How to quickly verify your WordPress site with Google Webmaster Tools

The usual way to verify a website with Google Webmaster tools (now known as Google Search Console) is to download a small file from Google and then upload it to your website, or to make a change to the DNS records.

As FTP is becoming less and less used these days, and often the DNS management is done by someone different to the person responsible for the website, there are better ways!

Here’s a quick guide on how to verify your WordPress site with Google Webmaster Tools using just your web browser, no FTP or DNS, and a free plugin.

3 Steps to Verify your WordPress Site

  1. Install this plugin in your WordPress site: Verify Google Webmaster Tools – https://wordpress.org/plugins/verify-google-webmaster-tools/
  2. Add the site in Google Webmaster tools, and select the Alternate methods and then HTML tag (Add a meta tag to your site’s home page) option.

    select the Alternate methods and then HTML tag
    Select the Alternate methods and then HTML tag
  3. Then in WordPress, install and activate the plugin, go to Settings -> Google Webmaster Tools and paste in the HTML tag that Google is showing you. Save Changes and go back to Google and click Verify.
paste in the HTML tag that Google is showing you
Paste in the HTML tag that Google is showing you

 

What is Google Webmaster tools?

Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a no-charge web service by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. As of May 20, 2015, Google rebranded Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console.

WordCamp comes to Brighton

This July, Brighton will be host to WordCamp.

Wordcamps are a chance for everyone to learn, share knowledge and celebrate WordPress together.

Typically there a bunch of talks by WordPress users, experts, contributors and developers, and you pick the ones you’re most interested in. 2020Media has both sponsored and attended the London WordCamp for the last 2 years.

Schedule

WordCamp Brighton 2016 will run over two days. You can attend one or both of the days. Cost for the entire conference is just £20 per person. Tickets are on sale now.

Saturday 23rd July 2016

Saturday is the main conference day. It’ll be a full day of informative talks on diverse topics related to WordPress. Food and refreshments are provided throughout the day.

Saturday night is the afterparty. This is a relaxed social event where you can meet others and network with the WordPress community.

Sunday 24th July 2016

Sunday is contributor day. There’ll be talks, workshops and you’ll get the chance to help make WordPress even better.

You can contribute to many different areas of WordPress, depending on your interests. It’s an opportunity to collaborate with people in a similar field to you. Or you might discover an entirely new area of interest. Find out about the different contributor groups here.

Location

WordCamp Brighton 2016 will be hosted at City College Brighton (Central Campus).

Address

City College Brighton & Hove (Central Campus),
Pelham Street,
Brighton,
East Sussex,
BN1 4FA

Domain Names and the London Mayor Elections 2016

Today is the day Londoners elect a new mayor, and we thought it would be interesting to look at the candidates’ choice of domain names, and see if any patterns emerge.

Here are the candidates and their domain names:

London Mayor Elections 2016
Name Domain Name Registration Expiry Registrar
Sian Berry sianberry.london 05/2015 05/2017 Fasthosts
David Furness bnp.org.uk Party site No registrar
George Galloway galloway2016.london 06/2015 06/2016 1&1
Paul Golding britainfirst.org Party site Domain Monster
Zac Goldsmith backzac2016.com 05/2015 05/2017 GoDaddy
Lee Harris lee4mayor.com 02/2016 02/2017 iwantmyname.com
Sadiq Khan sadiq.london 10/2014 10/2016 Minds + Machines
Ankit Love ankitlove.com/london2016 Party site* GoDaddy
Caroline Pidgeon londonlibdems.org.uk Party site 123 Reg
Sophie Walker womensequality.org.uk/sophie_for_london Party site Zen Internet
Peter Whittle peterwhittle.london 08/2015 08/2016 GoDaddy
Prince Zylinski zylinski.london 09/2015 09/2016 1&1
  • *Site is part of candidate’s business website.

Some candidates have not registered a domain specifically for their campaign, so we can’t really draw conclusions from these (unless perhaps they’re just prudent with their cash!).

Popularity of Domain Extension

  1. .LONDON  (5)
  2. .COM (3)
  3. .ORG.UK (3)
  4. .ORG

.LONDON most popular by large margin. We’ve placed .COM above .ORG.UK as all the .org.uk domains were party sites and two of the .com domains were dedicated campaign sites.

All the .London domains were dedicated campaign sites. It seems the new .london domain extension struck a chord with the majority of candidates as a way to express their links with the capital. There are 64,000 .london domains registered.

Registrations of .london graph
Registrations of .london

ntldstats.com reckons 60% of .london domains are ‘parked’, which means are not actively used. 2020Media is a registrar for domain names and can help you choose the best domain for your needs. Contact us if you would like to find out more.

Registration Date Analysis

  1. Oldest domain: 10/2014 (sadiq.london)
  2. Newest domain: 02/2016 (lee4mayor.com)

The oldest registered domain was much older than all the other campaign site domains by a long margin and is the only domain registered in 2014. The most recent domain was registered earlier this year. None of the domains have long registration periods, suggesting that they are single-purpose sites, or are on default 2 year renewal cycles.

