WordPress Config Thoughts: Multisite vs. Parent/Child Themes vs. Infinite WP? (7 posts)

  1. brianhalweil
    Posted 2 years ago #

    We publish four local food and drink magazines, each with its own website and related web content. Even though the content across all four titles shares a common mission, there is little overlap in actual stories. That is, each site has its own story content, events calendar and business listing guide.

    Still, since we share an editorial staff and a common look among all four, we are debating the pros and cons of a few different wordpress and SEO configurations, and would welcome the community's input on the pros and cons.

    Here is what we are considering for the WordPress configuration:

    - WordPress Multisite - concerns about 10-15% performance hit, incompatibility with certain plug ins, need to more ‘expert’ development

    - InfiniteWP - concerns that adding a 3rd party plugin to the mix might complicate things

    - Parent / child themes

    - A single wordpress site with different content subfolders for each locale - simplifies events / guide listings / seo, but too much in one place?

    Problems with current config (four different wordpress installs across four different base domains - ediblemanhattan.com, ediblebrooklyn.com, ediblelongisland.com, etc)

    - SEO value is currently spread across four base domains
    - Four different wordpress installs / upgrades / templates / plugins must be managed separately
    - Four different namespaces for registered users make cross-domain registration more difficult, less usable
    - The independent site approach is potentially problematic if we were to decide to combine certain site features - for example guide and event listings - into a single site experience filterable by zip / location

    Our questions:

    WP config: independent sites vs. multisite vs. parent/child themes vs. other?
    SEO config: should we move to shared parent domain? If we do, should we use locale-based subfolders or second level domains (brooklyn.ediblemag.com vs. ediblemag.com/brooklyn)?
    Operations: We think there are SEO advantages to move all four sites share the same base domain - ex, ediblemagazine.com, but are there operational disadvantages we are not considering?
    Ability for local site editors to work within their locale section only
    Ability for ad sales to target a single locale, example, run of site display ads on specific locales
    Ability to segment users by their locale - ex. enroll users in email lists for edible brooklyn only

    Thank you.

  2. - WordPress Multisite - concerns about 10-15% performance hit, incompatibility with certain plug ins, need to more ‘expert’ development

    Where'd you get those numbers? I'll agree that you need to be a good WP admin to handle Multisite, and extra points for knowing how to mess with the server directly (command line), but it doesn't have a 10-15% performance hit. It's just ... y'know, you're running multiple sites :) It's as slow as the same number of separate sites :D

  3. dberz
    Posted 2 years ago #

    @Ipstenu, I too have heard anecdotal reports that multisite has extra redirects that may hamper performance. (http://matlipe.com/single-vs-multisite/) Is this not true?

    Curious about your thoughts on the above. Would you configure this network on multisite?

    And regarding SEO, would you suggest subdomains or subfolders?


  4. tomburlingham
    Posted 2 years ago #

    Hey Ipsenu!

    I have read your article about not using multisite, but instead doing things with Custom Post Types, Categories, etc. I have not been able to find anything online about how to pull this off. As a newbie, I am a bit stuck.

    Do you know of a guide that specifies about how to build out a network of mini-sites using your suggested method? Or is this something I'd need to hire a WP dev to do?
    Is it a major deal or something a pro could could do in a few hours?

    The only other reason that I would ask about using multisite is exactly what Brian mentioned above. I plan to have geographically targeted sites and want to do direct sales of advertising into those markets. Wondering if that tilts things at all...?

    Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!

  5. Hey tomburlingham! ;) (Sorry, I just couldn't resist. :D *looks for more coffee*)

    As you're question has nothing to do with this topic can you please post your own question?


    It's really the best way to get answers when you start your own topic like that. I suggest you don't address it to Ipstenu directly as I am sure there are many people who may be able to help you.

  6. tomburlingham
    Posted 2 years ago #

    Ok, Jan, will do!
    Thanks for the corrections.

  7. "There are extra redirects taking place to serve up the correct site"

    That's one of those statements that SOUNDS logical until I tell you this "There are extra redirects taking place to serve up the correct page on a single site."

    The overhead isn't different :)

    "I noticed a 5-10% speed decrease with each site installed"

    Anecdotal. I'm not denying this, mind you, but it speaks more towards a server not yet configured properly for WordPress.

    And that actually is the biggest reason I point people away from Multisite. Are you on a VPS? Are you READY to handle that and tweak your httpd.conf settings? Set up server caching or edit Prefork? No? Willing to pay for managed WP Multisite hosting (which starts in the hundreds)? No?

    Then don't use Multisite. Though arguably you'll have the same performance issues on a single site with a lot of pages/custom post types.

    And regarding SEO, would you suggest subdomains or subfolders?

    Doesn't matter anymore per Matt Cutts - aka Mr. Google: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/subdomains-and-subdirectories/

    Curious about your thoughts on the above. Would you configure this network on multisite?

    Would I personally? With my skillset and experience, probably. It really depends on how much I trust my editors ;) If I think they'd flamingo up a site if given admin access, then I'd give them all a custom post type for their local an use this: http://wordpress.org/plugins/domain-mapping-system/

    Map the domains, and then if I need to lock them to JUST certain CPTs, grab http://wordpress.org/plugins/advanced-access-manager/ (though if they're the same editor base, it would likely not be needed).

    The calendars might be the tetchy part, depending on how you manage that.

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