Custom Domain Names (CNAME records) are the handy fellows that link your landing page URL to your root domain (home page). The result is that your landing page URL will also be connected to your company's primary website. Instead of being directed to unbouncepages.com (which would confuse your customers), your landing page URL can be something much more palatable, like http://try.youramazingcompany.com. CNAME Records can be a little tricky at first, but trust us, you can do it! Using your custom domain with your Unbounce landing pages ensures strong brand alignment for your page URLs. And, for those of you with PPC campaigns, it's a must.
This article will help you out with:
- Distinguishing between domain, subdomain, subfolder, and URL
- Eliminating "unbouncepages.com" from your landing page URL
- Connecting your landing pages to your own domain name using a CNAME record
- Troubleshooting problems with your CNAME record
Refresher: Domain and URL
In case you're new to this or need a refresher, a domain is the actual name of your website (e.g., http://unbounce.com). A 'unique resource locator' (URL) is the address at which a web page is found. It's a page within the domain. Our support website, for example, can be found at "http://support.unbounce.com/home". This URL can be divided into parts:
- Subdomain: "support"
- Root Domain: "unbounce.com"
- Subfolder: "/home:"
Combined, these parts tell a browser which web pages to display and where to find them.
A Canonical Name (CNAME) record allows a URL to show your landing pages hosted at a different domain. In this case, unbouncepages.com. So when you first publish a page, it appears on our test domain at the URL "unbouncepages.com/landingpage". this URL is no good for several reasons:
- This would be confusing for your visitors who don't know what Unbounce is
- Google Adwords requires your pages to appear on your own domain
- Pages hosted on unbouncepages.com domain will not be indexed by search engines.
So, in the name of good URL etiquette, you need a CNAME record to link your landing page URL to your root domain, which consequently connects your landing page URL to your company's primary website. By creating a CNAME record, you simply tell your domain "www.mysite.com" to display the pages you have hosted over at unbouncepages.com
Connecting Your Landing Pages to Your Own Domain Name (Overview)
In Unbounce, you can use your own domain with your landing pages and not worry about hosting them on your own server. This is because Unbounce is a fully hosted service so we take care of hosting all of your landing pages. As Unbounce hosts your landing page, you can't download them for use somewhere else.
There are two ways to use your own domain on your landing pages' URLs:
- Use a root domain just for your landing pages. This is good for those of you who don't already have a website living at your root domain. (e.g., www.mysite.com). So when you publish your landing pages with Unbounce, they can appear in the URL as a subfolder (e.g., www.mysite.com/landingpage).
- Use a subdomain for your landing pages. If you already have a website living at your root domain (e.g., www.mysite.com), you'll need to use a subdomain (e.g., promo.mysite.com or try.mysite.com) because the subfolder format of the root domain www.mysite.com/landingpage won't work. On the contrary, any subfolder format of the subdomain will work (e.g., promo.mysite.com/landingpage).
In both cases, you'll need to set up a custom domain to use with your Unbounce landing pages. You do this in 3 steps:
- Tell your domain to show the pages hosted by Unbounce (in your DNS provider)
- Add your domain to your Unbounce account (in your Unbounce account)
- Tell your landing pages to use your domain (in your Unbounce account)
What you'll need
- A domain (if you don't have one, you can easily purchase and connect one from iWantMyName.com)
- Administrative access to your domain's DNS
- Administrative access to your Unbounce account
Step 1. In Your DNS Provider: Tell Your Domain to Show the Pages Hosted by Unbounce
You'll need to create a CNAME record with your DNS provider or wherever your domain is managed to point at our hosts.
You can follow the steps below or contact your hosting provider's support team directly.
- Sign in to your domain hosting service
- Navigate to your DNS management page
- Find the CNAME record settings
- Create a new CNAME record
- Enter a value for your sub-domain in the host field
- For example, you'd enter "try" if you wanted to set up "try.mysite.com"
- NOTE: If you already have a website at "www.mysite.com" you'll need to set up a subdomain such as "try.mysite.com" for your landing pages
- Enter "www" here if you are using a root domain for your landing pages like "www.mysite.com"
- NOTE: If you're using a root domain and want your naked domain to work as well (the domain without the 'www') such as mysite.com, you can learn how in the article below this list.
