Header Text - Learn More About Domain Mapping for WordPress Multisite

WordPress Multisite allows you to manage multiple websites from a single WordPress installation, giving you a network of sub-domains from your main site. These can all be managed from a single WordPress Hosting dashboard. Domain mapping is a powerful feature that enables you to map unique domains or subdomains to individual sites within your WordPress Multisite network. This blog will take you through the process of setting up domain mapping for your WordPress Multisite.

WordPress Multisite Explained

WordPress Multisite is a feature in WordPress that allows you to create a network of multiple websites from a single WordPress installation. The sites in your network all share the same core files and databases.

WordPress Multisite provides a centralized way to manage all the sites in the network. Sites in the network can share themes, plugins, and user accounts. This helps in maintaining consistency and reducing duplication of resources across the network.

WordPress Multisite allows for different user roles and permissions at the network and individual site levels. These include Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. However, there is an additional role added to Multisite setups: Super Administrator.

The Super Admin has full control over all the sites in the network. In addition to assigning user rights, they can install new themes and plugins and assign users roles for specific websites. All via a single dashboard.

Running multiple sites on a single installation can be more cost-effective than setting up and maintaining separate WordPress installations for each site.

It can be especially useful for businesses or individuals who need to maintain multiple WordPress sites. It simplifies the overall management and reduces maintenance workload.

Domain Registration And Hosting Requirements For Multisite

WordPress Multisite works with your existing domain structure and does not have any specific domain registration requirements. You can use your existing domain or register a new one depending on your needs.

If you plan to use subdomains, you do not need to register any new domains. The subdomains and subdirectories are automatically created and mapped for each new site. Simply manage your subdomains through your Hosted.com Client Portal.

The good news is that it also allows you to give individual sites in the network different domains. This gives the appearance of separate websites to users, while on the backend, it is all running on one WordPress installation. This is called domain mapping.

What Is Domain Mapping?

When you register a domain through a hosting provider like Hosted.com, it is configured in the Domain Name System (DNS) records to point toward your web host’s nameservers. This process associates the domain name with the IP (Internet Protocol) address of your hosting server, enabling visitors to access your website using that URL.

Domain mapping allows you to assign a custom web address to the subdomains in your network. This means that instead of using the default subdomain or subdirectory, e.g., subsite.example.com or example.com/subsite, you can map a unique domain name to each one.

With domain mapping, you can have a separate and more user-friendly domain name for each site in your WordPress Multisite network. For example, you could map the domain “mystore.com” to one of your sites and “myblog.com” to another site within your Multisite installation.

Visitors can access each site using its unique domain, without being aware of the underlying WordPress Multisite setup.

Strip Banner Text - Use WordPress Multisite To Create A Network Of Sub-Domains

The Benefits Of WordPress Multisite

Unique URLs

Each site can have a branded and memorable domain name, which can improve branding, credibility, and user experience. You can customize the domain names to better reflect the purpose or content of each site within your multisite network.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Having unique domain names for each site can provide better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) opportunities, as search engines treat each domain as a separate entity.


Multisite allows you to easily move sites between different installations (if you have them) or even to a single-site WordPress installation, as the domain is independent of the WordPress setup.

Setting Up WordPress Multisite Domain Mapping

Before you start the WordPress Multisite domain mapping process, make sure your hosting plan can handle multiple sites. If needed, you can upgrade to a hosting plan that provides more server resources such as additional CPU, RAM, and storage space.

Next, check your WordPress installation. If you are using a new WordPress installation set it up for a multisite network. Alternatively, you can use your existing install, but deactivate your plugins and backup your files.

Lastly, make sure you can access your website files with an FTP client like FileZilla.

Now you can follow the steps below for WordPress Multisite domain mapping:

Step 1: Register Domain Name

Check the availability of the domain name you want to use for your main site and network and register it with your hosting provider. If you already have a registered domain name, proceed to the next step.

Note: Ensure that you have access to manage the DNS settings for the domain.

Step 2: Install and Configure WordPress Multisite

If you haven’t already, install and configure the WordPress core software on your hosting account, and make sure to enable Multisite.

Step 3. Update wp-config.php File

Before proceeding with the domain mapping process, you need to update the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation’s root directory. This file contains essential configuration settings for your WordPress Multisite network.

  1. Connect to your server via FTP or the File Manager section in your cPanel dashboard.
  2. Navigate to the root directory of your WordPress installation (usually /public_html or /www).
  3. Locate the wp-config.php file and download it to your local machine.
  4. Open the wp-config.php file in a text editor.
  5. Add the following line of code at the end of the file before the closing ?> tag:

define(‘MULTISITE’, true);

define(‘SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL’, false);

define(‘DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE’, ‘example.com’);

define(‘PATH_CURRENT_SITE’, ‘/’);

define(‘SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE’, 1);

define(‘BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE’, 1);

  • Replace ‘example.com’ with your main domain name (without the http:// or https:// prefix).
  • Save the changes to the wp-config.php file.
  • Upload the modified wp-config.php file back to your server, overwriting the original file.

