How to Get Your Third Party Domain Name to Point to Your Website
Sounds easy, right? I thought so when I started my first personal web site using the hosting service that came with my Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscriber account. It was bare-bones and gave me very little ability to configure it, but it did serve up my HTML pages just fine. My site contributes a new ebook I wrote, and I wanted a custom domain name so I could direct interested people to “mybookname.com” instead of “myispname.net/mybookname” where my site truly resides. It truly was easy, although there is more to it than one would think. Let me proportion with you what I’ve learned.
- URL Redirect
- URL Frame
- A (Address)
- CNAME (alias, canonical name)
- TXT Record
- URL Redirect (301)
- AAAA (IPv6)
- NS Record
- SRV Record
This approach is the simplest to understand; it is “redirect” in it rawest form. It method that when a person links to the mybookname.com URL, they will end up at the target URL (myispname.net/mybookname, for example), and the target URL will show up in the browser’s address bar. So this is a good way to have www[dot]mybookname.com point to mybookname.com, without the “www.” at the beginning. Of course, this was only a uncompletely solution for me, because I wanted mybookname.com to bring the user to myispname.net/mybookname, and nevertheless have the browser address show mybookname.com.
This is the first option I chose. It seemed to give me what I wanted, although with some exceptions. URL Frame is a technique where the server creates a “wrapper” HTML page with an HTML frame tag in it that contains the target page. So, when the browser points to mybookname.com, that’s what appears in the browser’s address bar, but the visual part of the web page shows the target web site, myispname.net/mybookname. Looking at the “view source” HTML code from the browser shows the content inside the frame. This seemed to give me what I wanted, but it was truly a compromise.
One compromise is that some search engines will not drill into the frame and consequently will not pick up important content that should be searchable. Also, search engines will nevertheless pick up myispname.net/mybookname and present that URL in their search links. That’s not terrible, but not perfect, either. People can nevertheless get to the site, but they won’t see the desired URL in the browser address bar.
Another compromise is that internal links, such as the navigation links, point to the pages like: myispname.net/mybookname/downloads.HTML instead of mybookname.com/downloads.html. If a user clicks on downloads, they get taken to the downloads page, but all they see in the address bar is mybookname.com, not mybookname.com/downloads.html. Again, this is not a huge deal, but seems a bit unprofessional. People can nevertheless get to the content, but in a flaky kind of way. For the purposes of my wee book, this is fine.
This method is where you associate the domain name, mybookname.com, to an IP address, like 220.127.116.11. This would not work for me because myispname.net/mybookname is not its own IP address. It is an address of the ISP, which routes the request based on what comes after the forward slash. Also, this would not work well in a dynamic IP situation, nor when the ISP decides to change the IP address.
CNAME (Canonical name)
CNAME is similar to A, but instead of setting the redirect to a specific IP address, you use another domain name. So, I could set mybookname.com to go to myispname.net, but not myispname.net/mybookname. So, this wouldn’t work for me either.
The rest of the list doesn’t really provide a perfect solution. Given the fact that my web great number provides only HTML page serving and I have a separate domain name provider, the best I could do is the URL Frame approach.
However, there are other choices if I want to move my web site to another great number. Here are some options:
- Move the site to a hosting service provided by NameCheap for a insignificant $2.95 a month, I could have a nice, configurable web site with a direct domain link to my site. This is probably the easiest solution and the URL would work perfectly.
- Use another hosting service for the web site and move the domain name to that hosting service, which would take place at a moderate fee. This would make the URL work perfectly, as in option 1. Of course, the hosting service would also have to be a domain name provider.
- Use another, complete-featured web hosting service and set up NameCheap to use the web hosting service’s name servers. This would make the URL work perfectly, as in option 1. (If my current ISP service provided this capability already, I could just use the configuration method described below.)
Using an different Web great number
For option 3, setting up the web great number’s DNS server names on the NameCheap side is done by the “move DNS to Webhost” function in NameCheap’s admin web application. (Such configuration features are no doubt obtainable from any domain name provider, not just NameCheap.) The web hosting service provides those server names (at the minimum two) on their web site. They will look something like “ns1.hostname.com”.
On the web great number side, you need to specify the domain name for your site when you create it. So, for example, the new site would be mybookname.com. The “www” version of the domain name, www[dot]mybookname.com, would be left alone alone on the NameCheap side because it already forwards to mybookname.com.
One thing to observe is that this approach disables some of the free features from NameCheap, like e-mail forwarding. This simply method that the email configuration features of the web hosting service would have to be configured on the web great number side. So, for example,
NameCheap.com provides excellent domain name sets that allow you the flexibility to start cheap and grow later. I’m sure other domain name sets provide similar features, so you’re not locked into just NameCheap. You can have your cake and eat it too, as the saying goes. All you have to do is make some simple configuration changes when you move your site to another hosting service, and you’re good to go.