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My (semi-) new domain, studentischerfilmclub.de, registar whois.com, aquired in august 2023, is not being indexed by google :( Google's URL inspection tool gives the error "Failed: DNS error: Host unknown" under "Page fetch". Apparently this could have to do with my NS records. When I access it from any of my devices from any network, it works just fine.

intodns.com, google's dig both show no NS records, dnschecker.com only found my (correct) NS records (ns1.whois.com, ..., ns4.whois.com) from two out of ~20 locations. whois own web portal shows the NS records to be the default, haven't changed them.

Some context: my server only has a dynamic ipv4 address, as it connected through a residential internet connection. Therefore I currently have a freedns.afraid.org dynamic dns A record, which I can easily update to the current ip from my server by a bash script and a CNAME record at whois.org pointing the public domain to my freedns.afraid.org A record. Might this be an issue?

Using nslookup -type=ns on my own machine I get an authoritative answer with nameserver "ns1.afraid.org". Using nslookup -type=any on my machine I get non-authorative answers with nameservers "ns1.whois.com" ... "ns4.whois.com" and no authorative answer. To me, there seems to be some sort of confusion.

Any help or referral to a different forum would be helpful!

EDIT: added domain name

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  • Have you verified the domain in your Google Search Console account? What does Google say there? Have they crawled the domain? It would be premature to blame NS records knowing if Google has reasons available to you. Dec 15, 2023 at 12:11
  • What is your domain name? We can't check for ourselves without that. Dec 15, 2023 at 12:12
  • @StephenOstermiller I have added the domain, sorry about that and have already checked the Google Search Console. It says it is not indexed. If I request an index, the live test results in the error "Page fetch: Failed: DNS error: Host unknown", the error indicated above. Dec 16, 2023 at 13:38

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From what I can tell, you've attached a CNAME record to your apex (naked) domain studentischerfilmclub.de. Most registrars don't allow this because it breaks standards and causes problems, which it seems like you're running into now. If this is indeed the problem, then I'm quite surprised your registrar's interface let you do this.

For more context on why CNAME should only be used for subdomains, check this ServerFault answer:

CNAME records were originally created to allow multiple names that provide the same resource to be aliased to a single "canonical name" for the resource. With the advent of name based virtual hosting, it has instead become commonplace to use them as a generic form of IP address aliasing. Unfortunately, most people who come from a web hosting background expect CNAME records to indicate equivalence in the DNS, which has never been the intent. The apex contains record types which are clearly not used in the identification of a canonical host resource (NS, SOA), which cannot be aliased without breaking the standard at a fundamental level. (particularly in regards to zone cuts)

Unfortunately, the original DNS standard was written before the standards governing bodies realized that explicit verbiage was necessary to define consistent behavior (RFC 2119). It was necessary to create RFC 2181 to clarify several corner cases due to vague wording, and the updated verbiage makes it clearer that a CNAME cannot be used to achieve apex aliasing without breaking the standard.

From: Why can't a CNAME record be used at the apex (aka root) of a domain?

The typical solution to this is to host your website on a subdomain, typically www. To get this working, you should remove your current apex CNAME record and set up a 301 (permanent) redirect from http(s)://studentischerfilmclub.de to https://www.studentischerfilmclub.de. Then place your CNAME record on www.studentischerfilmclub.de, pointing it to the name you are able to update the A record of easily with your script.

Further ServerFault reading on the benefits of hosting your site on www instead of the naked domain: What’s the point in having “www” in a URL?

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  • This. I did a quick dig studentischerfilmclub.de ns and because of the CNAME it did not return a valid NS record. One thing I don't understand is why, when I do dig @ns4.whois.com studentischerfilmclub.de ns I am getting a CNAME record as well. That really, really needs to be an NS record.
    – davidgo
    Dec 16, 2023 at 22:49
  • A CNAME at the apex overrides all other record types. So when you have a CNAME for @, it also get returned for NS and MX, breaking them. Dec 17, 2023 at 10:50
  • this makes a lot of sense. but now the question is, how to setup the redirect when I don't have any static IPv4 adresses Dec 25, 2023 at 20:05

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