Sunday, January 14, 2007

how to verify ownership to Google on blog server

I was checking out Google's web master tools site the other night.  In order to verify the ownership, I opted to create a static HTML file on my site. Google failed to verify the ownership, stating it received a 404 error inside a 220-status page. I saw the file on the server and could browse to it properly using a browser too.

Puzzled, I looked at the server's access log. It turned out the Google attempted to retrieve two files. One was the long-winding name it stipulated. The other was the former file with its name prefixed with 'noexist_'.  The logic is clear: Google wants be sure the 220 code returned for the "magic" file is real, by verifying a different code (404 in this case) would be returned if the "magic" file doesn't exist. - - [11/Jan/2007:20:12:20 -0500] "GET /google0467d40068c96de7.html HTTP/1.1" 200 59 - - [11/Jan/2007:20:12:20 -0500] "GET /noexist_0467d40068c96de7.html HTTP/1.1" 200 5306

The help page claims Goggle does HEAD only. This obviously isn't true, or isn't true any more, per Apache's access log entries above.

<META name="verify-v1" content="DGxlTrIdDwI9xwBYeYOMddr34POYb934o45vCpf3t+nvcI=" />
I ended up use the META tag instead. I copy+pasted it into /wp-content/themes/myTheme/header.php right before </HEAD><BODY>. This time it worked just fine.

The mischief was caused by a beautified 404 page generated by the /wp-content/themes/myTheme/404.php. Vaguely recalling Apache's manual pages do state that ErrorDocument directive and some other types of redirect tend to lose the original response status code, be it 404, 501, or 403.

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