What's the best way to verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools?

SEO

What’s the best way to verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools?

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.

  1. HTML Verification File (available in Raven)
  2. HTML Tag (available in Raven)
  3. DNS Text Record
  4. Google Analytics
  5. 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).

HTML Tag

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.

Google Analytics

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.

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Jon is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO) for Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

More about Jon Henshaw | @RavenJon

Tell us what you think

  • Ross Gerring

    Yes, that’s my understanding and experience too, so thanks for comparing notes.That said, we’re also re-reviewing Google Tag Manager in terms of the probably way forward for attempting to unify/simplify all this… although best practice suggests that it’s supposed to be the site owner who creates the GTM account and then creates user accounts for web agencies like us, rather than the other way around. This could be challenging (time consuming) to get all our clients to assist with this.

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    In my experience, if the verification method is removed, the site may once again become unverified with your Google Account. That’s why the DNS TXT method is my favorite, because it doesn’t have to be hosted and it’s rarely ever modified.

  • Ross Gerring

    Are these verification methods one-off, or persistent? By that I mean, if you successfully verify a webmaster account using, say, the DNS TXT method, but then later the TXT record gets removed for whatever reason, does that webmaster account switch to being unverified? Perhaps some verification methods do need to remain in place, but others don’t? Thx.

  • Fredric Lundgren

    Haven’t used it much, but if you’re working with a daughter or sister company where the analytics admin is with another entity or 1000 other reasons then tag manager can be easier to use, and I also have this notion that in the long run it will be the way to go since it cleans up the code on the site somewhat and makes it very much easier for users to clean out scripts that aren’t being used.

  • RavenCourtney

    What are the best pros for Tag Manager, Fredric? Easier?

  • Fredric Lundgren

    I normally just do it using Analytics, but the tag manager is a great option too.