A Thoroughly Biased Guide to the Plugins You Need to Get WordPress Multisite Up and Running
Multisite is a fantastic feature of WordPress that allows you to easily create a network of websites and crown yourself “Super Admin.”
But once you’ve activated Multisite for your WordPress install and set it up, what next?
In this post we’ll look at the best plugins – all created by WPMU DEV – to help you manage your network. Each of the plugins below will extend the functionality of a basic Multisite install, adding features such as domain mapping, cloning, SEO, and analytics.
Pro Sites lets you create your own profitable blog or site hosting network, just like our sister site Edublogs.org or WordPress.com. A great example of Pro Sites in the wild is Webinly.
With Pro Sites, you can offer and charge your users for access to features like premium themes, plugins, extra storage, domain mapping, better support and advertising removal.
Other features include rich statistics to help you make informed decisions about your network, front-end checkout, membership levels, and BuddyPress integration.
Infinite SEO is a powerful search engine optimization plugin built to support Multisite.
It features comprehensive sitemaps, title and meta data optimization, and automatic sitewide linking.
The neat thing about this plugin is that it allows an incredible amount of control on both a post/page and global level, so you can control what the world sees.
Anti-Splog is an absolute must-use plugin for Multisite users.
You’ll need a WPMU DEV API key in order to use the Anti-Splog service, which allows you to limit the number of signups per IP address per 24 hours, human tests (reCaptcha, random questions etc), pattern matching so you can check site domains, titles or usernames against a defined set of regular expressions.
There’s also a free version of this plugin if you want to take it for a spin before buying the premium version.
Domain Mapping and Multi-Domains are both fantastic plugins for managing your network domains.
Let’s start with Domain Mapping. This plugin provides an simple way to point multiple domains to your primary hosting account. If you’re a Multisite admin, this means you can map any domain to your network, giving you the option to offer domains to your users. Mapping domains can be fiddly, but Domain Mapping makes the whole process a straightforward affair. I even wrote a post recently on how to set it all up.
Multi-Domains, on the other hand, allows you to run an unlimited number of different domains from on Multisite installation. This allows you to easily create blogs at alternative domains to your main site, or give your users the options to choose the domain they prefer.
You can even combine Domain Mapping and Multi-Domains for even more control over your URLs. The plugin combo will let you map individual blogs set up to different domains to their own dedicated URLs.
New Blog Templates, Cloner and Multisite Content Copier are just three of the plugins that make up our Multisite Copying Toolkit, a suite of tools that cover the bases when it comes to copying data from one site to another, and even multiple destinations.
New Blog Templates helps you ensure that every new site is created using a pre-defined set of content, themes, plugins and settings by specifying an existing site to be used as a template. Multiple templates can be created and categorized to build a library of templates to be selected by site admins and network members when creating a new site. As the templates are based on existing sites, the site can be updated and any subsequent new sites will incorporate those changes.
Cloner, the latest tool in the suite, lets you choose your own combination of nine site components, or all of them for complete site replication, and get a clone of any site on the network (except the root site). Clone a site for troubleshooting or staging, give users from one site access to another or simply copy content (including attachments) from one site to another in just a few clicks.
If you want to copy posts, pages, custom post types, users and even plugins to a single site, all sites or a group of sites on your Multisite network, then Multisite Content Copier is what you need. When copying posts and pages, this plugin ensures that all images are also copied across, making it a perfect tool for syndicating content from one site to any number of others. It also integrates with New Blog Templates, allowing Super Admins to also update the templates used for the creation of new sites.
Snapshot is Time Machine for your website.
This backup plugin lets you schedule a backup of a single install, a single site on a Multisite network or your entire Multisite network at an interval of your choosing from immediately to once-a-month.
You can create multiple backup jobs and the data can be stored locally or preferably on a host of external service providers including DropBox, Amazon S3 and Google Drive.
Ultimate Branding lets you white-label the entire WordPress admin area, from the admin bar to the dashboard.
Removing all traces of WordPress from your site or Multisite network has many advantages. Having WordPress branding sitting alongside your own can cause unnecessary confusion for your users. The login page is just one example where WordPress pushes your branding to one side.
With Ultimate Branding, you can replace the login logo with your own company logo, update your favicon, help content and dashboard widgets, even replace the footer text.
Our Google analytics plugins lets you track and view your statistics for an individual post, a site or an entire Multisite network right from your WordPress dashboard.
The plugin displays beautiful charts and graphs in your dashboard and in the Post Editor.
This plugin is also compatible with Pro Sites, which means you can offer Google Analytics as a premium feature on your Multisite network.
Reader is a recent addition to our stable of plugins. This plugin turns your Multisite network into a community by adding Tumblr, WordPress.com and Edublogs-style “follow” features to your sites.
Modelled on Google Reader, you’ll find many great features similar to Feedly and the WordPress.com reading experience.
But more importantly, Reader encourages your users to engage with sites across your network, without having to leave their site.
Even More Multisite Plugins
I’ve highlighted just a handful of the best plugins you need to get Multisite up and running. There are plenty more that I’ve left out because we have so many fantastic plugins for Multisite! But there are a few more that deserve honorable mentions.
Allows you to display a list of recent posts from across your Multisite network on your main site.
Allows you and your users to batch create gazillions of blogs and/or users, while setting passwords, urls, titles and more.
Lets you display a list of recent posts from across your Multisite network on your main site.
Create reports of all user activity across an entire Multisite network.
Allows you to bulk-add existing users to a Multisite network and even set roles.
Create multiple sites and users automatically by uploading a CSV or XLS file.
What Multisite plugin can’t you live without? Let us know in the comments below.