WordPress multisite newbie; trying to understand client domain mapping best practices.

Example: client owns domain foosite.com, registered at GoDaddy.

  • I need to get any/all incarnations to map to client.mymultisite.com
  • I've tried both * and www CNAME pointing to client.mymultisite.com
  • I've tried deleting the A record at GoDaddy.

www.foosite.com works. I cannot get the root foosite.com to work. I really do not want to use an A record that points to my multisite install static IP address -- since if I ever have to move to a new hosting service I will have potentially hundreds of clients I would need to tell to please update their A record for the new IP address.

I thought of using my hosting company DNS instead of GoDaddy, since then I can instantiate a cpanel account there with the sole purpose of doing the redirects, but that seems like a lot of overhead and will also tie me down to the hosting company DNS (similar problem to being tied to the static IP address).

So...given all that, is there a way to have both wildcard subdomain mapping and root TLD mapping via CNAME only? Or is there some other option that would solve this dilemma? I read this blog entry at CloudFlare which seems like it might be a solution - is this "CNAME flattening" idea what I am looking for?

1 Answer 1


The main domain record (foosite.com), unlike whatever.foosite.com cannot be answered as CNAME, only A or AAAA. If I remember it properly, it is by RFC.

Solution: e.g. amazon has tricky way. The key here is not 'the main record cannot have cname record' but 'the main record cannot be answered as cname record'. They made their own record type - alias.

The difference between cname and alias is that when a dns client queries a site with cname - it receives a reference to another domain and have to resolve it too, whilst for alias record the dns server itself resolves the result and returns the IP - as it should be by RFC.

TL;DR Use Route53 at amazon or something like that.

  • Thanks - that looks like a great solution. I think the CloudFlare solution will also do it, so now I have two different things to check into.
    – C C
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 12:05
  • Yep, CloudFlare is great in this role too.
    – Putnik
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:56
  • 1
    That solution was not "invented" by Amazon ;) These days there are several DNS hosting companies providing that feature devcenter.heroku.com/articles/… Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 10:02
  • " If I remember it properly, it is by RFC." RFC1034 and 1035 define CNAME and indeed it can not coexist with any other record for obvious reasons. "whilst for alias record the dns server itself resolves the result and returns the IP - as it should be by RFC." There is today no "ALIAS" standardized, so no RFC about it, each provider does its own local proprietary solution. There are works to do a standard at some point. Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 22:33

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