Monday, October 12, 2009

Webmaster Tools - Website Verification

If you use Webmaster Tools, you're probably familiar with verifying ownership of your sites. Simply add a specific meta tag or file to your site, click a button, and you're a verified owner. Some websites and software have features that help you verify ownership by adding the meta tag or file for you. Google recently made a few small improvements to the process that google think will make it easier and more reliable for you.

The first change is an improvement to the meta tag verification method. In the past, your verification meta tag was partially based on the email address of your Google Account. That meant that if you changed the email address in your account settings, your meta tags would also change (and you'd become unverified for any sites you had used the old tag on). Now Google created a new version of the verification meta tag which is unrelated to your email address. Once you verify with a new meta tag, you'll never become unverified by changing your email address.

Google also revamped the HTML file verification. Previously, if your website returned an HTTP status code other than 404 for non-existent URLs, you would be unable to use the file verification method. A properly configured web server will return 404 for non-existent URLs, but it turns out that a lot of sites have problems with this requirement. Now Google have simplified the file verification process to eliminate the checks for non-existent URLs. Now, you just download the HTML file from the webmaster tools section and upload it to your site without modification. Google will check the contents of the file, and if they're correct, you're done.

If you've already verified using the old methods, don't worry! Your existing verifications will continue to work. These changes only affect new verifications.

In future, Google will begin showing the email addresses of all verified owners of a given site to the other verified owners of that site. However, if you're using an email address you wouldn't want the other owners of your site to see, now might be a good time to change it.

For complete details, visit Google Webmaster Central Blog

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