Verifying your network for Google Webmaster Tools

Update (7/12/09): We’ve now built a way to verify your Ning Network with Google Webmaster Tools right into your Ning Network. Check out this Help Center FAQ for instructions.

Want to take control of traffic coming from Google searches to your network on Ning? Read on to learn how to harness the power of Google Webmaster Tools to help boost your network’s rank in Google searches.

Setting up Webmaster Tools will gives you a wide range of tools that you can use to both improve the experience of your members and increase the number of visits to your network. If you use any analytics software or gather data on how your members learned about your network, you’ll notice that many people come to your network after using a search engine.

But what if the first result when someone finds your network in a Google search is an old forum thread or a random member-uploaded video — not the best welcome for a first-time visitor! Or what if potential members are searching for a social network for football players, but your network is named “Pigskin Central”? It’s possible search engines could be missing the connection, if the word “football” isn’t actually used in your network’s title or description.

That’s where Webmaster Tools can help, by providing a number of features to allow you to master Search Engine Optimization. But before you can really take advantage of Google’s tools, Google has to verify that you are the site owner. Learn how after the jump…

Note: Your network has to be completely public for you to verify your site. Otherwise, you’ll get an error from Google and you won’t be able to complete the verification process.

1. Log in to Google and head to the Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard. Type in your network’s address, and hit “Add Site.”

2. On the following page, click “Verify your site.”

3. Under “Choose verification method,” select “Upload an HTML file.” New text will appear below in a small box. Highlight and copy the text.

4. Open a text editor on your computer, such as TextEdit, Notepad or Microsoft Word. Create a new document, and then hit “Save.” When prompted to name the file, paste the text you copied from Google. If you can select the file format, choose “HTML.” Save the file.

5. Next, you’ll want to access your network’s files through WebDav.

6. Once you’ve connected to your network’s file system, simply drag the file you just created from your computer into the file system. Be sure to place the file in the root directory — meaning not inside any folder.

7. Go back to Google and the “Verify your site” page. Hit the “Verify” button.

8. All done! Your site should be verified. Prepare for your network to liftoff!

In the next Webmaster Tools blog post, we’ll explain everything you can do with Google Webmaster Tools.

About the Author:

Evan Goldin – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.


  • DoonePlace

    Thanks this worked very well for me – great job. I was a bit surprised to use the same html file for every site.

  • Webmaster

    PROBLEM AT STEP 6. WHEN USING WEBDAV:

    - Ning provided sftp address of http://mynetworkname.DAV.ning.com to upload files
    - Google wants to verify the site’s traffic location at http://mynetworkname.ning.com
    - All steps worked until 6, where the file is uploaded to: http://mynetworkname.DAV.ning.com/google123.html

    Problem: http://mynetworkname.DAV.ning.com, DOES NOT SEEM TO EQUAL, http://mynetworkname.ning.com

    Question: How does Google verify the address where traffic is actually being generated, if Ning only provides developers access to directories at: http://mynetworkname.DAV.ning.com?

    Thanks!

  • Evan

    Hi Joy!

    Thanks for raising this issue. So when you access your network’s files via WebDAV, the site you access it at is, as you say, mynetworkname.dav.ning.com. However, the site you are working with is mynetwork.ning.com, and any changes will be reflected on your network at that address.

    If you’re having trouble accessing your network via WebDAV, check out this tutorial:
    http://developer.ning.com/notes/Accessing_Source_Code_with_WebDav

  • Denis Welter

    Thx for that post! It works perfecht.Thx

  • Nhiematsu

    does anyone kno how to accomplish this using a META tag?

  • Sidian Morning Star Jones

    Tried adding the meta tag to the Analytics but it didn’t work.
    Ning – how do we do this now?

  • Evan

    Hi all,

    It’s been a while since we posted this (more than 18 months!), and the way you verify your Ning Network has happily become quite a lot easier. In fact, it’s built right in to your Manage page as a Network Creator!

    Just follow the instructions in this Help Center FAQ to verify your Ning Network. If run into any issues, drop us a note in the Help Center!

    Cheers!
    Evan

  • http://www.gsid.net Keso

    Thanks for leaving this article up, it helped me settle a bet in regards to how it used to be.

    Ta!

  • plant

    Hi, I have the NING basic network ($2.95/month). On the My Network tab, my $2.95/month plan blocks me (locks me out) from accessing Google Webmaster.

    How do I get around this, given I only wish to use the basic plan, please?

    Thank you.

  • http://ericsuesz.com Eric Suesz

    Hi, plant. Mini networks don’t have the ability to add custom code like this, so there’s not really a workaround. You might want to join us on the Creators Ning Network for advice from other NCs about what your options might be. Hope this helps.