HTTP Status Codes and What They Mean For SEO

What are Status Codes?

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) status codes, such as 404, 301 and even 500, may not mean that much to an even site visitor. However, for SEO they are extremely imperative. Not only that, even search engine spiders, such as Googlebot, use HTTPs to regulate the health of a website. Status codes offer us a way of seeing what gets down between the browser and the server. Most of these codes show an error. Ok, with that said, lets now take a look at important HTTP header codes and get to understand what they mean for SEO.

What is an HTTP Status Code?

An HTTP status code is known as a message sent by the server when a request made by a browser can or can’t be fulfilled. There are lots of status codes, most you will unlikely come across. To completely understand these codes, you must know how a browser gets a page.  Every site visit jumps by typing in the URL of a website or entering a search keyword in a search engine.  The browser then sends a demand to the website’s IP address to get associated online pages.  The server then responds with a status code rooted in the HTTP header, which will be telling the browser the result of the request. If everything is on point, an HTTP 200 status code is then sent back to the browser.

Different HTTP Status Codes Ranges

There are five different HTTP Status Codes ranges, all defining different aspects of the process between the client and the server.

1.1xx – Informational

2.2xx – Success

3.3xx – Redirection

4.4xx – Client error

5.5xx – Server error

http status codes online


Imperative HTTP Status Codes for SEO

  • The list of codes is very long, however, there are a couple that are very important for SEOs and anyone who works on their site. Let’s run through them below:200: OK / Success

This is how it should probably be; a client requests the server for content and the server accounts with a 200-success message and with the content that the client needs. This means both the server and the client are happy.

  • 301: Moved Permanently

A 301 HTTP header is mostly used when the wished URL has permanently moved to a new location. As you work on your site, you will mostly use this, because you will frequently need to make a 301 redirect to direct an old URL to a new one. Should you not, then users will receive a 404-error page when they try to load the page.

  • 302: Found

A 302 means that the targeted destination has been found, but then again it lives under a different location. You can use a 302 redirect only if you want to provisionally redirect a URL to a dissimilar source and you are sure that you will be using the same URL again.

  • 307: Temporary Redirect

The 307 code it’s a replacement of 302 in HTTP1.1 and it could be seen as the only ‘true’ redirect. You can only use a 307 redirect when you need to provisionally redirect a URL to a fresh one while you still keep the original request option intact. A 307 looks a more like a 302, but it tells exactly that the URL has a provisional new location.

  • 403: Forbidden

A 403 is telling the browser that the requested content is prohibited for the user. Should they not have the precise credentials to log in, this content will stay forbidden for that user.

  • 404: Not Found

One of the most visible status codes, the 404 HTTP header code is one of the most significant ones. When a server returns as a 404 error, you should know that the content is not found or at most it is deleted. Make sure you don’t bother visitors with such errors. Make sure you fix them ASAP as a lot of 404 errors might be seen by Google as a sign of bad maintenance.

  • 410: Gone

The result from a 410-status code is more like a 404 since the requested content has not been found. With a 410 you tell the search engines that you have deleted the requested content. Before you permanently delete a page from your site, ask yourself if there is a corresponding page somewhere. If so, please make a redirect, if not maybe you should not delete it but improve it.

  • 451: Unavailable for Legal Reasons

The 451 HTTP status code shows that the intreated content has been deleted due to legal reasons.

  • 500: Internal Server Error

A 500 error is a general error text saying the server comes across an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request, without any specific

  • 503: Service Unavailable

A server will send a 503-error message when it is unable to handle the request due to an outage or overload. You can use this status code when you require some temporary downtime for maintenance of your site.

Working with HTTP Status Codes

HTTP status codes form a great part of the lives of SEOs and search engine spiders. You’ll always encounter them and it’s important to understand what each status codes mean. Should you want to know what types of status codes your website generates, log into your Google Search Console. You will have to make sure that you fix the errors for your page to be indexed again. You can make use of tools like screaming frog to fix the errors. Click here for tutorials on how to fix errors.

Fixing Status Codes

After identifying the error codes, with

For 3xx or 4xx errors you’ll need to check the in-links for the URLs:

  • Then, go and either update or remove the link entirely.
  • If it’s still showing up, check if the error is from a plugin or text file for your site.

For 5xx errors, contact your service provider or developer to check why the site is down.

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