Domain Redirects

None of the domains redirect or are aliases for an different underlying domain. This is good news, it means these domains are being properly used. We found that the websites for the candidates found using Google did not always reflect the domain names that the candidates put forward in their manifestos.

Domain Registrar

Our analysis found no great surprises here – the distribution of registrar (the company that manages the domain name) was widely in line with their market share.

Mayoral Candidate Domain Name Conclusions

We found the .LONDON domain names were a popular choice for candidates wishing to become the next Mayor of London. Most domains were registered specifically for the campaign and look unlikely to survive after the election.

We believe choosing the right domain name is an important part of marketing. This includes the extension (the dot whatever), and for this year’s London Mayor elections this has been born out by the choices the candidates have made.

The domains chosen are mostly descriptive, to the point, suggest relevance with the capital, and memorable.

Where candidates have only given their party website addresses, we think this was a missed opportunity for them personally, but may have longer term benefit to the party itself. Possibly this was deliberate – with the Mayoral election effectively a two horse race, generating publicity for the party rather than the candidate may have been the underlying aim of the promoter of the candidate.

Is .ME right for your next project

The .ME domain name has recently reached 1,000,000 registrations, which by any measure is established.

2020Media has had http://2020.me as an alias domain for many years, we feel it’s a good short domain to have.

Here’s an interesting infographic about many facets of the way some of the million strong user-based of .ME domains are being used.

.ME infographic - one milliion domains
.ME infographic – one milliion domains

HowTo: Creating a website for committee meetings

In a guest post, 2020Media director Rex explains how he created a WordPress website to help with managing committee meetings for a school governing board.

Rex says: “I recently became a school governor, and at the first governing board meeting it became apparent that there was an awful lot of paperwork! I’d been emailed various documents before the meeting, but these were spread over several batches, and there were also items that the documentation was not available until close to the last minute. I felt a web-based service for keeping track of a meeting agenda with links to the associated reports would be very useful.”

a meeting agenda
Part of a meeting agenda showing links to reports.

I decided to build the site using the free WordPress software. Not only does WordPress have a well-deserved reputation for ease of use, which was important as non technical people would be uploading documents to the site, but there are also plugins available for every conceivale use, and I knew the some of the functions needed were not going to work “out of the box”.

Primary Requirements

  • Secure.
  • Easy to Use.
  • Reduce, not Add to Workload.

Secondary Requirements

  • Show upcoming and historical meeting agendas.
  • Cater for school governing board committee structure.
  • Format agenda to display items in a familiar way.

I started with a standard WordPress install using 2020Media’s zero-click WordPress hosting. A SSL certificate was added to make all communications with the site secure. I then started to build out the system using a very flexibile WordPress theme called GeneratePress. One premium add-on to this theme was used – Blog – which simply allows some of the meta-data in a post to be hidden. Cost of this add-on was $10.

Homepage showing list of meetings
Homepage shows list of meetings, date and which committee.

WordPress Plugins Used

  • Admin Menu Editor
  • Custom Meta
  • Imsanity
  • Login Logo
  • Nested Ordered Lists
  • Password Protected
  • White Label CMS
  • WP Scheduled Posts
Sidebar showing menu
Sidebar with links to committee and archives

Rather then go through a recipe style guide on replicating the site, I’m just going to explain what I did differently, please ask if anything isn’t clear.

Each meeting is a blog post (in WordPress terms). The agenda items are a simple ordered list created in the WordPress editor, with reports added using the “Add Media” or simply dragged across from the user’s computer. Post categories are used for the different committees. The theme used has sidebar widgets showing clickable Categories as well as Archives, Calendar and Custom Meta (showing a simplied login menu). Password Protected is used to block access to the site to the public.

In WordPress future dated posts are not shown until they are scheduled so to the WP Scheduled Posts plugin allowed us to publish post immediately but with future date-time. This meant the publish date could be set as the date of committee meeting, rather than the date it was written. This in turn meant the calendar and archives had meaningful dates on them.

Other plugins used were mainly to simplify operations for the users of the site. Each user was given the “Editor” role, which allows them to create and manage any post. Menu items were renamed or hidden from view to make the administration as straightforward as possible. I chose to use plugins rather than a custom theme as I believe it will be easier to maintain the site over the long term.

The system has not yet been adopted so I anticipate making changes based on feedback from the committee members. So far feedback from the Chair and Clerk (who will be the ones using the administration side primarily) has been very positive.

Useful Features

  • Prior to a meeting the agenda can be built up, and reports added.
  • A link to the meeting post can be circulated to the board by the clerk, rather than sending several emails with attachments.
  • During a meeting colleagues will be able to use tablets and laptops to pull up reports as needed, and fewer piles of paper will be generated.

Some possible future changes.

  • A notifications system – The system could notify all members when a post is published, or updated, or a week prior to the meeting.