Making Your Site Google-Friendly

You can’t trick Google into loving your site, and there’s no secret technique to vault
your site to the top of the search page rankings. However, you can give your site
the best possible odds by following some good habits. These practices help search
engines find their way around your posts, understand your content, and recognize
that you’re a real site with good content, not a sneaky spammer trying to cheat the
system.

Here are some guidelines to SEO that don’t require special plug-ins or custom coding:
• Choose the right permalink style. Every WordPress post and page gets its own
permalink. If you create a self-hosted site, your permalinks should include the
post title, because the search engine pays special attention to the words in your
web address. (Page 117 explains how to change your permalink.) If WordPress.
com hosts your site, you already have the right permalink style.
• Edit your permalinks. When you first create a post, you have the chance to
edit its permalink. At this point, you can improve it by removing unimportant
words (like “a”, “and,” and “the”). Or, if you use a cute, jokey title for your post,
you can replace it in the permalink with something more topical that includes
the keywords you expect web searchers to use. For example, if you write a post
about your favorite cookware titled “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire,”
you ordinarily get a permalink like this: http://triplegoldcookwarereview.com/
out-of-the-frying-pan-and-into-the-fire. If you remove some words, you can
shorten it to http://triplegoldcookwarereview.com/out-of-frying-pan-into-fire.

And if you substitute a more descriptive title, you might choose http://triplegoldcookwarereview.
com/calphalon-fry-pan-review.
• Use tags. Google pays close attention to the tags you assign to a post. If they
match a web searcher’s keywords, your post has a better chance of showing
up in search results. When choosing tags, pick just a few, and make sure they
clearly describe your topic and correspond to terms someone might search for
(say, “artisanal cheese,” “organic,” and “local food”). Some search-obsessed
bloggers scour Google statistics to find the best keywords to use in attracting
web searchers, and use those as their tags in new posts. However, that’s too
much work for all but the most fanatical SEO addicts.
• Optimize your images. Google and other search engines let people search for
pictures. When someone searches for an image, Google attempts to match the
search keywords with the words that appear near the picture on a web page,
and with the alternate text that describes the picture. That means people are
more likely to find your pictures if you supply all the details the Insert Media
window asks for, including a title, alternate text, a caption, and a description
(page 182). Remember to use descriptive, searchable keywords when you do.

Advertisements
Making Your Site Google-Friendly

Adding Themes and Plug-Ins

In an ordinary WordPress website, the site administrator controls the themes and
plug-ins the site uses. But in a multisite network, this approach would be too risky,
because a single malicious plug-in could steal sensitive data from any site in the
network, or wipe out the database of your entire network.
Instead, multisite networks use a more disciplined system. You, the network administrator,
can pick the themes and plug-ins you want to allow. Site administrators can
then choose from the options you set.
A typical multisite installation begins with a few standard themes (such as Twenty
Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, and Twenty Fourteen), but only one of them is network
enabled (Twenty Fourteen). That means Twenty Fourteen is the only theme the sites
in your network can use. In fact, site administrators can’t see the other themes at all.

You can also enable a theme for some sites but not others, although it’s awkward.
First, make sure your theme isn’t network-activated. Then choose Sites→All Sites
and click the Edit link under the site where you want to apply the theme. When the
Edit Site page appears, click the Themes tab. In the list of disabled themes, click
Enable next to the ones you want to add.
The process for installing plug-ins is similar but subtly different. First, choose
Plugins→Add New and then search for the plug-in you want. When you find it, click
Install Now. Now you have a choice•

• Make the plug-in optional (don’t do anything).
• Activate the plug-in for every site.

GEM IN THE ROUGH

Setting a Storage Limit

Themes and plug-ins aren’t the only restrictions that come into
play on a multisite network. You can also set storage limits to
restrict how many pictures, documents, and other files people
can upload to their sites. These settings prevent space hoggers
from swallowing gigabytes of hosting room, leaving your web
server starved for space.
Ordinarily, your network has no site restrictions. To put
one into effect, choose Settings→Network Settings on the
network administration dashboard. Scroll down to the “Site
upload space” heading and switch on “Limit total size of files
uploaded.” That caps the amount of space for posts, pages,
pictures, and uploaded files on a site to 100 MB. However,
you can type in whatever maximum you want. You can also
change the “Max upload file size” to set the maximum size of
an individual file (usually 1.5 MB).
Site administrators can use a dashboard to keep an eye on the
size of their sites. Choose Dashboard→Home, and look at the
“At a Glance” box. At the bottom, you find the key details: the
maximum size allotment, the current size of the site, and the
percentage of space used so far.

