected as an option.


     
  5. With both options, two code snippets are shown after clicking on the install button. The first is inserted in the same position as above in the wp-config.php file, the second block in the .htaccess file.
     
  6. The .htaccess file should be in the main index, along with the wp-config.php file.
    If this is not the case, (which is highly unlikely), you must first create them. Then replace the content of the .htaccess file with the content of the block (see block number 2 on the screenshot) and save the changes.


     
  7. As soon as the network is enabled, the individual websites are created. The new subdomain can be added under My Sites > Network admin > Sites > Add New.


     
  8. Now all that is left to do is to specify the domain.
    To do this, go to the website overview Website > All Websites. When the cursor is moved over an entry, the working link appears. Simply enter the relevant domain and save the changes.



    There are no limits to creativity for the choice of the perfect domain. Use AutoDNS to find the right domain quickly and get the fitting SSL certificate at the same time – an absolute must have for the primary domain as well as all assigned domains in order to ensure optimal security in the multisite network and optimize search engine ranking.

Build your domain portfolio with AutoDNS