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What is HTTP 403 Forbidden?

The HTTP 403 Forbidden status code indicates the server understood the client’s request but will not fulfill it. It is returned when the client or user lacks the required permissions or authorization to access the requested resource.

The HTTP 403 forbidden response code could be returned due to several reasons, including:

  • Insufficient permissions
  • Invalid or incorrect credentials
  • A restrictive access control configuration
  • Authentication failure

The 403 Forbidden error belongs to the 4xx series of HTTP status codes.

  • 4 indicates a client error
  • xx is a placeholder for two numbers that provide more information about the status of the HTTP request

403 Forbidden Variations

Bloggers can customize the error message displayed when visitors encounter the 403 Forbidden error. So, no standard message is displayed when you encounter the 403 Forbidden error.

However, most sites typically include 403, Forbidden, Error, and Access Denied in the error message. Some common examples include:

  • 403 verboden
  • 403 Error
  • Error 403
  • HTTP 403
  • Access Denied
  • Status code 403
  • Error 403 Forbidden
  • 403 Forbidden Access
  • Forbidden. Access denied
  • HTTP Error 403 Forbidden
  • 403 Forbidden. Access is denied
  • You are not authorized to view this page
  • You don’t have permission to access this page
  • Access Denied. You don’t have permission to access
  • 403 Forbidden. Request forbidden by administrative rules
  • Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access the server
  • 403 Forbidden Error. You are not allowed to access this address
  • 403 Forbidden. Access to this resource on the server is denied
  • Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access / on this server
  • HTTP Error 403 Forbidden. You do not have permission to access the document you requested

That said, it is essential to note that some sites may display messages that do not include the above words. However, they will inform you that you cannot access the page. 

Sample of a 403 Forbidden error

How the HTTP 403 Response Code Works

The process begins with the client sending an HTTP request to the server. 

GET /index.html HTTP/1.1 
Host: yourdomain.com

The server then responds with an HTTP 403 response code. The response includes a message body containing more details about the error. The blogger can customize this error message, making the message displayed differ from site to site. 

HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
Access to this resource is forbidden. Please contact the administrator.

Uses of the 403 Forbidden Error

The 403 Forbidden helps to prevent unauthorized visitors from accessing specific parts of a site. For example, it can be used to:

  • Prevent unregistered users from commenting or accessing certain areas of an online forum
  • Prevent a visitor or contributor from accessing the admin privileges of a site
  • Prevent visitors from specific geographical locations from accessing a site
  • Prevent free users from accessing the paid member area of a site

Why Am I Getting 403 Forbidden Errors

The HTTP 403 error indicates that the server recognizes and acknowledges your request but refuses to allow you to access the requested resource. It can be caused by several reasons, some of which we will address below.

1 Insufficient Permissions

A site can return a 403 error when a user enters an incorrect URL or tries to access a webpage, directory, or file for which they do not have sufficient permission to access.

2 Invalid Credentials

A site may return a 403 error when a visitor tries accessing a page using invalid, incorrect, or unrecognized authentication credentials. For example, when a user enters the wrong username or password on the login page, the server considers such login data invalid and will not allow the visitor to access the page. 

3 Restricted Access

Web servers can be configured to block visitors using a particular IP address or visiting from a specific geographical region from accessing their site. 

4 Server Configuration Issues

Improperly configured sites could cause a 403 error. For example, incorrect file permissions, conflicting directives in the server configuration files, or misconfigured access control rules can result in the server denying access and returning a 403 error.

5 Security Restrictions

A site may use the 403 Forbidden error to protect sensitive data or prevent unauthorized users from accessing certain pages or data.

6 Forbidden File Type or Format

The 403 status code can be used to restrict visitors’ access to certain file types or formats for security reasons. For example, some sites will return a 403 Forbidden error when a user tries to access or run an executable file. 

7 Exceeded Usage Limits or Quotas

Some websites or web services have usage limits or quotas to manage server resources and prevent abuse. For example, some sites limit how many requests a user can make or data a user can transfer within a period. 

SEO Implication of the 403 Forbidden Error

The 403 status code can have severe SEO and usability implications for your site, especially when it blocks visitors and search engine crawlers from accessing pages you want them to access. 

1 It Increases Your Bounce Rate

Visitors will likely leave your site when they unexpectedly encounter a 403 Forbidden error. This will increase your bounce rate and ultimately cause search engines to lower your ranking on the search results page. 

2 It Hurts Your User Experience

The 403 Forbidden error hurts your visitors’ user experience. While this may not be a huge issue when it blocks visitors from accessing pages you do not want them to access, the error could become one when it appears on pages that are supposed to be accessible to everyone. 

3 It Could Cause Sites to Remove Your Backlinks

Sites linking to you can remove your links that return a 403 error. There could be an exception in cases where the site knows or expects the link to return a 403 error. However, they will likely remove your link if they expect it to return a webpage or resource rather than a 403 error. 

4 It Could Cause Google to Deindex Your Pages

Google does not index 403 pages and will remove webpages it previously indexed once they return a 403 error. You can prevent this by ensuring that the pages you want in search results do not return an HTTP 403 Forbidden for any reason. Similarly, you should not use the 403 status code to prevent Googlebot from crawling your site. 

That said, the 403 Forbidden error is typically not an issue when it blocks visitors and search engine crawlers from pages you do not want them to access. However, even in such cases, you should ensure it is properly configured and does not prevent those authorized users from accessing the page.

Veel Gestelde Vragen

1. Does 403 Forbidden Mean Banned?

A 403 Forbidden error can sometimes indicate you are banned from accessing a specific resource or site. However, it is important to note that a 403 error has various causes. So, while it can imply that access is blocked, it does not always mean you are banned. The specific reason for the 403 error should be investigated to determine the exact cause.

2. How Do I Fix 403 Forbidden?

You can fix a 403 Forbidden error by troubleshooting your site to identify and resolve the source of the error. You can refer to this guide to fix 403 Forbidden errors

3. Does 403 Forbidden Mean I’m Blocked?

Yes, a 403 Forbidden error typically indicates you are blocked and forbidden from accessing the requested resource. 

4. Why Am I Getting 403 Forbidden on a Website?

You are getting a 403 Forbidden error because you are attempting to access a part of the site or perform some actions that you are not allowed to perform. If you think you should be able to access the page or perform the action, then it will be a good idea to contact the site administrator. 

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