Adding Themes and Plug-Ins

Rolling Out Updates

One advantage of a multisite network is that it streamlines certain management
tasks. For example, you can update WordPress on all the sites in your network in a
single operation from the network administration page.
To get started, choose Updates→Available Updates from the network administration
dashboard. You’ll see, at a glance, what themes, plug-ins, and WordPress system
updates are available. If you’re not up to date, start by installing your updates on
this page.
When you update themes or plug-ins, the changes take effect on all the sites in your
network immediately. That’s because a multisite network stores only a single copy
of each theme and each plug-in.
When you install a new version of WordPress, you need to take one more step.
Choose Updates→Update Network, and then click the Update Network button to
upgrade all your sites at once.

Rolling Out Updates

Understanding How Users Work in a Multisite Network

You can create as many sites as you want in a multisite network. In each site, you
can add as many users as you need.
Sometimes, the same person needs to work on more than one site. For example,
one person might need to contribute to different blogs maintained by different
people. Or an administrator who manages one site in a network might also want to
contribute to another.
To understand how to deal with this, you need to realize that a multisite network
maintains a master list of all the users who belong to any site in the network. Each of
those people has subscriber privileges on every site. (As you learned on page 370,
subscribers are the lowest class of WordPress user—they can’t do anything more
than read posts and write comments.)

In addition, you can give people special privileges for specific sites. For example,
you might make someone an administrator on one blog and an author on another.
In this case, there’s still just one record for that user, but now it’s registered with
two different sets of capabilities on two different sites.
NOTE Happily, WordPress makes people log in only once. When visitors move from one site to another in
the same network, WordPress remembers who they are and determines what privileges they should have on
each site.

If you choose Users→Add New on the network administration dashboard, you can
add people to the master list (Figure 11-28, top). But WordPress won’t give new users
any special privileges for any site.
Life is different for ordinary site administrators. Consider what happens if an administrator
named Suzy logs into her dashboard. When she chooses Users→Add New, she’s
not given the option to create an account for someone else. Instead, she can invite
an existing user to take on a more powerful role on her site.

One potential problem with the user registration system is that it can create a lot of
extra work. For example, if a site administrator needs to add someone new, he needs
to ask you, the network administrator, to create the account first. To circumvent this
restriction, go to Settings→Network Settings, choose “Allow site administrators to
add new users to their site,” and then click Save Changes. Now site administrators
can add new people to the master list.
Another problem occurs if one person contributes to several sites. In that case,
someone needs to visit each dashboard and invite the user separately to each site.
If you’re not the sort of person who likes to spend all weekend tweaking WordPress
settings, you may want to enlist the help of a plug-in like Multisite User Management
(http://tinyurl.com/multisite-um). It lets you set a default role for each site in a multisite
network. Then, when you create a new user, she’s automatically registered on
each site with the default role you chose.

Understanding How Users Work in a Multisite Network

Adding a Site to Your Network

To add a site, you need to enter network administration mode. This is a step that only
you, the network administrator, can take. Other administrators on your network will
be able to manage their own sites, but they won’t be able to change the network
settings—or even look at them.
NOTE In WordPress parlance, a network administrator (also known as a super admin) is the person who
manages a multisite network and has full power over all the sites inside. A site administrator oversees a single
site—the site you create for him.
To start managing the network, point to the My Sites menu, which sits to the right
of the navigation bar (that’s the black bar that stretches across the top of the page).
Then click Network Admin.

In network administration mode, the dashboard changes. Because you’re no longer
managing a specific site, the Posts, Pages, Comments, Links, and Media menus all
disappear. In their place is a smaller set of commands for managing sites, users,
themes, plug-ins, network settings, and updates.
TIP You can go straight to the network administration page by adding /wp-admin/network to the end of
your home site address, as in http://prosetech.com/wp-admin/network.
Once in network administration mode, you can create a new site.

GEM IN THE ROUGH

Letting People Create Their Own Sites

Ordinarily, it’s up to you to create every site in a multisite
network. WordPress helps you out by automatically creating
an account for the new administrator, so you can create a site
in one step instead of two. But if you have dozens or even
hundreds of users who want sites, manually creating each
one is tedious. WordPress gives you another option—you can
choose to let people create their own sites.
This isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. As long as you don’t
let people create their own accounts, WordPress allows only
registered users to start site-building. If you’re crafty, you can
use a WordPress plug-in like Add Multiple Users (http://tinyurl.
com/add-multiple) to create accounts automatically, based on
a list of email addresses in a text file or spreadsheet. Then you
can let people build the sites they need on their own. (There’s
no restriction on the number of sites, so if someone can create
one, she can also create 12. If you notice a power-drunk author
creating too many sites, you need to step in, delete some, and
send the miscreant a stern email.)
To allow people to create their own sites, choose Settings→
Network Settings in the network administration dashboard.
Then, next to “Allow new registrations,” choose “Logged in
users may register new sites.” Make sure “Send the network
admin an email notification every time someone registers a
site or user account” is also turned on so WordPress notifies
you about newly created sites. Finally, click Save Changes at
the bottom of the page.
New users might not realize that they’re allowed to create sites.
WordPress won’t tell them unless they ask for the sign-up page,
by requesting wp-signup.php in the root site (as in http://

prosetech.com/wp-signup.php). Figure 11-27 shows the page.

