Learn About HTTP status codes

What is a HTTP status codes?

HTTP status codes are a way that web browsers and servers communicate. A client, usually your browser or computer, will request a web page and the server will send back an HTTP response. The response includes an HTTP status code that lets the client know the status of the web page.

Types of HTTP response codes

There are five different types of HTTP status codes that help client and server communication:

HTTP code rangeHTTP response meaning
200-299Client request successful
300-399Client request redirected, further action required
400-499Client request incomplete
500-599Server errors

(Source: HTTP Pocket Reference)

SEO Best Practices for HTTP status codes ranges

There are many HTTP status codes but only a handful are important with regards to SEO. Let’s run through the status codes that you should be actively monitoring on your website.

HTTP Status Code 200 – OK

A response code of 200 OK is what you’d expect to see when your page is working correctly and can be served to a website visitor. You want all your important pages to be returning a 200 OK.

HTTP Status Code 301 – Permanent Redirect

A response code of 301 Moved Permanently is when a URL has been moved to a new URL. It’s also known as a 301 redirect in the SEO industry and they are very important when moving contents location. A 301 redirect will pass all the SEO value from one page to another.

Avoid: creating redirect chains. For example, page A redirects to page B, which redirects to page C. Redirects should move in one hope page A to pace C.

HTTP Status Code 302 – Temporary Redirect

A response code of 302 is the same as a 301, but the critical difference is that research has shown that it is not as effective in passing SEO value. That is why it is known as a temporary redirect.

Avoid: using a 302 redirect to change the location of a URL. I always advise that you always use a 301 over a 302 to pass all the SEO value.

HTTP Status Code 404 – Not Found

The dreaded response of 404 Not Found is when a particular page or resource cannot be found on the server. Responses of 404 Not Found are perfectly normal on the web and you won’t be penalised by Google. However, too many can lead to a poor user experience and loss of SEO value on URLs. It’s best practice to 301 redirect URLs to their new location.

Avoid: the common mistake of thinking this is an error on the server. It’s a client error where they’ve requested a resource that doesn’t exist.

HTTP Status Code 500 – Internal Server Error

Rather than the page is missing or not found, a 500 is an error with your server. You don’t want to have these issues and should have a developer investigate it immediately.

Avoid: Trying to fix internal server errors yourself (unless you know what you’re doing). It’s best to get the help of an experienced back-end developer.

Monitor status code errors with Google Search Console

You can easily monitor for status code errors in the Crawl Errors report in Google Search Console.

example of monitoring status code errors in the Crawl Errors report in Google Search Console

Keep an eye on the different types of status code errors. Remeber 4xx errors are client errors that can be fixed with a 301 redirect and 5xx errors a server errors which your developer can fix.

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