I have a domain that has "fallen off a cliff" for searches in Google. Searches that used to be in position 1-4 are now gone from page 1. In reviewing Google Webmaster Tools, I am seeing two problems: 1. The Sitemap is reporting two errors: General HTTP error: HTTP 403 error (Forbidden) URLs not accessible

However, the URL they provide as "no accessible" is accessible. I can click the link Google provides and it works fine.

There are 17,000 crawl errors of type 403. Again, most of these pages that have 403 are accessible in my browser (tried various browsers as well). Maximum errors are from Mar'2018.

I do confirm that most of the pages reported as 403 are accessible.

A search of just "site:thedomain.com" does confirm there are over 5,000 in the index. But most searches don't return the site. I believe the 403 issues are the cause of the fall in search rankings, but I can't seem to find any information online with ideas about how to address this. You can refer screen shot of errors in attached images..

Any ideas?


Deepak Gupta

  • 1
    You can check the header status of URLs here: tools.seobook.com/server-header-checker If your URLs are indeed turning a 403 status then you have a major server issue that you have to fix immediately. Your pages should be returning a status 200. If search console is reporting your pages as 403 then this is almost certainly why your site has fallen and you got to fix it pronto. – Michael d Mar 16 '18 at 18:40
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    Have you tried the URLs with "Fetch as Google" in Search Console? If Googlebot can't fetch the URLs you have a problem whether or not you can do so. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 16 '18 at 20:44

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