9 major HTTP response codes you should know

You are not a stranger to internet browsing.

You have been visiting boatloads of pages.

There are different kinds of pages that are out there.

In the online world.

I’m sure you would agree that one of the most famous and familiar pages is as below 😊.

google 404 page

It has been said that millions of people across the globe stumble upon this page every day.

So what is this page?

Is this the only kind of page present?

How can you, as a Digital Marketer tackle this issue?

In this post, I’ll cover

-what are HTTP response codes

-how do they work

-what are the top response codes

-what is the impact of these pages

-how you can successfully work on these codes/pages

What are HTTP response codes?

These are HTTP status codes issued by a server in response to a request made to the server.

There are five standard classes of such HTTP response codes.

They are:

1XX

2XX

3XX

4XX

5XX

XX here represents numbers like

102,201,302 etc – I have generalized them above.

The actual list of response codes is huge.

Hence we will go through only 9 major ones.

Here is the list:

Response codes Infographics

How do HTTP response codes work?

response codes working

When you are browsing, every page that you see will be requested from its server.

Say, you come across a link that sounds interesting.

So you click it.

This click will send a request to the server of that page where the page/details are stored.

The server will check with the page and send a response back to the client (you).

Depending on the status of the code, the page will render differently.

HTTP response codes affect your website SEO rankings as well.

The interaction between the browser and the website happens through HTTP.

http status code server

HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol.

These codes are part of the full response data that is transferred.

Additional data or instructions are also part of these requests.

This whole information is called the HTTP header.

Along with codes, you can also send the below data through the HTTP header.

-canonical URL

-hreflang links

-meta tags

What are the top HTTP status response codes?

1. HTTP response code: 200

200 http code

Let me start with a simple, happy-for-all one.

This means a success.

No issues detected on the page.

And the page will render properly.

2. Status code: 301

http 301 redirect

This is an important one.

This means “moved permanently”.

In Digital Marketing or Ecommerce, this code is often stumbled upon or used.

 In 301, a web page has been moved permanently.

To another location or a URL.

Not only pages, but domains can also be moved using 301 HTTP response code.

It can be

-an old domain to an entire new one

-non-www to www or vice versa

-from HTTP to HTTPS

3. HTTP response code: 302

302 http redirect

This represents “moved temporarily”.

The content has been moved to a new URL – for the time being.

In the above example, Page A has been moved temporarily to Page B.

Page B will then be moved permanently to Page C.

4. Status code: 401

401 http response code

Unauthorized.

Authentication is required from the user.

Which has not yet been provided.

This could be basic access authentication (like username and password).

Or the Digest access authentication.

This method uses a hash function to validate, unlike the basic access method which uses the simpler Base64 encoding process.

Digest access authentication is usually implemented in banking transactions.

5. HTTP response code: 403

403 http code

The forbidden zone.

The request here was fine and understood by the server.

But it still did not respond.

It refused to take action.

Why?

Reasons include

-the user may not have the necessary permission

-the accounts do not match

403 is similar to 401.

The difference is 401 precedes 403.

401 is strictly for bad or pending authentication.

403 arrives later where the authenticated user does not have specific authority to conduct a procedure.

6. Status code: 404

404 http ocde

The most (in)famous one.

This is the HTTP response code that you have seen.

That I have seen.

That the whole online world has seen.

This HTTP response code means “not found”.

The URL simply does not exist.

The browser, here, was successful in connecting with the server.

But the server did not find what was requested.

Even if the requested data is found, the server may choose to refuse the request.

Due to access not being granted.

404 HTTP response code is also returned in the case of a broken link.

7. HTTP response code: 408

408 http code

“Times up!”

This code means “request timed out”.

The server was awaiting some kind of information from the user which the user failed to provide.

Within a predetermined span of time.

Hence the original request needs to be repeated.

8. Status code: 410

410 http code

No longer available.

The resource requested is gone.

