Written by Pavan Kumar on June 26, 2009
It is wise for any webmaster to setup a webmaster tools account and verify the site ownership. This helps to submit sitemap and also monitor crawl errors / top keywords which brings you traffic. Google still being the best (compare Google vs Bing) and most used search engine, its a must for evey website owner to have a webmaster account at Google.
Webmasters sometimes complain that they fail to verify their website with webmaster tools. There are different reasons for this and here are the simple solutions for most common problems. Note that verification also work for reported attack sites.
1. Make sure your website loads fine – no errors at server end.
This is one important thing, your site should be working fine – if you find any problem, talk to your hosting support to fix the bugs and make site run fine. In most cases hosting problems have no solutions at your end, its job of your hosting company.
2. File Name and Location
This applies when you use file upload method to verify the ownership. I recommend this method as this is quite easy if you have ftp access and also this will not add any extra weightage to your webpages. If you use meta verification, you will have to add one line of code which is of no use to your visitors.
Verify that the file name is the exact one which they ask you. Its wise to copy – paste than look and type. Just copy the file name > Open Notepad > File > Save As (All files) > Past the file name > Save > Upload. Also make sure that you are uploading it to right location – if you are verifying domain.com and upload file to domain.com/directory – it wont work. Make sure you have uploaded it to right location.
3. Robots.txt – don’t block Googlebot to access your file
Do you have robots.txt blocking the Googlebot? If so, its very bad – you are verifying your domain and you don’t want Google to visit your site. Its just like inviting guests keeping your door locked. In many cases, newbies are not at all aware of this and such cases are rare. Learn more about robots.txt.
4. 404 errors – non existing files should return 4xx errors
This is the most important and common problem I have observed in webmaster help forum. You have your site working fine, also the filename and location are proper, but still if you are not able to verify with webmaster tools, its because of this. If some page is not available on your server, it should return 404. This is most important factor which fails your site to verify under webmaster tools. Here is how to view HTTP header. If you use such services and test for http://www.techpavan.com/404.html it shows a 404 http status while my homepage will return 200 ok. It is also related with server configuration, but I hope you are on a professional host and their servers are all fine with 4xx errors.
If you are using wordpress, check the file 404.php in your theme has these lines
<?php header("HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found"); ?>
<?php header("Status: 404 Not Found"); ?>
If not, add them at top – it will start returning 404 errors.
5. Meta tag verification – right code in right place
Though I don’t recommend it because of the above said reason, some of you might be comfortable with this / you may not have ftp access. Just copy paste the given code in the head section of the home page. Note that the code should find its position in between <head> and </head> html tags.
You can find more detailed information here.
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