- Type unbouncepages.com in the 'CNAME' field
- Enter unbouncepages.com as the destination or address
- Save the changes to your DNS records
How to set up a naked domain
Changes to your CNAME records can take up to 48 hours to propagate
We also have specific instructions for the following popular hosts:
- GoDaddy [VIDEO]
- Network Solutions
For providers that use cPanel (e.g. LunarHost, Monster Host, SiteCloud, JustHost) you can follow these cPanel set up instructions
Step 2. In Your Unbounce Account: Add Your Domain to Your Unbounce Account
Ready to finally add your custom domain to your Unbounce landing pages!? Great! Just follow the steps below:
- Log in to Unbounce
- Select the sub-account where you want to add your custom domain
- Open the Domains tab from the side navigation bar
- Click Add a Domain
- Select the type of custom domain, either a root domain or a sub-domain
- Enter your domain name
- Click Add Domain to confirm
Step 3. In Your Unbounce Account: Tell your Landing Pages to Use Your Domain
Lastly, you need to tell your landing pages which address (URL) you want them to show up at.
- Navigate to the Page Overview for the relevant landing page
- Click Change URL on the upper left of the page
- Select the domain you wish to use for this page from the domain drop down menu.
- Customize your landing page's final URL as desired.
- Click Change URL to save your changes.
Troubleshooting Problems With Your CNAME Record
If you've followed the steps above and are still experiencing difficulties, you can quickly verify your CNAME record using a web based dig tool.
- Visit http://www.mxtoolbox.com/CNAMELookup.aspx
- Enter your custom domain's URL in the 'Domain Name' field
- Click CNAME Lookup
The results show you:
- Type - the type of record created for your subdomain
- If your DNS settings are correct, you will see 'CNAME' in this field
- If you do not see 'CNAME' in the response and only see 'A' then there may be an A Record in your DNS that is overriding your CNAME Record. This A Record will need to be deleted or changed because you cannot have an A Record and a CNAME record created for the same subdomain.
- Domain Name - the domain you searched
- Canonical Name - the host your domain points to
- If your DNS settings are correct, you will see "unbouncepages.com" in this field
- If you see a different value, you will have to edit the host (or points to) value of this subdomain in your DNS settings to be "unbouncepages.com"
- Note: you might see something like "unbouncepages.com.yourdomain.com" in this field. If you do, you'll have to return to your host and edit the points to value of your CNAME record to be "unbouncepages.com." (note the extra . at the end)
- TTL - your time to live value
- This is the amount of time your server holds on to older cached information before it refreshes to show any new changes. If your custom domain does not seem to be working properly, you may just need to wait the amount of time indicated before your custom domain will work.
If you look up the domain "www.cheapelephants.com" you will see the following result:
This shows that the domain "www.cheapelephants.com" is correctly pointing to "unbouncepages.com" with a CNAME record. This is the kind of result you're after.
In Unbounce you can always access the setup instruction from the gear menuassociated with the domain - you can change or delete the domain for the gear menu as well.
Once your CNAME is fully propagated (working), head back to the Page Overview and change the URL of any pages you'd like published there.
If you've followed these steps and are still experiencing difficulties with your custom domain, please take a full screen capture of your current DNS setup to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include which hosting provider you are using.
Amazon servers: the Amazon servers host of all landing pages created in Unbounce, so your landing pages can't be hosted on your own server.
Custom domain: enables landing pages to appear with your domain using Unbounce's CNAME mapping feature.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL): a URL is a web page's address. It's what you type into the address bar to find a page.
Domain: a domain is provides a way to uniquely identify your website on the web with a distinct URL of your choosing.
Some example domains: unbounce.com, www.somecompany.com, happyhippos.ca, anything-you-can-think-of.co.nz
Root domain: a root domain is arguably the most important part of any website; it is the Google of google.com, the Unbounce of unbounce.com. Associating a root domain with your Unbounce account is ideal for when you have an empty website and you want to use your Unbounce pages for your homepage and/or subsequent pages.
Examples: www.mysite.com or www.mysite.com/promo
Sub-domain: a sub-domain is allows you to have multiple unique URLs associated with your root domain. For instance the ‘app’ in app.unbounce.com is a sub-domain of unbounce.com. Sub-domains are very useful when you want to use your root domain, but already have a website on it.
Examples: try.mysite.com or try.mysite.com/promo
Domain Hosting Service: the company that hosts your domain, some examples are GoDaddy, DreamHost, and 1&1.
Domain Name Service (DNS): this makes sure everyone on the web knows your address, kind of like the yellow pages of the internet.
Canonical Name Record (CNAME record): a CNAME record is used to set up an alias for your domain, by adding a CNAME record to your domain’s DNS you can direct visitors to your webpages to Unbounce’s servers.
Still a bit fuzzy? If you think of a URL as a sign and a web server as a building, then a CNAME record is like putting a sign on the side of a building. The building is still at the same address, and the sign is now the first thing people see.