Google Search Console is an essential tool for webmasters and site owners as it offers analytics and other data from Google about your site performance and organic search results.
However, before you can access this data, you must verify your domain in Google Search Console so that Google knows you’re the domain owner.
While verification might seem small, it’s a significant leap toward improving your website’s performance and visibility.
How to Validate Your Search Console
Google Search Console verification is a straightforward process that establishes your website ownership. This verification is required to ensure that only authorised individuals can access and control the data associated with a particular site.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to validate your Search Console:
Access Search Console: If you haven’t already, sign in to your Google account and visit the Google Search Console homepage (https://search.google.com/search-console/).
Add a Property: Click the “+ Add Property” button and enter the URL of your website. Make sure to enter the complete URL, including the “https://” and “www” if used and select “Continue.”
Choose Verification Method: Google offers several methods to verify your website. The most common methods include HTML file upload, HTML tag verification, domain name provider, and Google Analytics tracking code. We’ll talk through each option below.
Follow the instructions for your chosen verification method and click “Verify” once you’ve completed the steps. If successful, your website will be verified, and you can use the power of Google Search Console.
HTML File Upload: You will be asked to download the verification HTML file provided by Google and upload it to the root directory of your website using FTP; you’ll need access to your hosting provider to do this. Once done, return to Search Console and click “Verify.”
HTML Tag Verification: Google provides a meta tag that you must insert into the <head> section of your website’s homepage; you’ll need access to your website code. Once added, click “Verify” in the Search Console.
Domain Name Provider: This method lets you verify your domain if it is registered with select providers. Google will guide you through the process, often requiring you to sign in to your domain provider account and follow the instructions provided.
Google Analytics Tracking Code: If you have Google Analytics set up for your website, you can use the tracking code to verify your site in the Search Console. If you choose this method, Google should be able to detect the tracking code and verify the domain automatically.
Determining Domain Verification
After verifying your website, it is worth ensuring that Google has recognised your ownership and granted access to the Search Console data specific to your domain.
To do this, visit the Google Search Console homepage and log in to your account. Once logged in, you’ll be directed to the Search Console dashboard. Here, you’ll find a list of website properties you’ve verified. Locate your desired domain and check its status; if it’s labelled as “Verified,” you’re all set.
If your domain is not verified, ensure you’ve followed your chosen verification process accurately.
If you’re confident you’ve verified your domain correctly, refresh the page or clear your browser cache and cookies before rechecking the status. Some methods take longer than others, so you may need to come back at a later date.
Troubleshooting Unverified Google Domains
Encountering an unverified domain in Google Search Console can be frustrating, but there are common solutions to this issue.
Recheck Verification Method:
- Double-check the method you used for verification.
- Ensure you’ve correctly uploaded files or inserted meta tags in the correct location.
- Take the time to double-check that you have followed the domain provider’s instructions accurately.
Check for HTML Errors: In cases of HTML file upload or tag verification, ensure you haven’t inadvertently introduced errors while adding the verification code or tag. This can be things like adding the file into the wrong location or inserting the tag after the closing </head> tag. Even a small mistake can lead to verification failure.
Domain Provider Setup: If you chose the domain name provider verification method, confirm that you’ve accurately followed the instructions provided by Google and your domain provider. Go back and read the instructions and make sure you’ve followed them carefully. This method usually asks you to insert a TXT file into the DNS Record. If you’re uncomfortable with this, speak to a developer or contact your domain provider directly.
Check Analytics Integration: If you opted for Google Analytics verification, ensure your tracking code is correctly implemented on all website pages.
Wait for DNS Propagation: Domain verification might take time due to DNS propagation and what is known as TTL (time to live). If you’ve recently changed your domain settings, allow some time for these changes to propagate across the internet. This can take 24-48 hours but can often be faster. Check again after this time has passed, and you may find that your domain has now been verified.
Reverify Ownership: Sometimes, you might need to repeat the verification process. This can happen if the verification methods don’t work and you suspect an initial error. Repeat the process, paying close attention to the instructions, and then try again.
Benefits of Google Search Console Verification
Understanding the benefits of verifying your website on Google Search Console is important. Verification opens the door to a treasure trove of data and tools that can significantly enhance your online presence. We’ll talk through some of them below.
Verified websites gain access to performance reports that detail how often your site appears in Google search results and the specific queries that lead users to your pages. These insights are invaluable for refining your content and SEO strategy. The data includes keyword clicks, impressions, CTR and average position.
Google Search Console provides information about which pages of your website have been indexed by Google’s search engine. This insight allows you to track any indexing issues and take corrective actions if needed. To do this, you can enter a specified URL and click “URL inspection” to see whether or not the URL is included in Google’s index.
If it’s not currently indexed, you can see the potential reasons why and press the “Request indexing” button where relevant.
You can submit your website’s XML sitemap to Google through the Search Console. This submission makes it clear to the search engine how they can find your sitemap and ensures that Google’s crawler efficiently navigates and indexes your site’s content.
Search Console provides data about external websites linking to your pages; you can see which domains they are, what pages have the most links and even which domains the search engine may see as the most valuable. Understanding your backlink profile is crucial for SEO and building a reputable online presence.
Google Search Console can alert you to potential security issues like malware or hacking. Timely notifications can help you take immediate action to protect your site and visitors.
Common warnings from GSC include security issues and manual actions. A manual action can happen if Google believes you are using negative tactics and engaging in behaviour that repeatedly goes against their Search Guidelines.
Structured Data Insights:
Search Console will show you how Google interprets the data if your website uses structured data markup. This data is essential for enhancing how your site’s information is displayed in SERPs and features such as Rich Results.
Knowing whether there are issues in your markup allows you to address them in a timely manner and improve your visibility.
Common Misconceptions About GSC Verification
While Google Search Console verification is fairly straightforward, let’s address a few of the misconceptions that we come across:
- Instant Verification: Some individuals expect all verification methods to be instantaneous. Verification might take a few days, especially if you use methods like HTML file upload or domain provider verification.
- Verification Affects Rankings: It’s important to note that Google Search Console verification doesn’t directly impact your search rankings. However, the insights you gain from the Search Console can help you make informed decisions that indirectly affect your rankings.
- Re-verification After Site Changes: Significant changes to your website, such as migrating to a new domain or changing the site structure, will require re-verification. However, minor content updates or changes to individual pages usually don’t affect your verified status.
- Multiple Verifications Improve SEO: Verifying your site using multiple methods doesn’t grant additional SEO benefits. One successful verification is sufficient to gain access to all Search Console features.
- Verification Solves All SEO Problems: While verification is important, it’s just one piece of data. Verification alone will not improve performance, and you still need to actively work to improve your SEO performance, typically with an experienced SEO consultant. Search Console provides information and insights, but acting on those details through content optimisation, technical fixes, and effective link building is essential for SEO success.
Remember that verifying your domain with Google Search Console is a gateway to understanding your website’s performance, addressing issues, and refining your online strategy. With this knowledge, you can navigate the digital landscape with confidence and insight.