The HTTP Status codes are defined as 3-digit numbers that are returned by the servers. These codes are used to indicate the condition of the web element. The first digit of the 3-digit combination code always begins with any of the number from 1 to 5. When it comes to the 100s to the 500s, the status codes can be classified into several categories. These categories include the following:
• 100s — Informational — This means that the request has already been received and the process is still on going
• 200s — Success — The process has already been accomplished successfully.
• 300s – Redirection — The request was received but it requires an additional step in order to complete the request.
• 400s — Client Error — The request was given by the client, but the page is not valid.
• 500s — Server Error — The request made by the client is valid; however, the server was unable to complete the request.
Although there are a lot of HTTP status codes, not all are directly important to the SEO. Here is a list of the significant HTTP Status Codes for SEOs and as well as search engines.
• 200 OK — the request was successful. This is recognized as correct in most scenarios.
• 301 Moved Permanently — The request has been transferred to a new and permanent URI. Any future reference to the resource should be used with one of the returned URIs. The 301 redirect should be used if one URL has to be redirected to another.
• 302 Found — This means that the server is currently in response to the request with a page that comes from a different location, yet the client still continues to use the original location for his or her future requests. This type of approach is not recommended since it is not effective to give order to the search engine bots that a particular site has been moved. The use of the 302 will make the engine crawlers treat the redirect as only temporary. This prevents the crawlers from providing link juice or ranking power abilities of the 301 redirects.
• 404 File Not Found — This means that the server fails to find anything that matches the requested URI. There is no indication provided whether the condition is only temporary or permanent. This usually happens when the server is not able to find the matching page request. Most of the time, webmasters will exhibit a 404 text error but the response code will be 200. This will inform the search engine crawlers that the page was rendered properly, but the webpage will frequently get erroneously indexed.
• 410 Gone — The requested resource is already deleted from the server and there is already no available forwarding address. This condition is expected as permanent. Clients who have link editing abilities should erase references to the request-URI after the approval of the user. Once the server is unaware or has no ability to determine whether the status is permanent or not, the status code 404 Not Found should be utilized.
• 503 Service Unavailable — This code indicates that the server is not able to deal with the request because of a temporary overloading of the server. It is important to use the 503 only when there is a temporary outage. If the server has to come down for a short period maintenance, it ensures that the engine is able to come back as soon as possible since the site is only down for a short time.
The SEO Best Practice
How to Use the 301 Redirects?
The 301 redirects are highly recommended when the client wants to redirect pages or sites. This is due to the fact that the 301 redirects are not able to instruct the search engine crawlers that a particular site has been moved permanently. For more details on using the 301 redirects, clients can get an overview from Jen Sable Lopez’s guide on the URL Rewrites and 301 Redirects.
If you are planning to redirect an entire domain, it is advisable to follow the suggested guideline carefully.
Redirecting 404s when it is Appropriate
If ever a page receives important links, it is necessary to find a substantive volume of traffic. Aside from this, if the URL has links or visitors intend to reach, the 301 redirects should be employed to the most significant pages possible. Anything that is outside this condition, it is already necessary to have a URL return a 404 since this will prevent them from getting indexed and repeatedly crawled by the search engines.
One of the most common misconceptions is that it is the best practice of the SEO to 301 redirect pages that gave a 404 status code to the homepage of a provided domain. This is basically not a good idea for the majority since it can confuse the users who may not be aware that the webpage they want to access does not exist.
Creating an Error Page
Whenever visitors reach the 404 pages, they should be provided with navigational instruction so that they won’t leave the provided site. The web optimized 404 error pages should have the following:
• Notification that the visitor is reaching a page that does not exist.
• A simple navigation system that is easy to understand
• A link directed to the home page
• A search box