Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1

If you're going to setup a Google Custom Domain, you have to start with DNS properly setup. In most cases, you will want the "www" alias, as well as the rest of the domain, to refer to Google. This requires you to properly use the setup procedures provided by your DNS Host, as a complement to the facilities provided by Google.

NOTE: This case study shows how a Custom Domain was setup, in the early days. A much more comprehensive tutorial can be found in Your Blog, Custom Domains, And Righteous Solutions. You may examine the illustrations below, for background, but the correct configuration is described in the latter article.

This case study uses my church website, martinezumc.org, with DNS service provided by GoDaddy. So, I logged in to the GoDaddy control panel, and followed the Google GoDaddy instructions (instructions for other hosting services are also in that document). Steps 1 - 4 were on target. So, I document below Steps 5 - 7 of the instructions, which became my steps 1 - 8.

Note that GoDaddy is simply the example that I use here. Blogger provides How do I create a CNAME record for my custom domain?, which provides instructions for half a dozen different popular DNS Hosting companies. This case study describes my personal experince, with my custom domain. From what I've seen, you should be persistent and resourceful, when setting up your custom domain.

Step 1

The Default GoDaddy Settings


Here we see all DNS entries created by GoDaddy, when "martinezumc.org" was setup originally. All entries point to GoDaddy, using an "A" record equating "@" (the domain root) to "68.178.232.100".

Step 2

Just 2 Quick Changes


  1. I deleted the "A" record pointing the domain to GoDaddy.(See Note 2, below)
  2. I added a "CNAME" record equating "www" to "ghs.google.com".
For more detail about DNS records, see PCMagazine Definition of: DNS records, or FAQs.Org: How DNS Works.
(Note 1): This example is for a domain setup for the ".org" TLD, and using GoDaddy as the registrar. All experience so far indicates that the different TLDs (.com, .info, .net, .org, ...), and the different registrars (like GoDaddy) have different rules. Be careful here, and ask questions in Blogger Help Group: How Do I?, if anything here is not completely clear to you. We are still learning the details, and I suspect Blogger staff is too. If you have any doubt about the effectiveness of your DNS setup, execute Step7 below, and proceed only when you get similar results.
(Note 2): If you have an existing website with other content, and just want to add the blog as "blog.mydomain.com", don't delete the "A" record. Just add a "CNAME" record equating "blog" to "ghs.google.com".

Step 3

I Setup Blog Publishing


I went into Settings - Publishing for the blog currently published at "martinezumc.blogspot.com", selected "Switch to: Custom Domain", and set it to publish to "martinezumc.org". Note that it clearly warns us
martinezumc.blogspot.com will redirect to your custom domain.
with no mention of www.martinezumc.blogspot.com. This makes it unlikely that we should expect "www.martinezumc.org" to work.

Step 4

I Tested martinezumc .org


Success!

Step 5

I Tested www .martinezumc .org


Here we see just what I predicted, in Step 3, above.

Step 7
And to verify the GoDaddy setup (and diagnose the 404), a simple set of ping tests.
C:\>ping martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [64.233.179.121] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 64.233.179.121: bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from 64.233.179.121: bytes=32 time=92ms TTL=242
Reply from 64.233.179.121: bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from 64.233.179.121: bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242

Ping statistics for 64.233.179.121:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 92ms, Maximum = 94ms, Average = 93ms

C:\>ping www.martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [66.249.81.121] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=93ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=93ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=96ms TTL=242

Ping statistics for 66.249.81.121:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 93ms, Maximum = 96ms, Average = 94ms


And there is a demonstration of the dynamic name resolution of "ghs.google.com".
64.233.179.121
hs-in-f121.google.com
66.249.81.121
bx-in-f121.google.com


And, seeing as "www.martinezumc.org" resolves properly, in this example to "66.249.81.121", we can conclude that the 404 above is coming from Google, not GoDaddy.

The host named "ghs.google.com" is a load balanced server array. It's provided to give your readers the best performance possible, when visiting your blog.


And, last but by no means least, the DNS Report for "martinezumc.org".

And with DNS Referral setup and verified in Step7 above, continue by setting up the blog itself.

Note: The above case study describes my personal experience. There are multiple bloggers, setting up blogs with different TLDs (.com, ,net, .org are simply 3 examples), using multiple DNS hosts. From what I've seen, you should be persistent and resourceful, when setting up your custom domain.

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26 comments:

SmartSeek said...

