Custom domains with NameCheap

Custom domains with NameCheap

This article details the entire process of buying and installing a custom domain for a Ghoststead site using NameCheap as a domain authority.  NameCheap is a very popular domain authority and, as the name suggests, offers very competitive pricing. The user experience and customer service, on the other hand, don't feel 'cheap' at all, making NameCheap very easy to work with when setting up a new site.  There was a 'Chat with a Live Person' button on every page throughout the entire purchase process.

There are three main steps for a new custom domain:

  1. Choose a domain name and purchase it.  (Choosing the name is by far the hardest!)
  2. Configure your DNS settings to point your new domain to your site.
  3. Update your Ghoststead site to use the domain you just purchased.

Buy your Domain on NameCheap

Choose your domain name.  This is by far the hardest step.  These days you have to go pretty deep and you'll likely have to spend a lot of time with this screen:

NameCheap has a feature called 'Beast Mode' that allows you to try various word combinations as well as bid on premium domain names.  Try it.  Try everything.

Once you find a name that's available everything else is a snap.  Below is the result after purchasing the domain name alldotcomsaretaken.com.

Grand total: $9.06 USD including Free WhoisGuard.  WhoisGuard keeps the owner of the domain private in the global WhoIs database by instead listing themselves as the primary contact.  Domain privacy is generally a good idea since that database is a definite source of spam and if someone wants to buy your domain - the only reason you really want to be contacted - then they can always contact you through the domain authority.  GoDaddy, as an example, currently charges $9.99 per year to keep you name private - more than the entire price from NameCheap!

Configure DNS

Now that you have a domain name, it's time to point that domain at your Ghoststead site.  The new domain name is pointed to your site by adding a DNS CNAME record that references your admin domain.   A CNAME record is just an alias for another name, essentially a synonym.

Click the manage button to the right of your domain name on the NameCheap dashboard.

NameCheap dashboard

You will be taken to the domain details page.  There are a lot of options here but the NameCheap defaults are exactly what you need to get started.  NameCheap just works.  Click on the "Advanced DNS' link.

Don't worry about the name, its really not advanced DNS, but it does contains the one setting that you need to change in order associate your domain with your site.

A CNAME record should already exist for the 'www' Host of your domain.  Edit this record by clicking directly on the value - in this case parkingpage.namecheap.com.  If no record exists, create it with the 'Add New Record' button at the bottom of the page.

Enter the admin domain of your site as the record value.  The admin domain is your site name with the suffix '.ghostsstead.net' and is available on the Ghoststead dashboard.  In the above case, the site is named 'alldotcomsaretaken' so the admin domain is 'alldotcomsaretaken.ghoststead.net'.

Click the checkbox to the right to Save Changes and you're done.

Important: The Time To Live (TTL) for CNAME records on NameCheap is 30 minutes by default.  This means that any changes you make could take up to 30 minutes to show up.  See Wait for DNS Changes in the TroubleShooting section below.

Add a custom domain in Ghoststead

You can add a custom domain from the dashboard of your Ghoststead site.

Ghoststead dashboard: set custom URL
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Click the 'Add' button above and you'll be taken to a page where you can enter your new custom domain.

Enter the domain name you purchased including the 'www.' part, then click the 'Add Custom Domain' button.

You're done!  You should now be able to access your Ghoststead site using your new domain.

Troubleshooting

If something goes wrong, follow the next three steps to resolve it.

1. Check for typos

Typos happen.  Review the above screens anything that may have been mis-typed.

2. Wait for DNS changes

Changes to the CNAME record take awhile to apply since NameCheap has a relatively long, 30 minute Time To Live (TTL).  If the TTL hasn't expired Ghoststead will give you an error message like the following indicating that your new domain doesn't yet point to your Ghoststead site.

Here www.alldotcomsaretaken.com still resolves to the address of the parking page - specifically parkingpage.namecheap.com.  This error is fixed by simply waiting.

3. Contact Ghoststead support

If you experience any other problems, simply email Ghostead support and we'll be glad to help you.

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