Monday, September 17, 2007

Custom Domains And URL Forwarding - A Bad Idea

If you're trying to get your Custom Domain setup to work, and are frustrated (as I am) by the fact that you can't get both "www.yourdomain.com" and "yourdomain.com" to forward properly, you may have complained to your DNS provider, suspecting that the problem is one which they must resolve.

And in some cases, your DNS provider may not know how to setup a "CNAME" record. Some providers only use "A" records.

Some DNS providers will convince you to use URL forwarding, where your domain is redirected to the DNS providers servers. They set their servers to simply load any portion of the desired website ("www.yourdomain.com" or "yourdomain.com") from your Blog*Spot website ("yourblog.blogspot.com").

This will indeed load the content, as desired. There are several downsides to this "solution", though.
  • Your DNS provider may have to set this up in their servers, it's possibly not a DNS setting that you can make.
  • As the reader views your forwarded blog, the content of the address bar in the browser will be inaccurate.
    • In some cases, it will constantly indicate "www.yourdomain.com" or "yourdomain.com".
    • In other cases, you'll even see "myblog.blogspot.com".
    • In most cases, you'll see no detail about the actual URL being viewed.
  • We're unsure about how well search engine spiders, and other robotic visitors, will react to URL forwarding.
  • URL forwarding bypasses the load balancing provided by "ghs.google.com", and this is bad for everybody.


Blogger has admitted that Custom Domains needs work. Let's wait for them to figure out how it should be setup, at their end. Try and avoid using URL Forwarding, unless you are really desperate.

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5 comments:

The Monster Stack said...

I have read several posts on your blog about this issue and I have experienced this particular issue using Network Solutions (don't even bother asking why I use them because that is an entirely different discussion). Anyhow, they do not provide the ability to create CNAME records that point to "yourdomain.com" but rather, only to "www.yourdomain.com" They suggested that I use the CNAME record for the "www" entry and direct the rest of the traffic, i.e. "anything.yourdomain.com" and/or "yourdomain.com" using the IP address that they currently had for ghs.google.com. I told them that, after reading your blog entry on that exact subject, I did not want them to do that for me but would rather have the proper CNAME records for "all" "none" and "www" As of this writing the supervisor (I spent countless hours with regular operators who did not understand anything that I was saying) has put in a ticket to those who are in a position to "fix" this problem. I am waiting with baited breath for their update which should be here in 1-3 days via e-mail. The lower level people consistently recommended URL forwarding, which, of course, I dismissed as an option. I figured that I'd give them the opportunity to respond AND fix the problem before I move to a registrar that I know works with blogger.com. The reason I am giving them the chance to fix it is because the rest of the blogger community will be better off since I suspect that I am not the first one experiencing this issue with Network Solutions. My guess is that those who created the interface knew exactly what they were doing when they didn't allow this kind of redirection. I will post a follow-up comment when Network Solutions responds. Thank you for your posts. It was the only thing I was able to find that easily explained this issue and because of it, I was better able to explain the problem to Network Solutions which will hopefully lead to a resolution.

Chuck said...

Monster,

Thank you for your comments. Network Solutions is a reputable DNS Host, and it's good that you are being persistent and trying to make a difference. And that's the historical reason for the existence of this blog.

We'll look forward to your future results (negative or positive), and to the responses from NS.

The Monster Stack said...

This is the official answer given by Network Solutions.

"Thank you for contacting Network Solutions, your Service Request has been reviewed. The CName record update could not be completed because the root domain name, the @none variation, cannot be utilized as a CName record. This must be solely used as an A record with a corresponding IP address. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused but your patience has been appreciated."

I will change to a new registrar so that I can properly utilize blogger with my custom domain name. I find this response to be quite upsetting as I would have assumed that Network Solutions would at least be able to compete with the smaller registrars.

Can you recommend a reputable registrar that can accommodate my needs?

Chuck said...

I'd go with GoDaddy. You can get that to work, though possibly with some difficulty.

Fur Diva Mommas said...

We were having the same issue and to be honest were a little concerned when we saw this post. But then we called Network Solutions and we feel in fairness, we should provide feedback on their helpfulness and our experience.

We realize when we initially provided the blogspot instruction to Network Solutions, we called General Customer Service and not their Technical Support at 866-391-4357.

So, we got a rather general set of instructions which we followed to the letter because the representative did exactly as we asked. The response "Monster Stak" posted is not inaccurate (we read it to the rep), but it's just incomplete. Perhaps if the question had been phrased differently, the response would have been different. We don't know. The rep did also tell us that Network Solutions didn't always have the solutions they have now. Perhaps things have changed since Monster's experience. We didn't have a clue about CNames so goodness knows what we asked for the first call. We were told in our second call that you cannot have an A record and a Cname created for the same record. (We're still not sure what that means, but that was the "problem.")

Our questions the second round talking to Network Solutions were much more specific. Instead of the site being redirected to our custom name, it was going to an "under construction page." Apparently, (and I'm explaining as a non-tecchie) that's because if you don't specify an actual IP address with the numbers when you ask Network Solutions to point to ghs.google.com and if that's all you provide a customer service rep, Network Solutions will default to a specific IP address in the alias set up.

We found this out when we called back and explained it was not working. Someone in tech support showed us how to delete the IP numbers and also added another alias as a back up with the "www." We were concerned that that was "url fowarding" and we were assured by the rep that that was NOT what we were doing.

The rep explained that the original instructions combined with (1) deleting the default IP address and (2) adding the "www" were like implementing instructions that say "mydomain.blogspot.com" is the same as "mydomain.com" and "www.mydomain.com" (because some people always type in the "www" and some don't).

We're not sure how this fits into the overall scheme of things, but wanted to say that Network Solutions was very helpful when we called back and explained that we had a problem. We waited about a minute to get a rep and the entire thing was accomplished in about five minutes. We still have to wait 24 to 36 hours, so we'll be happy to report back if there's a problem.

If this is the solution, we really wish Blog Spot would help bloggers out by posting directions for those with Network Solutions. We plan on staying with Network Solutions for managing all our domain names because we feel that we get good service. We believe that when you pay $9 for a domain name, you may get what you pay for...just the name. And of course, it really depends on your website needs and technical know-how. Some people may not need or want the bells and whistles available with Network Solutions, but it is working for us. Hope this helps!