Why are HTTP status codes important for SEO?
HTTP status codes are a big part of the lives of SEO specialists as they provide valuable information on the status of requested URLs.
When a web page is requested from a website, the website’s server responds with an HTTP status code. Each code acknowledges the client’s request and signals the server’s response to the client.
An HTTP checker or redirect checker analyzes the HTTP response headers of any URL and is crucial for maintaining a high-performing website that Google and other popular search engines can easily crawl.
If you don’t understand why you need to use an HTTP status checker tool, let us explain it in more detail. This article also looks at the link between HTTP status codes and SEO and lays out the reasons why you may want to use the HTTP header checkout tool.
What Are HTTP Status Codes?
To get an idea of what the HTTP status code is, let’s start by defining the idea of HTTP.
The abbreviation HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. PCMag.com, a technology news website, defines HyperText Transfer Protocol as “The communications protocol used to connect to Web servers on the Internet or on a local network (intranet).”
PCMag.com adds that “The primary function of HTTP is to establish a connection with the server and send HTML pages back to the user’s browser.” The same source says that HTTP is also used when downloading data to a browser or other HTTP application.
When a client, either a browser or search engine, makes a request, a server responds using a three-digit response, known as an HTTP status code. These status codes are categorized into five classes, with each code category transmitting a specific type of message.
Types of HTTP Status Codes
We will present these five types of codes in detail later in this article, but here is a summary of each code category:
- 1xx information response: Indicating that the request was received and the process is going forward.
- 2xx successful: Represents requests that have been successfully received, understood, and executed.
- 3xx redirecting: This shows that something else needs to be done for the request to be completed.
- 4xx client error: This shows in situations where the request cannot be fulfilled because it contains a bad syntax.
- 5xx server error: The request is invalid, and the server is unable to fulfill it.
- 6xx server error: Indicates that the system is unavailable anywhere during the time of the request.
The Full Story
The HTTP status code forms only a part of a complete response sent to a client by a server. Together with the status code, some additional information is conveyed. When the status code comes with this additional information, we call it an HTTP header.
The browser receives HTTP status codes in the HTTP header. Therefore, the HTTP header can be defined as the way a server helps you get as much information as possible to deal with whatever has gone wrong with the request.
The HTTP header is important in telling both the search engines and clients how to handle the URL correctly. For you, this is where the HTTP Server Header Response Checker Tool becomes useful.
The Link between HTTP Status Codes and SEO
Even though not all HTTP status codes impact your SEO, it’s vital to know what the most important ones mean. This is because, no matter how well you plan and execute your SEO strategy, your efforts will come to nothing if you have no idea which HTTP status codes are triggered by any requests to access resources on your website.
For example, no matter how great your articles are and how well you attract people to click on your website, if people attempting to read the articles are met with a 404 Not Found status code, no one will see your content.
If you are an SEO specialist or web marketer, understanding what is going on behind the scenes on your website provides you with an opportunity to determine which errors you need to attend to so that you can understand how to make the browsing process better for those visiting your website.
Why You Should Use an HTTP Header Checker Tool
Suppose you are responsible for managing a website. In that case, you have the crucial duty of ensuring that the links associated with the website are functioning as they should.
Specifically, two factors are extremely important to run a successful website or an effective campaign based on your website. The first is ensuring that your links are functional, and the second is making sure that they are accurate. This means that your links should not just work but guarantee that whoever clicks on them is taken to the area they want to go to.
If your site becomes slow or people visiting can’t find the pages they are looking for—you need to know and deal with the issue. If not, you will lose many potential customers.
But how do I ensure that the links associated with my website are accurate and function as they should? Find an HTTP Server Header Response Checker Tool.
A tool that works should cover the basics, such as providing information about what is happening between the browser and the server. The great news is that you can use an HTTP Server Header Response Checker Tool for free. So, there is no excuse for not knowing the status codes related to your website.
Let’s look at some of the main reasons why you may use an HTTP Server Header Response Checker Tool:
Migrating a Site
When you are migrating a site, it’s vital to ensure that the traffic momentum you have already gathered comes with you to your new home by redirecting your old and new visitors.
