Sunday, September 28, 2014

Troubleshooting Your Custom Domain Problems

Of the many accessories and features in Blogger, Custom Domain Publishing is possibly the most problematic.

Looking at the Labels index in this blog, I see the Custom Domains label on 334 posts (as of 2014/09/28) - which makes it one of the most heavily labeled single topics here. There are several challenges with diagnosing and resolving a custom domain problem.
  • It has various different causes.
  • It leads to many different symptoms, which can easily be confused for other problems.
  • Its symptoms can be chronic or intermittent- and may be immediate, or may take months to exhibit themselves.
  • It may require resolution by any blog guest, by the blog owner, by Blogger Support, and / or by a third party such as the domain registrar.



As you read this article, click on some of the many links in the text, and read the linked articles. Please think of this article as the first chapter in a very large book - right now, a book with 334 chapters.


How To Use This Guide

These are the known custom domain publishing diagnoses. Here's a brief, one line summary of the problems, which are discussed, in some detail, farther below. Click on any one, if it looks promising, to jump to the detail discussion.



Domain Purchase Unsuccessful
  • The domain will not be setup. The blog may, or may not, be published to the domain.
  • This will follow use of "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptoms will vary. We see both "404 Not Found", and "Another blog is already hosted at this address", fairly common for this problem.
  • This will be an issue for newly purchased domains.
  • It will be diagnosed by use of the WhoIs log showing "xxxxxxx.xxx appears to be available", and verified by examination of the Google Checkout logs, and bank account ledger entries.
  • The blog owner generally has to correct a problem with his bank account, then repeat the purchase of the domain.


Only Name Registration Purchased, No DNS Hosting
  • The domain will not be setup, nor the blog published to the domain.
  • This will follow domain registration, purchased from a third party registrar.
  • The primary symptom will be the query "What are the DNS servers for Google?", "I need 2 IP addresses for my domain!", or "I can only change NameServer1, NameServer2 in my domain setup!".
  • This will be an issue for newly purchased domains.
  • It will be diagnosed by the stated symptom, with the blogger confirming the diagnosis by checking the registrar's invoice to see what services were paid for.
  • The blogger will have to arrange for DNS hosting - free or paid - but choose the right DNS hosting service. A free third party DNS hosting service may be useful, in this case.


Domain Addresses Not Defined
  • The blog will not be successfully published to the domain.
  • This will follow domain registration using "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptom will be "Another blog is already hosted at this address", in the Settings - Basic - Publishing display.
  • This will occur for new custom domains.
  • It will be diagnosed using an excerpted Dig log, for both domain URLs.
  • Here, the blogger will be advised to contact Google Apps Support, for any domain purchase issues.


Domain Ownership Not Verified
  • The blog will not be successfully published to the domain.
  • The primary symptom will be an "Error 12" or variant (we have observed "Error 12", "Error 13", "Error 14", and "Error 32", in reported various forum topics), when using the the Settings - Basic - Publishing wizard.
  • This may follow domain registration, purchased from a third party registrar, or using "Buy a domain".
  • This will occur for new custom domains - as well as for mature domain being re published.
  • This will be diagnosed using an excerpted Dig log, for both domain URLs. Base DNS addresses should also be verified, to ensure a righteous setup.
  • The blog owner will be advised to add or verify presence of the proper domain ownership verification "CNAME". This may involve adding an updated "CNAME", and / or carefully examining the format of the "CNAME", as entered in the "Zone Edit" registrar display. Some blog owners may need to use a free third party DNS hosting service, to allow for registrars who cannot support the necessary "CNAME".


Non Google DNS server Part Of Configuration


Domain Addresses Not Properly Chosen


Domain Previously Registered, And Used In Blogger
  • A Blogger blog was successfully published to the domain, at one time - by a different person. It is now not successfully published.
  • This may follow domain registration, purchased from a third party registrar, or using "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptom will be "Another blog ...", when attempting to publish / re publish the blog to the domain.
  • It will be diagnosed using an excerpted Dig log, for the BlogSpot, and both domain, URLs.
  • It will be resolved using the Custom Domain Reset form - and much patience by the current domain owner.


Domain Registration Expired
  • The blog was successfully published to the domain, at one time.
  • This may follow domain registration, long ago purchased from a third party registrar, or using "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptom may be unexpected content, displayed by the blog. The nature of the unexpected content will vary.
    1. In most cases, and when the blog owner is lucky, the domain will be dead, or maybe display a page of ads or an "Offsite Warning" interstitial display.
    2. In rare cases, and when the blog owner is not lucky, the blog will display contents of another blog, another website, or an "Offsite Warning" interstitial display.
  • It will be diagnosed using a WhoIs log, which shows expiry and last update dates, for the domain.
  • There are two possible resolutions (see two primary symptoms, above, for possible variants).
    1. With the blog owner being lucky, it is in the control of the registrar. After domain registration is renewed, the problem is resolved by the 4 step process. For best results, follow this procedure religiously.
      1. Publish the blog back to BlogSpot.
      2. If necessary (and possible), contact the registrar, and renew the registration. Then, correct the DNS addresses.
      3. Wait for the DNS latency period to expire. This is important. Failure to consider DNS latency may later lead to Internal Database Corruption. This period will vary, as a result of the TTL setting in the "A" / "CNAME" referral.
      4. Republish to the domain URL.
    2. If the blog owner was not lucky, the domain may now be in the hand of an unknown party. This will be a subject for another article.


