June 21, 2007

How to set up your Blogger custom domain with GoDaddy

This post is originally from my other blog, Glamumous. I decided to reproduce it here so you readers can easily find other information linked to this subject. I used GoDaddy to register my domain name, as this company seemed the cheapest dot.com domain provider, and also because they supply a free email address and basic hosting account with each domain, which has come in rather handy.

However, I'd read quite a few complaints about using GoDaddy for custom domains with Blogger hosting, so I was rather careful to make sure I did everything correctly!

Please do note that you can only link your site as http://yoursite.com or http://www.yoursite.com. Not both. It just doesn't work that way. My advice is to use the www prefix, and if you can make a simple redirect page in your host root, as I'll explain later.

I followed Blogger's advice to the letter, and everything works fine. Here are the basics of their tutorial, or you can read the whole thing yourself on this page.

  1. Buy your chosen domain name and create your account.
  2. Once your domain has been registered, log in to your control panel, and choose to "manage domains".
  3. Click on the area marked Total DNS Control, and then on Total DNS Control And MX Records.
  4. Look for a record prefixed "WWW". If there isn't one, add a new CNAME record; if there is one, you'll need to edit this record instead.
  5. Insert these settings exactly as they are described! For the "Name" type "www" (as in www.yoursite.com). For the Host Name, you need to enter "ghs.google.com". Don't change or enter anything else except for these two functions. If this is a new CNAME, click "add". If you are editing an existing CNAME, click "update" and "continue".

Before you link this domain to your Blogspot blog, you may well want to check that all the settings are correct. To do this, you'll need to "ping" your new domain and ensure the host points to ghs.google.com.

If you're a Windows user, this is quite simple to do using the "command" feature. Windows 98 and ME have a "command prompt" program in the start menu; Windows XP has the "run..." feature, which brings up a box; simply type in CMD, hit enter and you'll get your command prompt.

Then all you need to do is enter the following:

ping www.yourdomainname.com

substituting yourdomain.com for your domain name and suffix. Hit enter, and see what happens. It should look something like this:

Pinging ghs.1.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data: Reply from bytes=32 time=85ms TTL=247 Reply from bytes=32 time=89ms TTL=247 Reply from bytes=32 time=86ms TTL=247 Reply from bytes=32 time=86ms TTL=247 Ping statistics for Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss), Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds: Minimum = 85ms, Maximum = 89ms, Average = 86ms

Notice that the ping recognises that my site is hosted with ghs.1.google.com. This means that I can (and indeed, have) followed the next step in telling Blogspot my new domain name. If you don't notice the host is registered as Google, wait a little longer before following the next step.

Log in to your Blogger control panel. In the settings section, click on the publishing tab. Near the top of this page, you'll notice "publish to a custom domain". This is what you want to do.

When prompted, enter the domain name you have directed to the ghs.google.com host, including the www prefix! Continue, and you should see that your new settings have been saved.

View your blog to ensure everything works and looks okay. Don't worry if at first you get a "404 file not found" page: it can take a few days for DNS settings to propogate across the whole internet. You can always switch back to Blogspot hosting and try again in a day or two. When this does work okay, you'll see your blog exactly how it is normally seen, with the exception that your new domain name is in the address bar. Blogger takes care of all the inter-blog links, page titles and such for you, and even redirects traffic from your old name.blogspot.com address to your new www.yoursite.com address! This is great as it means it's unlikely you'll lose traffic or page ranking stats.

Now here's the awkward part: as I mentioned earlier, you can only have http://www.yourblog.com or http://yourblog.com. Not both. Blogger/Google simply haven't recognised that this may be important, and only offer the function of linking one address to your blog. But in a strange way, this is good: you don't have to worry about having two seperate blogs listed in Technorati, for example.

I advised that you use the www prefix for a good reason. Many domain providers offer a single page (often called a "holding page") with each domain name. This will show when you type http://yourblog.com, even though www.yourblog.com will link to your Blogger blog.

So make use of it!

If you are able to edit the HTML, you could create a redirect page to automatically redirect visitors to your www address. That way, you won't lose any visitors at all. To make the page redirect to your www address, you need to insert this code between the head tags, substituting "mysite.com" for your domain name. You can do this using an HTML editor (I prefer Notepad).

<head><meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http://www.mysite.com" /></head>

The part content="0; means that there is no pause before the browser is redirected. You can change this to "5" for example, to give a 5 second pause if you also want to include an explanation for the redirect in the body of the page. It is also a good idea to include a hyperlink to your www address in the body of the page, just in case the visitor's browser doesn't recognise the redirect command.

If you look at my redirect page at http://bloggerbustercom/, you'll notice that there is an 8 second pause and an explanation for the redirect. Play around and see what works for you!

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