I really appreaciate the work you have done on this case study.

I had basically the same issues when I changed my blogspot smartseek.blogspot.com settings to Google's Custom Domain change to http://smartseek.com .

After I did that about a week ago, I have been down a week.

Google Tech Support finally emailed me and confirmed my CNAME settings are correct. Previously, GoDaddy's Google team said they couldn't do anything.

So I went ahead and deleted the "A" record this morning and am now eagerly awaiting the results.

But, I did a ping on smartseek.com and it returns a "unable to locate" error.

Does the 24-48 hour wait apply also to the dos command "ping"?

Thank you.

Chuck said...

SmartSeek,

You are experiencing one of the last problems with Google Custom Domains - the fact that they are a solution, provided by Google, that depend upon a third party, in your case GoDaddy.

I have 2 custom domains setup through GoDaddy, neither of which have an "A" record, and both have the root, and the "www" alias, working fine. And they worked within 15 minutes after I setup the DNS, not 24 - 48 hours.

You can test your domain easily enough.

C:\>ping smartseek.com
Ping request could not find host smartseek.com. Please check the name and try again.

C:\>ping www.smartseek.com

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [66.249.81.121] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=75ms TTL=247
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=74ms TTL=247
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=72ms TTL=247
Reply from 66.249.81.121: bytes=32 time=70ms TTL=247

Ping statistics for 66.249.81.121:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 70ms, Maximum = 75ms, Average = 72ms

Keep working with GoDaddy.

-KH said...

Thanks so much. Deleting the A name made my site work without the www (and I still can do www, too).
Thanks!

Vish..! | ആലപ്പുഴക്കാരന്‍ said...

Thnx a lot dear.. U saved my day.!

Julie Stiles Mills said...

THANKS SO MUCH! I also had another problem which prevented me from editing my GoDaddy subdomain info. I had to upgrade to Hosting Configuration 2.0 (from 1.0) found on the GoDaddy Account Summary page (after opening my domain). Once I upgraded, I went to the DNS Control Panel, deleted my A(Host) for the subdomain to which I wanted to point my blog, created a CNAME for the same subdomain, named it and then pointed to ghs.google.com. Within five minutes, my site was pointing to my subdomain. THANKS SO MUCH!

Leah said...

I'm glad I stumbled into your site. I have been trying to make domain freebiesoz.com work on my blog freebiesaustralia.blogspot.com. I have deleted the A record as you suggested by i still get an error message. like smartseek, i was told that it might take 24-48 hours to for my blog to show up. what do i do? i've sent an email to godaddy earlier today but have yet to hear from them.

Jeff said...

Removing the A record was crucial. Thanks for the tip. Why hasn't google updated their instructions?

However, I wanted to tell you taht for my .org domain, I did have to add two CNAME aliases in my godaddy account:

www -> ghs.google.com
isuma.org -> ghs.google.com

Then, I checked redirect isuma.org to www.isuma.org.

I'm not sure why godaddy behaved differently for my .org TLD than the one in your case study.

I'm posting in case someone else has the same issue.

Many thanks for demystifying this process.

Heath said...

I followed the steps that Jeff provided and it worked!!!! Finally the www address is linking to my blog and not just the http address. Many thanks!

Rational Democracy said...

I've gone over both of your case studies with a fine tooth comb and I'll admit you've gotten me farther than Blogger's help pages. However, the best I've been able to get is a notice saying, "The blog you were looking for was not found."

My www CNAME is pointed to ghs.google.com and I've deleted the ANAME record.

In Blogger, I've pointed my blog (rational-democracy.blogspot.com) to "rationaldemocracy.com" (Not, "www.rationaldemocracy.com")

Now, when I point my web browser at "rationaldemocracy.com" it is immediately forwarded to "www.rationaldemocracy.com" (and I like that). Unfortunately, this is where I get the error indicating, "The blog you were looking for was not found."

You've helped me make forward progress, but now I'm at a wall. I'm really at a loss on this one. Any suggestions???

- RD

Chuck said...

RD,

Some browsers will return a "404 Not Found" ("The blog you were looking for was not found.") from DNS errors. Try a 301 (NOT 302) Redirect from "rationaldemocracy.com" to "www.rationaldemocracy.com", to start.

If that doesn't help, post in GBH: Something Is Broken, and let's try interactive problem analysis.

Bargain Buys on a Budget said...

