What this guide is meant to do
We hope that after reading this guide, visitors will have a better grasp of how domains connect to websites or email services. We also hope to introduce you to common records that you may be asked to set up from our services like a connection to our Website Pro Product and Email Settings.
For the following, I will be using my domain actionsperminute.com to demonstrate these items as it is not yet used.
Let's Get Started
The image above shows how a domain ends up connecting to a service like a Website hosting, or an Email provider. The domains themselves have Name Servers, these Name Servers hold records that point to the actual service. Let's take a look at each of these individually.
A domain consists of a few things, the domain name itself, Name Servers that hold the records, and whois information.
- Domain name - This is what someone will actually use to reach the end service, examples are actionsperminute.com, google.com, vendasta.com, etc.
- Name Servers - Contain the records which are used to tell where internet traffic goes.
- WHOIS information - This is information pertaining to the registrant of the domain (owner of it) and other contacts. You can get Domain Privacy as a service to get this set to private information, otherwise, it is publicly available.
It's important to note that the WHOIS information is required and domains that have incorrect information can be suspended. It is also important to note that while it is common for the Name Servers to be set to the same company that provides the domain, this is not always the case as it is an editable field. Some Website or Email providers may ask you to change the nameservers to their own companies so that they can manage the records as needed.
A Name Server will hold a file on it called a Zone File, this file will contain all of the records that your domain uses. These records redirect traffic that goes through the domain, onto the various services that the traffic is intended for. Some of the more common records are explained below:
- A Record - This record is used to send traffic through the domain to an IP Address. Most commonly used for a record pointing the domain to their website.
- CNAME Record - This record is used to map an alias to another domain. The most common of these is a WWW CName record which usually maps to the main domain. Example - www.actionsperminute.com would map to actionsperminute.com
- MX Records - These records are used to send Mail traffic through a domain to a server. For example - MX records for a domain that uses Google Workspace are set up to go to ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM as well as some others.
- Other Records - There are plenty more like TXT records, AAAA records, etc. We will cover some TXT records later on.
It's important to note here that not all of these services need to be the same end company. You could have website services through one company and send email traffic to another like Google. Examples of these records that we use will be seen later on in this guide.
The end result of the chain is that the traffic going through your domain is pointed to the appropriate service. Whether that be a website hosting services like Website Pro or an email provider like Google Workspace.
Let's take a look at some examples using our platform. We will be hooking up my domain to a Website Pro installation, as well as setting up some Google Workspace records, and some extra records surrounding our Email Settings.
Looking into Website Pro in the Domains tab, it would like us to set up the following Records:
- @ symbol - is commonly used in place of the domain name, so the actual record name is actionsperminute.com, but this shorthand is used quite frequently.
- TTL - This stands for time to live, it means that at the end of a set period (1h) if this record is stored somewhere, it should refresh to make sure it's new.
Google will ask that you set up MX records so that they can direct traffic. They also usually ask that you set up a verification record as well, usually in the form of a TXT record.
In my case, as my domain is registered with domains.google I can simply turn on Google Workspace records, but it still shows me what they are which will help you.
In the above, you notice a couple of things, multiple data values, and the addition of a number next to them (1,5,10)
- Multiple data values - Google lumps them all together, but on other domain providers, you will need to enter 5 separate MX records for Google Workspace. Each one will have one of those Data values.
- The numbers 1,5,10 - These numbers represent the priority of the record, which is specific to MX records. These indicate that the lower number will be used first, and the remaining ones are backups. So when email traffic is sent to actionsperminute.com it first sends it to aspmx.l.google.com, if for some reason that one is not available, it will send it to the next one down the list in ascending priority. Remember, the lowest goes first.
For the verification record, we have added it to the above ones, it is the record in the center. Your Google Verification Record will begin with google-site-verification= and then be followed by a sequence of letters and numbers. You need to enter the entire record including google-site-verification.
Our campaign settings request that 4 records be set up. An SPF record, A DMARC record, and 2 CNAME records. The SPF and DMARC records are actually TXT records. In most cases, you may already have an SPF Record but we will tackle that during the example. Here are the records that are asked to be set up in my case:
I will get all of these added together, and then I can go through some peculiarities:
In the above image, the thing to mention here is the SPF Record. In my case with Google Domains, they actually provide an SPF type. This may not be the case with all registrars and a TXT record will be set up instead. Also with the SPF record, if you already have a record that has v=spf1 set up, then you need to simply just add include:sendgrid.net into it and before the ~all at the end.
One other item you may have noticed was that I never completed the Name fields. For instance www instead of www.actionsperminute.com or ikw_domainkey instead of ikw_domainkey.actionsperminute.com as requested. This is because most providers will automatically fill in that information for you in the first field. That is unless you include a . at the end of it.
ikw_domainkey in the name field is automatically set to ikw_domainkey.actionsperminute.com
ikw_domainkey. is not set automatically and will not allow for verification. In some cases, you may need to specify the entire record, in which case you can enter the following
ikw_domainkey.actionsperminute.com. The trailing tells the process that the record is finished and to not add the domain.