Assistance with best MultiSite configuration with custom plugin

Hi Everyone,

I'm in the planning stages of a new MultiSite and could really use some professional input. I have a few questions.

Background: I created a WP plugin that generates massive amounts of health insurance traffic (thousands of hits per day). I want to take advantage of this capability in a subscription model for insurance agents.

I'm designing a subscription site to service health insurance agents. My current thinking is to pre-configure a network of 50 sites. Each site will represent one of the 50 U.S. states.

As all 50 sites in the network will host the same topic, I'm thinking that subdirectory, not host name, is the best option, such as:

insurance.com/ca/
insurance.com/ny/
insurance.com/fl/

What is the general consensus on when to use subdirectory vs. host name?

My second question involves the plugin that I created for use on individual WP sites (not MultiSite). The plugin creates a massive catalog of insurance product pages. Currently the plugin produces pages in the following hierarchy:

site.com/insurance/
site.com/insurance/state/
site.com/insurance/state/county/
site.com/insurance/state/county/plan/

The way I see it, I have two options:

1. Use the plugin as-is at the top level of the network and add the necessary widgets to support agents at the state level; or

2. Rework the plugin so that each site uses the plugin restricted to their state content.

Is option 2 better for SEO? If so, is it significantly better and worth the development effort?

Is option 1 more efficient? If I decentralize the catalog, can each instance of the plugin use the same db tables? What happens if it becomes necessary to use more than one database?

Thanks in advance for feedback and thoughts.

David

  • Patrick

    Hi there @David

    Welcome to the forums, glad to have you aboard!

    From a strictly SEO standpoint, a subdirectory setup (domain.com/subsite) benefits the main domain name in that it inherits all the "link juice" of the subsites, which are in reality just sub-folders of one site. So the pagerank and such of each subsite also influences all the others on SERPs.

    In a sub-domain setup (subsite.domain.com), each subdomain keeps its own "link juice" and rises or falls independently on SERPs.

    However, for your use-case, I would lean more toward a sub-directory install as that URL structure seems to lend itself perfectly to your need (state/county/plan)

    While I do not know how you have coded your plugin, it would also appear that any mods you may need to make would be minimal if that structure is replicated in your multisite setup.

    As for your questions regarding database tables, each site in a multisite install has its own set of tables in your database, prefixed with the site ID #. However, plugins that have network features would likely store their data in the tables of the main site.

  • David

    Patrick,

    Thank you for your advice. I still have the one question/concern regarding a use of my plugin at the root vs site level.

    The plugin has its own data tables Some tables have hundreds of thousands of records. All configuration settings are stored in wp_options, so each site could easily have their own configuration.

    My concern is more one of SEO benefit vs. the maintenance and training of turning over a complex plugin to neophites. Here's what I mean:

    Centralized Catalog with Sub-directory Sites:

    site.com/insurance/state/county/plan-xyz/
    site.com/ca/topic-123/
    site.com/az/topic-abc/

    Decentralized Catalog with Sub-directory Sites:

    site.com/ca/insurance/county/plan-xyz/
    site.com/ca/topic-123/
    site.com/az/insurance/county/plan-xyz/
    site.com/az/topic-abc/

    In other words, is there any significant value to flowing everything related to a state below the individual sites?

    Thanks!

    David

  • Andre Foisy

    Hello there @David,

    I hope you are having a great day, and may I apologize for the delay you've been experiencing after your last request just here above the last response from my colleague @Ashok this is certainly not usual, and as SEO consulting questions would be a bit more of out of the scope of this service but nevertheless we're very willing to gladly help our members.

    Even though SEO is extremely complex and can be very tricky, both my colleagues here above gave you very good advices according to the very few knowledge they had about your custom plugin, your SEM plan and your "targeted keywords" of choice. At that stage, regarding the specificity of the linking structure you mentioned, there are many strategies that should be analyzed and applied accordingly with the results of the analysis, and I would do no good if I would not strongly recommend that you also consult a professional SEO consultant for this matter.

    That said, what I can add to what they already told you that could quickly help you understand how some of the structure you mentioned would help is regarding the States and County (the principle remains the same here whether it would be structured for Country or County, anyone can make a typo or misread a word) and that is certainly of importance if you are going to elaborate your SEM for "local search" strategies, which in my opinion would be very likely something to consider in the case of "insurances" offers.

    I hope that helps you understand a bit more of what you want to know regarding your site's structure, and do not hesitate to ask anytime if you have more questions.

    Regards,
    Andre

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