Some website design and development companies offer the creation of websites and hosting to their clients on what is called a Multisite network. This hosting option may be lower in cost initially, but it can prove to be a huge burden in the long run.
What is a Multisite?
Multisites are replicated websites that are layered on top of each other in a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress. These websites are individual units (companies) stacked together – similar to individual pancakes in a stack. Each pancake is its own entity that varies in color, thickness, shape etc. but when stacked together the various pancakes become linked. Multisite companies tend to target specific industries only and claim that they “specialize” in Real Estate, Dental, author etc. websites.
We consider Multisites to be the lazy man’s route to website creation and management. Since these sites are created in one WordPress install (rather than a separate one for each), they have the same theme (design) applied to them and there is less work for them as far as maintenance is concerned. The company would only need to perform WordPress updates once instead of going into each platform separately. This method of creating websites is very limiting as far as customization and features are concerned.
Jordan the Dentist is located in Whippany, New Jersey and is looking for a small WordPress website to promote her new dental office. Daryl the Dentist, located in Parsippany, New Jersey is also looking for a small WordPress website to promote his new dental office. Both business owners go to the same WordPress website design and development company (Alan the Web Guy Inc.) for their websites. Alan the Web Guy only “specializes” in dental websites and offers a Multisite service which saves these small offices a lot of money by using a template and hosting their websites on a shared server.
Jordan’s business is booming big time and wants to boost her sales further through search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns. Jordan engages David Taylor Design to execute her SEO campaign. David Taylor Design would need complete access to Jordan’s website in order to make changes and adjustments to better optimize the website as well as to fully execute the SEO campaign. However, Jordan’s website is on a Multisite network which means that any additions (plugins) that are added to her website will also be added to Daryl’s website. Think of this as trying to add maple syrup to just one pancake that is in the middle of a stack. This is a sticky situation!
As you can see, this can be a big problem since Daryl is not engaging in any of these SEO services; as a result, this action cannot be allowed by Alan the Web Guy. David Taylor Design can only be granted limited access to the website and cannot fully execute the ideal SEO campaign in the easiest fashion unless Jordan moves her website to another server. Alan the Web Guy agrees to move the entire site over to David Taylor Design’s server, but he will only do it for a large fee.
Solutions that are based upon the ‘cheapest’ route, don’t always pan out to be the best option.
Why are Multisites bad?
- Cookie cutter: These websites are using a specific template that is used over and over again by other companies in the same industry. The only difference between the sites may be the color scheme and a few alterations, but nothing significant that would make a visitor think that this company is an industry-leading business. Do you really want to be the same as everyone else? Or do you want to be an industry leader?
- Limitation: Since the websites are built on top of each other it is difficult to make modifications to one site without making changes to the other sites (due to the site being on a linked template and on a shared server). This provides a huge hurdle when trying to execute any SEO or online marketing campaigns because the necessary plugins cannot be installed. There is a workaround for this issue but you are none-the-less restricted from some of the data that can be collected.
- Bound: Most of these companies that create websites on Multisite networks often hold their clients hostage, keeping them on their network unless they pay a significant fee to be relocated.
If you are deciding to have a website created on a Multisite network; consider the long term pros and cons equally before making a commitment. If you have any questions or would like assistance in making a decision; contact us today and we can help guide you to the best solution for your needs. 973.317.8765