Sean Harding is talking about the changes in the website verification process of Webmaster Tools on the Google Webmaster blog. Earlier, webmasters were required to add a specific meta tag or file of their website to become its verified owner. But, Google has recently made a few improvements in the ownership verification process to make it easier and more reliable.
The first change Google has made is the improvement in the meta tag verification method. Earlier, verification of meta tag partially depended on the email address of the Google Account. It means that your meta tags would also change if any changes were made in the email account settings. But, Google has now made a new version of meta tag verification that will not be related to email. Once webmasters verify their meta tag, they won't be required to verify it again even after changing the email address.
The team has also revamped its method of verification by HTML file. Earlier, if the website showed an HTTP status code different from the 404 for non-existent URLS, users were not able to use the file verification method. Although, a properly configured web server used to return 404 for the non-existing URLs but it was seen that lots of sites faced problems with this particular requirement. Google has now simplified the file verification process, eliminating the checks for non-existing URLs. You just have to download the HTML file provided by Google and upload it to your website without doing any changes. The webmasters team will check the contents of the file and if they are error free, your work is done.
The team is hoping that these changes will make the verification process a bit easier for site owners. Those who have already verified themselves through old methods can still continue with the existing verification. The changes introduced by Google are supposed for new verifications only.
There are some software and websites with in-built features to help in verifying ownership by adding meta tag or file. These sites might require up gradation to function with new methods. For example, Google sites are still not able to perform the new meta tag verification method properly. Google knows this problem and is working to solve it.
The changes introduced are one of the several improvements on which Google is working for better website verification. It is expected that Google will soon come with an update where email addresses of verified owners of a site will be showed to other verified owners of the site. In this way, it will become much easier to manage sites that have multiple verified owners.