What’s the best way to verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools?
Written by Jon Henshaw and published
Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) requires that you verify ownership of every site you add to it. If you don’t verify the site, you won’t see any data related to it. Even worse, if you don’t verify your site, Raven won’t be able to display your ranking results!
Luckily, GWT provides five different verification options, two of which are available via its API and are also supported in Raven for your convenience.
- HTML Verification File (available in Raven)
- HTML Tag (available in Raven)
- DNS Text Record
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
There are pros and cons for each verification method. I’m going to discuss each one to help you decide which verification method is best for you.
HTML Verification File
Method: Add an HTML file to the root directory of your site. Simply download the file and upload it to your site.
Pros: Google’s recommended verification method is a simple procedure and is also available in Raven.
Cons: However, it’s not so simple if you don’t have write access to your server. Problems can also occur in the future if someone else with access to the site deletes it (not knowing what the file is) or they forget to copy it when moving the site to a different hosting provider (something that commonly happens with WordPress).
Method: Add meta data to the head section of your home page.
Pros: Another very typical method and also available in Raven. If you have admin access to WordPress, you can install the Header and Footer plugin and enter the code.
Cons: This method also requires that you have write access to your server and that you have a knowledge of HTML. A common problem that occurs with this method is when a site gets redesigned. More often than not, the meta data is left out of the new pages.
DNS TXT Record
Method: My favorite method of verifying a site with GWT is to create a DNS TXT record.
Pros: I like this method because you don’t have to add or change any files on the server (or worry about them being changed). Instead, all you have to do is create a TXT record on your DNS server and forget about it.
Cons: It requires that you have access to your DNS server and know how to add a record to it. Also, depending on the DNS server, it can take up to 24 hours for Google to see the new record.
Method: Match up the domain with a Google Analytics profile associated with your Google Account.
Pros: This is probably the easiest method. Google allows you to verify your site simply by proving you have access to Google Analytics for the same site. This method is great because it doesn’t require you to add, change or create anything.
Cons: The biggest problem with this method is obvious – if you don’t have access to Google Analytics for the site, you’re out of luck.
Google Tag Manager
Method: The last verification method is through the Google Tag Manager.
Pros: Hmm. Well, this is the newest method. That’s cool, maybe?
Cons: It requires that your site already have Tag Manager code added to your pages. If it hasn’t been added, you’ll need write access to your server to add it. Afterwards, you have to go to the Tag Manager and add a container snippet. “What the hell is that?” Exactly.