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Setting a domain

Setting a domain

Setting your domain is one of the first steps to improving your practice’s online discoverability. In today’s virtual world, your domain is how potential clients will find you online, so it’s best to select a domain that identifies your practice.

You can customize the domain for the Client Portal and the Professional Website using our readily available Default Domain, or you can choose to connect a Custom Domain hosted by a third-party domain provider. 

Note: The Professional Website and Custom Domains are only available in the Professional Plan of SimplePractice.


Setting a Default Domain

The Default Domain included in your SimplePractice account allows you to customize a portion of the URL used for accessing your Client Portal and your Professional Website. You may choose to include your name, your practice’s name, or whatever else you’d like to use to identify your business. We recommend keeping the domain as short as possible to maintain easy access for your clients.

Tip: If you’re looking for more customization beyond the free text field that’s included in the Default Domain, you may want to establish a custom domain with a third party domain provider. See Setting a Custom Domain to learn more. 

To customize the Default Domain, start by going to My Account > Settings > Domains.

  • Under Domains, if you haven't already locked the domain, you can easily customize it by clicking in the text field.

domain.simplepractice.domains.jpg

  • After you’ve finalized your default domain, you will want to lock it. As long as the URL you’ve entered is available, you can click Save & Lock to update your default domain.

Important: Saving and locking the default domain cannot be undone from your SimplePractice account. This is designed to prevent clients from losing access to your website by attempting to reach an outdated domain.

Once you've locked your default domain, click View Link to see the client’s perspective when landing on your site, or you can click the copy icon to copy the link if you’d like to share it elsewhere.


Setting a Custom Domain

Setting up and connecting a Custom Domain is a great step toward building your practice’s online presence. Your domain is an extension of your brand, how people will find you online, and the first impression for potential leads landing on your site.

Here, we’ll walk through the process of purchasing a custom domain from a third party domain provider and connecting a custom domain to your SimplePractice account.


Purchasing a Custom Domain

There are various domain providers to choose from when purchasing a custom domain - in this guide, we’ll walk through the steps for GoDaddy, one of the most popular providers used by our customers. If you’re looking at other options, or if you already own a custom domain through a different provider, you’ll just need to make sure they offer full DNS access

Tip: If you already have an actively registered custom domain with full DNS access, you can jump ahead to our steps for Connecting a Custom Domain.

Important: Certain domain providers, such as SquareSpace, Hover, and TherapySites may offer full DNS access when a custom domain is used for a website hosted by their own site, but offer restricted access when the website is hosted by a different website provider. If this is the case, you'll need to transfer your custom domain to a different domain provider in order for the connection to be set up properly with the Professional Website by SimplePractice.


Purchasing a Custom Domain from GoDaddy

  • Go to GoDaddy.com and click find your domain
  • Use the search bar to find an available domain name that suits your practice
  • Click Add to cart and follow the onscreen prompts to purchase the domain name. You can choose the basic package without adding on any of the additional features that are offered by GoDaddy

Connecting a Custom Domain

Now that you’ve purchased a custom domain through a third party provider, you can follow the steps below to connect it to your SimplePractice account as your Custom Domain

Important: To follow this guide, you should already have an actively registered domain with full DNS access through a third-party provider, such as GoDaddy. If you already have an existing domain provider that does not offer full DNS access, you’ll need to transfer the domain to a new provider before you can connect it to your SimplePractice account.

We’ve outlined the specific connection steps for connecting domains hosted by GoDaddy and Google Domains but the same setup requirements will apply for other providers. If you have any specific questions about connecting a custom domain from a different third party domain provider, you may need to work with your domain provider’s support team so they can help you to navigate their platform.

Please note that after these steps are complete, it will take some time for the new connection to process. This will typically take 24 hours but, in some instances, may take up to 72 hours. Please keep this timing in mind when planning your target go-live date for linking your custom domain to your Professional Website.


Connecting a Custom Domain hosted by GoDaddy

  • Go to your My Products page in GoDaddy.
  • Scroll down to All Products and Services and locate the Domains section. Next to the domain you want to connect for your domain, click DNS

mceclip0.png

Note: Your options may look slightly different depending on your GoDaddy account settings. 

  • Review the table in the Records section to check if you already have a listing where the Type column says CNAME and the Name column says www. If so, click the Edit icon on the right.

www_.SimplePractice.CNAMErecord.png

  • Edit the Points to field to list "website.simplepractice.com" and click Save.

pointsto.simplepractice.website.com.png

Note: At this point your clients will only able to be access your site if they enter www before your domain name in their URL bar (e.g., www.example.com). Follow the steps below to enable “naked” domains for your website, which will allow clients to enter in just the domain name and ending (ex. example.com). 

