Google Jobs Indexing API Setup Problem

I’ve recently worked with Laura to set up three recruitment sites to automatically notify Google Jobs of new and changed vacancies showing on the sites.

The documentation is relatively good, but when setting up the second I made a mistake that I don’t think is easy to spot, so I’m writing it up here in case it helps someone else, or indeed myself in the future.

The problem was: we had everything set up – new set of keys and JSON for the site from the Indexing API dashboard for the site, had added the special email address you have to set up to Google Search Console, copied the reusable code from the first project, which was working fine and… it wouldn’t work. Sending URLs in through the Indexing API got the error:

response-4829
Google_Service_Exception
Permission denied. Failed to verify the URL ownership.
reason: forbidden

Now, neither of us are daft, we could see there was a permissions problem, but couldn’t track down where it was. After much re-tracing of steps and faff, I compared everything about the existing, working project and the second one we were setting up. In Google Search Console (AKA Webmaster Tools), you have to add a special email address from the Indexing API dashboard. I’d done this incorrectly.

I had set up the Indexing API user for the site via the “New user” button in Google Search Console, then given it Full permissions. This was wrong. I should have used the “Manage property owners” link and the “Add new owner” button.

Google Search Console manage property owners link

I deleted the user I’d added with the “New user” button, added one with the “Manage property owners” link and ended up with a list like this:

List of owners in a site in Google Search Console

The Indexing API then started to work, no problem at all.

The first time I’d set up a project with the Indexing API I’d followed the instructions very closely and had got this step right, the second time I’d got ahead of myself and thought I remembered all the steps, and this bit within Search Console caught me out.

I can understand why Search Console has two different categories of user, allowing multiple owners gives a layer of management in an account which lets anyone shift in and out of ownership. But, it’d be nice if the interface was more clear for a case like this, or that they had a category for API users – maybe this will come in the future as Search Console is developed further.

So, if you’re getting a permission error when using the Indexing API, check how you have the API user set up within Search Console, it could be where your problem lies.

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