June 17, 2007

How to set up your Blogger custom domain

After blogging for a while at a Blogspot.com address, you may decide it's time to upgrade to a custom domain (eg: yourblog.com). This is the least expensive method I've found of hosting your blog at a custom domain since Blogspot will still host your blog for free! All you need to do is pay a few pounds for your domain name, be it a dot.com, dot.co.uk, dot.info or whatever you choose!

The process is probably much simpler than you think! You don't need to worry too much about finding a host provider that is compatible with Blogger: any domain provider which allows you to alter the DNS records for your domain is compatible! Just make sure that you don't have to pay extra for this service (these days, most domain providers don't, but there is still the odd one around...).

Here's how to set up your Blogger custom domain:

  1. Decide on your domain name, and register it with a domain name provider. There are literally hundreds of sites you can use (just do a Google search for "domain name providers"). My provider of choice is GoDaddy.com, since this site offers very low cost domains with free hosting, free email accounts and other features too. I'll explain shortly why having free hosting is very beneficial.

  2. Once you've registered your new domain name, you'll need to change the DNS settings. DNS stands for Domain Name System: a DNS server determines what site a given address takes you to. You need to tell the DNS servers that visitors to your custom domain should be directed to your Blogspot blog, which is what we're doing here. You need to access the control panel for the DNS settings associated with your domain. Take a look at the CNAME records here. Is there a name/sub domain called WWW? If there is, you'll need to edit this; if not, you'll need to add a new CNAME record. In either case, you should enter the correct information as I'll explain next.

  3. For the name/sub domain (this depends on what your provider calls it!), enter "www" and save (or click continue).

  4. For your target host/destination/record (again, this is provider dependent) you need to enter "ghs.google.com". Save and continue. This is all you need to do with your domain provider!

  5. It may take a few days for the DNS settings to come into effect, so it might be worth waiting a day or two before completing the next step, which is to associate your Blogspot account with your new domain.

  6. Now, you should log into your Blogger account. In the "settings" area, click on the "publishing" tab near the top of the page and choose to set up your custom domain. In the text box, enter your new domain name (eg: www.example.com). Now when you preview your blog, you should see your custom domain in the address bar instead of your blogspot one!

Your old Blogspot address will automatically forward to your new domain, so you don't have to worry about losing any traffic. Also, since Blogger still hosts your domain, you'll have no worries about hosting or bandwidth.

However, there are a few points you should take note of when publishing to your custom domain.

Most important is this: you can only post to http://yourdomain.com or http://www,yourdomain.com. NOT BOTH! So before you enter your domain name in the Blogger settings be sure which of these you prefer to use.

My advice would be this: try to use a domain provider which offers some free hosting with your domain (this is why I'd recommend GoDaddy) and set your blog to be hosted at www.yourdomain.com. Then upload a simple redirect page as your index to your hosting account, which will redirect any visitors to www.yourdomain.com instead.

I don't consider this to be much of a problem. In fact it can be an advantage: having only the http:// or http://www in your blog address is that your Technorati ranking will be improved, since there will not be two entries for your blog (one at each sub domain, a problem I used to have with a hosted Wordpress blog). By redirecting your readers, they will always know where to find you, and you won't lose any traffic.

For a complete tutorial on registering your Blogger custom domain with GoDaddy, take a look at this post on the Glamumous blog. For detailed walkthroughs to register with other domain providers, this article on the Blogger help site can prove rather useful.

As always, I appreciate your comments! Also, if you have posted a walkthrough for other providers, please leave a link below to help others do this too.

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