  • Scroll down to the Forwarding section and next to Domain, click Add.

Forwarding.simplepractice.add.png

  • Add the following information:
    • From the dropdown under Forward to, choose https:// 
      • Note: This differs from the default option of http://, make sure your selection lists https://
    • In the field on the right, enter your custom domain, including the www at the beginning (e.g., www.example.com).
    • Make sure the following options are checked:
      • Permanent (301)
      • Forward only

Forwarding.simplepractice.customized.png

  • Click Save.

If you do not already have a CNAME record in the list with the Name value of www, follow these steps:

  • Click Add at the bottom of the Records list.

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  • From the Type dropdown, choose CNAME.

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  • Add the following information:

_AddCNAME.SimplePractice.HostPointsTo.png

  • Click Save to add this record.

Note: At this point your clients will only able to be access your site if they enter www before your domain name in their URL bar (e.g., www.example.com). Follow the steps below to enable “naked” domains for your website, which will allow clients to enter in just the domain name and ending (ex. example.com). 

  • Scroll down to the Forwarding section and next to Domain, click Add.

Forwarding.simplepractice.add.png

  • Add the following information:
    • From the dropdown under Forward to, choose https://.
    • In the field on the right, enter your custom domain, including the www (e.g., www.example.com).
    • Make sure the following options are checked:
      • Permanent (301)
      • Forward only

Forwarding.simplepractice.customized.png

  • Click Save.
  • Return to your SimplePractice account.
    • Navigate to My Account > Settings > Domains.
    • In the field at the bottom, enter your full custom domain name including the “www.” at the beginning.
    • Click Connect Domain.

connectdomain.simplepractice.domains.jpg

Note: Until the connection processes and is linked successfully, you’ll see the status indicated as Pending. We’ll notify you by email if the connection is successful, or if there are any other steps you’ll need to take in order for it to be set up properly.


Connecting a Custom Domain hosted by Google

GoogleMyDomains.SimplePractice.ManageCustomDomains.png

Note: Your options may look slightly different depending on your Google account settings. 

  • In the menu on the left, choose DNS.

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Note: Your options may look slightly different depending on your Google account settings.

  • Scroll down until you get to the Custom resource records section.

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  • In the fields at the top, add the following information:

@

Dropdown

1H

Domain Name

www

CNAME

1H

website.simplepractice.com

 

CustomresourcerecordsAdd.SimplePractice.CustomDomain.png

  • Click Add.
  • In the Synthetic records section above, add the following information:
    • Subdomain: @
    • Destination: Your custom domain with www in front of it (ex: www.example.com).
      • Then check the following options:
        • Permanent redirect (301)
        • Forward path
        • Enable SSL

NakedDomainForwarding.SimplePractice.SyntheticRecordsGoogle.png

  • Click Add.

Return to your SimplePractice account.

  • Navigate to My Account > Settings > Domains.
  • In the field at the bottom, enter your full custom domain name including the “www.” at the beginning.
  • Click Connect Domain.

connectdomain.simplepractice.domains.jpg

Note: Until the connection processes and is linked successfully, you’ll see the status indicated as Pending. We’ll notify you by email if the connection is successful, or if there are any other steps you’ll need to take in order for it to be set up properly.


Connecting a Custom Domain hosted by other domain providers

There are many different domain providers available for you to choose from and we cannot provide specific directions for all of them. We do not directly endorse GoDaddy or Google Domains but these are two of the most common domain providers that are effective for connecting to your SimplePractice Professional Website.

If you already have a subscription with a different third party domain provider, you may follow these general steps for connecting the domain with the SimplePractice Professional Website. If you need additional assistance beyond the steps provided here, we recommend that you contact your domain provider’s support team directly so they can help you navigate their platform when managing your DNS settings.

Important: Domains purchased through SquarespaceHover, and Therapy Sites are designed specifically for use with websites created through their own website builder. This means that they have limited capability if connected to your SimplePractice Professional Website and do not allow naked domains to be set up. This means that clients and leads would always need to type "www." before the start of your custom domain in order to successfully reach your website. To avoid this, we recommend transferring your custom domain to be hosted by a different domain provider such as GoDaddy or Google Domains which both support this functionality. If you need assistance transferring your custom domain, you'll need to contact support through the domain provider specifically, as our team cannot assist with these transfers.