I love your information! It is very helpful. I wish I had found your information instead of the help I received. I ended up deleting my blog, so I recreated part of it. Now when I select custom domain, through the advanced settings, it tells me that another blog is host at my address mydomain.com. Any suggestions? I would appreciate any help you can give me. You seem to be the only sensible one and I'm so glad I found you. :)

The Olympics Blogger said...

Great Job!

I was kinda lost in all the techy stuff you were writing about but the screenshots helped a lot. I have 5 godaddy domains. I already successfully tested one. Back then I had to type www to arrive at my website. After I deleted the A Host, within 2 minutes sportbookers.org is already forwarding to www.sportsbookers.org.

Thanks man!

I did the same for another website sportsbloggers.org and it worked also.

Deborah Vogts said...

Hi Chuck,

I think I've followed your directions accurately, however, when I ping my name, I get "ping request could not find host ...

Need help. Thanks.

Chuck said...

Deborah,

Here's what I see.

www.deborahvogts.com. 3600 IN CNAME deborahvogts.com.

Here's what you need.

www.deborahvogts.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

jonpayne said...

I've been having the same issue trying to get http://leadgenseo.com to resolve to the blog which is currently at http://www.leadgenseo.com. The www. version works fine using the Goolge/Blogger/GoDaddy instructions, but the non-www brings up GoDaddy's parked page.

I just removed my A record in GoDaddy and now have none. Let's see if it works...

jonpayne said...

Yup removing the A record in GoDaddy and pointing the CName record (www) to ghs.google.com worked for me. Now both www and non-www versions work! Took about an hour to "kick in".

matte said...

Hi! i am still in "transition period" to custom domain, so soon to say. Anyway, in DSN i see i have the three codes you mentioned, and a third one: 72.14.207.121
Is it ok to have it or shall i delete it? i only have one main domain and no sub domains (www.visualfragments.com).
Thanks so much for looking into this, much appreciated.
Ciao,
M.

Chuck said...

Matte,

Here is your setup:
visualfragments.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121
visualfragments.com. 3600 IN A 66.249.81.121
visualfragments.com. 3600 IN A 72.14.207.121
www.visualfragments.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

That's spot on. Leave it be, and wait.

matte said...

Chuck, can't believe i did all correct the first time? Sure i really don't have to change anything?
Will they see me (eventually) worldwide?
Thanks so much for your reply and kind help.
Matte.

Chuck said...

Matte,

Your web page is working from here. You should be visible worldwide by now.

matte said...

Hi Chuck. Nice to visit you again.
I see that now my blog is accessible from both .blogspot and also .com
What i would like is to be available just the .com address, and that when people type in .blogspot to be redirected to .com
How to achieve that?
Under "publishing" i have the option "redirect mysite.com to www.mysite.com, it won't let me; anyway, is this latter the option to change? I have one domain, no subdomain.
Thanks so much, really.
Matte

Chuck said...

Matte,

As far as I see, your blog is now accessible from all 3 aliases. You might want to continue by reading Custom Domain Publishing, And Google Apps, where you should find the updated detail which you seem to need.

Laibeus Lord said...

Hmm,

If I delete my GoDaddy A record, the non-www errors out.

What I did instead is to trace the IP of ghs.google.com and ghs.l.google.com and use one of the IPs that showed up.

I still have to observe tho, as I'm sure there is a reason Google is not suggesting any IP addresses - they might be changing IPs frequently or randomly.

In any case, I don't know how to fix the "no-A_record" error when visiting the non-www address. T_T

Chuck said...

Hey Laibeus,

I suspect that you need to tell us more about your problem. This is where I highly recommend that you post in GBH: Something Is Broken, and PLEASE provide the domain URL. Help us to help you properly - use community help!

Mottobiz said...

Hello- I have completed custom setup on blogger to direct my blog mottobiz.blogspot.com to www.mottobiz.com. However, its been more than 3 days & my site www.mottobiz.com is still showing my old site content. I have also added the cname record pointing to ghs.google.com.
Do I need to delete A name records or leave them as it is? My site DNS settings are currently showing 2 A name records (mottobiz & *.mottobiz.com) pointing to some ip addresses.

I truly appreciate your support.

Thanks in advance,

Chetan- AKA Mottobiz

Chuck said...

Chetan,

This would be better discussed in GBH: Something Is Broken, or in Nitecruzr Dot Net - Blogging. Online forums are much easier to use, then Blogger Blog Commenting, for interactive problem solving.