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What are HTTP Status Codes

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 3 min read


Response status codes or hypertext transfer protocol are returned when search engines or visitors make a sever request. These codes are three digits, and they indicate a variety of responses from the HTTP request.

Top Tips and Advice

When choosing a rerouting method, choose 301 redirects over 302s to use the link juice between the pages. Web pages that are responding with the HTTP code 404 (file not found) for an extended time frame should be directed to a 301. To prevent user loss, it’s advised to have a customized 404-error page to give navigational choices. Each HTTP code denotes the status of different categories of web elements. The first three digits of codes begin with a number one through five.

HTTP Status Codes Explained

The three-digit codes that are outputted by servers to indicate the status of a web element is called a HTTP Status Code. The breakdown of the coding is as follows: the first digit begins with 1 through 5. The codes start in the 100s and continue to the 500s. The codes fall into various categories as described in further detail below.

Status codes from 100 to 500 fall into predetermined categories.

  • Informational is the 100 level. This means that a request was received, and process but not yet received. It means the process is continuing.

  • Success is the 200 level. The request has been made and received, and the entire process was successful.

  • Redirection is the 300 level. These requests have been received, but additional steps need to be performed before the task is completed.

  • Client error is the 400 levels. This error means that the request was made, and the page is not valid.

  • The server error is 500s. This page means a valid request was made, but the server failed, and the completed request cannot be delivered.

While there are other HTTP codes, they do not all relate to proper SEO construction. Most HTTP status codes are not directly impactful to search engines.

  • Code 200 means that the request has been processed. The request is okay and has succeeded. This is considered a successful query.

  • Code 301 is a found code that is responding to a permanent move. The page is considered redirected from one URI to another. This redirect is called the 301 redirect and it should be used when one URL needs to be targeted to another location.

  • Code 302 means the server is responding to the request, but the page is in an alternative location. This is not a regularly used code and is not recommended. This code is not considered to be an effective manner in which to instruct a search engine crawler that a page has been moved.

  • Code 404 means the file has not been found. The server is communicating that it has not found anything that is matching the query or the request URI.

  • Code 410 means the data is relocated or simply gone. It also means that no forwarding address was left in its place. This is considered to be a permanent condition for a page. Because this coding is so permanent, if the server is not certain about the ongoing status of the page, it should be changed to 404 (not found) instead of 410 (gone.)

  • Code 503 means the requested service is not available. The server is relaying that it is unavailable to handle the requested inquiry. This code ensures that the search engine knows to return because the site is only temporarily down.

Top SEO Tactics: HTTP Status Codes

Using the 301 code direct
This is the recommended coding to use to redirect sites or pages. This is the recommended coding because it unlike the 302 it instructs the search engine bots on page location.

Using the 404 code direct

If a page gets a large volume of traffic and needs to be limitedly searched by bots then a 404 code is useful to keep crawlers from searching the page and indexing information and continuously doing so during every visit.

It is a misconception that SEO best practices suggest channeling 301 redirected pages returned on a 404-status code to the homepage of any domain. It’s imprudent because it can frustrate users when they realize their page is not in existence.

Error Pages Created Properly

A visitor who gets a 404 redirect should have other navigational choices, so they don’t leave the site in frustration.

  • There should be notification of the page no longer existing

  • A search or navigation tool

  • A route back to the homepage of the site

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