One of the coolest (if not the coolest) parts of running a WordPress Multisite installation is mapping domains to turn network sites into unique domains that can carry their own identity. I’ve been using, and enjoying, this technique for some time now. WPCandy is a mapped domain, in fact, on top of the GooRoo primary domain.
If you are yet to get your feet wet with domain mapping and WordPress, this is the tutorial for you. We’re going to walk through what we need to get started and the best way to map the domains to our multisite installations.
Let’s get started!
Just a heads up: this tutorial assumes you already have a working WordPress Multisite installation running. If you don’t, see our tutorial that will show you how to enable WordPress Multisite.
Step 0: Park your domain on top of your primary domain
Before we get started with the actual mapping, the first thing we want to do is park the domain we’d like to map on top of our primary network domain.
Let’s break that down.
Your primary network domain is the domain that is, by default, always a part of your multisite URLs. If your blog URLs look like
network.com/site1, then your primary network domain is
But we want to map a domain, like
site1.network.com. To achieve this the first thing we want to do is, through cPanel or any other management system, park
site.com on top of
network.com. You will know that this is working when you visit site1.com and it brings you to network.com.
We’re doing this first so that the mapping can be, hopefully, ready to go by the time we’re finishing.
Step 1: Download and install the domain mapping plugin
Now you will want to download the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
The installation process for this plugin will be slightly different than you are typically used to. The plugin instructions actually do a pretty good job of explaining the process though, so I’ll defer to that. Follow the setup and configuration instructions provided in the Plugin Directory.
Step 2: Set domain as a mapped domain (but not the primary)
With the plugin active you can now visit the particular site you’re mapping to at site.network.com/wp-admin and visit the Domain Mapping screen under Tools → Domain Mapping.
Enter your domain (the parked domain from Step 0 above) and click “Add.” At this stage, do not check the “Primary domain for this blog” checkbox. Just in case there’s a problem we want to make sure we can still access our site!
Step 3: Test the newly mapped domain
Once that’s done, test the domain to see if it’s working. Before, visiting
site1.com would bring you to
network.com. Now, visiting site.com should bring you to
site1.network.com. When this works, you know the mapping is set up correctly!
Step 4: Once working, switch the new domain to “primary”
Now that we know
site1.com will bring us to
site1.network.com, we can switch that domain under Tools → Domain Mapping to “Primary domain for this blog.”
Optional: other mapping considerations
There are a number of settings you can tweak with this plugin (found under Super Admin → Domain Mapping). The settings I like to use are these:
Each is mostly self explanatory, but let’s go over them.
- Remote Login
- This will allow you to have cross-domain logins.
- Permanent redirect (better for your blogger’s pagerank)
- This will use a 301 redirect rather than a 302 redirect when sending visitors to the mapped site.
- User domain mapping page
- If this is unchecked, the domain mapping options won’t be available to individual site admins.
- Redirect administration pages to site’s original domain (remote login disabled if redirect disabled)
- This will determine whether your WordPress Dashboard URLs match the original domain (
site1.network.com) or the new domain (
What you choose really depends on how you want your mapped domains to operate.
Are you mapping domains?
Are you mapping domains on your WordPress Multisite installation? If so, how are you using them?
If not, why not?