User Portal Domain Management

Adding a domain in the User Portal should be done when you are ready to go live with your WordPress website and should be done before modifying DNS records. This process is necessary to ensure that after DNS is pointed, your traffic can be routed to the correct environment.

Learn how to add a domain in this guide, as well was what pre-verification means, and see related terminology.


Add Domain in User Portal

A new domain must be added to the WP Engine User Portal in order to properly route the domain to the intended WordPress website. A custom domain can be added to any Production environment. Additionally, Premium plans may add a custom domain to Staging and Development environments.

  1. From the Sites page, select the environment name
  2. Choose Domains from the secondary left-hand navigation menu
  3. Click Add Domain on the right
  1. Domain – Enter your domain name into the field.
  2. Also add … – Choose whether to also add the common variant. Depending on the domain entered above, this will be the same domain with or without “www”.
  3. Set this domain as Primary – Sets the domain entered as the Primary domain in the User Portal. Learn more about the Primary domain here.
  4. Does this domain currently have live traffic?
    • Yes – If your site is currently receiving live traffic at the domain name entered. Pre-verification options will be displayed on the next page. Learn more about the pre-verification process here.
    • No – If your site is not currently live on the domain, or not currently receiving live visitor traffic, select No.
  5. Click Add domain
  1. DNS Details: To finish going live, DNS must be pointed to WP Engine.

If domain pre-verification options are presented, skip to the pre-verification section below.

NOTE

Don’t forget to update the WordPress domain settings. Learn more here.


Verify Domain Ownership

Global Edge Security and the advanced network utilize a highly performant Edge network. This network allows WP Engine to configure performance and security benefits on your behalf. Domain ownership must be verified when pointing DNS to WP Engine. This verification process happens automatically after pointing DNS, and can take anywhere from a few minutes to 4 hours.

If a domain is currently serving live traffic, downtime can be minimized by pre-verifying domain ownership. Domain pre-verification confirms domain ownership by checking for a uniquely generated TXT record before DNS is pointed to WP Engine.

Domains that are not currently serving live traffic do not need to pre-verify. Domain verification will occur automatically without pre-verification. Additionally, a domain that is already pointed to WP Engine does not need to pre-verify if moved to another environment.

VerificationPre-Verification
Required. Occurs automatically after pointing DNS.Optional. Configured prior to pointing DNS.
Recommended for sites not serving live traffic, may increase downtime.Recommended for sites already serving live traffic, to reduce downtime.

Domain Pre-Verification

  1. From the “Domains” page, click Add Domain
    • Enter the domain name
    • Select whether or not to include the common variant (either “www” or “non-www” depending on which was entered previously)
    • Select whether or not to set the domain as Primary in the User Portal
    • Under “Does this domain server live traffic” select Yes
    • Click Add Domain
  2. On the next page, scroll to “Choose verification method” and select Pre-verify
    • IMPORTANT: Do not log in to the domain provider to point DNS automatically, OR point DNS manually yet.
  3. Click Continue
    • You will be returned to the main “Domains” page while the verification details are generated by Cloudflare.
    • This typically only takes a few minutes. You may need to refresh the page.
  4. Expand the domain’s status dropdown
  5. Under “Domain ownership not verified” click Pre-verify domain
  1. Add pre-verification TXT record:
    • If your domain supports Domain Connect, click to log in to your DNS host and add the pre-verification TXT record automatically.
    • If your domain does not support Domain Connect, or to add the record manually:
      • Log in to the DNS provider and add a TXT record with the name and value exactly as shown.
        • Adding a TXT record is only for verification purposes and does NOT affect live traffic.
        • Certain DNS management services may require adding cf-custom-hostnames instead of cf-custom-hostname.yourdomain.com as the name/host.
        • If there is already a TXT record for _cf-custom-hostname, delete it and replace it with the record provided.
        • Example record:
  1. Click OK, I’ve done this to return to main “Domains” page in the WP Engine User Portal
  2. Refresh Status to fetch the updated pre-verification status
    • Expand the domain status dropdown, under “Domain ownership not verified” click Refresh status OR expand the three dot menu icon and select Refresh Status
  1. When domain ownership has been verified:
    • The DNS status will read DNS not pointed (verified) and when the domain status is expanded the “Domain ownership not verified” banner will no longer be displayed.
    • This verification status check typically takes a few minutes. You may need to refresh the page.
  1. After the domain has been verified, it’s time to point DNS.
  2. Expand the domain and click Go to point DNS page

After DNS has been updated, the status shown on the main “Domains” page will be updated automatically. To manually start the fetching process, click Refresh Status in the expanded “Status” dropdown or under the three dot menu icon.

