Status codes and the impact on SEO

In the world of the Internet and Web development, HTTP status codes are crucial for understanding the interactions between Web clients (such as browsers) and servers. These status codes, divided into different ranges, provide vital information about the outcome of HTTP requests. From success messages (2xx) and redirects (3xx) to client errors (4xx) and server errors (5xx), each status code has a specific meaning that can affect both user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). Knowledge of these codes is indispensable for Web developers, Web site administrators, and SEO specialists because they provide insight into the performance, accessibility, and overall health of Web sites.

HTTP status codes within the range of 100

HTTP status codes in the range of 100 are informational responses indicating that the initial request has been received and is being processed. They are an essential part of communication between a Web server and a client (such as a Web browser). These status codes play a unique role in optimizing the interaction between the client and server, especially during connection establishment or preparing the client to receive additional data.

HTTP Status CodeDescriptionPossible Impact on User ExperiencePossible Impact on SEO
100ContinuousIndicates that the initial portions of a request have been received and that the client can proceed with the rest of the request. This can help make the connection process more efficient.Does not usually affect SEO directly, as it is a temporary and technical interaction between client and server.
101Switching ProtocolsUsed when the server agrees to change the communication protocol at the request of the client. This may be relevant for Web applications that require real-time communication or protocols other than HTTP.As with code 100, this has no direct impact on SEO. It is more relevant to website functionality and user experience.
102Processing (WebDAV)Indicates that the server has received and processed the request, but does not yet have a response ready. This can be useful for complex operations that require more time to complete.Not directly relevant to SEO, but can affect user experience if processing time is long, which can indirectly affect SEO performance.
103Early HintsUsed to send preliminary headers before the server has prepared the full response headers. This can improve page load times by loading resources earlier.Can have a positive impact on SEO through faster load times, which is a factor in search engine ranking algorithms.
Status codes within 1xx and impact on SEO.

These status codes are more technical in nature and are usually not directly visible to end users. Their main role lies in optimizing the communication between the client and the server, which can indirectly affect the user experience and SEO.

HTTP status codes within the range of 200

HTTP status codes in the range of 200 indicate successful requests. These codes are used to indicate that the action requested by the client has been successfully processed by the server. This category of responses is crucial to a positive user experience because it confirms that everything is working as it should. In addition, these status codes are important for search engine optimization (SEO) because they help search engines understand that a page or resource is being delivered correctly and effectively.

HTTP Status CodeDescriptionPossible Impact on User ExperiencePossible Impact on SEO
200OKConfirms that the request was executed successfully. This ensures a seamless user experience.Positive for SEO because it indicates that the page works correctly and is accessible.
201CreatedIndicates that a new resource has been created as a result of the request. Important for actions such as uploading or creating content.Can be positive for SEO as it relates to the creation of new, valuable content.
202AcceptedIndicates that the request has been accepted for processing, but processing is not yet complete. May be important for asynchronous processing.Little direct impact on SEO, but may indicate effective server processing.
203Non-authorized informationThe response contains information from a third party and not from the original server.May cause some confusion for users, but usually has little direct impact on SEO.
204No contentIndicates that the request was successful, but there is no content to send for the response. Useful in APIs and AJAX requests.Does not directly affect SEO since there is no content to index.
205Resetting contentIndicates that the client should reset the document display. Used in forms and interactive applications.Little direct impact on SEO, but can improve user experience.
206Partial contentUsed when serving partial content, such as video streaming or large downloads.Can be positive for SEO in terms of efficient content delivery, especially for large files.
207Multiple statusesUsed in WebDAV; indicates multiple status codes, useful for batch operations.Specific to WebDAV and usually has no direct impact on SEO.
Status codes within 2xx and the impact on SEO.

The 2xx status codes are an indicator of successful interactions between the client and server. They are fundamental to a good user experience and can also have positive implications for SEO, especially by confirming that content is effectively delivered and accessible.

HTTP status codes within the range of 300

HTTP status codes in the range of 300 involve redirects. These codes indicate that the client should be redirected to another URL to obtain the requested resource. Redirects are an essential part of web navigation and can affect user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). They are used for a variety of purposes, such as changing the location of a resource, balancing load between servers, or enforcing the use of HTTPS.

