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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Forbidden (403) URL received search traffic

The specific URL we're examining is generating a HTTP status of 403 (Forbidden), yet it has been recorded to receive organic search traffic according to the data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console for the connected profiles.


Why is this important?

Being hit with a 403 status signifies blocked access to content. When visitors from search engines are directed to 403 pages, their experience is negatively impacted, leading to potential reputational damage to your brand.


What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization is activated when any internal URL receives clicks in Search Analytics, and/or site visits in Google Analytics, but the URL gives a HTTP response of 403 (Forbidden).


The insights were derived via API from Google Search Console and Google Analytics for the accounts in question, covering the defined timeframe.


Examples that trigger this Optimization:

Take the example URL: https://example.com/page-b, notable for receiving a measurable amount of search traffic.


The Optimization would be apparent for this URL upon discovery of a 403 (Forbidden) HTTP response:

HTTP/... 403 Forbidden...


How do you resolve this issue?

Consider the following points:

  1. Recall that traffic data is based on past performance, whereas our site audit is a current snapshot. Thus, there could have been changes to URL accessibility, turning what was once available into a 403 (Forbidden) page.

  2. It is also important to determine if the 403 (Forbidden) status is genuinely displayed to all users or if it's specific to search engine crawlers. Overactive security measures, for example, mistaken DDoS attack responses, can temporarily block legitimate crawling activity, resulting in a 403.

In absence of the above scenarios, you're left with a non-accessible page still receiving traffic—this necessitates immediate attention. Confirm that all intended public pages yield a HTTP status of 200 (OK) to ensure they are found by search engines.


Further Reading

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