Google webmaster tools access denied error fix

Google Webmaster Tools provides major tools necessary to monitor your website or blog and fix any errors that may interfere with Google indexing your pages and your pages showing up in Google Search results. Recently, I started noticing the notorious Webmaster Tools Access Denied error. Some of the Feedburner related links started showing up under Crawl Errors -> URL Errors of my GWT. All I could get from the error information was that these links were Feedburner related. The problematic links involved URL parameter such as utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign and some Feedburner information. In this post, I will share how I fixed the issue in the hopes that it might help somebody else as well as save some of their time.

Google Webmaster Tools Access Denied Error
Google Webmaster Tools Access Denied Error

In my case, there were two problematic URLs:

https://www.smarthomebeginner.com/create-cron-job-with-webmin/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+htpcBeginner+(htpcBeginner)
https://www.smarthomebeginner.com/openelec-3-2-1-released-raspberry-pi-update-instructions/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+htpcBeginner+(htpcBeginner)

While you may find fixes that revolve around making Google ignore the links that contain the utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign parameters, they are not the ideal fixes because some may linked to those URLs and you may lose the backlink juice. Searching around, I found several bloggers had this issue but no clear solution available. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this thread that solved the issue for me. The Google webmaster tools access denied error was caused by the BulletProof Security (BPS) WordPress plugin I recently implemented.

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The Webmaster Tools access denied error is caused due to the parenthesis at the end of the links, in this case: (htpcBeginner). BulletProof Security denies access to referrers that contain the parenthesis. The solution is to somehow remove the parenthesis or make BulletProof Security ignore them, the latter being the more practical solution. To make BPS ignore the parenthesis, go to BPS Security plugin settings page from your WordPress dashboard. Then open "Your Current Root htaccess File" under "htaccess File Editor" tab.

BulletProof Security htaccess File Editor
BulletProof Security htaccess File Editor

Find the following line:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^.*(\(|\)|< |>|%3c|%3e).* [NC,OR] 

Change it to (remove \(|\)|:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^.*(< |>|%3c|%3e).* [NC,OR] 

Update your current htaccess file. BPS should now ignore the parenthesis and Google Webmaster Tools access errors on the Feedburner URLs should go away over the next few weeks when Google finishes re-indexing your pages.

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Anand

Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.