Written by Ryan Jones. Updated on 15, August 2023
Coming across the "Ownership Verification Failed" when trying to log in and view your website's performance in Google Search Console can be incredibly frustrating, especially as there are a number of different causes for this.
In this article, we will take you through what the Ownership Verification Failed error is, the different causes for the error and, of course, how to fix the error and get you back to looking at your Google Search Console data in all its glory.
Image Credit: support.google.com
The Ownership Verification Failed error refers to the error that occurs when Google cannot verify you are the owner of the website you are trying to access in Google Search Console.
Naturally, Google wants to keep website data private and ensure that only website owners and other authorised users can see it, this is because it shows click and impression data as well as other information about your structured data and any manual actions. Plus other vital information to help websites rank.
Because of this need for privacy, if Google cannot verify that you are a site owner, you are going to see the Ownership Verification Failed error.
There are a number of different causes for the Ownership Verification Failed error appearing within Google Search Console.
Here's what you will see if you are not a verified site owner, or have not been granted access permissions by the verified site owner:
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If you have tried to log in to your GSC account and it is not the correct account associated with that website, you are going to see the error. This can happen, especially if you work for an agency, managing lots of clients with one central login. If a client has not given you access to their Google Search Console, you are going to see the error occur.
If, for some reason, the HTML verification file (used by Google Search Console to determine site ownership) has been removed from the website, you will see this error. This will happen regardless of if it is the first time you are logging into your GSC account and the HTML file is not there, or you have accessed GSC without issue before, but the verification file has been removed in the interim.
If your HTML verification tag is located in the wrong place on your website, you are going to be given the error. Google Search Console will only look in the <head> section of your website for the HTML verification tag. If it cannot find this tag within the <head> section, it will assume you do not have access to the site.
It is possible for you to verify your site ownership through Google Analytics. Especially since Google Analytics requires a tracking code within the <head> section of your website to work. If you add the GSC tracking code to Google Analytics and your GA is working without issue, Google Search Console will correctly assume you have ownership of your site. However, if Google Search Console cannot find its tracking code within Google Analytics, you will spot the Ownership Verification Failed error, and correctly so.
Sometimes, something as simple as a server error can cause this issue to occur, although this is rare. Google Search Console relies on access to your website servers to find your chosen method of verification, whether it is through the HTML verification file, a tag on your website or Google Analytics. If Google Search Console cannot access your server, it will assume the file is not there.
Sometimes, the problem is incredibly simple. Are you typing in the correct information? If there are any errors in the domain name or DNS, Google will throw the Ownership Verification Failed error at you, as it cannot access the website you are typing in. This can happen if the domain name is misspelt or the incorrect top-level domain (TLD) is used.
For example. If I am trying to verify seotesting.com, but I typed in seotesting.co.uk into Google Search Console, I would likely see this error.
There are a number of different ways to fix the Ownership Verification Failed error within Google Search Console.
The method of fixing you choose will depend almost entirely on the method of verification you would prefer to use.
Ensure you are logging into Google Search Console with the correct account details to view the website details you are looking for.
This is especially crucial for agency staff who will often rely on clients giving them their account details or separate access to their accounts with their own logins. It is not uncommon to see agency staff log into Google Search Console and have 30 accounts to choose from, so ensuring login details are kept secure and convenient is crucial to ensure you are not logging into the wrong account.
As mentioned earlier, if your website's server is having issues, it will not just impact people trying to access your website, it will also impact Google Search Console as it relies (mainly) on viewing your website to find ownership verification.
If your website is currently seeing server errors, get in touch with your IT team or your external server team and ensure these server issues are resolved as quickly as possible. This will allow you to get back to seeing your GSC data, and more importantly, it will allow people to access your website again!
There are a number of ways Google Search Console allows you to verify your site ownership:
It's also worth noting that any website registered with Google Domains should be automatically verified as this is a Google product so, naturally, the linking between your site and Google Search Console should be quick and easy.
Once you have completed one of the above verification methods, click "verify" within Google Search Console. GSC will now do a check to ensure they can see the verification method. If it can, and there are no issues with the implementation, then you will be taken straight through to your Google Search Console account with no further issues, ready to see your website's data.
Dealing with the Ownership Verification Failed error in Google Search Console can seem daunting at first, but when you have the right knowledge and approach, it can be resolved quickly and effectively.
Google Search Console is a fantastic tool in its own right, but what if you could make better use of the data it gives you? Use it to create reports, run SEO tests and improve organic traffic all in one platform. Give SEOTesting a try today. We currently have a 14-day free trial with no credit card required to sign-up.