How and Why verify your site?

Sunday, July 11, 2010 |

Privacy is important to Google, which is why Google Webmaster Tools asks you to prove you own a site before showing you stats and data about it. Verification doesn't affect PageRank or affect your site's performance in Google's search results.

To verify that you own a site, you can either add a meta tag to your home page (proving that you have access to the source files), or upload a specific HTML file to your server (proving that you have access to the server). Webmaster Tools will check to see that the file or tag is present. If it is, Google considers you a site owner and will show you site details.

Q: I'm getting an error when trying to verify my site with an HTML file, even though my file is visible in my browser.
A: Look at the specific error that Webmaster Tools is showing and read the help content for that error.
The Live HTTP Headers Firefox extension or an online HTTP result code viewer such as Web-Sniffer can be helpful in figuring out what status code a page is returning. Your homepage should return a HTTP result code 200. If you use file-based verification, the verification file should also return a HTTP result code 200 and must contain only the content provided by Webmaster Tools.

Q: Does it matter whether my Webmaster Tools verification meta tag is in HTML or XHTML?
A: We'll be able to find your meta tag no matter which format you use. Webmaster Tools provides the meta tag in XHTML by default, but you're welcome to change it to HTML; this won't prevent you from verifying ownership of your site. The meta tag version that you choose does not affect Google's ability to crawl and index your website.

Q: I'm using a hosting service for my site that prevents me from adding meta tags or uploading HTML files. How can I verify my site?
A: Currently the only two options for verifying your site are to use the meta tag or HTML file verification methods. Some hosting services provide their own procedures for verification in Google Webmaster Tools. Check with your provider for more information.

Q: How can I give someone else access to my Webmaster Tools account?
A: Each person that needs to access data for your site should create their own Webmaster Tools account and verify that site in their own account. It's fine for a site to have multiple verification meta tags or HTML files; there should be one meta tag or file per account.

Which method should I use - meta tag or HTML?

If you can't add files to your server (for example, if you create your site using a tool such as Blogger), adding a meta tag is the best way. If you have direct access to your server, you may find it easier and faster to upload an HTML file. If you access Webmaster Tools via a web hoster such as GoDaddy, your site is already verified.

The verification by meta tag shows to some extent if the Google verification bot can parse the content of your home page, so it gives this extra information compared to verification by file upload.
How to verify a site

1. Sign into Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account.
2. Click Verify next to the site you want.
3. In the Choose verification method list, select the verification method that works best for you.
* Add a meta tag - Google will ask you to add a META tag with a unique value to your site's home page.
* Upload an HTML file - Google will ask you to download a file and upload it to a specific location.

Potential errors
Occasionally, you might receive an error when verifying your site. These can occur for a number of reasons:

DNS and server errors and timeouts: These can prevent Google from looking up your domain name. If you get a message that Google couldn't look up your domain name because of an error or a timeout, make sure your domain is resolving correctly and try again. Also, check in case your server is down or overloaded and responding slowly. If your server is repeatedly unreachable, you may wish to contact your hoster for additional help.

HTML file errors: The most common errors happen because the file name is incorrect or the file hasn't been uploaded to the directory listed by the Verify button. Don't modify the HTML verification file in any way - just download it from Webmaster Tools, and upload without changes to your server.

Meta tag errors: Make sure that you've copied and pasted the meta tag to your site's home page - the page your server returns when someone requests your site. Also, make sure that it's in the section of the page, like this:

<TITLE>Your Title</TITLE>

<meta name="google-site-verification" content="String_we_ask_for" />


Try to have as correct (X)HTML mark-up as possible, to help the verification bot parse correctly your home page and find the meta verification tag,

If you wish to check your server access logs when you have a verification error, the Google verification bot identifies itself as "Google-Sitemaps/1.0". For information on verifying subdomains and subdirectories, allowing multiple users and other issues see site verification.

