When we visit a website, our browser sends requests to the site server. In contrast, the server responds to browser requests with a 3-digit code. These three-digit codes are the same as the Http status codes.
By entering the address of a web page in the address bar, our request is received through the browser and sent to the server. The responses that the server sends in response to the browser request are a meaningful three-digit code.
Http status codes, password language between server and browser
In other words, the server and the browser communicate with each other through the Http Status Code and inform each other with a 3-digit password if there is a problem or if everything is working. Understanding status codes and how to use them helps us identify potential site errors and fix them.
In addition, some status codes specify how search engines or users access our site. For example, a 301 redirect status code tells Google bots and users that the page they have visited has been permanently moved to another location. In the following, we will get acquainted with the types of server response codes and learn the use of each one.
If you do not have the opportunity to read the full text of the article, we suggest that you learn the page status codes with a simple example by watching the video below.
Types of Http status codes; Decoding in human language
Status codes usually start with one of the numbers 1 to 5. The first number of Http Status Codes specifies the type and class of page status codes. Each of the different classes displays the status code as 1xx to 5xx. So by looking at the first number, we can understand what category this code belongs to and what it means.
Series status code 1xx; Temporary answers
In the first step, the server sends series 1 codes to the browser, which means receiving a request from the browser and is not the final answer.
2xx series; successful
Received a response from the server successfully and the desired page is available to the user.
3xx series; Redirect or redirect
The response address sent from the server to the browser was different from the address sent in the initial request, and the user was redirected to another page.
4xx series; Client error
The server had no problem responding to this request, but the desired address does not exist on this site or has no content to provide.
5xx series; Server error
The server is unable to respond and is currently unable to provide services.
Codes that we know as an SEO expert
Each set of status codes has different variations and explanations, but as an SEO expert we do not need to be familiar with all of them. In the following, we will review the codes that we need to know and analyze properly. Familiarity with these concepts and their proper use in SEO management of a site is part of the SEO technical process.
We use a simple example to better understand page code and how it works. Imagine that there is a bakery in your area and you always buy from this bakery. This bakery is actually similar to a site. Now when you visit this bakery one of the following situations occurs:
Code 200; Everything is on track!
Status code 200 means that everything on our page is normal. Google users and bots can use this page without any problems and there is good content on this page. In the bakery example, the code 200 indicates a situation where everything is normal and by visiting the bakery you can easily make your purchase and get the service you need.
Code 302; Temporary redirection
Suppose on another visit to the local bakery, you see the notice “This union has been temporarily transferred to…” on its door. After seeing this announcement, you will go to the new address and after finding the bakery, you will make your purchase. Since this is a temporary address, you may want to visit its original location first. If the bakery was closed, you can go to its new address.
Pages with code 302 are exactly like that. Google bots notice the change of address, but due to the temporary redirect 302, they constantly go to the original address. This will waste the site creep budget. Losing a crawl budget can prevent my site from being indexed. What is the creep budget in the article? We explain how we can manage the site creep budget and prevent it from being wasted.
Code 301; Redirect forever
A 301 redirect is similar to a 302 redirect, except that in status code 301, a page is permanently moved to a new address. If in the previous example the word “forever” appears in the bakery address change announcement instead of the word “temporarily”, it will be a 301 redirect. Code 301 means that visitors and bots that refer to the address of this page will be redirected to a new address. Also, all credentials and links given to the original address will be transferred to the new address.
If the URLs are redirected to each other consecutively, the user and the Google robot will enter the Redirect Chain. If the number of redirects and change of addresses is more than 5 times, Google bots will refuse to continue. If page A is redirected to B and B to A is redirected at the same time, the user and the Google bot will enter the Redirect Loop; In this case, the browser displays the error of not accessing the page and the phrase Multiple Redirects.
Naturally, when you are confronted with the announcement “This union unit has been permanently transferred to… address”, you will never return to the previous location. Google bots also do not index the previous address when they see the code 301. One of the reasons for the decline of sites in search results is the unprincipled use of 301 redirects. So if you are not familiar with this application code, be sure to read the article What is a 301 redirect.
Code 404; Not Found, page not found
Suppose that when you go to the same bakery, this time you will see a notice on the door of the shop that says “the bakery is closed due to repairs”. This means that it is not possible to provide services to you on this day and at this special moment. This is similar to when the 404 status code is displayed. The display of this code means that the file or page requested by the browser was not found on the server.
Code 404 not found Information that the page or file in question is not permanently deleted, but only indicates that it is not currently accessible. For this reason, Google bots, when confronted with such a page, visit this page again to check its status. As a result, having a large number of 404 pages can have a negative impact on our site’s creep budget. In addition, links to 404 pages are called broken links. The presence of these links can also negatively affect the SEO of the site. In the link building workshop, we will learn how to prevent such links from appearing on the site.
Soft code 404; 404 Half band!
Suppose the bakery is open and there is no problem to access it (code 200) but there is no bread in the bakery for sale at the time of your visit. This mode can be compared to the code 404 soft. The soft 404 code is not an official code, but Google uses it to describe situations where a page with code 200 does not have content to present to the user. These conditions are usually seen on category pages or tags without content. Google bots visit these pages regularly. If there is no content to display and index on these pages for a long time, Google bots will consider them as 404 halftone or soft 404 pages.
The image below is an example of a Soft 404 error. The page is loaded correctly but there is no content to display to the user. Categories and tags without content are usually registered with this code in the reports of the Google Search Console panel.
Code 410; This page no longer exists
Status code 410 means that the page no longer exists, this address is permanently closed and has not been moved to another location. This situation is similar to the situation when you go to your local bakery and you are faced with the announcement “This union unit is closed forever”. This code means that no service or services are to be provided at this address. Google bots do not visit this address when they encounter the code 410. In this way, the creep budget of the site will not be harmed.
Status code 403; Restricted access
Imagine going to a bakery with a statement that says “this bakery is for women” or “for religious minorities” and that you, who are not one of these people, will not be served. This condition is similar to status code 403. Pages that display this status code need authentication to access. Only users with valid usernames and passwords can access 403 pages. Google does not have access to these pages, and Google bots do not try to index them.
Code 500; Error accessing server
Code 500 is similar to a situation where you can not access the bakery and the access to the bakery is closed for any reason. When access to the site server is disrupted, the server returns a 500 error to visitors and Google bots. Various reasons such as running out of bandwidth or excessive requests to the server may cause server access errors. Error 500 is an unpleasant event that also negatively affects the user experience. Therefore, you should think about fixing this problem immediately after it occurs.
Google bots continuously check the pages of our site and record the status codes in the reports of the coverage section of the Google console search. In the Google Search Console workshop, we will talk in detail about the analysis of these reports and their impact on the SEO.