HTTP Status Codes and how Google treats them

When working with a site, you often unfortunately have to deal with various site errors.
Most errors have their own numerical meaning, which allows them to be distinguished from others. This is called the HTTP status code.
HTTP Status Code returns the server response to the command, and this is not necessarily a bug. But this code allows you to find out in what place and what happened.

What are HTTP Status Codes?

The HTTP status code is part of the first line of the server response that informs the client about the result of the request. It consists of three numbers, the first of which indicates the class of the state. The numbers are followed by a phrase that explains the reason for the answer.

The client learns from the response code about the results of his request and determines what actions he should take next. The set of status codes is a standard, and they are all described in the relevant IETF documents. The client may not know all the status codes, but it is the responsibility of the client to respond according to the class of the code.

Currently, there are five classes of status codes:

1xx: Informational – the request has been received and understood, but processing continues

This class contains codes that inform about the transmission process. In HTTP / 1.0, messages with such codes should be ignored. In HTTP / 1.1, the client must be prepared to accept this message class as a normal response, but nothing needs to be sent to the server. The messages from the server themselves contain only the start line of the response and, if required, several response-specific header fields. Proxy servers should send such messages further from the server to the client.

2xx: Success – The request was successfully received, understood and processed

Messages of this class inform about cases of successful acceptance and processing of a client’s request. Depending on the status, the server can also transmit the headers and body of the message.

3xx: Redirection – further action must be taken to complete the request

The 3xx class status codes tell the client to make the next request to a different URL in order to successfully complete the operation. In most cases, the new address is specified in the Location header field. In this case, the client should, as a rule, make an automatic transition or redirect a page.

4xx: Client Error – the request has invalid syntax or could not be completed

The 4xx class of codes is intended to indicate client-side errors. When using all methods except HEAD, the server must return a hypertext explanation to the user in the body of the message.

5xx: Server Error – The server is unable to fulfill a valid request, or does not support requests of the specified type.

5xx codes are allocated for cases of unsuccessful operation due to the fault of the server. For all situations other than using the HEAD method, the server must include an explanation in the message body that the client will display to the user.

Usually, the server response code can be found by referring to the “developer panel”, how to access the developer panel – depends on the browser, for example on Google Chrome it is Ctrl + Shift + I. Server responses are contained in the “Network” section, “Status” column.

Why are HTTP status codes important?

The HTTP status codes are the standard web server response codes. When a web page or other resource fails to load properly, the codes assist in determining the source of the problem.

HTTP status codes are the response status codes to inform users about what happens between the browser, server and search engines. HTTP impact on SEO is especially important. They offer direct health information on a website, ensure a good user experience, help identify potential problems with the content requested, and have a big impact on ranking factors.

The server responds to the user’s request when a user types an URL in the address bar for a particular website or by clicking a link. The server can return to the browser various HTTP status codes, depending on what happens on the website. The browser will receive an HTTP code 200 along with the content if everything works correctly. The server will send back an error HTTP status code if the requested website or page is unable to be retrieved. These error status codes provide information on the exact server problems and provide valuable information about what to do next.

What are the most common status codes?

The most common codes are: 200, 301, 404, 500, 403, 520.

Code 200 means that everything is in order. No errors occurred during the execution of the file.

Code 301 shows that the file you are accessing has been moved, or the site system redirects you to another section of the site.

404 HTTP code means that file is not found, such file does not exist in this folder. This is a standard response code for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol which indicates that the server has failed to find the requested data. This status code may also be displayed if the server is not willing to reveal the information requested or the content is deleted.

Code 500 is a critical server error. The server cannot execute the code because it cannot process it. 500 status code means an error in the code or in the server settings.

Code 403 – there is no index file in this folder, or your access to it is denied. You are trying to enter an empty folder, or your access to this folder is restricted in some way.

Code 502 – The server cannot process the request. It refuses to process the request, because you have exceeded the limits, or your web server is not working at the moment.

These are the main errors that appear as a result of working with your site on a hosting site.

How do I check my HTTP status code?

You can find out the HTTP status codes in these 2 ways:

In Google Chrome DevTools, the code value is in the Status column in the Network tab. To get this data in this browser you can hit Option + ⌘ + I (on macOS) or Shift + CTRL + I (on Windows/Linux)

You can also use free resources for diagnosing response codes – analysis of a single page or complex scanning of several at the same time.

How Google Treats Status Codes?

Before rendering or indexing content, Google checks the status codes. Specifically, before proceeding with crawling, Google checks for the “200” status code. Google understands that a 200 status code indicates that a page is valid and there may be content on it worth indexing.

Therefore, Google will not proceed with indexing content if it encounters a 400 error, 500 error, or redirect. Moreover, Google does not see 404 errors. You should keep this in mind when designing a fancy 404 page for your website. Google renders nothing unless it returns a 200 status code by default.

Conclusion

HTTP status codes are short messages sent from a server to a web page. These codes are not part of the site’s content. In actuality, they are messages from the server informing you of what happened when the request for a page was received.

Your browser returns these kinds of messages every time it interacts with a server, even if you don’t see them. Knowing HTTP status codes is essential if you are a website owner or developer. HTTP status codes can be very useful for diagnosing and fixing website configuration errors when they show up. We have explored several server status and error codes and discussed what they reveal about server activity behind the scenes.

Since Google uses error status codes as an indicator when evaluating your website, you should monitor and resolve any error codes on your site. If you understand what these status codes mean, you can use Google Search Console to identify and rectify any errors on your site.

You can also check out our post on the Best Technical SEO Tools for Enterprises.

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