Adding a Site to Your Network

Creating a Network of Sites

Creating a New Multisite Network from Scratch

The easiest way to create a multisite network is to create a new WordPress site from
scratch, using an autoinstaller that supports the multisite feature. For example, if you
use Softaculous, the installation process is almost exactly the same as the one you
used in Chapter 3 (page 55). The difference is that somewhere in your autoinstaller,
you need to find a setting named something like “Enable Multisite” and switch it
on.

If you don’t have an autoinstaller that supports the multisite feature, you’ll need to
install a normal WordPress site first and then go through the somewhat awkward
conversion process.

NOTE The multisite feature works well if you have a community of people who need to work independently,
keep their content separate from everyone else’s, and have complete control over the way their content is organized
and presented. For example, the Canton School site might use the multisite feature to give each teacher her own
site. Teachers could then use their sites to post assignments and answer student questions. The multisite feature
isn’t very useful if you want people to team up on the same project, share ideas, or blog together—in all these
cases, a single site with multiple users makes more sense.

NOTE There are two ways to create addresses for the sites in a network. You can give each site its own
subfolder (as in http://OrilliaBaseballTeams.com/madcats), or you can give each site its own subdomain (as in
http://madcats.OrilliaBaseballTeams.com). The latter is the way WordPress.com works. It’s slightly more complicated,
because it requires some additional settings on your web host. In this chapter, you’ll stick to the subfolder
approach.

Converting an Existing Site to a Multisite Network

Converting an existing WordPress site into a multisite network is trickier than creating
a new network from scratch. If you use subfolders (rather than subdomains) in your
network, the conversion process will break any links within posts (see the Note near
the bottom of this page to learn why). For that reason, it’s best to convert a newly
created WordPress site, rather than one you’ve been using (and that other people
have been reading) for some time.

But if you know how to use an FTP program and you’re undaunted by the challenge,
it is possible to transition from an ordinary site to a multisite network. WordPress has
the full and rather technical step-by-step instructions at http://tinyurl.com/2835suo.
The process involves modifying two files in your site—wp-config.php and .htaccess—
and changing a few related settings in the dashboard. But because you can’t
directly edit the files on your site, you need to download them to your computer
(that’s where the FTP program comes in), make your changes in a text editor, and
then upload the new, modified files. If you’ve never fiddled with a WordPress installation
before, it’s a bit tedious.
WARNING Make sure you really want a multisite network before you forge ahead, because there’s no
easy way to change a multisite network back to a single site after you make the jump.

Creating a Network of Sites

Your Multisite Network: A First Look

When you create a multisite network, WordPress starts you out with a single home
site in the root of the installation folder. For example, if you install a multisite network
at http://prosetech.com, the first site is at http://prosetech.com. This is exactly the
same as when you create a standalone site. When you create additional sites, however,
WordPress places them in subfolders. So if you add a site named teamseven,
WordPress creates it at http://prosetech.com/teamseven. (You might think that it
makes more sense to write TeamSeven rather than teamseven, but to WordPress
it’s all the same. No matter what capitalization you use, WordPress shows the site
name in lowercase letters when you manage it in the dashboard.)
NOTE If you’re using subfolders (not subdomains) to arrange your multisite network, you’ll find one quirk
in WordPress’s naming system. When you view a post or page on your home site, WordPress adds /blog to the
address. For example, WordPress puts a post that would ordinarily be found at http://prosetech.com/2014/06/
peanut-butter-prices-spike at http://prosetech.com/blog/2014/06/peanut-butter-prices-spike. This slightly
awkward system makes sure that WordPress can’t confuse your home site blog with another site in the network,
because it doesn’t allow any other site to use the name blog.
When you finish creating your multisite network, you find yourself at the dashboard
of your home site. But if you attempt to augment your site’s features, you’ll find a new
restriction. Even though you can activate an existing plug-in or theme, WordPress
won’t let you install new ones. On a fresh WordPress install, you’ll probably get just
a single theme (Twenty Fourteen) and two basic plug-ins (the essential Akismet
spam-catcher, and the pointless Hello Dolly example).

If you haven’t already guessed, your home site has these new and slightly unwelcome
limitations because it’s now part of your multisite network. These rules can
be frustrating, but they have sound logic behind them. First, the theme limitations
guarantee that your sites share a consistent look. Second, the theme and plug-in
restrictions act as safeguards that prevent inexperienced users from uploading
spam-filled extensions, which could compromise your entire network.
That said, you’ll probably want to tweak these restrictions to make them better suit
your site. For example, you may want the sites on your network to use a different
standard theme, or you may want to allow site creators to choose from a small group
of approved themes. You might also have trusted plug-ins that you want to run on
everyone’s site. You’ll learn how to make these changes shortly. But first, you need
to understand how to add new sites to your network.

Your Multisite Network: A First Look