Understanding Custom Domains in Bucket.IO

Understanding Custom Domains in Bucket.IO

I’ve helped several ASK Method students and some bucket.io users with what seemed to be Bucket.io issues but was in fact a DNS problem.

Thanks to my long term IT background, I’ve been fixing DNS for about 2 decades, give or take a few years and can almost do it in my sleep  with my hands tied 
… but I realize this DNS trouble can be one of those perplexing, frustrating road blocks that keep ASKers from getting to the important stuff …
…. so I thought I’d post a “Bucket DNS Mini Guide”

(””’ready for the “short version” already? Easy: 1) you can only have 1 “A Record” and 2) don’t use your primary domain unless you want your whole website to switch over to bucket so 3) use a subdomain instead””’)

= = = = = = = = = = =
First, A Quick Lesson On How The Internet Works 
— (Oh my goodness how sleepy-boring … No, hey you over there on the back row, wake up, this is important…) —

) The content you call pages, images, videos, apps … that’s “data”, Bits and Bytes
) Those Bits flow between devices … your computer (or tablet/phone) and the server that’s “in the cloud”
) It flows via networks, to be exact
) And the ONLY way devices can communicate across a network is via an address, a number called an “IP address”. Nope, computers don’t speak English, surprise  they “speak” in numbers
) But we’d all go nuts if we had to remember numerical addresses to use the Internet. Imagine if, every time you wanted to shop at Amazon, you had to type in 54.239.17.7 or to check Facebook you had to write 157.240.3.35 (or the new version: 2a03:2880:f113:8083:face:b00c::25de …. yaaaaaa!!!!!)
) But there’s this thing called DNS “Domain Name System” that maps domain names to IP addresses so that we don’t have to remember those pesky numbers. Whew!

= = = = = = = = = = =
What’s That Got To Do With You?

Well, if you want to have your bucket quiz on your own domain like is mentioned in these two documents:

http://help.bucket.io/…/custom-d…/how-to-add-a-custom-domain

http://help.bucket.io/…/how-to-use-a-custom-domain-in-a-fun…

… then you have to set up a DNS record first.
To do that, you have to edit your domain’s DNS settings and add a new “A Record”.
This tells all the devices on the internet what IP address to send your custom-domain-bucket-traffic to.

– – – – – – – – –
Typically, but not always, your DNS is setup at the same company where you have your domain, like GoDaddy or Namecheap.

Sometimes, your DNS is at the company that hosts your website or email.

Rarely its at a 3rd company (like, maybe your former web-hosting provider, or special DNS company?)

In general, in my opinon, you want to use a new and unique subdomain.
In other words, if your domain is superlaunch.com, you do not want to create a new A record for “superlaunch.com” or “www.superlaunch.com
Instead, get creative and come up with something new, like:
quiz.superlaunch.com
get.superlaunch.com
findout.superlaunch.com
Create a new A Record for that new subdomain.

– – – – – – – – –

When you go to create that new subdomain, generally you will navigate to the screen where you can edit your DNS (sometimes called “Zone” editor) and find the section for A Records.

Click a button that says something like “Add” or “Add Record” or “Add A Record”.

Generally when you click Add, a new form will open up for you to type into.

If the form tried to auto-fill the new record with an “@” sign, you want to remove that @ sign and replace it with your new subdomain name “quiz” or “get” or “findout”, in my examples above
(just one at a time!)

Put in the IP address listed on the Bucket help page.

Currently that IP is: 34.196.123.147

– – – – – – – – –

If you already have a website on your main domain (in my example, superlaunch.com) and you accidentally edit the main record, or the one with the @ sign, what you will do it point the domain’s DNS away from your main website and over to Bucket.

Don’t do that 

– – – – – – – – –

Now, for the clincher:

If you accidentally *duplicate* your main domain’s A record, i.e. if you mistakenly create a second one, there’s a lot of things that will happen but in short, you will have conflicting records and will Confuse The Entire Internet …

… because SOME times the traffic will go to one of the IP addresses (like your website), and OTHER times it will go to the other IP address (at bucket.io)

Don’t do that, either!

