Tools and tips for managing multiple WordPress sites

Stay ahead of the curve

With WordPress platform updates, WordPress theme updates and a barrage of WordPress plugin updates rolling out all the time, keeping your clients’ WordPress sites up to date can be daunting. Since most updates are either bugs or security updates, however, you can’t slack on this part of your job as a web designer or developer.

To make managing multiple WordPress sites easier — including checking for updates and installing those updates — a number of companies have developed administrative platforms that help you keep your clients’ sites current without burning up too much of your valuable time. If you’re running a GoDaddy Managed WordPress plan that supports multiple client sites or other hosting plan running WordPress (such as shared or VPS hosting), these tools might be right up your alley.

Let’s look at the most widely used management platforms for WordPress — including Jetpack Manage, InfiniteWP, ManageWP, WP Remote, CMS Commander, iControlWP, and MainWP.

Jetpack Manage

If you’ve loaded up Jetpack, you’ve probably seen this banner:

Jetpack centralized site manager banner

Jetpack Manage enables centralized site management and provides an autoupdate plugin option as well as a centralized statistics on your WordPress sites.

The site management plugin is pretty much limited to a central dashboard, where you can manage your plugins and do automatic or bulk updates across them. After you load, enable and connect the Jetpack plugin, you’ll need to enable site management from the dashboard by either opting in as mentioned above, or by enabling it under the JSON API settings in Jetpack > Settings > JSON API > Configure and checking the box for the “Allow remote management of themes, plugins, and WordPress via the JSON API” option. Then save your changes.

Learn more about using Jetpack at http://jetpack.me/.

InfiniteWP

Perhaps the most comprehensive platform for managing WordPress sites, InfiniteWP offers a basic free plugin that offers the ability to update plugins, themes and execute backups.

The basic plugin is offered in a freemium model, with paid add-ons that can solve a number of issues when managing a few or hundreds of WordPress sites. Add-ons include security, broken link checker, FTP manager, scheduled backups, cloud backups, remote installation and cloning, user management, malware scanner, uptime monitoring, central publishing, central comment moderation, client reporting, central Google Analytics reporting and more. (Note: A number of these features are redundant if you’re using GoDaddy Managed WordPress, which supports site staging, backups, security and other features natively.)

You can purchase the add-ons you’d like or all of the add-ons in a single suite with one year of unlimited updates, support and access to new add-ons.

Learn more about InfiniteWP at http://infinitewp.com.

MainWP

MainWP is also a suite of plugins for users who have multiple WordPress sites and want to be able to control them from one central location. The extensions include backup, security, support, administrative, content, visitor data information, and many free extensions.

  • Administrative: broken links, client reports, cloning, code snippets, comment management, favorites, file uploader, maintenance, pagespeed, user management, SEO, and WooCommerce extensions.
  • Backups: automated backups, remote backups and UpdraftPlus extensions.
  • Content: article uploader, post dripper, links management, boilerplate and publishing extentions.
  • Security: clean and lock, iThemes security, Sucuri, and WordFence extensions.
  • Analytics: uptime monitoring, heatmaps, Google Analytics and Piwik extensions.

Screenshot of MainWP dashboard

Like the previous management platform, you can purchase plugins as needed or purchase the entire suite, although you may already have some of those features in place already.

Learn more about MainWP at https://mainwp.com/.

ManageWP

ManageWP is a dashboard where you can manage, monitor, backup, deploy, publish and secure WordPress sites. The platform even incorporates search engine optimization analysis tools, keyword ranking and integrated Google Analytics at no additional cost.

ManageWP is priced by the number of sites that you’re managing.

Learn more about ManageWP at https://managewp.com.

CMS Commander

CMS Commander offers an array of tools for managing WordPress that extend well beyond simply updating themes and plugins:

  • Management: one-click updates, bulk plugin installation, and user management.
  • Backups: automatic backups and easy restoration with multiple backup destinations (including Amazon, Dropbox, and Google Drive).
  • Creation: create and clone websites with plugins installed and activated.
  • Content: bulk content editing and posting, importing, autoposting, and article spinning support.
  • Monetization: affiliate network integrations, ad insertions, and mass affiliate link insertion.
  • Monitoring: backlink count tracking, uptime monitoring, pagespeed monitoring, and Google Analytics integration.
  • Security: SSL communication, two-factor authentication, and malware scanning.

screenshot of CMS Commander dashboard

Learn more about CMS Commander at http://cmscommander.com.

WP Remote

WP Remote is free plugin that allows you to manage unlimited sites, and update WordPress, plugins and themes. It uniquely offers a JSON RESTful API to integrate WP Remote into other processes.

screenshot of WP Remote dashboard

Learn more about WP Remote at https://wpremote.com/.

iControlWP

iControlWP highlights security and performance in its multi-site management features. To manage security across sites, you can apply security settings, change database prefix and user credentials, and reset authentication key and salts. You can also manage comments, optimize tables and clean up WordPress by removing spam and trashed comments, posts, pages and versions.

screenshot of iControlWP dashboard

Pricing for iControlWP is a pay-per-site model.

Learn more about iControlWP at https://www.icontrolwp.com.

Map for productivity

Be sure to map out the processes that your team currently uses to manage and execute, and compare the features you need across the various options illustrated here. Doing so will enable you to figure out which of these management platforms offers the closest fit and the greatest benefit for your internal productivity. Most of the solid platforms here have extensive video tutorials on YouTube and support.

Image by: Let Ideas Compete via Compfight cc

Bryant Tutterow
Bryant brings over 18 years of business acumen to DK New Media focused on strategic marketing and e-commerce. He has more than a decade of P&L responsibility, leading in-house marketing organizations at Fortune 500 companies and building three separate marketing departments from the ground up into world-class teams of as many as 14 people. As the Chief Marketing Officer for DK New Media, he provides overall strategic direction for marketing and e-commerce while leading business development of all strategic advisory and measured marketing services.