Submitting Your WordPress Site to Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. By submitting your WordPress sites to Google Search Console, you can find out quickly if Google is having a hard time accessing or crawling or site or distinguishing the content on your site.

If you don’t already have a Google Search Console account, visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. You will be prompted to sign in with your Gmail or Google account or create a new account.

Verifying Ownership of your WordPress Site with Google Search Console

Once you are signed in, do the following to submit your site:

  1. Click the red Add a Site button in the upper-right corner.
  2. Enter the URL for your website, for example: askwpgirl.com
  3. Click continue.
  4. You will be prompted to verify the domain.
  5. Click the Alternate Methods tab to verify the ownership using an HTML tag:Webmaster Tools - Verify ownership using alternate method HTML tag
  6. In the All in One SEO plugin, Ultimate SEO plugin, or WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast (recommended), there will be a field in the plugin settings for you to verify your Google Webmaster Tools account. Copy the HTML tag from the Google Webmaster Tools page and paste it into this field. Here’s what it looks like in the General (Dashboard) Settings page for the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast:Verifying Google Webmaster Tools using the WordPress SEO plugin by YoastIf you are using the Jetpack plugin (which is the only way to verify the site if you are hosted on WordPress.com), go to Jetpack > Settings and activate the Site Verification module. (It is probably already activated.) Then, go to Tools > Available Tools and you will see this page where you can paste your Meta tag from Google:

    Jetpack Site Verification

  7. Click Save Changes for the plugin settings. (Note: If you view the Page Source of your site in your browser window, you should now see the verification meta tag in the header area of the HTML.)
  8. Go back to Google Webmaster Tools and click the Verify button. Be sure you are still in the Alternate Methods tab and have selected HTML tag. If the site does not verify, be sure you copied the content of the meta tag correctly by viewing the page source of one of your web pages in the browser. If you can’t see the meta tag, be sure that you have cleared the cache for any caching plugin you may be using. If you still have difficulty, you can verify using the “Recommend Method” and download the HTML file Google provides and upload that file to your public_html directory, then click Verify.
  9. Once the site is verified, click the red Add a Site button again. This time, add your site using the www version of the site, e.g. www.askwpgirl.com.
  10. Click the Alternate Methods tab to verify the ownership using an HTML tag as you did in Step 5 above. However, this time, you do NOT need to add this tag to your website because it is identical to the one you just added. All we are doing is verifying ownership of both the www and non-www versions of the site (which seems silly, I know, but must be done). Click the Verify button, and the site should verify just fine.

Setting the Preferred Domain with Google Search Console

The reason we submitted both the non-www and the www versions of your website is to tell Google which domain you prefer be tracked for errors and stats. We don’t want Google to think that you have two websites with duplicated content displaying at two different URLs (the non-www and the www). This allows you to read errors related to entries for either domain in one place. WordPress is good at using just one URL so that any requests made to the www domain will automatically go to the non-www and vice versa depending on the settings in your WordPress General Settings. It is important that your site content ONLY displays at one URL to avoid duplicate content penalties.

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Webmaster Tools window.Webmaster Tools Site Settings
  2. Click the radio button next to the preferred domain name. This should match the domain you have set up in your WordPress General Settings and the way your site displays when you visit it.Webmaster Tools setting preferred domain

Submitting Your WordPress XML Sitemap To Google Search Console

XML-sitemapsIt’s a great idea to submit the XML sitemap to Google when you go live with your site. Google uses your Sitemap to learn about the structure of your site and to increase our coverage of your webpages. Otherwise, it may not find everything very easily if trying simply to crawl your site via links on your home page or in the navigation. To learn more about how Google crawls and indexes your site, read: Google Webmaster Guidelines. If you changed SEO or sitemap plugins, be sure the correct sitemap URL is submitted to Google. If you are using the WordPress SEO plugin, it has a built-in sitemap. If you use a different SEO plugin that does not contain an XML sitemap function, then you can use the Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

In the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, go to SEO > XML Sitemaps.  Check the box to enable XML sitemap functionality, then click the button to view your XML Sitemap. Take note of the URL: yoursitename.com/sitemap_index.xml .

