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Lack of Interest Do not restrict the profile of banned members (severe SEO damage - proof inside)

Discussion in 'Closed Suggestions' started by imthebest, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. imthebest

    imthebest Formerly Super120

    Please see this from Google Webmaster Tools:


    So basically after moving from vBulletin thanks to XenForo's brilliant idea of restricting the visualization of permanently banned member profiles I'm being flagged by Google as a site with lots of 403 errors. Believe me that Google doesn't like when sites restrict access to their content and Googlebot is complaining about that.

    It's a severe damage against SEO if you restrict access to banned member profiles. Those members could have valuable information on their profile posts and if you suddenly restrict access to these contents Google will hate you.

    When you receive an email like this from Google:

    You really start thinking if it was a good decision to move from vBulletin...

  2. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    There's nothing to worry about here.

    403 responses are not unusual and they are the appropriate response code here. A 403 response code should be returned for pages which the visitor does not have permission to view.

    Keeping an eye on 403 errors is important. If all of a sudden all your pages started returning 403 errors that would be a problem. But all Google will do with 403 errors is eventually remove those pages from their index and in most cases that is exactly what you would want to happen. If the user was a spammer, or someone offensive and abusive, you would not want their content (which in itself could be damaging from Google's point of view or that of prospective members) to be discoverable.

    Take a look at my site as an example:


    That's a good 3 months worth of data there, and all of these are 403 errors. I've probably had a similarly flat trend for the last few years. It's not the busiest site in the world, but it's still a fair number of crawl errors for a very prolonged period of time.

    It's important to remember at this point that a 403 error can be generated by any content that did exist but no longer does.

    If you soft delete a thread or move it to an inaccessible forum, it will generate a 403 when Google crawls it. If a user changes their privacy settings, same thing. If you change permissions on your site for X forum, then any content in that forum previously indexed will now start giving a 403.

    They are quite simply a thing that happens.

    So, despite this prolonged period of 403 errors, has it affected my pagerank? Or visitors? Or what content I have indexed? No. Because that's not how it works. Simply those 403 errors will eventually go away because Google will eventually stop trying. There's also a small matter of balance. If 403 errors make up 1% of your total indexed pages, or some other comparatively low number, Google won't care. It will still index and crawl the other X% that is accessible and you won't be penalised.
    Jeremy P, Alien, AndyB and 1 other person like this.
  3. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    noindex your profile urls in robots.txt
  4. Xon

    Xon Well-Known Member

    Spam bots insert tend to insert spam into a number of publically visible fields on their profile. That information is actually detrimental to have on your site.

    Having this information suddenly be displayed by a minor version update would not be expected.

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