Once DNS has been verified as pointing to the advanced network or Global Edge Security, Cloudflare’s network SSL will enable automatically. In this case, HTTPS will be forced on all pages automatically and no additional SSL needs to be added be added. If additional SSL is needed (like Let’s Encrypt or a third-party certificate) this can be managed on the “SSL” page instead.

Learn more about SSL here.


Primary Domain

The “primary” domain is a WP Engine configuration setting designed to help ensure domain and platform functionality operate as expected. The primary domain should be set to the main domain of the environment that will resolve in the browser once live. In a multisite, this is the main site domain.

The primary domain has many functions, but most significantly it’s used when running the automated database search and replace when copying or restoring a site. Be sure to set the correct primary domain when going live.

  1. Next to the domain that should be made primary, open the 3 dot menu icon
  2. Click Set as Primary

NOTE

A Primary domain cannot be a subdirectory (EX: domain.com/blog). For more information, review this guide.


Domain-level Redirect

A domain-level redirect tells the WP Engine platform to immediately send requests from one domain to another. For example, if your primary domain is mydomain.com then requests to www.mydomain.com should immediately forward. Doing this as a domain-level redirect in the User Portal will ensure the redirect can be performed as quickly as possible. A domain-level redirect will also ensure any 301/302 redirects configured in the User Portal for a domain will function for all domains redirected to it, now and in the future.

  1. Locate the domain name to redirect
  2. Click the 3 dot menu icon to the right
  3. Select Add redirect
  1. From the dropdown, select the domain you’d like to Redirect to
  2. Click Save Changes

You may find that redirecting at the domain level impedes a redirect set elsewhere, causing a broken redirect or a redirect loop. Additionally, if you’re attempting to set a 301 or 302 redirect from the User Portal and cannot select the desired domain from the dropdown, there is like a conflicting domain-level redirect set. In cases such as these, the domain-level redirect would need to be removed or updated to another domain.


Duplicate Domains

To ensure your domain can direct traffic to the intended environment, a domain can only be applied to one environment at a time. The same domain cannot be added to multiple environments across any WP Engine accounts. The following error will be shown if attempting to add a domain that is already associated with another environment.

Validation failed: Name is already in use on different backend. Please choose a unique name.

Delete the domain name from the existing environment before adding it to the desired environment. The search bar at the top of the User Portal can be used to search for the domain across all of the accounts you have access to.

Duplicate Domain Dispute Process

If you do not have access to the environment where the domain is currently applied, you will need to verify ownership of the domain so we can move it on your behalf.

Log in to your DNS host and add the following TXT record:

wpe-verification=yourenvironmentname

Be sure to replace yourenvironmentname above record with the specific name of the environment you’d like the domain added to, or we will not be able to verify the record.

Finally, contact WP Engine Support and we will help verify ownership via this DNS record add it to your User Portal.


Domain Status

Updating a website’s DNS can be overwhelming. With over 130,000 customers hosted on WP Engine, we know the struggles of managing tons of domains. We want to make it easy to understand the status of your domain’s DNS records and if they are properly configured to serve traffic from your WP Engine environment.

The domain SSL, DNS, and Network statuses are displayed in columns next to each domain in the User Portal on the main “Domains” page. 

If a change has been made, the status can be checked by clicking Refresh Status under the three dot menu icon.

Domain Status Descriptions

SSL – Indicates if the SSL has been enabled or not. This column displays the status of both network SSL and domain SSL. Hovering over the status in this column will display SSL issuer and expiration date.

Once DNS has been verified as pointing to the advanced network or Global Edge Security, Cloudflare’s network SSL will enable automatically. In this case, HTTPS will be forced on all pages automatically and no additional SSL needs to be added be added. If additional SSL is needed (like Let’s Encrypt or a third-party certificate) this can be managed on the “SSL” page instead.

Learn more about SSL here.

