The Internet has more than one billion web pages. It allows you to locate a website on the corresponding server. The transmission of requested data from high-end server to the local computer is possible due to the HTTP hypertext transfer protocol. When starting the browser from the client a request is made to the web server, which response, in turn, with an HTTP status code in the form of a three-digit string. With this message, the webserver tells the browser if your request has been processed correctly, if an error has occurred or if authentication is required. As a consequence, the HTTP status code becomes an essential part of the transmission of response messages by the web server, which is automatically inserted into its header. In general, users find pages in HTML format instead of HTTP status codes, when the webserver cannot be allowed to process the client’s request or it is not possible to transmit data.
1. Response types of HTTP status codes:
In principle, HTTP status codes are divided into five different categories, identified in turn, by the first digit of the code. For example, the HTTP status code 200 is part of response type 2xx, code 404 of response type 4xx. :
1xx Status Codes – Information:
When an HTTP 1xx status code is sent, the server notifies the client that the current request continues. This class gathers and provides information about the processing and submission of an application.
2xx Status Codes – Success:
Codes that start with a 2 report a successful operation. When these types of responses are received, it means that the client’s request was received, understood and accepted. In general, the user only perceives the requested website.
3xx Status Codes – Redirects:
Those codes that begin with 3 indicate that the request has been received by the server. However, to ensure successful processing it is necessary for the client to take additional action. These types of codes appear mainly when there are redirects.
4xx Status Codes – Customer Errors:
When a 4xx code appears, it means that a customer error has occurred. This means that the server has received the request, but it cannot be carried out. One of the main causes of this type of response is defective requests.
5xx Status Codes – Server Errors:
The server indicates its error when using a 5xx code. Such responses indicate that the corresponding request is temporarily disabled or impossible to carry out.
Some Important HTTP Status Codes:
HTTP status codes play an important role for operators of a web page or SEO specialist. The only codes visible to visitors are mainly the client error codes, such as 404 (Not Found), or server error codes such as 503 (Service Unavailable) since these are always automatically displayed as pages in HTML format. It is often common to find HTTP status codes that can only be viewed and monitored by administrators with special tools and browser extensions.
Status code 200 –OK:
Response code 200 indicates that the request has been processed correctly. All requested data was received by the server and will be transmitted to the client.
Status code 301 – Moved Permanently:
Code 301 means that the data (webpage) requested by the user is no longer under the same Internet address, but has been permanently shifted. Because the current location of the requested content is included in the status report, the web browser can redirect the request to the new address. Thus, the user is redirected and the old address loses validity.
Status code 302 – Moved Temporarily:
Unlike 301, which refers to a permanent relocation, code 302 informs that the requested data is temporarily available at a different address.
Status code 403 – Forbidden:
The HTTP status code 403 indicates to the client that the requested data is protected and, therefore, has been denied access due to lack of customer authorization.
404 Status Code – Not Found:
When the server sends the 404 code in response it means that it was not possible to find the requested web page data on the server. This happens when the address no longer exists or the contents have been moved without specifying the new address. When a status code 404 appears to a user, they must check if they have entered the URL correctly in the address bar.
Status Code 500 – Internal Server Error
This type of response acts as a collective status code for an unexpected error on the server. If the server fails and is interrupting the recovery of the requested data, the status code 500 will be automatically issued. In addition to the response to the client, the web server will generate a type of internal error log where more details about the error are explained.
Status Code 503 – Service Unavailable
This response code indicates that the web server intended to provide the information is overloaded. It is common for this server response to also include information on when the first request can be processed again.
* How to operate HTTP status codes when you manage a website?
To improve the user experience, administrators should strive to limit the number of HTML error pages to a minimum. This is especially important for companies with a large Internet presence, such as online stores or news portals, whose content and information offer is constantly changing. When a web page does not exist or is not available, the visitor receives the status code 404 (Not Found), which often leads users to automatically jump to information or products on another web page, usually from some competitor.
As a web administrator, identifying a 404 error is not an easy task. However, there are different tools, such as Google’s Webmaster-Tools, with which it is possible to track errors through statistics. The most elegant way to avoid HTTP 404 status code is to redirect the page to the right place. Also, a useful tip to significantly reduce the bounce rate is to manually prepare the error pages.
* Change 404 error pages to code 301 as an alternative
In case a page has been deleted and a 404 error is identified, it is recommended to redirect this page to similar content using status code 301 (Moved Permanently). Visitors will not find exactly the product or information they were looking for but, by finding similar content, they ensure that they stay longer on the same website. Remember that it is important to make sure that the alternative address is related to the original request and that some added value is offered to the visitor. In theory, it is possible to redirect 404 pages through code 301, for example, to the main page. If you have alternative and very suitable landing pages, it is advisable to redirect them manually to effectively reduce the bounce rate.
* The importance of HTTP status codes for search engine optimization:
For the sake of search engine optimization, code 301 plays a very important role in maintaining the relevance of a link. In case the crawler or the robot of a search engine encounters a code 301, register before redirect the old address as invalid and remove it from the search index, to subsequently add the new address as the final goal of the redirection. In this way, the relevance of the link on the old page is not lost but is transferred to the destination indicated by code 301.
This is especially important when the old address was the entry point for external links and the acquired authority and relevance must be permanently assigned to the new destination. That does not happen with status code 302, as this only indicates a temporary deviation, so the old address will remain in the index. In this case, the transfer of authority from one website to another i.e. Link-juice of the backlinks or incoming links will not be transferred to the new destination.
This is a brief introduction to HTTP status codes! These are all important for your website and your website’s search engine optimization efforts, so knowing some of the important ones and what they mean and their alternatives can save you from a lot of trouble – keep them in mind and use this information while handling the website. Hope you like reading this article. Thanks for spending your time.