HTTP Status Codes

What Are HTTP Status Codes?

HTTP Status Codes are messages from the server letting you know what happened when it received the request to view a certain page. These messages are the way for your browser to communicate with the server, and they are exchanged even when you don’t see them.

Each time you visit a website, your browser sends a request to the site’s server and then, the server responds with three-digit codes. In other words, the server responds with an HTTP status code. The first digit begins with one of numbers 1 through 5, expressed as 1xx or 5xx to indicate status codes in that range.

HTTP Status Codes are like a conversation between your browser and the server. They communicate when things are going smoothly or when something is wrong. Understanding status codes can help you minimize downtime on your site by diagnosing site errors quickly. Many status codes can also be used to help search engines and people access your site.

Understanding Status Code Classes

Let’s go through common status code classes.

1xxs  is an Informational response, the server is thinking through the request.

2xxs  means Success! The request was successfully completed.

3xxs is Redirection, the request was received but got redirected somewhere else.

4xxs is a Client error, the site or page couldn’t be reached. Page Not Found.

5xxs means Failure, the server could not process your request.

Important for SEO

SEO specialists and website owners alike need to understand the status codes. The effect they have on SEO is not insignificant.

The most important Status Codes are:

HTTP Status Code 200

This is ideal, it means that everything is OK, your page is functioning properly. Visitors, bots and link equity pass through link pages smoothly.

HTTP Status Code 200 - Screaming Frog

HTTP Status Code 301

Here, we are talking about permanent redirection. It means that visitors and bots that land on this page will be sent to the right place using a new URL. This way, you can tell bots and people that a page has been moved somewhere else permanently.

HTTP Status Code 301 and 302 - Screaming Frog

HTTP Status Code 302

HTTP Status Code 302 is similar to 301, but it’s only a temporary redirection. We don’t recommend it for permanent changes since it will cause crawlers to treat the redirect as temporary, which means it may not pass along the link equity as 301 does.

HTTP Status Code 301 and 302 - Screaming Frog

HTTP Status Code 404

Page not found. 404 will not indicate whether a missing page is missing temporarily or permanently. This is of course bad, as anyone who’s had problems with 404 errors will attest to. Pages that return 404 don’t have to always be redirected. It’s a bad idea to use 301 to redirect pages that turn 404 status code to the homepage of the given domain because it can confuse users who may not realize that the page they are trying to access doesn’t exist.

HTTP Status Code 404 - Screaming Frog

HTTP Status Code 410

This one is more permanent than 404, it actually means that the page is gone. The page is no longer available, so if you have any links on your site that point to a 410 page, just remove them, because you are sending bots and visitors to a dead resource.

HTTP Status Code 500

This status code shows there’s a problem with the server, it’s a classic server error and it will affect access to your site.

HTTP Status Code 503

It’s a variety of 500, in the case of 503 response it means that the server is unavailable. This can happen due to the overloading of the server. However, a 503 status code ensures that the search engines know to come back because the page or the site is only going to be down for a short period.

Conclusion

Even though HTTP Codes may seem confusing or even intimidating, they are actually very informative. By learning some of them you can quickly resolve some of the problems on your site.

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