How to Upload Google Search Console HTML File for a WordPress Site

Google Search Console is paramount to any SEO who’s serious about organic growth and performance. And to that end, most WordPress users are either likely wanting to integrate Search Console Data via some plugin, or are looking to somehow get easy access to it via some setting in their WP dashboard.

However, the first step is to get access to GSC data in the first place. Now, before we dive into things, let’s get some insights into what the HTML file verification exactly is, and why Google almost always recommends this method of verification.

What Is the HTML File Verification in Google Search Console

“HTML file” verification at the end of the day, is nothing but an HTML file as the name suggests, that you need to upload at the root directory level of your website.

Google Search Console will provide you with the file. All you have to do is download & upload. (The how is covered in more details below; just follow along).

Why Is HTML File Verification the Preferred Choice?

In general, there are five options available to verify ownership to a Google Search Console Property.

How to Upload Google Search Console HTML File for a WordPress Site: five traditionally provided verification methods for a GSC property
As we can see, there are five verification options available. But why does Google Search Console recommend the HTML file method?

There are a few reasons for that:

  1. All other verification methods have some associations or need certain access levels, either in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or WordPress.
  2. Not only that, but any changes there can also result in losing the verification. On top of that, speaking more specifically to WordPress, any theme updates, or code changes, or any undesirable back-end modification can result in losing the verification.
  3. The Domain Name Provider works for verification on a domain level and can also work for URL prefix. However, implementing so, especially if your domain name provider is not on the default list, can prove difficult, and in certain situations, honestly depend on how much access your domain provider is giving you.

The HTML File verification method is the safest, reliable, and the easiest solution. If your goal is always to remain verified — independent of whatever happens with your GA, GTM, and WordPress, this is the route to go. Do note that for every user, a new HTML File verification will be required.

How to Upload Google Search Console HTML File for a WordPress Site

To upload the file, you’d basically need a way to connect to your site’s back-end or root directory. The most common technique is to communicate via an FTP or SFTP-SSH File Transfer Protocol. Here, I will be discussing two ways to achieve this result.

  1. Using an FTP or SFTP software.
  2. Using your domain registrar to FTP the file, if you have that feature available. As an example, I will demonstrate GoDaddy’s “File Browser,” for someone who has access to it.

1: Using Filezilla to Upload GSC HTML File

As far as Windows 10 is concerned, FileZilla is one of the top choices. As a prerequisite, you’d first need to configure FileZilla with your WP site initially. If you need guidance, and a tour of the platform, feel free to refer to the “How to Setup FileZilla (FTP) for Your WordPress Site” post I’ve written previously.

Once you’re connected, you’d have to navigate to your website’s section (which would typically be on the right window pane, under the column “Remote Site”) — to locate the root directory.

You’d know it’s your root directory by looking at other files that are supposed to be at the root level. For example, your robots.txt, or your various config files. For WordPress Users, the presence of the wp-admin folder and the .htaccess file can also serve as a big hint, to confirm that you’re indeed at the root level. See the screenshot below for reference.

overview of filezilla
An Overview of FileZilla Main Window Panes.

Next, once you’ve found your root location, within FileZilla itself, you can add your GSC HTML file by dragging it from the local disk, TO, the remote site.

Transferring files from your local hard drive to your website in FileZilla, is a simple drag and drop.
Transferring files from your local hard drive to your website in FileZilla, is a simple drag and drop.

2: Using GoDaddy’s “File Browser”

The File Browser functionality in a GoDaddy managed WP plan (or not if you have access) is nothing but a more simplistic FileZilla, so to speak. Conceptually, it is like an FTP.

To leverage this capability, first, log into your Managed WP GoDaddy account (or similar), head over to your products, and finally, scroll down to the “Managed WordPress” section (or related if you have this feature). From there, select the Manage button.

Consequently, you’ll be directed to the “overview” tab. Although, where you’d need to go is to the “Tools” Tab.

tools tab inside the godaddy managed wordpress plan
Go to the “Tools” tab.

Inside the “Tools” tab, you’d eventually see the option for “File Browser.” As soon as you hit that button, the tool will open. In fact, GoDaddy even labels your root directory (screenshot to follow), so there’s no confusion.

a snapshot of godaddy file browser
A snapshot of “GoDaddy’s File browser.” Notice how they also label the root directory.

The process of uploading the Google Search Console HTML File is almost similar. However, instead of drag and drop, it’s a much simpler process where you get an option to upload files.

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In order to Upload Google Search Console HTML File for a WordPress site, all you need is the ability to transfer the file via an FTP or similar connection. The best part about using this verification method is that it is independent of what happens to your WordPress code, theme and plugins updates, and anything else along the same lines.

Plus, it is also free of the access level headaches in Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager (if those were used to verify the GSC property).