  • Log in to your domain provider’s account and locate the domain you want to connect to SimplePractice.
  • In the domain’s settings, locate a settings area where you can manage your DNS.
  • You should see a table that looks similar to the ones below (from GoDaddy and Google).

GeneralRecords.SimplePractice.CustomDomain.png

GeneralCustomResourceRecords.SimplePractice.CustomDomain.png

  • Check the list of records to see if there is a record with the following properties:
    • Type: CNAME
    • Name: www
  • If there is, edit the record so it includes the following information. Please note the fields might have different names or be in a different order, depending on the domain provider.

Name

Type

TTL

Domain/Data

www

CNAME

1H

website.simplepractice.com

  • If there isn’t a record like that, find a button where you can add a new record and add a record with the following information. Please note the fields might have different names or be in a different order, depending on the domain provider.

Name

Type

TTL

Domain/Data

www

CNAME

1H

website.simplepractice.com

Important: If you're working with a representative through your domain provider, they may suggest that you add an record rather than a CNAME record. These have different functions and in order to successfully connect to the domain to your SimplePractice Professional Website, you'll want to make sure to use the CNAME record type.

At this point your clients will only able to be access your site if they enter www before your domain name in their URL bar (e.g., www.example.com).

We recommend reaching out to your domain provider’s support team and asking how to enable “naked” domains, which allow clients to enter in just the domain name and ending (ex. example.com, instead of requiring that they enter the full website as www.example.com). You can follow the general steps for this process below:

  • Scroll down until you get to the Custom resource records section.

GeneralCustomresourcerecordssection.SimplePractice.CustomDomain.png

  • In the fields at the top, add the following information:

@

Dropdown

1H

Domain Name

www

CNAME

1H

website.simplepractice.com

CustomresourcerecordsAdd.SimplePractice.CustomDomain.png

  • Click Add.
  • In the Synthetic records section above, add the following information:
    • Destination: Your custom domain with www in front of it (ex: www.example.com).
    • Then check the following options:
      • Permanent redirect (301)
      • Forward path
      • Enable SSL

NakedDomainForwarding.SimplePractice.SyntheticRecordsGoogle.png

  • Click Add.
  • Return to your SimplePractice account.

    • Navigate to My Account > Settings > Domains

    • In the field at the bottom, enter your full custom domain name including the “www.” at the beginning
    • Click Connect Domain.

connectdomain.simplepractice.domains.jpg

Note: Until the connection processes and is linked successfully, you’ll see the status indicated as Pending. We’ll notify you by email if the connection is successful, or if there are any other steps you’ll need to take in order for it to be set up properly.


Active Domains

After your Custom Domain has been linked to your SimplePractice account, it must remain actively registered with your domain provider for the entirety of the time that you’d like to use it for your Professional Website and/or Client Portal. If your subscription with your domain provider expires, this will cause the link to become disconnected from your website.

  • If a custom domain is successfully connected, both the custom domain and the built-in domain will work 
  • If a custom domain has not been connected, only the built-in domain will work 

Understanding the status of your Custom Domain

Failed - Failed means the Custom Domain failed to connect, indicating that something was entered incorrectly in the DNS settings through your domain provider. You'll see one of the following explanations:
  • “A CNAME record could not be found. Follow the instructions again to add this record”
  • The CNAME record points to {url}, but should point to "website.simplepractice.com"
  • Your custom domain {custom_url} could not be found. Please confirm that you followed the instructions and entered the correct domain.” (solution: double-check to make sure they entered the right domain)
    • Next steps: Double check that you've entered your custom domain correctly in your Domains settings within your SimplePractice account. You will need to enter the full domain including the "www." at the beginning and the appropriate ending based on which custom domain you own the rights to
Disconnected - This status means something was changed such that the URL no longer works.
  • Next steps: Log into your domain manager account and double check that the DNS settings are still correct and that you still own the rights to the custom domain.

FAQs


What is the IP address for SimplePractice? My domain provider says I need to add an A record type.

If you contacted your domain provider for support with connecting your custom domain to SimplePractice, they may ask for an IP address to set up an A record type. This will not be necessary.

Instead, you will need to set up a CNAME record type to connect your custom domain, and then you will want to set up naked domain forwarding. If your domain provider does not offer this functionality, we recommend transferring your custom domain to another provider, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains which both offer this setup. 

If using GoDaddy or Google Domains as your domain provider, you may follow the steps exactly as outlined in the previous sections of this guide.


What are naked domains?

If you're setting up a custom domain for your Professional Website, you want your clients and potential leads to be able to easily find your site. Setting up naked domain forwarding is a great way to make sure your website is easily accessible.

