We keep seeing pop-ups saying error 404 and other technical issues with our websites that we want to check out. We might also have heard the term HTTP surfacing on our digital device screens. We hereby in this blog will unveil the relationship between the term HTTP and these code numbers.
What are HTTP Status Codes?
When a digital user visits a website, the browser they use tends to send a request to the server of the website.
And the server then responds to its request with a three-digit code which we commonly call the HTTP status code.
An HTTP status code is a response of the server to a browser’s request. These status codes are the digital equivalent of a conversation between your browser and the server.
Understanding how these codes function is very vital because they help us in diagnosing site errors rapidly to minimize downtime on the website.
They also help the search engines and users access your website. HTTP status codes are also known as browser error codes or internet error codes.
There Are Five Common Categories/Range of HTTP Status Code Errors
- 1xxs – Informational responses:
This group denotes that the server is looking through the request.
- 2xxs – Success:
Codes that fall under this category denote that the request of the user was successfully completed. And the server provided an expected response to the browser.
- 3xxs – Redirection:
This group shows that the user got redirected somewhere else. The user’s request was received, but there’s an unusual redirect of some kind.
- 4xxs – Client errors:
Page not found. This group of the HTTP Status codes shows that the site or a specific page the user was looking for couldn’t be reached. The request is successfully accessed, but the page is not valid. This is an issue on the website’s side of the communication and this often appears when a page does not exist on the site.
- 5xxs – Server errors: Failure:
This displays that the request made by the customer was valid, But the server failed to complete the request.
The Most Important Status Codes For SEOs
For every SEO professional/ expert, it is important to understand how these HTTP status codes work. Once they understand how it actually works, they would be able to make impactful changes and positive modifications in their rankings.
Let us look at some examples, How?
Just Imagine working on a website that keeps showing the 5xx category errors. In such cases, if you know what this code category denotes, you will know that your website is having server issues.
Similarly, 4xx errors affect the user’s visitor experience.
So if in any case, you come across these errors, you will start thinking about whether you have made any changes to your URL or deleted any pages.
HTTP status codes are worth learning so that an SEO specialist could differentiate between the problems that a website is facing, or issues that are existing at the user’s end.
Once you understand the cause of the error, you can look at applying a custom 404 page. Or look into using all 301 redirects to send the visitors to relevant places.
Some Basic And Impactful HTTP Status Codes That an SEO Specialist Must Know
1. HTTP Status Code 200 – SUCCESS
This is the ideal status code for your normal, basic, and, properly functioning page. Visitors, bots, and link equity pass through these linked pages with ease.
An individual doesn’t need to do anything about it, And can happily secure the information that everything is just as it must be.
2. HTTP Status Code 301 – PERMANENT REDIRECT
A 301 redirect should be utilized anytime a specific URL needs to be redirected to another one permanently. It means that the visitors and bots that land on that page will be redirected to the new URL.
In addition, link equity i.e the power transferred by all those hard-earned links to your content. That is also passed to the new URL through the 301 redirects.
In spite of the confirmation from Google that all 3xx redirects are treated equally, some tests have shown this is not entirely true.
301 redirect remains the preferred and relevant method of choice for the permanent page redirects
HTTP Status Code 302 – TEMPORARY REDIRECT
A 302 redirect is very much similar to a 301 redirect. In this, the visitors and the bots are passed to a new page, but link equity may not be passed along with it.
Although We do not recommend using 302 redirects for any sort of permanent changes. Using 302 redirects will cause search engine crawlers to treat the redirect as temporary, which means that it may not go along the link equity that the 301 does.
HTTP Status Code 404 – NOT FOUND
404s status codes do not specify whether the missing page or resource is missing permanently or just temporarily.
Just by typing in a URL that doesn’t exist, you can see what this looks like on your site. Further, as you’ve experienced, the visitors to your website will hit a page that has a 404 error.
It helps if you either try again (if you’re lucky) or take you away to another site that has the information you are seeking. Every other site will have some pages that return 404 status codes.
These pages do not always have to be redirected; there are other options as well. It can actually confuse users who may not realize that the webpage they were trying to access doesn’t exist.
This is actually not a good idea for the majority of cases because, If the pages returning. 404 codes are high-authority pages with lots of traffic or have an obvious URL that visitors or links desire to reach.
One should employ 301 redirects to the most relevant page possible. For example;
If your page on sugar-free sweets no longer exists, you may want to redirect this URL with a 301 to your sugar-free recipe category page.
It may be necessary for a URL to return a 404 on purpose, This will keep them from getting on the index and repeatedly crawled by search engines. For example;
eCommerce websites often show 404 errors when products go out of stock. So these sites are a great candidate for creating custom eCommerce 404 pages.
HTTP Status Code 410 – GONE
A 410 error is comparatively more permanent than a 404 error; it means that the page user is requesting is gone. Also, The page is no longer available from the server. And no forwarding address has been set up to recover it.
Any links on your site that are pointing to a 410 page, are sending bots and visitors to a dead resource. So if you see them, remove any kind of references or links to them from your content.
HTTP Status Code 500 – INTERNAL SERVER ERROR
This status code indicates a problem with the server. Instead of the issue being with pages missing or not found.
A 500 is a classic and universal server error and will affect user’s access to your site. Human visitors, as well as bots alike, will be lost, and your link equity will not be working.
Search engines prefer websites that are well maintained and easily accessible by the users. So you would want to look into these status codes and fix them as soon as you find them.
HTTP Status Code 503 – SERVICE UNAVAILABLE
Another variety of the 500 HTTP status code. A 503 variant shows that the server is unavailable.
Everyone (human or bot) will have come back to the website after some time. This could be due to overloading, for the time being. Or due to the server or maintenance of the server.
A 503 status code guarantees that the search engines know to come back on a page because the website/ page is only going to be down for a while.
However, these HTTP status codes are not related to each other. One pops up in a web browser and the other describes an error message about the client or server.
While the other shows up somewhere else in Windows and might not involve the web browser at all. If you are having any issue identifying whether or not the error code you see is an HTTP status code, look carefully at where the message is showing.
If you see an error in the web browser you are using, on its web page, it is an HTTP response code. One should address such error messages separately, based on the context in which they are being shown.
Device Manager error codes are shown in the device manager. While we see system error codes throughout Windows.
It is possible that the applications that identify the HTTP status codes do not know all of the codes. Meaning, an unknown code can also have the HTTP phrase that won’t provide much information to the user.
However, such HTTP applications do not have to understand the categories or classes as we have discussed above.