Call me a noob, but it came as a huge surprise to me that I needed Google to verify my website (in my defence, I did at least grow up knowing what an encyclopaedia is, what tartrazine tastes like and what CFC’s were). Naturally this massive discovery was followed by a few very necessary questions.
Why should I verify my website?
I suppose verifying your website is akin to marking territory. You are claiming your little piece of the internet as your own and naming it. From this point you alone occupy this particular domain.
You are now able to:
Understand how Google crawls your site
Gain greater control over how Google crawls your site
Locate any crawl issues
See how your keywords are performing
View backlinks and inbound links
Provide Google with an XML sitemap which will also help it crawl more efficiently
Set up web tracking, which will assist in tracking your conversion rate
Improve your ranking on Google, thereby earning the trust of your readers
Simply put, verifying allows Google to index your site, which is the first step to getting on to the Google results page.
Now you know the why, let’s get to the how:
1. Do you have access to the domains DNS settings or the web server? If you have neither of this it is probably because you have a web developer who set the site up for you, in which case they should have already verified your website without you having to even ask. The same goes if you bought your domain from a certified Google partner.
You will know that your site has been verified if you can access your webmaster tools through the web hoster, your site has been verified and all your required information will be accessible.
2. Congratulations if you have figured out that your site is not verified, that alone can be pretty confusing. There are several ways to actually verify your site depending on whether you have access to the domains DNS settings or if you only have access to the domains webserver.
You can add a TXT or CNAME record to your DNS settings, you can upload a file to your webserver or you can add a metatag to your home page. You can choose your method via the admin consol. Any one of these changes will signal to Google that you own the domain.
3. Verify your site as soon as possible. You will risk losing your domain if you do not verify your site within 14-21 days, in which case you will need to start all over again.
Verification may be another step in the process of setting up your website which you may not have previously anticipated, but it is still essential. Building and running a website is an iterative process, both your methods and your needs continually change which results in you perpetually learning.
There’s no point in hanging on to what used to be done or how you thought it was supposed to be done. Just pick up the baton and keep running.