Having a "naked domain" means that, if someone excludes the "www" when entering your domain in their browser, they'll still be able to reach your website. For example, you can either enter "simplepractice.com" or "www.simplepractice.com" and both will route you to the same landing page due to naked domain forwarding. In this case, "simplepractice.com" is the "naked" version of the domain. 

As long as your domain provider offers this functionality when a custom domain is connected via a CNAME record, you can work with a representative from your domain provider to set this up, using the steps outlined in this guide as a reference.

Important:  If your domain provider states that an A record type will be required to enable naked domain forwarding, you may need to transfer your custom domain to another provider, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains, which both offer this setup with a CNAME record type. 


Why does SimplePractice use a CNAME record type instead of an A record type?

First, it's important to understand the difference between a CNAME record type and an A record type. 

  • CNAME records, or "Canonical Name" records, work by establishing your custom domain as an alias for a specific domain or URL. This allows your custom domain to be linked without needing to be defined by a specific IP address.
  • A records, or "Address" records, simply point a domain to a specific IP address to establish the connection. 

Both options work for connecting a custom domain to a website but, because an IP address is inherently associated with a specific device, this means that there's less flexibility for updates and enhancements to be made without affecting the connection of the custom domain.

At SimplePractice, we are continually building and releasing new features to optimize our platform for our customers which is why we decided to use the CNAME record type for connecting custom domains to the Professional Website.

With a CNAME record type, naked domain forwarding can then be set up so that the website can be reached without needing to always enter "www" at the start of the domain.

Important:  If your domain provider states that an A record type will be required to enable naked domain forwarding, you may need to transfer your custom domain to another provider, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains, which both offer this setup with a CNAME record type. 


Why do I see a message stating that my connection is not private when accessing my Professional Website?

When custom domains hosted by certain domain providers are accessed by entering "https://" before the "naked" version of the domain, e.g., "https://example.com", a message stating "your connection is not private" may appear.

To avoid this message from appearing, you can instruct your clients to either enter the domain including the "www." at the beginning, or to omit the "https://" from the domain when searching for your website in their browser.


How do I disconnect a Custom Domain from the Professional Website?

If you successfully connected a custom domain as the domain for your SimplePractice Professional Website and later decide that you would like to disconnect the custom domain and use a different website provider, you can do so at any time.

To disconnect a custom domain from your SimplePractice account:

  • Go to My Account > Settings > Domains
  • Under Custom Domains, slide the toggle to the off position to disable the connection
  • Next, you can work with a representative from your domain provider's support team to remove the custom CNAME record type and the naked domain forwarding from your DNS settings.
    • Please keep in mind that, because these settings are managed by a third party, this is a process that SimplePractice cannot assist with.

This will make your custom domain available again so that you can connect it to a website hosted by a different website builder.

Note: Once the custom domain is disconnected from SimplePractice, your Professional Website and Client Portal will be accessed using the default domain included in your SimplePractice account. It will be important to tell your clients that your Professional Website and Client Portal domain has changed.

If you choose to reconnect at a later date, you can follow the instructions in this guide to connect the custom domain again.


If I leave SimplePractice can I take my domain with me?

If you choose to leave SimplePractice, or decide to use a different website provider, you can disconnect your custom domain from your account so that it can be connected to a different website.
However, if the domain for your Professional Website is set up using the default domain provided by SimplePractice, this URL will not be available to set up with a different website builder. In this case, you will want to purchase a custom domain to connect to your website builder, or use the default domain that is provided by the website builder you choose to use. 
If the domain for your website is changing, it will be important to make sure that you relay the address change to your clients and potential leads.


Can I transfer my Custom Domain to be hosted by SimplePractice?

SimplePractice is now compatible for custom domains to be used as the domain for the Professional Website, but SimplePractice is not a domain provider itself. Transferring a custom domain to be hosted by SimplePractice is not possible.

If you'd like to connect a custom domain to your Professional Website, it will need to remain actively registered through a third party domain provider.

There are many domain providers that you can choose from as long as they offer full DNS access and naked domain forwarding. If your existing domain provider does not offer this functionality for websites hosted by third parties, you'll need to transfer your domain to a domain provider that does. We recommend using Google Domains or GoDaddy as two reputable options that work well when connected to the Professional Website.
If you need assistance with transferring a custom domain to a new domain provider, you'll want to reach out to the support teams from your old domain provider and the new domain provider for step by step assistance with this process. Please keep in mind that, because this is managed through third parties outside of SimplePractice, this is a process that SimplePractice cannot assist with.

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