Going Live with a Domain on WP Engine

The phrase “Going Live” means updating your site so it loads over your own custom domain, instead of the temporary domain, like environment.wpengine.com. Once your site is “Live” someone can type in your new domain and be directed to your site on WP Engine.


Before Going Live

Going live allows visitors to view your website on a custom domain. It also allows bots to begin crawling your site so you can receive traffic from search engines and build SEO. For these reasons, we recommend that you-

  • Ensure your website is complete and ready to be used by visitors. The temporary domain environmentname.wpengine.com should already show all the content you expect it to after going live on your new domain.
  • Test any vital pages on your website that should be working prior to going live on your domain, such as login and checkout.
  • If you migrated a website and have an existing SSL, import your SSL so it can be used immediately once live. (This option is not available for Startup plans, a free SSL can be ordered after pointing DNS.)

Add Domain in User Portal

The new domain must be added to the User Portal on the environment that it will direct traffic to. If the domain is not added in the User Portal your visitors could receive a 404 error when visiting the domain, so start here when you’re ready to go live.

  1. Log in to the User Portal
  2. Click on the environment name
  3. Select Domains
  4. Click Add Domain
  5. Select one of the following options according to your situation, and then click Next
    • I’ve purchased this domain.
      • This option will walk you through configuring DNS for the domain on the next page.
    • I haven’t purchased this domain.
      • This option will show recommended domain registrars, where you can purchase the domain name. Your domain will not begin to fully work until you have pointed DNS to WP Engine and updated the URL in WordPress.

Click to learn more about the “Domain” page in our extended guide.

Domain Connect

If the next screen shows your DNS host’s name (EX: GoDaddy) and requests you log in to their system, this means that your domain provider supports Domain Connect. Domain Connect allows us to point DNS, update your domain within WordPress and even order an SSL, so you won’t need to perform the other steps in this guide. View to the Domain Connect walkthrough for more information.

If the next screen tells you to configure DNS manually, or if you prefer to finish going live with manual steps, refer to the rest of this guide detailed below.


Update WordPress URL Settings

Updating your URL settings in WordPress tells the website which domain it should display in the browser. This can also have an effect on the URL generated for some assets, like images.

After completing this change you will be logged out of the website and you will not be able to access it again until you point DNS in the next step.

NOTE: If you have a multisite you will need to follow separate steps to update the WordPress URL.

  1. Log in to your website’s /wp-admin dashboard
  2. Open Settings
  3. Click General
  4. Update two values to your new domain:
    1. WordPress Address (URL)
    2. Site Address (URL)

NOTE: If the fields on this page are greyed out (uneditable) you will need to open your wp-config.php file using SFTP or SSH Gateway and delete the following lines:

  1. define( ‘WP_HOME’, ‘https://somedomain.com’ );
  2. define( ‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘https://somedomain.com’ );

Database Method

If you cannot access the wp-admin area of your site, the WordPress URL can be updated in the database as well. This may also be useful if you misspelled or otherwise entered the domain incorrectly previously.

  1. Log in to the User Portal
  2. Click on the environment name
  3. Click phpMyAdmin
  4. Expand the wp_environmentname database
  5. Expand the wp_options table
  6. Update two option values to your new domain
    1. siteurl
    2. Home

Point DNS

Pointing DNS tells the domain which server to send traffic to when a domain is requested by a visitor. This process can vary by DNS host, so check out our complete guide for configuring DNS. In general, the steps are:

  1. Log in to your DNS host
  2. Locate the area to manage DNS records
  3. Change the A or CNAME records to your WP Engine’s values

DNS can take several hours to update and all propagation times are different. If you have questions about how long DNS will take to propagate, contact your DNS host directly.

If you are not ready to point your DNS to WP Engine, you can still preview your site at the new domain. To do this, you will need to use the Hosts File Trick. This makes your computer “think” DNS points to WP Engine, without actually changing DNS at your host and without impacting any live traffic.

After Going Live

After you’ve completed the steps above your website has been taken live and should be accessible at your domain name of choice. We recommend the following steps be done in addition to help ensure peak security and performance:

  • Set the Primary Domain and add your domain redirects in the User Portal.
  • Add an SSL to your site to ensure pages can be served securely over HTTPS.
  • Make sure all vital pages work as expected.
    • If you run an eCommerce site, for example, perform a test purchase.
  • Enable CDN services to globally disperse large media assets.

Common Issues

Redirect loop or login issues

Some links are set to environment.wpengine.com

  • Run a search and replace to your new domain using a plugin.
    • EX: Search for http://coolsite.wpengine.com replace with https://mynewdomain.com
  • Be sure to purge server caches.

Site shows insecure or some assets are not loading

404 Errors

Is the 404 error bright blue or turquoise?

Is the 404 page grey, black or a default browser 404 page?

For more help troubleshooting 404 errors, see our 404 guide.

Domain Redirecting to “wp-signup.php”

Your multisite domain references were not set properly in WordPress. Review these WordPress multisite domain locations.


NEXT STEP: Test your site’s performance

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