HTTP Status CodeDescriptionPossible Impact on User ExperiencePossible Impact on SEO
300Multiple ChoiceOffers user a choice of links; may cause confusion.Used rarely; may affect SEO if search engines have to choose the correct link.
301Definitely movedThe URL is permanently relocated; users are seamlessly redirected.Very important for SEO; transfers link authority to the new URL.
302FoundTemporary rerouting; the original URL will be retained.Can be confusing for SEO if overused; sometimes treated as a 301.
303See otherRefers to another URI for a GET request, useful after form submissions.Has little direct impact on SEO but improves user experience in interactive actions.
304UnchangedIndicates that the content has not changed since the last request.Reduces bandwidth usage and improves loading speed, which is positive for SEO.
305Use ProxyInstructions to use a proxy; rarely used due to security concerns.Has little to no use in practice and therefore minimal SEO impact.
306(Reserved)Currently not in use and reserved for future use.No impact on current user experience or SEO.
307Temporary detourSimilar to 302, but with the guarantee that the method does not change.Useful for temporary changes; has less impact on SEO than a 301.
308Final detourSimilar to 301, but with the guarantee that the method does not change.Important for SEO, similar to a 301 in terms of transferring link authority.
Status codes within 3xx and the impact on SEO.

Redirection codes are crucial for managing changes in the structure of a Web site and maintaining a good user experience. They also have significant implications for SEO, especially in maintaining link authority and ensuring content accessibility.

The most common HTTP status codes within the range of 400

HTTP status codes in the 400 range indicate client errors. These errors often arise from incorrect user requests or client-setup issues, such as a mistyped URL or a request to access a secure or nonexistent resource. These status codes are important to both Web site administrators and end users because they provide essential feedback on Web content access issues. They also have an important impact on search engine optimization (SEO), as they can point out problems that can affect a website’s findability and user experience.

HTTP Status CodeDescriptionPossible Impact on User ExperiencePossible Impact on SEO
400Wrong applicationIndicates poorly worded application, may cause confusion.Negative, indicates problems with application wording.
401Not authorizedRequires authentication; access is denied without valid credentials.Limited impact unless common on public pages.
403Prohibited accessAccess to the requested resource is prohibited regardless of authentication.Negative, especially if legitimate content is inaccessible.
404Not foundThe requested resource does not exist; one of the most common errors.Strongly negative, significantly affects user experience and SEO.
405Method not allowedThe request method is not supported by the requested resource.Moderate impact, may indicate configuration problems.
429Too many requestsThe user made too many requests in a given time period.May be negative for SEO if over-represented.
Status codes within 4xx and the impact on SEO.

These 4xx status codes provide crucial information about the interaction between the user and the server, and understanding them is essential for Web developers and SEO specialists alike. Regular monitoring and analysis of these errors can help improve a Web site’s user experience and overall performance.

HTTP status codes within the range of 500

HTTP status codes in the range of 500 indicate server errors. These errors occur when something goes wrong on the server side, meaning that the client’s request is correct, but the server could not process it for some reason.

These status codes are critical for Web developers and Web site administrators because they indicate problems with server configuration, server performance or unexpected errors in the backend. They are also critical to user experience and SEO, as frequent server failures can lead to reduced website reliability and visibility.

HTTP Status CodeDescriptionPossible Impact on User ExperiencePossible Impact on SEO
500Internal server errorIndicates a general error; can be frustrating for users.Very negative, indicates serious server problems.
501Not implementedThe server does not support the requested function; rare.Negative, indicates server limitations.
502Bad GatewayAn incorrect response was received from another server.Negative, indicates problems with gateway servers.
503Service not availableThe server is temporarily unavailable, often due to maintenance.Negative, especially if frequent or prolonged.
504Gateway TimeoutThe server took too long to respond.Negative, indicates network or communication problems.
505HTTP version is not supportedThe server does not support the HTTP version of the request.Limited impact, but may indicate configuration problems.
509Bandwidth exceededUnofficial; indicates that the bandwidth limit has been exceeded.Negative, may indicate insufficient server resources.
510Not extendedThe server needs further extensions to satisfy the request.Moderate impact, rare in use.
511Network authentication requiredRequires network authentication to access the resource.Limited SEO impact unless frequent.
521-526Cloudflare specific errorsSpecific to Cloudflare; indicate various problems with Cloudflare’s server or network.Variable, depending on the specific error.
Status codes within 5xx and the impact on SEO.

5xx status codes are important indicators of a server’s health and reliability. Effectively managing these errors is essential to maintaining a good user experience and optimizing a website’s SEO performance. Regular monitoring and maintenance can help minimize the impact of such errors.

Summary

HTTP status codes are an integral part of the Web and play a crucial role in communication between clients and servers. They not only provide insight into the status of web requests, but also have a profound impact on user experience and SEO.

Correctly interpreting and handling these codes is essential to maintaining an efficient, accessible and user-friendly Web site. By paying attention to these status codes, Web professionals can proactively identify and resolve problems, contributing to better overall Web site performance and a stronger online presence.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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This article was originally published on 20 December 2023. The last update of this article was on 28 December 2023. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.