IMPORTANT NOTE: This article refers to WP Ultimo version 2.x. If you're using v1, see this article.
One of the most powerful features of a premium network is the ability to offer our clients a chance to attach a top-level domain to their sites. After all, which looks more professional: joesbikeshop.yournetwork.com or joesbikeshop.com? That’s why WP Ultimo offers that feature baked-in, without the need to use third-party plugins.
What’s domain mapping?
As the name suggests, domain mapping is the ability offered by WP Ultimo to take in a request for a custom domain and map that request to the corresponding site in the network with that particular domain attached.
How to setup domain mapping on your WP Ultimo Network
Domain mapping requires some setting up on your part to work. Thankfully, WP Ultimo automates the hard work for you so you can easily meet the requirements.
During WP Ultimo installation, the wizard will automatically copy and install the sunrise.php to the designated folder. The wizard won't allow you to proceed until this step is completed.
This means that once the WP Ultimo installation wizard has completed setting up your network, you can start mapping the custom domain right away.
Note that domain mapping in WP Ultimo is not mandatory. You have an option to use WordPress Multisite native domain mapping function or any other domain mapping solution.
Should you need to disable WP Ultimo domain mapping to give way to other domain mapping solutions, you can disable this feature under WP Ultimo > Settings > Domain Mapping.
Right below this option, you can also see the option Force Admin Redirect. This option allows you to control if your customers will be able to access their admin dashboard both on their custom domain and subdomain or only on one of them.
If you select Force redirect to mapped domain, your customers will only be able to access their admin dashboard on their custom domains.
The option Force redirect to network domain will do exactly the opposite - your customers will only be allowed to access their dashboards on their subdomain, even if trying to sign in on their custom domains.
And the option Allow access to the admin by both mapped domain domain and network domain allows them to access their admin dashboards both on the subdomain and the custom domain.
There are two ways to map a custom domain. The first is by mapping the domain name from your network admin dashboard as the super adminand the second is through the subsite admin dashboard under the account page.
But before you start mapping the custom domain to one of the subsites in your network, you will need to make sure that the DNS settings of the domain name are properly configured.
Making sure the domain DNS settings are properly configured
For a mapping to work, you need to make sure the domain you are planning to map is pointing to your Network’s IP address. Note that you need the Network IP address - the IP address of the domain where WP Ultimo is installed - not the IP address of the custom domain you want to map. To search for the IP address of a specific domain, we suggest going to Site24x7, for example.
To correctly map the domain, you need to add an A RECORD on your DNS configuration pointing to that IP address. DNS management varies greatly between different domain registrars, but there’s plenty of tutorials online covering that if you search for “ Creating A Record on XXXX” where XXXX is your domain registrar (ex.: " Creating A Record on GoDaddy”).
If you find yourself having trouble getting this to work, contact your domain registrar support and they will be able to help you with this part.
If you plan to allow your clients to map their own domains, they will have to do the work on this part themselves. Point them towards their registrar support system if they find themselves unable to create the A Record.
Mapping custom domain name as Super Admin
When you are logged in as super admin on your network, you can easily add and manage custom domain names by going under WP Ultimo > Domains.
Under this page, you can click on the Add Domain button on top and this will bring up a modal window where you can set and fill in the custom domain name, the subsite you wish to apply the custom domain name to, and decide whether you want to set it as the primary domain name or not (note that you can map multiple domain names to one subsite).
After putting all the information in, you can then click the Add Existing Domain button at the bottom.
This will start the process of verifying and fetching the DNS information of the custom domain. You will also see a log at the bottom of the page for you to follow the process it is going through. This process may take a few minutes to complete.
The Stage or the status should change from Checking DNS to Ready if everything is properly set up.
If you click on the domain name, you will be able to see some options inside it. Lets take a quick look at them:
Stage: This is the stage that the domain is at. When you first add the domain, it will probably be on the Checking DNS stage. The process will check for the DNS entries and confirm they are correct. Then, the domain will be put at the Checking SSL stage. WP Ultimo will check if the domain has SSL or not and will categorize your domain as Ready or Ready (without SSL).
Site: The subdomain that is associated with this domain. The mapped domain will show the content of this specific site.
Active: You can toggle this option on or off to activate or deactivate the domain.
Is Primary Domain?: Your customers can have more than one mapped domain for each site. Use this option to select if this is the primary domain for the specific site.
Is Secure?: Even though WP Ultimo checks if the domain has a SSL certificate or not before enabling it, you can manually select to load the domain with or without a SSL certificate. Note that if the website does not have a SSL certificate and you try to force load it with SSL, it may give you errors.
Mapping custom domain name as Subsite user
Subsite administrators can also map custom domain names from their subsite admin dashboard.
First, you need to make sure that you enable this option under the Domain mapping settings. See the screenshot below.
You can also set or configure this option under the Plan level or product options on WP Ultimo > Products.
When any of those options are enabled and a subsite user is allowed to map custom domain names, the subsite user should see a metabox under the Account page called Domains.
The user can click the Add Domain button and it will bring up a modal window with some instructions.
The user can then click Next Step and proceed to add the custom domain name. They can also choose if this will be the primary domain or not.
Click to Add Domain will start the process of verifying and fetching the DNS information of the custom domain.
About Domain Syncing
Domain Syncing is a process where WP Ultimo adds the custom domain name to your hosting account as an add-on domain for the domain mapping to work.
Domain syncing automatically happens if your hosting provider has integration with the WP Ultimo domain mapping feature. Currently, these hosting providers are Runcloud, Closte, WP Engine, Gridpane, WPMU Dev, Cloudways, and Cpanel.
You will need to activate this integration on WP Ultimo settings under the Integration tab.
Note that if your hosting provider is not one of those providers mentioned above, you will need to manually sync or add the domain name to your hosting account.