How to Host a Free Site - Part 3

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Part 3 - Domain Hookup

Domain Optional: Skip to the next tutorial to keep using the free GCP appspot url.


Now, lets get personal and buy a domain to hookup to that sweet new site! Ready?!

{Reader performs deep contemplation now to decide what domain name to buy…}

In this part of the tutorial, the following sections will go over the key ingredients that make a custom domain yours and connected to AppEngine over SSL.

Tutorial Steps Outlined:

  • Google Domain Steps
    • Purchase Domain
    • Connect Domain To AppEngine
    • Use AppEngine SSL

Purchase Domain

The minimum fee for a domain name starts at \$12 for the name per year.

Open Google Domains to purchase and manage your domain. Then click on the Get a new domain button/card:

Google Domain Purchase Example Screenshot 1

Next, you will need to search for a unique name. Purchase domain name to your liking by clicking the + shopping cart icon on the row and then clicking the cart icon in the top right menu. Click «CHECK OUT» and complete purchase on next screen by clicking «BUY».

Google Domain Purchase Example Screenshot 2

Verify Domain Ownership

Next, browse to and click «ADD A PROPERTY» if you do not see your domain currently listed.

If you are not currently listed as a verified owner, then click «Verify using a different method».

  • Select «Google Domain» from the list and copy the TXT text and paste it into, under DNS - Custom resource records. Make sure the name is ‘@’: Verify Domain Owner Via DNS

Connect Domain To AppEngine

Click on GCP’s hamburger menu   in the top left   hover over App Engine   click Settings.

Click on the «Custom domains» tab in Settings, and click «Add a custom domain» button. App Engine Custom Domain Setup

  • Choose your domain from the drop-down in Step 1, click «Continue».
  • Step 2 should expand to show your domain mappings for the domain with and without a www prefix.
    • Click «Save mappings».
  • Step 3 should expand and display the DNS records we need to update with the domain registrar.

    • Open Google Domains again and click «DNS» from the left menu.

    • Add the following records (example in next section):

    | Name | Type | TTL | Data | | ——— | —– | — | ——————— | | appengine | CNAME | 1h | | | @ | A | 1h | | | @ | AAAA | 1h | 2001:4860:4802:32::15 | | * | A | 1h | | | * | AAAA | 1h | 2001:4860:4802:34::15 | | www | A | 1h | | | www | AAAA | 1h | 2001:4860:4802:36::15 |

    • Click «Done».
Domain DNS - Custom Resource Records Example:

NOTE: you only need to use one A (ip4) and one AAAA (ip6) record each for the hookup to work.

  1. Use name @ to give access to the root site.
  2. Domain owner verification step from previous section.
  3. Use name * as a wildcard for to give access to sub domains.
  4. Use name appengine with type CNAME to tell app engine it’s cool to use this domain.
  5. Use name www to give access to the www alias specifically. Google Domain DNS - Custom Resource Records

Use AppEngine SSL

Google provides a managed security option to take care of the SSL (Secure Socket Layer is a networking protocol) certificates meaning HTTPS works making the connection secure.

To enable SSL, check the checkbox in the header to select both custom domains and click Enable managed security.

A spinning gif should appear while the request is being processed. Note - this can take up to 24 hours.

To check the status via gcloud, run the following commands in your local terminal window:

# To see a list of certificates IDs for specific project:
gcloud --project=gopher-root app ssl-certificates lists

# Watch the ID move from the PENDING_AUTO_CERT column to SSL_CERTIFICATE_ID column:
gcloud app domain-mappings list

Once successful, the SSL security column should display with text «Google-managed, auto-renewing»: GCP App Engine Settings - Custom Domain

NOTE: If a yellow stays over 24 hours, then you have something not setup correct, go through the steps above again.


Let’s give the new site a try….

The appspot URL and your new custom domain should return the same now.

TADA! Dog Smile Gif

Next Step

Click the «Next» button below to proceed in this tutorial series to «Part 4 - Use Hugo To Create Site».