Blog Published To Domain, Using Mixed Case URL
  • The blog will be successfully published to the domain, but will not be visible from either BlogSpot or domain URLs.
  • This may follow domain registration, purchased from a third party registrar, or using "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptom will be a "404 Not Found", when attempting to view the blog using either the BlogSpot or domain URLs.
  • This will, typically, occur for new custom domains, immediately after the end of the 3 Day Transition Period.
  • It will be diagnosed using a RexSwain HTTP Trace set, starting from the BlogSpot URL.
  • It is typically resolved by publishing the blog back to BlogSpot, then re publishing to the correct URL, using all lower case letters.


Blog Published To Domain Root, But Asymmetrical DNS Used
  • The blog will not be successfully published to the domain.
  • This may follow domain registration, purchased from a third party registrar, or using "Buy a domain" - though "Buy a domain" will be far more commonly seen.
  • The primary symptom will be a "404 Not Found", when attempting to view the blog using either the BlogSpot or domain URLs - or the warning "Blogs may not be hosted at naked domains." or "Another blog or Google Site is already using this address.", when trying to publish or re publish the blog to the domain.
  • This will, typically, occur for new custom domains.
  • It will be diagnosed using a RexSwain HTTP Trace set, starting from the BlogSpot URL, and confirmed with a screen print of the Publishing wizard display, taken as the blog owner sees the error message in question.
  • It is typically resolved by publishing to the "www" alias.


Domain Redirected To Google Ad Services, Sites, or Start Page URL


Blog Published Partially, To The Custom Domain URL


Internal Blogger Database Corruption


The Blog And Domain Are In Transition
  • The domain will be setup - but will not redirect. The blog will be published to the domain URL.
  • This will follow use of "Buy a domain".
  • The primary symptom will be seen only by the owner (when properly logged in to Blogger). When clicking on the "View Blog" dashboard button / link, the owner will see an "In Transition" display.
  • This will be a temporary issue, for newly purchased domains, successful purchased.
  • It will be diagnosed using an excerpted Dig log, for the BlogSpot, and both domain, URLs.
  • It will go away, when Transition expires, 72 to 96 hours after successful domain purchase and registration. The blog, and the domain, will then redirect properly.
  • While you wait for Transition to expire, spend time reading what you will want to do, when Transition is complete.


All Issues May Not Be Yet Discussed Here
You could, occasionally, have a problem which is not diagnosed in this Guide - and in that case, please ask for help, politely, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

Before asking for help, you can help the helpers if you have tried some affinity diagnostics or maybe some differential diagnostics - and if you are aware that not all problems may be exclusively caused by Blogger. And have some idea how many possibilities exist, for problems.

And if it's not too late, read Setting Up A Custom Domain, before you start.


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9 comments:

abdil latif blog said...

thank you for your help, I really helped dengn your suggestions and all your articles.

Heidi @ Buttons and Butterflies said...

I am BEYOND frustrated at this point. I am trying to find my specific problem, but as you say, I can't diagnose the specific problem! I purchased a custom domain over a year ago (go daddy) for the purpose of using it as a shopping cart website. However, I have changed direction and just want to redirect my blogspot.com to the URL. I followed all the directions and keep getting "this is owned by someone else or Google". I have received help from go daddy AND Google, but just want a 'warm body" to walk me through this. Your links make me more and more confused about my situation. And when I arrive to the forum, I feel like I am uncap able of understanding all the DNS/Cname speak. Please advise?

Chuck Croll said...

Heidi,

I sympathise with your confusion - but you need to give us a chance, in the forums. We need to diagnose your problem - not guess at it.

And if the replies are too complex for you, you need to reply and tell us.

If you purchase a domain on your own, you can't expect to have it automatically start working for you, in Blogger / Google - some assembly is required (ever read that, in instructions, when you bought something at the store?).

GRETCHEN, aka GIGI said...

Can't figure any of this out! Thought I was going about things correctly: created blog with .blogspot.com. Wanted to create website, followed steps to purchase through the steps outlined in blogger. Received receipt for purchase of domain but now when type new .com name into Internet get "Blog cannot be found". What am I doing wrong? All I want is a live help line!!!!

Chuck Croll said...

GIGI / GRETCHEN,

Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken is the best live help line that you could use.

When technical details like custom domain setup have to be diagnosed and improvements suggested, online, written help is so much more effective.

JBailey90 said...

Hello. I have several other blogs that all work just fine. I am using a custom domain, purchased through GoDaddy. I am using the godaddy domain feature implemented in the advanced settings part of the blogger custom domain changer. All I have to do is log in with my GoDaddy account, type in the address that I already own with GoDaddy, it gets the DNS Settings, then I just add the address into the empty space in blogger. http://www.boomcranes.net this is the address that I have purchased from GoDaddy, I can see that I own it on my Godaddy, yet when I try to get to my blog I am taken to page that says it is parked by GoDaddy. I have set this up on several of my other blogs the exact same way and they all work fine. Please Help.

Chuck Croll said...

Bailey,

You followed some version of instructions from GoDaddy, which are wrong. Please start a discussion in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, so we can get your mistake resolved.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2011/01/correcting-godaddy-custom-domain-setup.html

shahzaib hussain said...

thanks for the great article its very useful for me..
web designer in uk

Ruby Lovely said...

I am glad to know I am not crazy. Everyone seems to be struggling with the same issues. Problem is, I don't speak computer. I set up blogger and bought my domain.
rubylovely.com
If someone can help me and this comment thread is still working, please LMK and I will go in to detail.
You maybe be able to just look at my domain and know the problem.