People frequently have issues setting up a 3rd party domain with Shopify. The most common error message people get is SSL pending but there are plenty of others, so I thought I’d produce this guide to show you how to troubleshoot and fix them.
If you are having trouble setting up a 3rd party domain for your Shopify store, read on.
What is a 3rd Party Domain
Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by 3rd party domain.
With Shopify you get three basic options when it comes to domain names:
- You can simply go with the free domain Shopify gives all store owners which is ‘yourstorename.myshopify.com’ (very few stores choose this option as it doesn’t look professional)
- You can buy and host your domain name with Shopify
- You can buy and host your own domain name with a 3rd party provider such as; GoDaddy, NameCheap, Google Domains or wherever and ‘point it’ to your Shopify store
No. 3 is what we mean by a 3rd party domain, i.e. where your domain is hosted by someone other than Shopify. It is also the best option.
Why Should I Use a 3rd Party Domain with Shopify
I’ve said above that using a 3rd party to host your domain name, rather than Shopify, is the best option for a number of reasons:
1. If you ever want to move away from Shopify for whatever reason it means you don’t need to transfer your domain name, you just point it to your new servers
2. Most 3rd party providers are cheaper than Shopify both for buying your domain name and annually renewing it
3. Probably the biggest reason, is that Shopify does not provide an email server. This means if you host your domain name with Shopify you will need to find someone else to provide you with an email service. Whereas, most 3rd party providers will provide you with email as part of their service
What is SSL Pending Shopify
When you see the SSL pending message in the domain section of your Shopify Admin it simply means that Shopify has not yet successfully applied an SSL certificate to your store.
SSL is a technology that is applied to all Shopify sites and it provides a secure connection between your store and the person visiting it. It’s what gives your user the padlock symbol in their browser address bar.
The fact it is pending could simply be down to the fact that your domain changes haven’t had time to propagate yet or it could be a strong indication that you have an error with the way you have set up your DNS entries.
OK, so now we’ve covered a bit of background, let’s get into it.
How to Setup a 3rd Party Domain for Shopify
Things to Know
- Your A record should point to Shopify’s IP address 22.214.171.124
- Point the CNAME record with the name www to shops.myshopify.com
- When you make a change to your DNS settings, that change doesn’t take effect instantly. The change takes up to 48hrs, but usually a lot quicker, to spread across all the Nameservers located around the world (a process called ‘propagation’)
How to Fix SSL Pending on Shopify
Follow these Golden Rules
- You can only have ONE A record and it must be the Shopify one above
- You can only have ONE www CNAME record and it must be the shops.myshopify.com one above (you can have multiple CNAME records but only one named www)
The above two Golden Rules are where 99% of people go wrong. Check and double-check your DNS records to make sure you have followed them. If you don’t, YOUR DOMAIN WILL NOT WORK CORRECTLY.
- You cannot use a 3rd Party CDN
If you have previously set up something like Cloudflare, which is a 3rd party CDN, or your domain hosting company provides you with a CDN, then you must switch this off completely.
You do not need a CDN anymore as Shopify provides one for you automatically and trying to use a 3rd party one will put a spanner in the works. If you want to know more about Shopify’s CDN then read this article.
Automatically Connect your Third-Party Domain to Shopify
If your domain name is with; Google Domains, GoDaddy, or 1&1 IONOS then Shopify has made it easy for you because you don’t need to manually edit your DNS settings.
- From your Shopify admin, go to Settings > Domains
- Click Connect existing domain
- Enter your domain,e.g. neuralcandy.com, and then click Next
- Click Connect automatically
- If necessary, log in to your Google Domains, GoDaddy, or 1&1 IONOS account
- Click Connect, and then click Close
Manually Connect your Third-Party Domain to Shopify
If your domain is not with Google Domains, GoDaddy, or 1&1 IONOS then you need to set it up manually to point your domain to Shopify.
- Log On to your domain registrar and find your DNS settings
- Manually add two new records
- Add an A record with an address of 126.96.36.199
- Add a CNAME record www to shops.myshopify.com
- Make sure you do not have any other A records or any other CNAME records with www type
Troubleshooting – How to Check your Domain is Correctly Setup for Shopify
There are a few things to check to make sure your domain is correctly set up for Shopify.
Within the Settings Area of your Shopify Admin
Go to Settings > Domains within Shopify Admin. A correctly set up domain should look like this, where you have a green Connected Status.
Check your A Records
Go to https://www.whatsmydns.net/, enter your domain name (without any prefixes such as https:// or www.), select A (for A record) in the dropdown box, and click the Search button.
This handy little tool checks the status of your DNS changes as they propagate across various nameservers. What you should see is all of them coming back with an IP address of 188.8.131.52.
How Long Does SSL Pending Take on Shopify?
If you contact Shopify support because you have an SSL Pending issue, they will tell you to wait for 48hrs since you made your DNS changes. This is technically correct as DNS changes can take up to 48hrs to propagate across the Internet.
But, in the vast majority of cases if you are still seeing the SSL Pending error message after 2-3 hours of making your DNS change then it is an indicator that something is probably wrong.
The first thing to do is to use the https://www.whatsmydns.net/ website I mentioned above to check the status of your A name records. If none of them are showing the 184.108.40.206 IP address then something is wrong. In which case, you probably haven’t followed my Golden Rules, you naughty person.
If some of the nameservers are showing the correct IP address and you made your DNS change less than 24hrs ago, then you are probably OK and your changes are still propagating.
If it has been more than 24hrs and you have, say, roughly half the nameservers showing the correct IP address (220.127.116.11) and half showing an incorrect IP address then there is a good chance you still have multiple A records setup with your Domain provider in your DNS settings. This means, you’ve guessed it… you need to delete the erroneous one/s.
Other Shopify Domain Problems and Questions
Sometimes my Site is OK when I visit it and Sometimes I see my Old website
This is common and it’s either because your DNS changes haven’t finished propagating yet (so if it’s less than 24-48hrs then you’re probably ok) or you’ve f’d up and you still have multiple A records in your DNS settings.
Do I need to Buy or Install an SSL Certificate for Shopify?
No. Shopify automatically provides all stores with an SSL certificate. You do not need to do anything at either your domain provider’s end or at Shopify’s end. It will just work.
Why is my SSL pending on Shopify?
Usually one of two reasons. Either your DNS changes haven’t had time to propagate yet (48hrs max) or you have incorrectly set up your DNS records.
This Connection is Not Private Shopify Message
If you are seeing a ‘This Connection is Not Private’ message when your try and visit your Shopify site this is basically the same issue as SSL pending, so check through this article to remedy the problem.