Ready to launch?
Configuring a custom domain (such as yourdomain.com) is an important step in getting your website ready for the world.
By default, your new hosting account was configured using an access domain that we generated based on the site title you entered. Your access domain is in the format, your-site-title.advancedwp.com. We set it up this way so that you can access your new website for development, migration, and testing purposes before you’re ready to launch. But have no fear, it’s easy to configure your custom domain when you’re ready to launch.
Updating your Domain Name System (DNS) can have unintended consequences if it’s not done properly. It’s a good idea to write down your existing DNS records before making any changes. We also recommend lowering your Time To Live (TTL) to 3600 seconds the day before making the change so that updates occur quickly. Every domain name registrar is different, so please familiarize yourself with your registrar’s documentation prior to making any changes.
Part A — Verifying Your Access Domain and Server IP Address
Before you can configure your custom domain, you’ll need to know what values to use to connect it. Depending on the method you choose to connect your domain name (more on this below), you’ll need to know your website’s access domain or the IP address for your server. You can get this information from your Advanced WP Dashboard.
From your Advanced WP Dashboard, Click the down arrow to reveal your access domain and server IP.
Copy the Access Domain.
Copy the Server IP Address.
Part B — Connecting Your Custom Domain
Now that you have your Access Domain and IP address, you need to choose which method you will use to connect your custom domain to your hosting account. There are two methods for connecting your domain name to your hosting account:
- Method 1 — Using CNAME flattening from Cloudflare; or,
- Method 2 — Pointing your custom domain name to your server’s IP address.
We strongly recommend using Method 1 (Cloudflare) for a wide variety of reasons, which we’ll explain below:
Method 1 – Cloudflare
Cloudflare is one of the world’s largest network platforms (and also great domain name registrar if you don’t already have a custom domain name). Using Cloudflare will make sure you’ll never need to update your nameservers again. It also has the added benefit of a content delivery network (CDN), a free secure socket layer certificate (SSL), and protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. All of this is to say that it’s a great service that will help your website.
Step 1 — Open a new tab in your browser and navigate to https://www.cloudflare.com. Here you can sign up for a free account and get started. Enter your custom domain name when prompted (or register a new one).
Create a free Cloudflare Account.
Click “Add Site” (if it doesn’t already take you to the screen shown).
Enter the custom domain you’d like to use.
Click “Add Site”.
Step 2 — Cloudflare will lookup your existing DNS records (if any) and before asking you to choose a plan. You can learn more about each plan on their website, but we will use the FREE plan for this guide.
Choose the FREE plan (or upgrade) and click next.
Step 3 — DNS is like the phone book for the internet. When you navigate to a custom domain (like sockbox.ca), your browser checks the DNS system to find records that tell it the IP address of the server (ex. 126.96.36.199). We’ll use Cloudflare to host your domain name’s DNS records. We need to remove any existing A (or AAAA) records for your website (yourdomain.com and www.yourdomain.com) as those will point to your old website (or your registrar’s website). Then, we’ll replace them with two (2) CNAME records.
If there is an A record with your domain name pointing to an IP address, remove it.
Begin adding a new record with the CNAME type.
Enter the custom domain name you will be using.
Enter your access domain access (copied from your Advanced WP Dashboard).
Click “Add Record”.
Notice how the cloud icons are currently grey? This means that traffic will bypass Cloudflare’s network. This makes set up and configuration a bit easier. We’ll revisit this in our Advanced Cloudflare Setup & Best Practices guide. You may choose to enable this now, but if your website is not properly secured you may experience SSL and/or Cipher errors when trying to access your website. You can turn this feature on or off at any time to help diagnose redirect and SSL certificate issues.
Step 4 — The next step is to copy your Cloudflare’s nameservers. You’ll need to replace your current nameservers with those provided by Cloudflare and remove any extra nameservers that may be set up.
Copy the nameservers provided by Cloudflare.
Step 5 — The final step is to update your custom domain’s nameservers. You’ll need to head over to your domain name registrar and replace the current nameservers with the two shown. We’ve used Google Domains for our example, but the process is very similar for other domain name registrars (GoDaddy, Domain.com, Name.com, NameCheap, etc.).
Remove your existing nameservers.
Paste the nameservers provided by Cloudflare.
Finish Setup — The above five (5) steps are all that is required to get you up and running with Cloudflare, however, it’s a powerful service with lots of tools to help your website. We’ll come back to it in our Advanced Cloudflare Setup & Best Practices guide for advanced configuration options.
Method 2 – IP Address
You can also configure your custom domain name by configuring an A Record in your DNS to point to your server’s IP address. If you’re moving from a hosting account elsewhere, you may be using custom nameservers and those will need to be changed back to the registrar’s nameservers. We’ll use Google Domains for our example, but the wording is often very similar regardless of which registrar you use.
From time to time, we may need to migrate your website from one server to another for a variety of load balancing and performance reasons. While this is not a common occurrence, you may experience unexpected outages if the A Record in your DNS is not updated accordingly.
Step 1 — Log into your domain name registrar and select the custom domain name you wish to point to your Advanced WP account. Navigate to the Nameservers or DNS section of their dashboard. You should find an option to use the default nameservers (with Google Domains, it reads “Use the Google Domain name servers”). Select it and save changes.
Make sure the option “Use the Google Domains name servers” is selected (or your registrar’s equivalent).
Save the default nameservers.
Step 2 — Navigate to the DNS Records area of the registrar’s dashboard (with Google Domains, it’s called “Custom resource records). You’ll need to add or update the A record to point to your new server’s IP address. If you already have an A Record you can delete it or edit it as follows:
Add your A record and use the @ symbol for the hostname field.
Choose an A record entry.
Set the TTL to 1 Day (or 86400 seconds). You may wish to use a smaller TTL (ex. 3600 seconds) until after you’ve tested your configuration.
Paste the IP address you’ve obtained from your Advanced WP Dashboard.
Save the A Record.
Part C — Updating WordPress To Use Your Custom Domain
Whew. We’re almost there. The last step in the process is to update WordPress to use your custom domain. This will make sure that the server knows which website to route that incoming traffic to for your custom domain.
Next, we need to make sure WordPress is ready for traffic arriving from the custom domain.
Step 1 — Update your Plesk control panel to use the custom domain. This will ensure that the server knows which website to route traffic to.
Step 2 — Update WordPress to use the custom domain. This will ensure all of your links work properly.