Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Verifying Ownership Of Your Site To Google Webmaster Tools

As a web master (blog master), besides adding posts and enhancing the template, you have a third activity which is almost as time consuming. You will be constantly connecting your web site (blog) to other web sites and blogs. In many cases, you'll simply send the owners of the other web site (blog) a request to link to your blog.

For links to some web sites, you'll not use email, you'll use an online wizard. To prove ownership of your web site, instead of sending email, you'll add a file of specific name, or maybe specific content, into the web site. You can't add a file to your blog, though, with blogs you have no control over files and folders - all that you do is publish posts.

One of the most important web sites that you can add your blog to is Google Webmaster Tools, which provides you the web site (blog) owner the ability to monitor and tune the relationship between your web site (blog) and the Google Search Engine.

Note that some time ago, Blogger added a quick, universal verification of your blogs. At the bottom of your dashboard, under "Tools and Resources", you'll find a link "Webmaster Tools". This appears to generate a file known as the "WMX Verification File".

Right now, there are some odd circumstances which may be a result of using that link. For right now, I would only verify my blogs, one at a time, adding a meta record - as shown below.

When you verify ownership of your web site to GWT, you add a file of specific name and content, to the root. When you add your blog, you can't do that, so you add a record of specific content - a meta record - to the template. Note that the automated process which reads the blog header, and verifies your ownership, appears to be sensitive to private blog settings.

This meta record, which provides your verification of ownership to Google Webmaster Tools, may be the most important single line of code in the template. Add this with care.
  1. Sign in to your Google account.
  2. You start from Google Webmaster Tools - Dashboard.
  3. In the Click here to add a site box, enter the URL to your blog, and then hit Add Site. Make this entry identical to the URL to which the blog is published. Use the following examples, substituting appropriately your value for "myblog", "mydomain", "xxxxx", and "zzz".
    • If the blog is published to "myblog.blogspot.com", enter it as "myblog.blogspot.com".
    • The blog will never be published to "www.myblog.blogspot.com", so do not enter it as "www.myblog.blogspot.com".
    • If the blog is published to "mydomain.zzz", enter it as "mydomain.zzz".
    • If the blog is published to "www.mydomain.zzz", enter it as "www.mydomain.zzz".
    • If the blog is published to "xxxxx.mydomain.zzz", enter it as "xxxxx.mydomain.zzz".
    If you rename the blog, either changing the BlogSpot URL or republishing to a Custom Domain, remember to repeat this exercise with the updated URL.
  4. This will take you to Overview.
    Next Step
    Verify your site. By verifying your site you can access comprehensive statistics and crawl errors about the pages in your site
  5. Click the link for "Verify your site".
  6. This will take you to Verify a Site.
  7. In the Choose verification method... pull down list, select Add a meta tag.
  8. This will generate your site verification meta tag. Highlight and Copy the text from the box.
  9. In a separate window, edit the template for your blog. Add into the template, in the heading section, your site verification meta tag, that's provided by the GWT wizard. After you add the meta tag, you should have something like:
    <head>
        <b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>
        <title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>
        <meta name="description" content="......."></meta>
        <meta name="keywords" content="......."></meta>
        <meta name="verify-v1" content="......."></meta>
    
        <b:skin><![CDATA[/*
    

    Note that some detail was removed from the above example, and that the above example shows template code for designer and layout templates.

    You might want to observe the different ways to format a meta tag, including differences between classic and layouts formats. The XML, in a layouts template, will require a properly closed tag.
    • The tag will probably be presented, by the GWT wizard, as
      <meta name="verify-v1" content=".......">
    • One way to code the tag, in a layouts template, would be
      <meta name="verify-v1" content="......."></meta>
    • A second way to code the tag, in a layouts template, would be
      <meta name="verify-v1" content="......." />
  10. Save Template Changes.
  11. Go back to Verify a Site, and hit Verify.
  12. This will take you to Overview. Part of the display will include:
    You've successfully verified (your site)

    and may include
    No pages from your site are currently included in Google's index.
    and
    You have not submitted any Sitemaps. Submit a Sitemap to help Google discover pages our crawlers might not otherwise find.
    Select the Sitemaps menu entry.


Having verified ownership of your site, you now can add a Google Sitemap, or use the other features of Google Webmaster Tools.

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18 comments:

Marf said...

