One of the most popular pages on on SemperPlugins.com is our Google Webmaster Tools Verification page. While our documentation provides a level of detail sufficient for most webmasters to link and verify their WordPress sites to Google Webmaster Tools, it’s a good time to review the process, as Google have added options since our original post.
Google Webmaster Tools (also known as Google Search Console) is an essential service for you to manage your search engine optimization for websites and blogs. This Google service can tell you if Google bots encounter errors accessing content, what keywords are being used to discover your sites and blogs, or if you have duplicate content issues that can affect page rank. Google Search Console is where you submit your site and your sitemap.xml file, so the search giant can efficiently index your content.
To submit a site to be indexed, you must first add your site to Google Webmaster Tools and verify it. Google uses a verification process to ensure it can connect to and crawl websites and blogs. When submitting a site, Google will display several methods to verify. Usually, Google suggests a primary recommendation and a number of alternate methods. We will discuss each method, from the easiest method using All in One SEO Pack’s Google Verification field, to the more complex addition of TXT Records in your DNS zone file.
For this tutorial, we’ve submitted a dormant domain we’ve had lying around: djmuseum.org. Using a live domain best illustrates how to verify a WordPress website with different methods of verification offered by the Google Search Console, including our All in One SEO Pack & Google Search Console verification processes.
First, you must add a property (site) to Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools. To do so, you must be logged into Google Search Console with a valid Google account. If no properties (sites) have previously been added, the Home page will resolve to an introduction page with a URL field where you can add your first property, as shown below. Once you add your first property, the home page displays a list of your properties.
To add a property, you simply type your domain name into the text field provided and click the red “Add Property” button.
Note, if your site appears with a www in front of the domain when you view it in a browser then make sure to include the www in the URL field. If your site appears without the www when you view it in a browser, make sure you do not include www in the URL field.
Upon successfully adding your property, Google Search Console will display a Recommended method to verify your site, as well as four different Alternate methods. The Recommended method shown may be different for each domain you submit. Google Search Console displays whichever Recommended method it chooses.
Google Analytics Method
In our experience, the Google Analytics method works 100% of the time. We conclude this is the easiest method to implement, especially when using All in One SEO Pack plugin.
For this tutorial, we’ll log in to one of our Google Analytics accounts and add a website as a property to our Google Analytics dashboard. Once logged in, we navigate to Admin and then focus on the center Property column. From the drop down selector, we’ll click Create New Property.
Next, we’ll fill in the Property details. We’ll enter our website name (for this exercise, we simply entered: djmuseum.org). Then, we can enter the Website URL. We can also choose an Industry Category and our Reporting Time Zone. We then click the blue “Get Tracking ID” button to obtain our UA (Universal Analytics) number.
Note: If our site is secured with SSL encryption, we can select “https” from the drop down menu.
In our WordPress dashboard, we have All in One SEO Pack plugin installed and activated. We navigate to General Settings and scroll to the Google Settings section. We enter the Tracking ID into the text field (the field shows an example value). Once the UA number is added, tick the box marked Use Universal Analytics and scroll to the bottom of the General Settings page and click Update Options.
All in One SEO Pack has added the required asynchronous tracking code to our site’s HTML inside the <HEAD></HEAD> element. You can see the code by using the View Page Source feature of any modern web browser.
Now, we’ll go back to Google Search Console and click the red Verify button. We should be able to successfully verify, because Google can now connect to our site’s asynchronous tracking code with UA number inserted in All in One SEO Pack.
Success! We can see our site is now verified when Google Search Console displays a “Congratulations” screen, as shown below.
HTML Tag Method
The second easiest method can also be performed with All in One SEO Pack. However, in our experience, the HTML Tag method does not always work or can take up to 24 hours to verify.
For the HTML tag method, Google Search Console provides a string of text in the text field inside a <meta> tag. We will need the string of text between the quotations, but not with the quotation marks themselves. Just copy what’s between the quotes.
In the screenshot above, we can see this code is: IVHoeKDOfM0-cwVeyA1yaNdRQzlk8-TLpxln5q-cI6s.
