Google Webmaster Tools is an essential, free SEO tool and monitoring system. Here are step-by-step instructions for the Google Webmaster Tools verification process for websites created in WordPress. This tutorial also covers how to verify both the www and non-www versions of your site and set your preference in the site settings, a quick extra measure which will improve your search performance with Google.
Though this process does involve copying and pasting a line of code in your WordPress site’s backend, this process can easily be completed by someone with no coding experience.
1. Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools.
2. Click on the red “Add a Site” button. Type in the URL of your website (either the www or non-www version, it doesn’t matter right now).
3. Click on the “Alternate Methods” tab for Verification. Select “HTML tag.” Copy and paste the line of code provided. It begins with <meta name=
4. Login to your WordPress Dashboard. In the lefthand column, click on Appearance>Editor. Then, in the righthand column, click on Header (header.php).
5. Paste the line of code into the header.php file directly underneath the line that reads <head>. Be sure to not change or delete any other lines of code! Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Update File.”
6. Go back to your Tab where Google Webmaster Tools is open. Click “Verify” and you will see a Congratulations notice appear.
Part Two: Verifying the other version of your website (www or non-www) and selecting your prefered domain
7. Go back to the main welcome screen for Google Webmaster Tools by clicking on the red header, “Wemaster Tools.” Repeat steps 1-3 for the other version of your site (If you added your www url first, now add the non-www url). For example: First I added megfarrington.com and then I added www.megfarrington.com. You do not need to enter the line of code into your WordPress dashboard again. After selecting the alternate methods of verification tab, selecting html tag, and clicking verify, you have verified ownership of the other version of your website.
8. Now click on the gear icon on the upper right part of the screen and select “Site Settings.” Choose your website’s perferred domain in order to tell Google to display your URLs as www or non-www. If you don’t know which way your website is set up, visit your website and note if the wwws appear in the url or not.
Congrats! Both your www and non-www website versions are added to Google Webmaster Tools and you have specified which is the preferred domain, which will help your ranking with Google.
Next, I will cover how to add a site-map to your Google Webmaster Tools and some of the ways to use these tools for monitoring your site’s performance.
Have any questions or difficulties? Let me know in the comments!