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    Error 403 (forbidden) is an HTTP code of the 4xxx group. It means that the web server forbids access when you do not have the proper permissions to the web resource in question. The 403 error may lie on the administrator’s side or on the user’s side.

    Error 403 (forbbiden) - what does it mean?

    How does a 403 code look like?

    Most often the message “Error 403 forbidden” appears on the page. Other messages are:

    • HTTP Error 403.14 – Forbidden,
    • web server forbids access,
    • you do not have access to this website,
    • forbidden – access prohibited,
    • Error 403,
    • Error 403 forbidden,
    • HTTP 403,
    • HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden,

    Error code 403 – why can’t you access the site?

    The cause of the problem is that the user wants to get to certain resources that they do not have access to – this is only possible for logged-in users or the administrator. Besides, the 403 forbidden error can occur when access permissions are misconfigured. It can also appear when:

    • the IP address is blocked or banned,
    • the site is not in the index,
    • access to some content is blocked geographically or otherwise,
    • the user wants to access a private website,
    • the site directory is empty,

    What to do when the web server prohibits access?

    To eliminate the 403 error on your site, you must first locate the cause – why you can’t access the website. To begin with, check if you don’t have permission due to not logging into the administration panel or the site has access restrictions.

    Error 403 forbidden-on-administrator-side

    • Check the .htaccess server configuration file – the file that allows you to add changes to the Apache Web Server settings. It is located in the root folder of each website. You should temporarily exclude .htaccess to determine if the source of the problem is the access-blocking directives it contains. Before doing so, create a backup and download it to your computer. Then generate a new file through the CMS.
    • Frequently the 403 forbidden error is related to outdated software. Install an update to eliminate the 403 error code and for security reasons.
    • Check file and directory settings – make sure file and directory permissions are set correctly. On Unix systems, typically files should have permissions of 644 and directories 755. You can change this with the command ‘chmod’.
    • If your server uses a firewall’a (firewall), this could be a potential cause of the 403 error. Check your firewall settings to see if it is blocking access to resources.
    • Scan the site for malware – sometimes malware such as various types of bots create files on websites which creates a 403 error.
    • Contact your hosting company may solve the problem if none of the above still helped solve the problem.

    What can happen when Google’s robot hits a page that has a 403 error? Will Google’s robot index the page? If the page was previously indexed, then it will be kicked out of the index. And if it hasn’t seen it before, it still won’t add it to the index because it can’t access it.

    Another problem that the 403 forbidden error is responsible for is the inability to pass link juice (PageRank) between them. Such an error on a more important URL such as the home page can result in a lower ranking of your site in the browser. This is especially important from an SEO point of view.

    What if a user wanted to access a particular page? Because of problems like the 403 error just now, your site loses trust, resulting in decreased conversions and increased rejection rates. Forbidden access prevents customers from moving on and is a big problem for site owners.

    Benefits of 403 error code

    Despite its high impact on SEO efforts, the 403 forbidden error has no negative impact on security and access management.

    • Control – the 403 error allows server administrators to control access to specific resources. It can be used to block access to important files or directories that should not be accessible to the public.
    • Security – error code 403 can help secure and block access to your website and web application from unauthorized individuals.
    • Resource management – the occurrence of this error allows you to manage server resources that are only available to those with access permissions.
    • Legal Compliance – In some cases, a 403 error may be required to meet certain legal or regulatory requirements. For example, some sites may need to restrict access based on a user’s geographic location in order to comply with local regulations.

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    Kamila Dębska
    Kamila Dębska