404 vs 410

404 code means that a page does not and did not exist in the location. Ever.

410 indicates that the page requested was present earlier, but not anymore.

Giving specific code instructions to search engines is always beneficial.

9. HTTP response code: 503

503 http code

Service unavailable.

The server encountered an issue, usually a technical one.

This is generally a  temporary status.

Again, rectified from the server end.

What is the impact of HTTP response codes?

If ignored, HTTP response codes can cause more damage than you might think.

Http code impact

a. Impact on page value

If there is a 302 code given for a page, Google will not transfer the entire earlier page value to this page.

As it will assume a new page will soon be created and redirected to.

If the new page is not created within the given time, this page will become stagnant.

b. Impact on bounce rate

Having a 404 page is by default, bad for your site.

And it will get worse with more such pages.

Your site traffic will drop.

Thereby increasing your website bounce rate.

c. Impact on customer experience

Customers will lose hope and interest in your website with more 404 pages.

It will break their purchase journey.

d. Impact on organic rankings

You work hard for your website to rank.

And these pages will result in massive drops in your rankings.

How can you successfully work on these HTTP response codes/pages?

As a Digital Marketer, continuous monitoring of your site goes without saying.

You need to constantly check for page rendering issues.

Imagine a scenario where you have work on product promotion.

You plan to make the promo live on a particular day.

Everything works out fine.

Except when you click on the promotional banner it leads to a 404 page.

So the entire promotion is a bust.

Because of HTTP response code issue.

Not just promotions, you need to check out these status issues for all the top-line products.

How can you do that?

working on http code

1. Create a customized 404 page.

It doesn’t matter to customers what a 404 page is.

All they see is an erroneous page.

And then they exit the site.

You need to ensure that even if a page like that pops up, there should be a default solution.

A customized 404 page should have the below 3 features:

-a clear message to customers stating that they are not in the right place

a straight-forward direction to where they should visit- instead of that page

an option for feedback  – as stated this is optional

Take Digidomain for example.

Type “404page” in the URL post “digidomain.in”

Like:

“https://digidomain.in/404page”

You can type anything, of course.

This is just an example.

Once you type in and enter, you get the below page.

digidomain 404 page

You see the message?

The first part states that the requested URL was not found.

The second part provides a direction as a next step.

Example on Flipkart:

Flipkart 404 page

So you see, you need to cover this default aspect.

If you are using WordPress, then this option is covered automatically.

If not, then you need to check with your coder and explain the requirements.

It is not a difficult task.

2. SEO site audit

seo audit

You need to conduct frequent site audits.

You can use a tool like:

Screaming Frog SEO spider

I’ve used this tool and it is greatly helpful.

A hardcore tool for technical aspects.

Once you run the tool, go the “Response Codes” option at  the top.

screaming frog response code list

You will see a list of all kinds of errors – 1xx, 2xx, 3xx, 4xx and 5xx.

You can then work on those pages.

Check for broken links or any internal server issues.

3. Do not create redirect chain

redirect chain

It is not a good practice to have a chain of redirect pages.

Especially for 301 pages.

That is,

Page A redirects to Page B.

Page B redirects to Page C.

And so on.

As Google will stop crawling the redirected pages after a certain point.

Keep it simple at one redirect.

4. Do not retain 302 for a long time

302 to 301

302 refers to a temporary redirect.

Hence Google will hold back on passing on the full credit to that page.

As it will expect a newer permanent page for that content.

So, work on all your 302 pages.

Convert them to 301 simple single redirects at the earliest.

5. Use Noindex

Add Meta “Noindex” tag to these pages.

You can remove them once the redirect is permanent and complete.

You can use the Robots.txt file for this.


Conclusion

HTTP status codes are not comparatively hard to work on.

You can set up rules to counter them effectively.

But these pages are quite important for your organic ranking.

As in, you WILL NOT rank if your page has an HTTP response code error.

No matter what the error is.

Hence, take these pages seriously and constantly monitor them.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *