Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains

Google Custom Domains, that give us the possibility of having a blog with a non-Blog*Spot address, without loss of features caused by using an external published blog, are a major improvement over plain old Blog*Spot to many bloggers. But be aware - some technical expertise, and cooperative support by organisations outside Blogger, is essential. And, note the possible effects of cache and DNS latency, any time that you diagnose or examine a custom domain problem.

One problem with blogs that are published to custom domains, is the well known monolithic error
Another blog is already hosted at this address.


Blogger Employee aka Gatsby has promised his assistance in resolving the latter error.
we have come up with a workaround fix that should take care of this problem for a lot of you guys.
Yet what Gatsby doesn't point out is that many problems are caused by the bloggers themselves - in choosing a DNS host, or in registering a domain in the first place.

Before Gatsby can offer effective assistance to an individual blogger, the DNS for the custom domain in question has to be properly setup. There are several ways to setup the DNS for a custom domain that will cause problems - either immediately, or in the long run. Diagnosing a custom domain setup problem will start with various diagnostic tools.
  1. Abounce (aka TESP Abuse Reporter), which provides a browser connection log.
  2. An online version of Dig extracts DNS diagnostic data, in a commonly understood format.
  3. Ping verifies connectivity to a host (domain), and IP address used by that host (domain).
  4. An online version of WhoIs provides name and ownership for a given IP address.
  5. Rex Swain's Online HTTP Viewer provides a text log simulating what our browser is doing as it retrieves any given web page. This provides essential diagnostic information about what is, and what isn't, happening as we view our blog and other web pages.
Using these diagnostic tools together, in proper combination, we can diagnose many common DNS problems that will affect Blogger's ability to take care of this problem, for many bloggers.

Long ago, I showed a case study with my experience in setting up my first custom domain. As Google continued developing their product, the variations in setup made that one case study less and less relevant. I recently realised that there are many models of custom domain setup, that need to be examined.

Here, I'll show some Custom Domains models, using the various tools, as described above.
  • Case Study 1: A symmetrically configured custom domain, "martinezumc.org". Both primary domain and "www" alias redirect, through the DNS setup, to "ghs.google.com". You can publish to either, and have Blogger redirect the other.
  • Case Study 2: An asymmetrically configured (and fully operational) custom domain, nitecruzr.net. Only the "www" alias redirects, through the DNS setup, to "ghs.google.com". You can publish to the "www" alias, and Google Apps will redirect the primary domain to the "www" alias.
  • Case Study 3: An asymmetrically configured (and not fully operational) hypothetical custom domain. Only the "www" alias redirects, through the DNS setup, to "ghs.google.com". The primary domain is directed to a parked server provided by the DNS host. You should be able to direct the primary domain to the "www" alias, using a "301 Redirect" at the DNS server, and a Blogger redirect in "Advanced Settings".
  • Case Study 4: An incompletely setup (and not fully operational) hypothetical custom domain. Only the "www" alias redirects, through the DNS setup, to "ghs.google.com". The primary domain is not defined in DNS. You should be able to direct the primary domain to the "www" alias, using a "301 Redirect" at the DNS server, and a Blogger redirect in "Advanced Settings".
  • Case Study 5: An improperly setup (and not fully operational) custom domain. This generally is caused by bad advice from the support staff for the DNS hosting service. Only the "www" alias redirects, through the DNS setup, to "ghs.google.com". The primary domain uses URL forwarding, through a forwarding server provided by the DNS host. You should be able to direct the primary domain to the "www" alias, using a "301 Redirect" at the DNS server, and a Blogger redirect in "Advanced Settings".
  • Case Study 6: An very improperly setup (and not fully operational) custom domain. This generally is caused by very bad advice from the support staff for the DNS hosting service. The "www" alias redirects, through a "CNAME" referral, to the primary domain. The primary domain uses URL forwarding, through a forwarding server provided by the DNS host. In this case, you start with education about the need to use a "CNAME" referral to "ghs.google.com". Possibly provide a link to this series of posts, if the blogger in question seems receptive.
  • Case Study 7: A seemingly proper but not workable setup, using Yahoo DNS instead of Google Apps. Yahoo DNS works fine for its own product, but it simply doesn't provide the DNS options that are provided by Google Apps, and that are essential for a Google Custom Domain. As of yet, I have been unable to assist any blogger, using Yahoo DNS, in setting up a working Custom Domain.
  • Case Study 9: A quick way to visually include the contents of your blog inside another web site, using Frames. Frames are a way for your readers to view a web site, without providing any actual content or link hosting of the target.


And a couple incidental cases.


And here a final bit of advice, and a plea. If you are able to use my case studies, presented here, to solve your problem, that's great. But note that the values "myblog" and "mydomain" are hypothetical examples, provided for use in the case studies. When you work on your problem, substitute the actual BlogSpot and custom domain URLs. Please, do not post in Google Blogger Help: Something is Broken, a report
My custom domain, "mydomain.com", doesn't work.
Give us the actual URL of the BlogSpot and Custom Domain. Help us to help you, more effectively.

>> Top

6 comments:

Princess of CJ said...

hi chuck,
i registered my domain with planetdomain.com and im encountering problems now. tried to search in google groups but seems nobody had tried to use their service.

anyway, i've setup the CNAME but when i ping, this is the result:


C:\>ping tatapilla.com

Pinging tatapilla.com [202.131.95.30] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 202.131.95.30: bytes=32 time=30ms TTL=243
Reply from 202.131.95.30: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=243
Reply from 202.131.95.30: bytes=32 time=29ms TTL=243
Reply from 202.131.95.30: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=243

Ping statistics for 202.131.95.30:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 28ms, Maximum = 30ms, Average = 28ms

seems that i am pinging their IP even if I had the correct setup of CNAME. any help?

Chuck said...

Hey Princess,

I'll try, but this will be a lot easier to work on, in the Google Blogger Help forum Something Is Broken. Can you start a thread there, please?

צחי מור said...

Hi Chuck,

I have purchased a domain (for example: www.example.co.il), through a local registrant. I contacted my registrant and asked them to set the cname and the dns properly,(and to do everything else that should be done...), so that my blog's adress will actually be my own domain. The problem is, that when I get into my blog, click "settings", "publishing", and then click "custom domain", there ain't place on the screen where I can write my domain ! I mean, It doesn't ask me If I allready have a domain.The only possibility that I get, is to purchase a domain through google !
What's wrong ? I've seen the whole process in Youtube, and I'm sure i'm doing everything allright. Do you think that it has something to do with the fact that the interface is in hebrew ? Any suggestions ?
thanks,
Tsahi

Chuck said...

Tsahi,

I'd like to examine this more closely with you. See if you can get into Nitecruzr Dot Net - Blogging, so we can work on this more easily.

Shony said...

Nice POst. I feel the custom domain will reduce the traffic for short period of time. That's my experience.
www.acehints.com

Chuck Croll said...

Shony,

Custom domain migration has the potential to reduce the traffic for a short period of time - but if you manage the migration, you can minimise the reduction.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2010/01/custom-domain-migration-managing.html