What exactly is a domain name?
A domain name is the unique, virtual address of a website, e.g. www.example.com.
Can I use my own domain name?
Yes. You can replace the temporary domain that was automatically assigned when you first created your site simply by adding a custom domain at any time. See full instructions for adding your own domain name here.
Those instructions mention DNS Propagation. What is DNS Propagation?
DNS Propagation is the amount of time it takes for DNS changes to be updated around the world, across the internet. DNS stands for Domain Name System. DNS is like an address book for the Internet. It is like a directory of names (domain names) matched up with their addresses (IP addresses), which lets users navigate websites via human-readable names rather than having to remember an IP address for every website. The directory is shared and stored among DNS servers around the world to split up the load. These DNS servers periodically check for updates and these updates take time to propagate across the world. Once you’ve added your custom domain, you’ll need to wait a short period of time for all the world’s DNS servers to know about the change.
How long does it take for DNS to propagate and why does it sometimes take so long?
A change to a DNS record can take up to 72 hours to propagate worldwide although it typically takes only a few hours.
DNS servers across the world periodically check for any changes to the DNS records. If you change your DNS records, it takes time for those changes to be checked and noted by each DNS server around the globe.
In addition, every DNS record has a Time to Live (TTL) value, which is the amount of time that DNS servers should store that record in their cache. So even when you change a record, DNS servers will continue working with its formal value from cache until this time has passed. If your registrar allows this, you can set your record’s TTL value to a low number, which will help speed up the process.
Regardless of the TTL value, each server has its own schedule and some take longer than others to update their records. Until they update, they will continue to use the old records that they have cached. This means that if you’ve pointed a domain name to a new IP address, for example, then for a period of time, some places will be seeing your old site (using your old DNS records), and some places will be seeing your new site.
How can I check to see if my site has propagated around the world?
There are several free online tools that make it easy to see if your site is propagating around the world. DNS Checker is one such tool Enter your domain name (e.g. example.com) into the DNS Checker and click Search. Servers across the world will check to see which IP address is serving your domain at that moment. If a server lists your new IP address (from your Elementor Cloud account), then you know that your DNS changes have propagated to that server and users in that area will likely be seeing your new site. This is a quick spot check to see how quickly propagation takes place across the world, but of course, it is only representative of a few DNS servers.
Should I use example.com or www.example.com?
There isn’t one right answer for this question. The best answer is to choose one as your canonical address, and redirect the other to it, so you avoid confusing search engines that may think they are two separate sites with different content. If you plan to use a CDN, you may need to use the www version as it is often required. Some CDNs, such as Cloudflare, now have workarounds that allow you to use a non-www URL, but not all do. In general, a example.com is easier and less cumbersome to share with users, but the www version does have some advantages, such as the ability to use CNAME records which propagates DNS changes more quickly than A records, and the ability to set cookies specifically for that subdomain. If none of this makes any sense to you, and you don’t plan to use a CDN, then just go with whichever you prefer. There is no difference in terms of SEO, as long as one redirects to the other. Choose one and stick with it. If you’d like to read a more in-depth discussion about this, click here.