The Curious Case of Multiple Webmaster Tools Verifications on a Joomla Website

Trivia: The title of this post is inspired by the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which is somehow unique (in our humble opinion), but please don’t unfriend us if you don’t like it. The notion of aging backwards is fascinating, original, and, to some extent, true.

While examining the Joomla website of a new customer of ours this morning, we noticed that there were 3 files and 2 meta tags that were used to verify the site ownership for Google Webmaster Tools (by the way, it seems that Google now calls it the Google Search Console).

Typically, when we see this we know exactly what the deal is: every single developer/designer working on the website added their own Google Webmaster Tools verification code (either by uploading a verification file or by adding a verification meta tag), in order to claim the website’s ownership, so that they can spy on the site’s keywords. The reason why none of them removed the other verification files/meta tags was because they just didn’t know which verification file/meta tag was the legitimate one as they didn’t want to remove it by mistake (so that they wouldn’t get caught).

When this happens, we delete all the verification files/meta tags, and then we ask the client to provide us with his verification file/meta tag (we do prefer having a file over having a meta tag, by the way; it’s just less clutter in the HTML code). Of course, when we tell the client, he is usually annoyed by the behavior of his previous developers/designers, but, on the other hand, he’s exalted because he’s finally dealing with honest developers!

But aren’t there cases where a website has a legitimate need for multiple verifications?

Yes, and that is especially the case of a large website belonging to a very large company. In this case, the company has separate divisions working in silos, and these divisions have separate Google accounts that they use to monitor their site’s performance.

Can this happen with Google Analytics as well?

Yes, and we have seen it many times. The reason why we only spoke about Google Webmaster Tools in this post was because the issue that we saw today was with this particular tool. So, you should also check if your website has more than one Google Analytics verification file/meta tag.

If you have a Joomla website with multiple verification files/meta tags for the exact tool, then you should immediately remove the ones that aren’t yours. If you don’t know how to do that, then please contact us. We will do it for cleanly, quickly, and for very little money. Oh, and we are trustworthy programmers!

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