(Honey, I Broke The Internet!!)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
But everything is acting weird … how can I tell?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

One way is to use a third party tool to look up your records.
Try something like one of these:
https://mxtoolbox.com/DNSLookup.aspx
https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#A/

If it shows you more than one row of A records, you’ve likely got a problem.
(there are a few legitimate reasons to have multiple A records but that’s normally only on huge, distributed websites like Amazon.com, and you or your administrator & IT department will know if that’s the case.)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
In summary, unless you know what you are doing, you probably want your A records set like this:

superlaunch.com <– IP address of your regular website
www.superlaunch.com <– also the IP address of your regular website
quiz.superlaunch.com <– IP address for use with bucket.io custom domains, 34.196.123.147

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Got questions? #ASK

(I sure hope this was helpful and not more confusing! If you have a suggestion for improving this, please let me know.)

Addendum F.A.Q:
Q: “I’m looking at my DNS settings and I’m not sure how to know I’m looking at an A record?”
A: it really will have a capital letter “A”with it. There are a few other common types of records including CNAME, PTR, MX, NS, SOA, TXT, SPF … you can ignore all those.

Q: “Doesn’t it always have to start with www ?”
A: No, neither your main website or your custom domain/custom sub-domain for Bucket have to have a “www.”, that’s completely optional. (Technically, “www.” is a subdomain.)

Q: “I just did this and its still not working”
A: Give it some time 
In order to avoid clogging the internet with trillions of DNS lookups each time there is data sent over the networks, there’s a thing called “cache”. Basically the DNS server says to your computer (device) “Here’s the answer to your name<->mapping question, now don’t ask me again for a while” and so your computer “remembers” the original answer for some time. The amount of time is specified in the original DNS “answer”. This caching timeout is called a TTL “Time To Live”, in other words the DNS server says “this answer is good for X amount of time”. The time is in seconds, so you’ll often see a number like 14400 (which happens to be 4 hours). Usually this is set to 30 minutes or 1 hour, it can be much longer (24 or 48 hours). I’ve occasionally seen intermediary networks like cellular data providers insert themselves into the middle of the equation and add another layer of caching … for as much as a week!
(Thanks to Christine Stebbins Dahl for bringing this point up)

Q: “I’m using CloudFlare and this isn’t working”
A: CloudFlare is seeing Bucket as web traffic and trying to cache it. (This is not the same as DNS cache described above, this is content caching, which is what CloudFlare was built to do).
Incidentally CloudFlare interrupts the DNS in order to do their caching.
So you need to tell CloudFlare to not cache Bucket.
To do that, you click off the orange Cloud button on the right side of the A record.
See this CloudFlare help article for more detail:https://support.cloudflare.com/…/200169626-What-subdomains-…
Even though that ^ article talks about web vs non-web traffic, and Bucket is technically web traffic, in the case of Bucket you do NOT want CloudFlare to treat it as web traffic to cache so turn it off, “gray cloud” (like the non-web)
(Thanks to Ian Jenkins for bringing this point up)

Q: “But I bought a domain just for my quizzes, superlaunchquiz.com does all the subdomain advice still apply?”
A: In that case just replace the existing primary A record (often it has the @ sign) with the Bucket.io IP address for custom domains and ignore the advice about subdomains

Q: Do I need a different subdomain for every funnel?
A: No

Q: Do I need a different subdomain for Discovery (DDS) and Segmentation funnels?
A: No

Q: Can I just use www.mydomain.com/myfunnelname
A: Whatever comes after the / (slash) would be sort of like a Page or Directory on your website, at this time, Bucket.io funnels don’t integrate into your site as a page in that fashion.

Q: I don’t want my survey link to end in those funny numbers, can I give the page a name?
A: Not at this point … but you could submit that as a feature request 

Q: Can I run the link to my survey through a URL shortener
A: Yep!

Q: Can I have more then one Custom Domain?
A: You can have as many or few Custom Domains as you like

Q: So once I create my custom domain quiz.mydomain.com I can send traffic there?
A: No … this is IMPORTANT: you have to 1) create the DNS record for your subdomain, and then 2) set it up as a Custom Domain in the Bucket.IO Settings and then 3) Publish each funnel individually, and at that point you choose which Domain (or Custom domain) you want to have in that funnel’s URL once it is Published

About the author

Digital Marketing Consultant, AdWords PPC Traffic Specialist and certified ASK Method Associate. My goal is to deliver the best start-to-finish high-performance digital marketing my clients could ever hope for.