URLs change when you restructure your website. While you can ensure that your site’s links are updated to the new URLs, the URLs used by external resources are not under your control. With regards to this, Mozilla.org writes, “You don’t want to break these links, as they bring valuable users and help your SEO, so you set up redirects from the old URLs to the new ones.”
Even though you don’t want to break the links when you restructure your website, it’s crucial to make certain that the redirects are not disorganized and excessive. If they are, they may hurt your performance and the ability of Googlebot to crawl your site.
An HTTP header checkout tool can tell you whether a user is being redirected several times before getting to the ultimate resource you offer. With that information, you can increase the speed incrementally by simplifying and shortening the redirect string.
Debugging a Page
You may be debugging a page and wondering why the page is not getting indexed. The HTTP header checkout link field provides information about whether there is a relationship between the requested link and other resources. In the link header field, the type of relationship you can see is the canonical URL.
Doing Competitive Research
When you invest in search engine optimization, it’s not only vital to ensure that Google or other search engines think that your content is great, it’s also essential to know what the search engines are liking about your competitors. In fact, you want to see what the competition is doing well and then do it better.
While keeping tabs on the competition is a great idea, knowing what is happening on hundreds of competing sites can be challenging. The HTTP Server Header Response Checker Tool can be helpful in this regard. For instance, it can tell you what CDN (like Cloudflare) a competitor is using. You could also use the tool if you want to see which webserver a competitor is using.
Is a Site Showing Different Content to Googlebot?
You may also resort to the HTTP header checkout tool if you want to see whether a site shows different content to Googlebot than it does to you. Even though this used to be considered “cloaking,” it has become standard practice for some big websites.
Am I Incorrectly Restricting Googlebot’s Access to My Page?
You can use the HTTP header checkout tool if you want to check whether you are incorrectly limiting Googlebot’s access to your page. This could trigger a 429 Error code.
In her article published on HubSpot.com, Anna Fitzgerald defines the HTTP Error 429 as “an HTTP response status code that indicates the client application has surpassed its rate limit or number of requests they can send in a given period of time.” The same source adds, “Typically, this code will not just tell the client to stop sending requests—it will also specify when they can send another request.”
Google does not report the 429 responses in the Search Console. This means that Googlebot’s ability to crawl your site may be negatively impacted without you knowing unless you have a tool to help you.
Important Status Codes for SEO
By now, it should be clear that if your goal is to drive traffic to your website using organic content, your main job is to ensure that search engines can crawl your website. This means you want to see more 2xx statuses because they show that the client requests have been successfully received, understood, and executed.
You want to ensure that 3xx status codes are minimal and, if possible, get rid of 4xx and 5xx status codes altogether.
Somebody once compared trying to manage SEO without knowing status codes to attempting to manage a restaurant in a foreign country but not speaking the country’s language. In such a case, you know that a lot is taking place, but you have no idea what’s happening and how to respond to it.
There is a long list of status codes, but only a handful of these codes are really important for SEO. Here are the status codes that matter:
This code is one you want to see. It shows that both the server and the website visitor are happy. All messages in 2xx mean some kind of success.
301: Moved Permanently
A 301 HTTP header is used when a URL is permanently moved to another location. If you are making any changes to your site, this is the code you will use to redirect an old URL to a new one.
A 302 status code means that the target destination has been found, but it lives under a different location. You should only use a 302 redirect if you want to redirect a URL temporarily; you shouldn’t use it when you are moving your domain or making structural changes to your site.
307: Temporary Redirect
Like a 302, a 307 code is used to temporarily redirect a URL to a new web address while keeping the original request method intact.
A 403 code tells the browser that the requested content is forbidden for the user.
404: Not Found
One of the most visible status codes, a 404 HTTP header code, shows that the content has not been found and has most likely been deleted.
A 410 status code tells search engines that you deleted the requested content and want the URL deleted from the index.
500: Internal Server Error
A generic error message, a 500 error, could come from anywhere on your website and shows that there is an issue with your server.
