SEO Friendly URLs 403 Access Error

Written by  August 28, 2008

For those of you using — or thinking of using — any form of SEO URLs mod to rewrite the links on your site you may want to be aware of this common error message many have reported getting.

I’ve run into this myself on a few servers and it made no sense to me as to why I would get it when in other cases the rewriting of URLs worked just fine.

The error more specifically states “403 Access Forbidden” and goes on to provide very little detail. There are a number of reasons this can happen some stemming from incorrect configuration of the .htaccess file itself (used to setup the rules and conditions for rewriting.)

If you are sure the .htaccess file is correct and are still getting the error, then go back and first enter ONLY the following in the .htaccess file itself:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Replace “yourdomain” with the domain of your site (and don’t forget the “.com” extension. Use the extension your site has.)

Now open up the following url in your browser:
http://yourdomain.com (again replacing “yourdomain” with your own personal domain.)

If the server is setup correctly (php configured with mod_rewrite and that is loaded) then you should see the home page of your website BUT in the address bar of the browser you should see the “www” form of it.

You entered “yourdomain.com” and you should see “www.yourdomain.com”.

If this works, then your server is setup correctly and the problem likely resides in either the configuration of your .htaccess file OR as I found, the root directory permissions of your website.

How to Correct the Error

Make sure your root directory is set to something that allows “write” access (like 755 or something). Keeping your sever as secure as possible yet allowing it to “write”. You can change these permissions by using your FTP program to login to your server and then performing a CHMOD command on the root directory (of the site that is.)

Change the root to 755 and then reload your page going through the same steps as above.

If all is working, then your SEO URLs module should also be working now.

Hope this helps anyone banging their head around looking for an answer to why they can’t get SEO Friendly URLs to work on their server.

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