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How to Offer Unique Domains for WordPress Multisite?

How to Offer Unique Domains for WordPress Multisite?

Frankly speaking, domain mapping offers a great way to point any domains to your existing multisite network. Although mapping domains may seem tedious and complex for newcomers who are unfamiliar with cPanel and the server-side IP address, it is possible to let the “WordPress MU Domain Mapping” plugin do the heavy lifting for you. In this step-by-step guide, we will demonstrate how to offer unique domains for a WordPress multisite network. Below is a brief introduction of the Domain Mapping plugin.

Why Use WordPress MU Domain Mapping?

In most instances, the WordPress multisite network only supports one domain, and hence your users are only allowed to register subdirectories or subdomains depending on the selected setup during your installation. The good news is that this “WordPress MU Domain Mapping” plugin can give you a flexible option to map unique domains for WordPress 3.0 network or a WordPress MU website.

For example, all WordPress administrators are provided with the ability to force mapped domains or grant both original and mapped domains, which is a good practice to increase eCommcer conversion rate. Apart from that, this domain mapping solution comes with a horde of exclusive features, such as WHMCS reseller registration, unique URLs for landing pages and Pro sites integration. Pay attention that, this WP plugin requires manual installation so that a file can be copied to your /wp-content/ directory.

Download URL: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/

Use WordPress MU Domain Mappingn

Some Preliminary Matters before Starting Out

Before performing any changes, there are a few preparatory work that you need to do at the start:

  • One dedicated IP address. All of your domains would be mapped onto one single IP address. If you’re using a dynamic IP address, the odds are that your IP address will alter periodically. That means, there is no IP address for the domains to rely on. In this case, you’d better add one dedicated IP address to your current account in advance.
  • A domain to map & access to cPanel. WordPress supports both subdirectory and subdomain installs, and you can choose to select an old domain or re-create a new domain to map afterwards. To proceed, you also need the access to its settings and the cPanel control panel.
  • A WordPress multisite network. WordPress multisite empowers you to create and manage more than one websites within the same WordPress installation. Be sure to set up such a multisite network by embedding this configuration code to the “wp-config.php” file. Note that, this process also requires you to deactivate all installed plugins on your WordPress site.
 /* Multisite */
define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

Important to Note: By going to “Tools” > “Network Setup”, you can quickly set up a network for all WordPress sites. Note also that, there are serial network details need to be filled in, such as “Network Title” and “Network Admin Email.” Make sure that you’ve verified the “Sub-domain Install” and “Server Address” before pressing the bottom Install button.

Create a Multisite Network

How to Set Up WordPress Multisite Domain Mapping?

To get started with the “WordPress MU Domain Mapping” plugin, you should firstly install it via WordPress dashboard or uploader. Assuming that you prefer to have a quick start within the dashboard of WordPress, you can search and locate this plugin by jumping into
“Plugins” > “Add New.” Once completed, just click on the “Install Now” button and follow the prompts to get it added to this “Installed Plugins” page as follows.

Install WordPress MU Domain Mapping

The next step is to move the sunrise.php file from the /wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/ directory to the upper /wp-content/ directory. If there is already a sunrise.php file, then you will have to merge them as possible.

Move Sunrise PHP File

After that, just find and open the wp-config.php file within the same /wp-content/ folder. Just paste and embed the below SUNRISE definition rule after the previously-mentioned multisite rules. Till present, you’ve done with this installation task.

define( 'SUNRISE', 'on' );

How to Map Your Multisite Domains with this Plugin?

Once your WP plugin is correctly installed, you will notice a new “Network Admin” area in the left-hand of WordPress sidebar. Just make a click on this tab so as to make further configurations on the plugin. Note that, this plugin will prompt you to select an IP address or a CNAME record to use. If you are perplexed about the two mapping items, just take the following for reference.

  • IP address-based option – makes use of A-records and it is slightly faster than the CNAME record-based domain mapping. As most name-servers utilize caches, its advantage is not that significant.
  • CNAME record-based option – is the abbreviation for “Canonical Name Record” and this option makes it much easier to host lots of websites on the network. If you want to make changes in hosting service and also alter the server IP address, you only need to update IP address for personal CNAME record.

Map Domains to Your Existing Network Sites
Assuming that you’ve set up a domain for future websites, you may have to create the site that you’d like to map the domains onto. To do so, just log onto your cPanel account and you will be able to have a look at the server IP address from the left menu bar. If you are unable to find the IP address information, then you can contact the hosting provider for help. Here, all you need to do is find and click on the “Parked Domains” option within this “Domains” section.

Enter Parked Domain Section

From here, just add this new domain as a parked domain by filling in the blank text box. Make sure that the document root will be the same folder as the installation of your WordPress. If you are not allowed to do that, you can try setting an “A Record” on the new domain that will point to the server IP address. If you wish, it is also possible to get to know the “Site ID” that all your websites will be mapped onto by going to a tab labelled as “All Sites”.

Add New Parked Domain

Map External Domains within Your Multisite Network
To achieve this outcome, you should expand the lower “Domain Mapping” tab and click on the above-mentioned “All Sites” option. Just select and edit the link for one site you’d like to map external domains. Inside that “New Domain” area, just enter the “Site ID” and “Domain”, and in the meantime, check the box next to “Primary”. Do remember to press the “Save” button to take effect.

Map External Domains

Note that, you are also required to add the mentioned CNAME record for the newly-created external domains at the DNS registrar end. As this process varies greatly from domain to domain, you’d better ask the web host for professional assistance whenever you get stuck.


Joyce is a professional writer & SEOer who loves trying new things and sharing the experience through blogging. She loves clean design, playing with different WordPress themes, SEO, etc. Very often, you could find her in various WordPress event as invited speakers.