XML Sitemap in Yoast WordPress SEO plugin

Submit SitemapWebmaster Tools Submit SitemapTo submit your sitemap to Google:

  1. In Google Webmaster Tools, click on your website, and then click on Crawl.
  2. Click Sitemaps.
  3. Click the red Add/Test Sitemap button.
  4. Enter the file name for the sitemap. If you are using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, the URL is: sitemap_index.xml.
  5. Click Test Sitemap.
  6. If the test is good, click the Add/Test Sitemap button again and enter the filename for the sitemap again.
  7. Click Submit Sitemap

Receive Email Alerts from Google Search Console

Finally, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Search Console page and select Webmaster Tools Preferences.

Check the box to Enable email notifications. This will let you know right away if Google detects something really wrong with your website.

gwt-preferences

Using Google Search Console to Detect Problems with your WordPress Site

  • Crawl Errors – The Crawl Errors page provides details about the URLs that Google could not successfully crawl or that returned an HTTP error code. For more information on how to diagnose and site errors, read Google’s Crawl Errors page. Be sure to fix any 404 not found errors by either fixing the broken link in your page content or creating a 301 or 302 redirect. The plugin I like is SEO Redirection. It has a clean interface and allows you to choose 302 redirects (temporary) for testing the redirects. Keep in mind that 301 redirects are considered permanent, meaning that the redirect is cached in visitors’ browsers, so if you change the redirect later, visitors may end up in a weird loop.
  • Crawl Stats – The Crawl Stats page provides information on Googlebot’s activity on your site for the last 90 days. I would be concerned if you’re stats are low relative to the number of pages you have. It might indicate that the pages are taking too long to load, so Google can’t crawl the site as efficiently.
  • Robots.txt Tester – If you have an old HTML site or files you don’t want Google to crawl, you should add these to a robots.txt file in your public_html directory. I generally recommend people use the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast which will allow you to edit this file easily. Also, it’s possible Google isn’t crawling your site because you forgot to uncheck the Discourage search engines checkbox under Settings > Reading in WordPress, so this will let you know that, too. For information on editing your WordPress robots.txt file, see: How to Create and Configure Your Robots.txt File.
  • Sitemaps – Google uses your Sitemap to learn about the structure of your site and to increase our coverage of your webpages. Otherwise, it may not find everything very easily if trying simply to crawl your site via links on your home page or in the navigation. To learn more about how Google crawls and indexes your site, read: Google Webmaster Guidelines. If you changed SEO or sitemap plugins, be sure the correct sitemap URL is submitted to Google.

 

Angela Bowman

Front-end WordPress developer since 2007 building highly custom websites for nonprofits and small businesses. Experienced in nonprofit administration, grant writing, and technical writing. Love high altitude hiking and backyard chickens.

34 comments on “Submitting Your WordPress Site to Google Search Console

  1. Hi Angela,

    Thanks for this in-depth guide.

    I tried the above methods (Yoast and Jetpack) but kept receiving an error alert when I clicked the “Verify” button.

    But, i fixed the error by uploading an html file to the public_html directory of my website. And, VIOOOOLA! The blog got verified. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this, Angela.

    It was useful.

    • I’m glad uploading the HTML file worked. That is usually fail proof. If you do decide to use the HTML tag again, be sure you have that HTML tag option checked when you click Verify Site or it won’t verify. The main reason the HTML tag version doesn’t work is when sites have caching enabled. What happens is that Google is looking for that meta tag in the HTML source code, but the server is serving up older HTML cached files that don’t contain the code you just added. So the tip for that is to completely clear any plugin or server caches before trying to verify the site. You can View Page Source on your home page to verify that the meta tag is present. Thanks for writing, Favour! I’m so glad you are writing to me from Nigeria. I spent time in Ghana and really love West Africa. I hope I can go back soon to visit friends.

  2. Hello mam,
    Very informative article indeed.

    but I have a confusion and that is about sitemap submitting to Web master

    Yoast creates default “sitemap_index.xml” file

    and there is also few sub sitemap files under the main file like

    post-sitemap.xml
    page-sitemap.xml
    category-sitemap.xml

    so, in robots.txt which sitemap do we need to put, I mean the default or these separate sitemaps or same with webmaster which we need to submit these separate or the default?

    • Hi Guatam,

      That is an excellent question. You only need to submit the one site map called sitemap_index.xml. This sitemap contains other sub sitemaps that Google can crawl via the one single sitemap.

      Angela

    • I think maybe you want to check to be sure the Sitemap URL is correct. If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, the Sitemap URL should be sitemap_index.xml. Let me know if that works!

  3. I am newbie. I loved your article and i will use your tips on my blog. created new blog and i hope this will get good ranking on google. Can you please answer me? do i need to submit sitemap in webmaster tool.