I did it so the meta tag only appears on the blog's home page, because that's really the only place it needs to be. If you're using one of the XML-type templates, try this:

<b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>

<meta content='......' name='y_key'/>

</b:if>

I put the verify meta tags from other search engines like MSN and Yahoo in the IF statement as well. I also have my description meta tag in there, because I didn't want every page of my blog to have the same description.

Marf said...

Oops, I used the Yahoo verification meta in my example above. I meant 'verify-v1' instead of 'y_key', but you get the idea...

Chuck said...

Marf,

I would use separate blogs if I wanted different templates. By definition, a template, in its entirety, applies to a blog, not to pieces of one.

Have you checked the reports in Google Webmaster Tools, to see how the Google search engine reacts to this?

Chuck said...

Marf,

Do you have URLs for MSN and Yahoo Sitemap Tools? Care to share?

Marf said...

Yahoo calls their's "Yahoo Site Explorer":
https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/

MSN's is located at:
http://webmaster.live.com/

Neither one of them are anywhere as useful as Google's, though.

What I'm dong with the IF statement above is just putting the meta tags on the homepage, instead of every page of the blog because the meta verification only has to be on the homepage. It has no visual effect to the user, just a little cleaner code for individual post pages (and maybe a millisecond or two faster loading time).

Yes, I check the Google Webmaster tools quite often. It's verified just fine. They say to put the meta tag in your site's homepage. They don't say to put it in every page on your site, because it doesn't have to be.

I've just recently moved my blog over to a custom domain, so I'm keeping close track of it in the Webmaster tools.

Leslie said...

Thank you. Being new to the blogging world I am learning as I go. You are making that learning process much easier than stumbling around in the dark.

A half hour ago I didn't know I had to verify my blog with Google and now it is done. I'm ready to learn more.

Annie T. Baxter said...

Hi, and a quick "Thank you" for your excellent step by step for the sitemap verifying exercise. When it comes to making changes on the template html, I'm so nervous! But I did it, with your help. In fact, I've created a link list on my blog with links to two of your posts...happy to spread the good word!

Thanks again,
Annie

Chuck said...

Thanks, Annie! It's always good to hear that lists like this one are still useful. And inlinks are always appreciated! ;-)

Zoe Samantha said...

I'm probably being a total dummy but what I don't understand is how to get from point 8 onto 9. How and where do you 'edit the template' from, in order to paste the previously copied code?

Chuck said...

Thanks, Zoe. That's a detail that I need to add. Give me a couple days.

Annie T. Baxter said...

Hi again. Well, tonight I have hit a brick wall in trying to verify my 3rd blog. I keep getting this error message:

Verification status: NOT VERIFIED
Last attempt Dec 7, 2008: We've detected that your verification file returns a status of 404 (Not found) in the header.

Have done the same as my other blogs that were verified, and even checked to see how the code looked on the others html line in the blog code.

One thing I noticed, though my other sites were verified, the code did get switched around after I hit "save template". The verify -v1 automatically gets moved to the end of the code string. It didn't cause an error on the other two blogs getting verified.

Any suggestions? Thanks-Annie

Marf said...

@ Annie T. Baxter: Yeah, I've noticed as well that the code gets switched around, I don't think that matters.

There are two ways to verify a website in Google, make sure you are using the META tag option. The other one will look for an html file with a specific address. By what you've described, it looks like you're trying to use the wrong verification method.

Justyn said...

Thank You! No other walk-thrus were working for me.

Sarah said...

i had to delete the title, the verify tag, and the blog meta data from your block of text after adding them to the heading, because i kept getting error message saying they couldn't display my template, and wanted me to add an end tag to style. now it seems to be fine so i hope it will increase the traffic. thanks for your help in providing the information to us!

Chuck said...

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the feedback. Checkout the revised instructions, and see if that isn't just a bit more clear, please.

Oceansky said...

Thank-you for the information.
It was allot of help to me.

Tim Trent said...

Marf, your idea is fine, but it doesn't validate. Looking at the source code after making the edit you suggested I can see why. GWT expects the meta tag to be in the HEAD block, not in the area you suggest.

Place the meta tag directly under the opening HEAD tag and that verifies simply.

Anthea said...

Thanks so much. Oly just started blogging and realising how much I don't know about computers/the internet. Thanks for explaining things with lots of simple details for people like me. I have used your help a lot already.