Wordpress SEOWordPress is by far the most popular content management system for small businesses.  It’s super easy to use and when structured properly, great for search engine optimization.  WordPress also gives you the ability to create a ‘website of websites’ or your own network of sites, on a single installation.

You can find the official networking explanation of WordPress Multisite here.  We will not get into the background or specifics of WP Multisite in this post, but there are some great posts around the net of this topic such as this beginner’s guide.

In a nutshell, WP Multisite enables you to create a network of websites on a single installation of WordPress.  This means, you can have one ‘super admin’ with network wide control, then create an unlimited number of separate websites, each with their own unique moderators and users.  In one common application, for example, you could have a main domain with generic content and a subdomain with niche specific or geographically specific content.   OK, so what does that mean in real world applications?

The following is a practical example of a WordPress Multisite website.  This following link is to the main or ‘parent’ of a WordPress multisite installation website which shows content geared for a national audience:

http://bloggerlocal.com

Next, here is an example of a secondary or ‘child’ website on the same domain and WordPress installation.  In this case, all of the content is different from the parent website, including the content, images and meta data, and in this example, all content is geo-targeted for a city:

http://kansascity.bloggerlocal.com

Another example of a targeted use of WP Multisite is for niches.  So, as an example on the same domain, here is a child site niche-targeted for photography:

http://photographers.bloggerlocal.com

How does this help for SEO?

While there may be some subdirectory vs subdomain debate regarding the importance and influence of domain structure for search engine optimization, it’s pretty clear that subdomain structure is treated differently that subdirectory structure.  Regardless, using WP Multisite is not appropriate for all businesses nor is it pure SEO structure advantage.  The main benefits of using a subdomain structure in WordPress Multisite for possible SEO advantages are likely only realized when using this technology with a genuine and comprehensive approach, and for the following reasons:

1. The subdomain address is technically a separate website address.  Yet, search engines likely neutralize any potential benefits of trying to use subdomains in and of themselves as and SEO advantage.

2. The subdomain website is technically a separate installation of WordPress, meaning, it’s a separate CMS, with a separate blog and users.  Chances are that installing a full website on a subdomain shows this is a website and not a thin microsite or page.  This is why you can see that free Web 2.0 blogs on blogger.com and wordpress.com, etc. subdomains can achieve rank when they publish high quality content.

3. The child site content is quality and unique: this shows the search engines that the child site should achieve rank for its niche or territory.  Then each child site’s SEO potential can be further strengthened with unique social signals and NAP (name-address-phone number) citations if appropriate.

4.  It’s possible to map a unique domain, ie a separate domain to a child site.  Having a unique top level domain (TLD) mapped to a child is clearly be an SEO advantage as a child site with a unique domain to the parent site would have to be treated like a separate site by the search engines.

While WP Multisite may not be a fit for most small businesses, it certainly offers an awesome, cost effective structure for many types of businesses. Businesses such as restaurants, franchises, chapter-based organizations, property management firms, etc.  could all benefit from this type of “site of sites” networking structure.  By having the ability to carve out niche and geo-targeted child sites, there may be significant SEO benefits as well.