All HTTP Header Checker Response Code Keys
Here are the rest of the HTTP status codes.
100s Informational Responses
This group of status codes denotes that everything is OK so far, and the client should proceed with the request.
- 100 Trying: extended search being performed may take a significant time, so a forking proxy must send a 100 Trying response
- 180 Ringing
- 181 Call Is Being Forwarded
- 182 Queued
- 183 Session Progress
200s Successful Responses
The 2xx category of responses is what everyone wants to see because it indicates that everything is going well. It means that the response has been received, the information requested has been retrieved from the servers and provided to the client.
- 200 OK
- 202 Accepted: It indicates that the request has been understood but actually can’t be processed
- 204 No Notification [RFC5839]
300s Redirection Responses
The 300 responses indicate that there is more than one potential response to the request made. Therefore, the user or their agent needs to choose from one of these multiple responses.
- 300 Multiple Choices
- 301 Moved Permanently
- 302 Moved Temporarily
- 305 Use Proxy
- 380 Alternative Service
400s Client Failure Responses
The responses belonging to the 4xx group indicate that things have not gone well because of a bad request that the server can’t understand as a result of malformed syntax. Thus, before attempting to make another request, the client needs to make alterations.
- 400 Bad Request
- 401 Unauthorized (Used only by registrars or user agents. Proxies should use proxy authorization 407)
- 402 Payment Required (Reserved for future use)
- 403 Forbidden
- 404 Not Found (User not found)
- 405 Method Not Allowed
- 406 Not Acceptable
- 407 Proxy Authentication Required
- 408 Request Timeout (Couldn’t find the user in time)
- 409 Conflict
- 410 Gone (The user existed once but is not available here anymore.)
- 412 Conditional Request Failed
- 413 Request Entity Too Large
- 414 Request-URI Too Long
- 415 Unsupported Media Type
- 416 Unsupported URI Scheme
- 417 Unknown Resource-Priority
- 420 Bad Extension (Bad SIP Protocol Extension used, not understood by the server)
- 421 Extension Required
- 422 Session Interval Too Small
- 423 Interval Too Brief
- 424 Bad Location Information
- 428 Use Identity Header
- 429 Provide Referrer Identity
- 433 Anonymity Disallowed
- 436 Bad Identity-Info
- 437 Unsupported Certificate
- 438 Invalid Identity Header
- 480 Temporarily Unavailable
- 481 Call/Transaction Does Not Exist
- 482 Loop Detected
- 483 Too Many Hops
- 484 Address Incomplete
- 485 Ambiguous
- 486 Busy Here
- 487 Request Terminated
- 488 Not Acceptable Here
- 489 Bad Event
- 491 Request Pending
- 493 Undecipherable (Could not decrypt S/MIME body part)
- 494 Security Agreement Required
500s Server Failure Responses
When a request is answered by a 5xx response, the server encountered unexpected challenges, making it impossible to fulfill the request.
- 500 Server Internal Error
- 501 Not Implemented: The SIP request method is not implemented here
- 502 Bad Gateway
- 503 Service Unavailable
- 504 Server Time-out
- 505 Version Not Supported: The server does not support this version of the SIP protocol
- 513 Message Too Large
- 580 Precondition Failure
600s Global Failure Responses
This is the error code that the server sends when the information indicated by the user in the Request-URL does not exist.
- 600 Busy Everywhere
- 603 Decline
- 604 Does Not Exist Anywhere
- 606 Not Acceptable
How Can Our HTTP Status Code Checker Tool Help You?
Despite the importance of checking your site’s status codes, there are not that many free server header response checker tools online. This is why we have taken it upon ourselves to create the ultimate HTTP status code checker that will make checking your response codes as easy as pie.
Incredibly easy to use, this tool provides unrivaled accuracy and speed—all you need to do is enter the URLs you would like to check and then sit back and let our clever software do all the leg work for you.
Once you have identified status codes, our team of SEO experts is ready and waiting to help you interpret each of your codes and fix any issues holding your site back from reaching its full ranking potential. Get in touch with our talented team here.