  • Error
    • There is no SSL certificate, or the domain is not accessible.
  • Expired
    • The SSL certificate has expired.
  • Enabled
    • SSL has been added.

Network – The network this domain uses. Compare network options here.

  • Legacy Network
    • This is the legacy network address. DNS should no longer be pointed to this legacy CNAME, as it will reach end-of-life in the future.
    • The advanced network domain or Global Edge Security (GES) domain should be used when pointing DNS instead.
  • Advanced Network
  • Global Edge Security
    • Global Edge Security is a paid add-on and will be applied at a network level to increase security and performance. If GES is applied to your plan, DNS should be pointed to this network.
    • Learn more about GES here.

DNS – Current domain verification and DNS state at the last check. Use the three-dot actions menu and click “Refresh status” to fetch a more current state.

  • DNS not pointed (not verified)
    • Domain ownership is not verified, and DNS has not been pointed to WP Engine.
    • Domain verification occurs after pointing DNS to WP Engine. Speed this process up by pre-verifying the domain before pointing DNS.
  • DNS not pointed (verified)
  • Pointed
    • DNS has been confirmed pointing to WP Engine.
    • Also displays the detected DNS provider, where DNS is pointed from.

Glossary

We understand DNS and domain management can be confusing and filled with terminology that may not be familiar. We’ve provided some definitions below to commonly used words and phrases on WP Engine to help reduce confusion where possible. Note that these terms are defined in the context of WP Engine and may be slightly different on other hosts. Additionally, examples provided may not be exact, but hope to provide more context and understanding.

Web host – A provider of servers that allow web content to be published to the internet. WP Engine is a managed WordPress host. WP Engine exclusively hosts WordPress websites and actively optimizes our server configuration to provide the most secure, fastest, and best WordPress hosting experience possible. WP Engine is not a DNS host or domain registrar.

DNS – A set of rules to connect a domain and “point” traffic to a website. A and CNAME are the most common types of DNS records that direct traffic to a specific location.

Domain registrar – Where a domain is purchased and “registered” (EX: GoDaddy, Google Domains, Namecheap).

DNS provider/host – Where DNS records are configured. This may be the domain registrar, or some other host (EX: Cloudflare or Sucuri). The DNS provider will always be where the nameservers are pointed to in the domain name registrar’s settings.

IP address – A static set of numbers that identify a specific server. EX: 12.34.56.78 (Similar to the street address of a business.) WP Engine will provide this value.

A record – A type of record that only points to a static IP address. (If a business has only provided a static street address, manual updates are required when the business moves to a new location to ensure packages can still be received.)

CNAME value – A domain name managed by WP Engine to be pointed to when configuring a CNAME record. WP Engine will provide this CNAME value.

CNAME record – A type of record that points to a domain name. Used for subdomains and in some cases, apex domains. On WP Engine, we manage and provide the CNAME value used to point a CNAME record. By pointing with a CNAME, traffic can be directed “flexibly” as the true destination is managed by WP Engine. (Like a P.O. box for a business. If the business moves, mail can still reach the business at the original address.)

Apex domain – The topmost domain name, excluding any prefix. For example: domain.com or wpengine.com. Note that this does not include www.domain.com. Apex domains can be pointed using A records or (with some DNS providers) a CNAME record.

Subdomain – Any prefix of the apex domain. For example, the “www” prefix will create the subdomain www.domain.com and the prefix “blog” will create the subdomain blog.domain.com. It’s recommended to point subdomains using a CNAME record.

Wildcard – A catch-all rule that will encompass all subdomains and direct them to the same location. Denoted with an asterisk. For example: The wildcard *.domain.com includes www.domain.com, blog.domain.com, shop.domain.com, etc.

Live traffic – The domain is already receiving visitors, organic traffic, bots, etc. This is important when migrating because downtime will occur when updating DNS, and traffic should be interrupted as minimally as possible. For example, if you’re migrating a store to WP Engine that is currently receiving orders, this website should be considered “live”. Live traffic may be less important in the case of a static blog, where content is not often updated.

Primary domain – A setting in WP Engine that will prioritize this domain above any other assigned domains. This is especially important for redirects and web rules, to reduce “hops” and total time taken to resolve a page. As well as when copying an environment, as a search and replace is run to accurately update between primary domains.


NEXT STEP: Update your website’s URL in WordPress

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