Changed subsite to subdomain in MS Network Admin - bad idea?

I have a MultiSite that I've had for years. I have replaced/rebuilt a couple of the subsites (my-site.com/subsite) on subdomains (subdomain.my-site.com). I did so to separate the sites due to plugins I use - to prevent conflicts and stress on the WP structure and so I don't lose everything if something goes wrong...Again.

What I did: I created independent WP installs on subdomains. In the list of sites in the Main MultiSite Network Admin, I manually changed the old subsite URL to the new subdomain URL.

Is that a bad idea?
- Normally a subdomain is not part of the MS Network at all.
- I don't want to create any weak or stress points in my main MultiSite by doing something odd.
- As far as file structure it looks the same - subsites vs subdomains, they're just folders at the same level.

Why? I did that because I want to access the subdomains via the Network Admin site menu (in the upper left corner.) It turns out that each subdomain connects to JetPack thru the main MultiSite Network Admin too. I don't know what that means.

How does a subsite differ from subdomain in an MS Network?
I am fairly new to subdomains. One subdomain integrated into the MS on its own somehow or I don't know what I did - that was some time ago. I liked it so I did it intentionally with another site.

I'd appreciate any input. I'm WP experienced but not very tech literate. Speak slowly?

Cheers! Thanks

  • James Morris
    • WordPress Enthusiast

    Hello Toni Hoskin,

    I hope you are well today.

    Just so I'm clear on what you've done, my understanding is you switched the "subsite" from a subdirectory install to a subdomain install, like so:

    http://yoursite.com/subsite
    http://subsite.yoursite.com/

    And I'm assuming you did this through Network Admin -> Sites -> Edit Site -> Site Address (URL) [ie WordPress native domain mapping].

    If the above is the case, then basically, there is no difference between http://yoursite.com/subsite and http://subsite.yoursite.com/ functionally as far as files and database go. It's effectively the same thing. All the core files, plugins and themes are shared. Where the primary difference is in the SEO implications.

    Search engines will treat http://subsite.yoursite.com/ as a unique entity (domain). However, they will see http://yoursite.com/subsite as a child of http://yoursite.com/ and will pass link juice (rank) back to http://yoursite.com/. This is good in some situations, but not when you are hosting client sites that are not related to the primary domain. This can seriously muddy up your link profile in the SERPs.

    So, if you are wanting to change a subsite like http://yoursite.com/subsite to a standalone site where no files or plugins are shared, that can be done, but it's a pretty complex process as subsites do not have their own unique user tables.

    Please let me know if I'm on the right track and if I've clarified things a bit for you. Let us know if you have any further questions. We'll be happy to help! :slight_smile:

    Best regards,

    James Morris

    • Toni Hoskin
      • Recruit

      Hi James! I very much needed the info you provided. But my question remains, I will clarify:

      I created the subdomains with a complete, independent, new WP installation.
      -plugins and themes are not shared
      -the database is not shared

      I edited the Path in the list of sites of the MultiSite to point to the subdomains. The subdomains are separate WP installs. Is that a bad idea?

      I am trying to attach a screenshot. Ooops, it is in the next comment.

      Thank you
      Toni

  • Toni Hoskin
    • Recruit

    Screenshot of the site list in my MS showing manually edited Paths to external subdomains - they are not part of the MS.

    I edited the Path in the list of sites of the MultiSite to point to the subdomains. The subdomains are separate WP installs. Is that a bad idea?

    Thanks,
    Toni

  • James Morris
    • WordPress Enthusiast

    Hello Toni Hoskin,

    OK. This is much clearer. No, this really isn't a good idea. Here's the primary reasons.

    Since no plugins, themes or other data are being shared between the Multisite install and your standalone sites, you're essentially using DNS (wildcards) and software to map to another install. This could be done with DNS alone.

    By using your Multisite install to perform this function, you're adding weight to your Multisite install as well as latency to the query because Multisite will try to map the subdomain to an existing subsite by default before redirecting externally.

    Honesly, it would be best to just us the DNS settings in your control panel to map to the appropriate standalone site rather than add this extra layer of complexity, latency and load.

    I hope this clarifies a bit.

    Best regards,

    James Morris

    • Toni Hoskin
      • Recruit

      James, that is exactly what I wanted to know. I was doing it for convenience because I have to access the sites a lot to add content.

      I know what DNS is, generally. I have no clue about using the DNS. I don't know where I find the DNS for the installs, in cPanel somewhere?, or where to put/add the DNS to the main MultiSite.

      Thanks!

  • James Morris
    • WordPress Enthusiast

    Hello Toni Hoskin,

    How you configure the DNS will depend on a few things...

    Is your domain registered with the same company that hosts your websites?
    Do you have a hosting control panel like cPanel or Plesk? (Which?)
    Who is your hosting provider?
    Did you manually install your sites or use something like Softalicious?

    Best regards,

    James Morris

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