Note: This string is unique to this site only.
The text field forces us to copy everything contained within and not just the string of text we need. We can use a text editor to edit the string and take only the characters included inside the quotation marks.
In our WordPress dashboard, under All in One SEO, General Settings, scroll down to the Webmaster Verification section. Enter only the string of text without quotation marks into the text field. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and click Update Options.We then toggle back to Google Search Console and click the red Verify button. And, we get the success message our site is now verified. Remember, it can take up to 24 hours for Google to verify a site using this method.
Again, Google Search Console provides a Recommended and Alternate methods to verify your site. We went over two of the easiest methods, which can be completed with All in One SEO Pack. The other methods are a bit more difficult and require some technical knowledge. For this reason we do not recommend these methods unless you have the technical expertise and are comfortable with more complex tools.
Verify using a TXT Record
This method requires basic knowledge of how to access and update a DNS zone file. We’ll need access to our DNS settings manager in our account admin of our domain name service provider (i.e. GoDaddy, NameCheap, Enom, Register.com, Network Solutions, etc) or DNS service provider (i.e. CloudFlare).
We’ve set up a sample account at CloudFlare, a major provider of DNS services, to walk through this process. For the purposes of this tutorial, we assume there is a domain name registered with a domain name service provider and access to the domain’s DNS manager to make the required changes to the zone file. The DNS manager panel should look something like the example CloudFlare DNS zone file manager panel, as shown below.
Once we have accessed our DNS zone file manager, we’ll want to keep it at the ready as a browser tab, so that we can toggle back and forth between the Google Search Console and the DNS manager.
We’ll access our Google Search Console and click into the Recommended method text field (outlined with a red line below).
Note: Remember, Google Search Console may recommend a different method.
With our cursor, we highlight and copy the text string provided inside the text field, as shown below.
We toggle our browser tab back to the DNS zone file manager in order to add a new TXT Record.
Note: Be careful not to change any of the existing records, as we could disrupt traffic to our website, mail server, and other services that require DNS entries.
We’ll click the drop down menu and select TXT.
Once TXT is selected, enter the @ symbol for the Name field. This will populate our domain name in the text field. We’ll see this in the resulting steps.
Click in the Destination field, which in our example shows greyed-out “Click to configure” text (it may not say anything in other DNS managers). In our example, a pop-up box appears, but other DNS zone file managers may simply require pasting into the text field itself.
Insert the text string we copied over from the Google Search Console. Now click the green Save button.
Note: DNS zone file managers from various services may act differently. CloudFlare provides a pop-up box, as shown.
We’ve set the name and destination in our DNS zone file manager. We’ll toggle our browser tab back over to Google Search Console and click the red Verify button at the bottom of the page.
Success! Google Search Console displays the congratulations message.
If Verification Fails
Should verification fail, you will see an error message at the top of the page like the one in the example below. For this tutorial, we changed DNS providers from Sedo, where the domain was parked, to CloudFlare. It can take DNS servers around the globe between 24-48 hours to update a new record or change to an existing record. When we were creating this tutorial, we first encountered the “Verification failed…” notification shown below. If you encounter this message, check to see that your domain is pointing to the correct IP address at your host and that your DNS transfer completed, if you transferred DNS responsibility from your domain name service provider to another service.
HTML File Upload
Another method we could have used to verify our site is HTML File Upload. In order to do this, we need to download the HTML file from Google Search Console to our download folder or desktop.
Once downloaded, we can upload the file to our root web directory where our WordPress files are stored via FTP, SFTP, or using our hosting provider’s cPanel (control panel) upload manager and then click Verify. If we don’t have access to our root web directory using any of these methods, we won’t be able to complete site verification. Consult your webmaster, system administrator, or hosting provider for access.
Google Tag Manager
If we’ve exhausted all of our options, we can certainly try the last alternate method using Google Tag Manager. However, this method needs a “container snipper” and manager rights. Using this method goes beyond the scope of this tutorial, as we have to add the container snippet to our theme files.
To learn more about integrating Google Tag Manager with your website, visit Google Tag Manager Support.
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