Verifying on Blogger
Blogger has integrated with Webmaster Tools, so verifying your blog is now simpler than ever.

1. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click Add a site.
2. Enter your blog's URL ( and click Continue.

Verifying on Google Sites

Video: Verifying in Google Sites

Once you've verified your site, Google Sites will automatically generate a Sitemap for it, ready for you to submit to Google.

If you are using the "custom URL" feature of Google Sites, the standard approach outlined above will not work. Instead, use the original name of your Google Site (not the custom URL'd name) in Webmaster Tools to generate the meta tag. Paste this meta tag into the Site Settings tab as described above.

Verifying sites on GoDaddy
Verifying a site hosted on GoDaddy is easy.

1. Make sure you have created a Webmaster Tools account for your GoDaddy account.
2. Sign in to your GoDaddy Account Manager.
3. In the My Products section, click Hosting.
4. Click Manage Account next to the hosting account you want to manage.
5. In the Content section, click the Google Webmaster Tools icon. The Google Webmaster Tools page will open.
6. Select the domains you want to verify.
7. Click Verify.

Please note that according to the GoDaddy Help Center: "This functionality is not available for free WebSite Tonight accounts."

More information from GoDaddy

Verifying on Apple iWeb

The easiest way to verify a site created in iWeb is to upload an HTML file to your server.

1. Sign into Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account. If you haven't added your site to your account, do it now.
2. Click Verify next to the site you want.
3. In the Choose verification method list, select Upload an HTML file. Google will ask you to download a file and upload it without changes to a specific directory on your webserver.
4. Move the verification file to your iDisk /Web/Sites/ folder to upload it to your server.
5. Click Verify in your Webmaster Tools account. Google will check your server to see if the file is present. If it finds it, your site will be verified, and you'll have access to all the information in Webmaster Tools.

iWeb FAQ

Verifying on Microsoft Office Live

When you verify a Microsoft Office Live site, you'll need to make a few changes to make sure that the meta tag appears correctly in your HTML. (For more information, check out Solutions for Office Live.)

1. Make sure you've added your site to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
2. Sign into Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account.
3. On the Dashboard, click Verify next to the site you want.
4. In the Choose verification method list, select Add a meta tag.
5. Copy the meta tag that appears on the page and paste it into a text file. It'll look something like this:

<meta name="google-site-verification" content="uEtG4638yYT42PzvFua6iiR1v+iJ2lfnUpZ/cJPdzKM=">

Note: Keep the Webmaster Tools window open.
6. In this step, you'll create a new meta tag using the ID Google provides. Copy the following text and paste it into the same text file:

%22%20%2F%3E%3Cmeta name=%22google-site-verification%22 content=%22
7. Copy the ID from the tag provided by Google, and paste it at the end of the string above. It will look something like this:

%22%20%2F%3E%3Cmeta name=%22google-site-verification%22 content=%22uEtG4638yYT42PzvFua6iiR1v%2BiJ2lfnUpZ/cJPdzKM=

Note: If the tag provided by Google contains "+", you'll need to replace it with %2B.
8. In Office Live, open your site's home page (default.aspx).
9. Open Page Properties and paste the string above into the Keywords box, after any keywords you have already added. The Keywords box does have a size limit, so check to see that the whole tag was pasted correctly.
10. Go back to Webmaster Tools, and click Verify.

Verifying your site on other popular hosting setups
There are many hosting environments that make verification with Webmaster Tools a fairly straight-forward process. These are just some of them:

* WordPress blogs [from]
* Yahoo! Small Business [from]
* Ning [from]
* Weebly [from]
* Yola [from]
* DotNetNuke [from]

Getting more help

* Webmaster Tools Help Center : The official documentation for Google Webmaster Tools
* Webmaster Tools Help Forum: Search there. Chances are, someone's already asked your question. Google employees regularly monitor this forum and answer questions, as do many other webmasters.
* Webmaster Central blog: The latest news, tips, and advice from the Google team.

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