CNAME, Alias, Mapping... How does it all work?

posted Mar 30, 2009, 10:24 AM by Brian Johnson   [ updated Jul 4, 2011, 5:47 AM by Brian Johnson ]

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When it comes to mapping your Google Site(s) to your own custom domain name(s), there are a few things to keep in mind:
  1. [link]  Are you using the stand-alone version of Sites, or the Google Apps version?  (There is a difference.)
  2. [link]  Creating a custom URL for the Sites service is different from mapping your domain to your Site.
  3. [link]  Google does not support mapping your naked domain ( to a Google Site, but you can make it happen.  (For Google Apps users, Google now offers a naked domain redirect feature, but an alternate method is recommended in the Google Apps Naked Domain Redirect article on this site.)

What is Domain Mapping? 

Essentially, there are two parts to the whole mapping process:

  1. You need to tell your registrar/DNS host where to send requests for your subdomains ("www", "mail", "sites", etc.) by entering the CNAME pointing to
  2. You also must tell Google what to do with requests to the subdomain specified in #1 through either your Site's "General" page, or your Google Apps control panel.
If either of these elements are missing, the whole thing simply will not work.  If your registrar doesn't know where to direct the traffic, the request will fail without ever getting to Google.  If the registrar knows where to send the traffic, but Google doesn't know what to do with it once it gets there, the request will fail on Google's servers.