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How to Regain Owner Access for your Site on Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a very powerful tool that all webmasters should be using, allowing you to troubleshoot a number of SEO issues as well as helping you keep a check on who’s linking to your site. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to lose access to your site on Webmaster Tools, whether it’s due to staff members moving on, a former supplier setting up your account, or simply losing the password.

It can be a real headache trying to gain access to your site within Webmaster Tools if any of these have happened to you. In many cases, one user account will have been used to set up Webmaster Tools for that website, then access is granted from that account to other users. However, only that original user is classified as the owner of that site - all other users get limited access, even if Webmaster Tools says you have full access.

If you don’t have ‘owner’ level access to your site on Webmaster Tools, you can’t control who else has access, meaning former agency partners could still make changes without your knowledge, and you’ll be unable to link your site’s Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics.
Fortunately, there is a way to regain owner access to your site without having to manually trawl through all your organisation’s Google logins or try and remember old passwords…

1. Login to Webmaster Tools

The first step is to login to Webmaster Tools. At this stage it doesn’t matter if your account is a restricted user of your site, or if you don’t even have access at all!

2. Visit Webmaster Central

Second, visit this page at Webmaster Central – this lists all the sites you’re verified for, and ones you’ve formerly had control of. You should see a screen like the one below:

Webmaster Central

If your account has never had access to the website, click the red ‘add a site’ button and go to step 4.

If your site is listed near the top with an orange exclamation mark, click on ‘verify this site’ and move on to step 4.

3. Verify using a different method

If you have access to the site but are not an ‘owner’, then find your site and click ‘verification details’. You’ll see this page:

Verification Levels in WMT

This page will let you know who has access to the site and how. Chances are, your account is not a site owner because you’ve been delegated control from someone with owner level access.

To gain owner level access yourself, you need to verify your account using a different method that is not dependant on someone else’s.
To do this, click on ‘verify using a different method’ in the top left.

4. Verify your site

You’ll now see the following options:

Verification Methods

You now need to verify your site using a different method to how it is currently. Verifying with certain methods may be quicker and easier than others, for example using the HTML file upload would require a developer accessing your server, the HTML tag method requires a small change to your site’s code, and domain name provider requires having your domain login details to hand.

You can find out more about these various verification methods here.

Once you have picked a method, check it with the radio button, click verify and follow the steps.

5. Check if you have access

Now, check to make sure your access level has been upgraded. A quick way to do this is to return to Webmaster Tools and click on the manage site button. If you have full owner access you should see the ‘Add or remove users’ option.

Add or remove users

If this is not visible, go back to step 3 and verify the site again using another method.

Verify with several methods to keep your site safe

Verifying your site with as many methods as possible is recommended as it makes your ownership of the site more resilient. For example, if you only verified your site with the HTML tag method, then had the site redesigned, the tag could be accidentally removed, so you’d lose access. Similarly, if you’re verified with Google Analytics and that account is deleted, you’d also lose access on Webmaster Tools. Verifying your site in multiple ways is a great safeguard against any such accidents happening and avert potential disaster.

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