Follow along with this Search Console Setup Checklist to make sure you’re completing all the necessary steps for setting your website up in Google Search Console.
You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into setting up your website exactly how you wanted it. That’s great - now, let’s make sure people can see it!
Here’s the secret: your website will show up in Google search engine results pages (SERPs) whether it’s verified in Google Search Console (GSC) or not.
Verifying your website in GSC means verifying that you are either the owner - or the marketing professional that the owner hired - of the site, and are qualified and approved to see the data Search Console provides.
If you want your site to rank well for relevant keywords, (and increase the chances of prospects & customers finding you) then you need this data. You’re not going to find it anywhere else!
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, performs two major functions:
- It tells you how your site is performing in Google SERPs through impressions, clicks, average position, and keyword data.
- It helps you assess your website’s health by tracking errors, links, and other technical data.
Reviewing this information can help you update your website to accurately target prospects.
However, if you’re not experienced with making changes to your site, we recommend having a professional make the changes for you. Many technical changes can break your site if you’re not careful!
Step by Step Process of Adding Your Site to GSC
Note: This guide will tell you how to verify your site with Google Analytics OR an HTML tag. This post does not include instructions for other verification methods.
If you’re not comfortable with making changes to your site’s template to set up Search Console, contact an experienced professional. Schedule a free consultation with one of our SEO Specialists to see how we can help you with GSC - and more!
You can follow along with the steps below with this checklist.
Step 1: Prior Requirements
You can access Google Search Console here.
You will need one of the following to verify your website with Google:
- Administrator access to your site’s Google Analytics (GA) account. GA must already be set up for this method to work.
- Editing access to your site’s header
- WordPress sites - Found in Appearance > Editor > Theme Header OR header.php
- You may need to switch to another theme to see the header option.
- HubSpot sites - Found in Settings > Marketing > Web pages > Templates > Site header HTML
- Squarespace sites - Found in Settings > Website > Advanced > Code Injection > Header
Step 2: Adding a Property
- Click “Add a Property”
Step 3: Enter your Website’s Full Homepage Address
Select the appropriate field based on your needs, then copy and paste your website’s URL from your homepage
- URL Prefix Option should include HTTP or HTTPS at the beginning
- Domain Option does not need to include HTTP or HTTPS
- NEITHER should include any text after the .com/, .org/, .net/, or any other variation
- GOOD - https://www.protocol80.com/
- BAD - https://www.protocol80.com/blog
- Click “Continue” under whichever option you chose
Step 4: Select your verification method
You’ll be given a few different options for verification. Generally, we find it easiest to select one of the alternate methods - either Google Analytics or HTML tag.
To verify your site via Google Analytics, you must meet the following requirements:
- The Google Analytics code must already be in your website’s header
- You must have admin access to the Analytics account
- If you have both, click “Verify”
You should receive a success message. If you did, congrats! If you didn’t, double check the requirements above. If you still receive an error message, try the alternate HTML tag verification method below.
- Select the “HTML tag” option.
- Copy the ENTIRE code snippet in the white box
Step 5: Paste the Code into Your Site’s Header
- Open your website’s header (instructions in step 1)
- If you have a HubSpot or Squarespace website, simply paste the code into the header section
- If you have a WordPress website, make sure to paste the code between the <head> and </head> tags (directly under the first <head> tag should work fine)
Step 6: Save Your Changes!
- This requires an entirely separate step because it’s important. ALWAYS remember to save your changes, or it the verification process won’t work!
Step 7: Verify Your Site
- Return to the Search Console screen and select “Verify.” Most website owners will see an immediate successful verification message.
If you see a “Verification failed” message, review the steps above and make sure you didn’t miss anything. You can use this helpful checklist just to make sure.
If you’re still seeing a failure message, wait 1-2 days and try verifying again. You will not have to perform steps 1-5 again. Just click Verify!
If you’re STILL getting an error, you have a few options:
- Try another verification method not listed above. GSC also has options for verifying with:
- HTML file upload
- Domain name provider
- Google Tag Manager
- Contact a Google expert (anyone with the Google Partners Badge should be able to help) and have them set it up for you.
(Editor's Note: this post was originally published on June 7, 2018 and was re-optimized and re-published on February 14, 2020.)