    • You don’t have to submit the sitemap to Google. Google will find the sitemap, but submitting it can be helpful to get site indexed more quickly if it hasn’t already been indexed or you are creating the sitemap for the first time.

  4. Hello “Angela Bowman”,
    I am Noman and I have just created my Site a month ago and I have posted 25 posts on my Site. Now I want to Submit my Website Sitemap to index my site in google. For this I have Activate the Yoast SEO Plugin to Create Sitemap. But there is a Problem and that is, When I click on the XML Sitemap Button it open the New window which in the shows the sitemaps but there is no showing any sitemap. Please Help me out.

    • Hi Noman,

      Please try to go to Settings > Permalinks and click Save Changes. That should enable your sitemap to show up. Let me know if that works for you.

      Angela

      • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Thanks for your Answer its working. One more Question I have. I have submit Sitemap with another plugin when SEO Yoast plugin didn’t works in the past. By that Plugin created a Sitemap and I submit it to Google Webmaster. But there is only 3 Url indexed and the total Urls is 139. Please Help me to solve this Problem.
        Thanks.

        • Hi Noman. If you aren’t using the Yoast SEO sitemap, be sure to go to the Yoast SEO > XML Sitemaps settings and uncheck “Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality.” Sitemap plugins can be a little buggy and unreliable, there are two different types: one is created dynamically and one is generated statically. The latter uses more server resources and can be unreliable.

          If you don’t use Yoast SEO Sitemap, the only plugin I recommend is https://wordpress.org/plugins/bwp-google-xml-sitemaps/.

  5. Hi Angela! I have a WordPress based website,and I am using the www version,so even when I type in mentalismreading.com it brings me back to http://www.mentalismreading.com. Should I submit the non www version as well? And if I should,do I just point WP to the non www,verify it and just point it back to the www version?
    Regards,Atila 🙂

    • Hi Atila,

      Yes, you should. It’s so weird and annoying. WordPress handles this redirect of the non-www to the www just fine. I’m not sure why Google insists on both being submitted. Could be related to sites that at one time weren’t redirecting properly. But, yes, submit both sites, then in my instructions, I have noted where you need to tell Google which site is the preferred site. In terms of checking for crawl errors, etc., you only have to pay attention to the www in the Google Webmaster Tools and ignore the non-www.

      Good luck! Angela

  6. Hi Angela

    Hopefully you can help me as I am going round in circles. I have Yoast and understand where to paste the code. However, when I save it, it disappears. Any ideas …

    Thanks

    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina,

      When you paste the full meta tag in Yoast, it will remove all the HTML around the tag and save just the value, which is what you want it to do. Can you see the value of the meta tag after you save? Yoast automatically formats it correctly for Google in the final HTML output of the site.

      • Hi Angela

        It cleared it every time 🙁 In the end, I had my host add the details to the DNS file so my website is now verified.

        Thanks

        Katrina

        • How every strange. I wonder if perhaps it was in the wrong field or the wrong tag? I do this on dozens of sites and haven’t seen that happen. Glad you got it working, though! Yay!

          • I’m having exactly the same problem – I paste the code into the Google box and it disappears when I press save. Very frustrating.

    • Hi Rahul,

      No, you should only submit the sitemap for the default/primary domain. The purpose of submitted the other domain to Google Webmaster Tools is to let Google know which domain is primary. This is because you want to be sure that Google understands that these domains are one and the same and not count them as duplicates.

      Good luck! I’m glad this post was helpful!

      Angela

  7. Hi – I have two websites listed under Google Webmaster Tools one for the www version and the other for the non www version. Not sure if this is the right way to do it. Should I delete one entry?

    • Hi Prasad,

      Yes, you should have both listed under Google Webmaster Tools.

      However, be sure to tell Google which domain is the “preferred” domain under the settings:

      1 – Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Webmaster Tools window.Webmaster Tools Site Settings

      2 – Click the radio button next to the preferred domain name. This should match the domain you have set up in your WordPress General Settings and the way your site displays when you visit it.

      Thanks for writing.

      Angela

    • Yes, often people don’t think about it, and set up their Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools with the www even though the site is using the non-www. It causes problems for stats, etc. It’s important that you specify which you are using and be consistent about it in all your accounts, and particularly in your General Settings in WordPress where I have seen both the non-www and www entered! Really messes things up.

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