This step is crucial as it enables the Multisite functionality in WordPress and configures the main domain for your network. After updating the wp-config.php file, you can proceed with the remaining steps for setting up WordPress Multisite domain mapping.

Note: If you have already enabled Multisite and configured the main domain during the initial WordPress Multisite setup process, you may skip this section.

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Step 4: Install a Domain Mapping Plugin (Optional)

“Install and activate a domain mapping plugin on your WordPress Multisite network. Popular options include “WordPress MU Domain Mapping” and “Mercator Module for WordPress Multisite.” These plugins will add the necessary functionality to map custom domains to your subsites.

Step 5: Set Up DNS Records:

Log in to your Hosted.com Client Portal and navigate to the DNS management section.

Ensure that you have access to manage the DNS settings for the domain. For each custom domain you want to map, create a CNAME record pointing to your WordPress Multisite installation’s IP address or domain.

Step 6: Map Domains in WordPress Multisite

In your WordPress Multisite admin dashboard, navigate to the “Domain Mapping” in the “Domains” section.

Add each custom domain you want to map and associate it with the corresponding subsite. Follow the instructions for properly mapping the domains to your subsites.

Step 7: Enable Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates

If you want to enable HTTPS for your subsites, which we highly recommend you do to keep all your subsites secure, you’ll need to have and install an SSL Certificate.

Hosted.com offers free SSL Certificates with our WordPress Hosting plans. Alternatively, you can look at purchasing a Wildcard SSL for multiple sites. These certificates are used to encrypt data for multiple websites.

Step 8: Test

After completing the domain mapping setup, test each mapped domain by visiting it in your web browser. Ensure that the correct subsite is being displayed when accessing the mapped domain through the assigned URL.

Additionally, check for any potential conflicts or issues with plugins or themes after mapping the domains, as these can sometimes cause compatibility problems.

It’s important to note that the specific steps may vary slightly depending on the domain mapping plugin you choose.

Lastly, if you’re uncomfortable with DNS management or the exact DNS settings you need to use you can contact the Hosted.com Support Team for assistance.

Impact Of Domain Mapping On Your Website

Domain Mapping and SEO

Domain mapping can have significant implications for your SEO. When you map a custom domain to a subdirectory or subdomain on your primary domain, search engines may initially treat the mapped domain as a separate entity from your main website. This can lead to potential issues such as duplicate content penalties, reduced backlink value, domain authority, and rankings.

However, if implemented correctly, domain mapping can also benefit your rankings by consolidating your website’s authority and rankings under a single domain. This can help improve your overall search engine visibility and boost organic traffic.

Domain Mapping and Performance

Domain mapping can introduce additional complexity to your website’s caching mechanisms. When a visitor accesses your site through a mapped domain, the cached content may need to be retrieved from a different cache location, potentially impacting performance.

To avoid performance issues, consider using a caching solution like the LiteSpeed Caching plugin to help handle mapped domains efficiently.

If you have a high-traffic website with multiple mapped domains, load balancing can become a critical consideration. Load balancing distributes incoming traffic across multiple servers, ensuring better performance and availability during periods of high demand.

When using domain mapping, you may need to configure load balancing to recognize and route requests to the server based on the mapped domain.

Domain Mapping and Multisite Management

If you are using domain mapping plugins for WordPress Multisite provides an admin interface within the WordPress dashboard for managing mapped domains. From this interface, you can add, edit, or remove mapped domains, and associate them with specific subsites in your network.

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  1. WordPress Multisite allows you to create a network of subsites from a single WordPress installation.
  2. You can use your existing domain or a new one for Multisite. Ensure your hosting plan has enough server resources to handle the increased load.
  3. Domain mapping allows you to use unique URLs for the subdomains in your network.
  4. To set up WordPress Multisite domain mapping, you will need to have a registered domain name, enable Multisite on WordPress, update wp-config files, and install a domain mapping plugin. Configure DNS records and map the domains.
  5. Domain mapping can positively impact SEO, performance and make managing Multisite easier if done correctly.


Can WordPress multisite use different domains?

Yes, WordPress Multisite allows you to map different domain names to different subsites within the multisite network using domain mapping.

When should I not use Multisite?

You should avoid using Multisite if you have separate content or target audiences for each website. Multisite is better suited for managing related websites with similar purposes.

How many sites can WordPress Multisite handle?

WordPress Multisite can technically handle an unlimited number of subsites, but the practical limit depends on your server resources, hosting plan, and how complex your sites are.

Do I own my domain name with WordPress?

No, you don’t own the domain name with WordPress itself. You need to register and purchase the domain from a provider.

How do you tell if a site is a Multisite?

You can check if a site is running on WordPress Multisite by looking for things like subdirectories or subdomains in the URL structure.

Other Blogs of Interest:

What Is A Domain Manager? Everything You Need To Know

What Is An Email Domain: Understanding The Basics

What Is a Parked Domain, and Why Should You Care?

How To Change A Domain Name: A Step-by-Step Guide

What Is Domain Flipping?