Blog | Website Wizardry

SEO Error Codes and How To Fix Them

12/08/2015

When you’re focusing on the front end of your website, it’s easy to forget sometimes that you also need to be checking for technical SEO issues which require a swift solution.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), the ‘protocol of websites’, produces a range of error codes depending on the outcome of each HTTP request (i.e. someone trying to visit a page on a website).

To have a working site which is as Google-friendly as possible, you need to keep 100% of your pages with either 200, 301 or 302 statuses.

404, 500 and 503 errors signify an issue which needs investigating and resolving.

Here are a list of the most common HTTP codes you’ll see, and how to resolve them;

200 (Success)

Everyone can reach the page with no problems. Perfect!

301 (Permanent Redirect)

This is the most common type of redirect, often used when a page is deleted or a URL is changed, and passes on all of the SEO value of the old page to the new page.

If you’re using the Apache web server, you can add a 301 redirect by simply typing in the following line of code into your .htaccess file (found in the /public_html directory in FTP);

Redirect 301 /oldurl /newurl

302 (Temporary Redirect)

This type of redirect is used for redirects for a page that might be temporarily unavailable, perhaps down for maintenance.

Any SEO value of the page won’t be passed on, so if you see any 302 redirects in place for pages which won’t be live again, you should change them to 301 (permanent) redirects.

404 (Not Found)

404s are the most common type of error, and appear when you either delete a page, or change the URL of a page without adding a redirect.

If you see these, you should put in place either a 301 or 302 redirect. Usually, if you’ve deleted the page, a 301 (permanent) redirect will be the best solution, and will pass along all of the old page’s SEO value.

It’s important to regularly resolve any 404 errors, as these can make Google (and other search engines) view your site as untrustworthy – especially if 404 errors remain unresolved for a long period of time. If you have a page which you deleted but had lots of links going into it, you should definitely look to create a 301 redirect for the page.

On a side note, if the default 404 page doesn’t look very appealing, you might want to spend some time styling it up to fit in with your brand in some way.

Here are a few of my favourite 404 pages which might provide some inspiration:

Lego's 404 Error PageDropbox 404 Error Page

Mailchimp 404 Error Page

500 (Server Error)

This is a server-side error, which doesn’t give much information. This can resolve itself, though sometimes it can indicate a more permanent server issue – such as a mis-configuration. If you see this error code, contact your Web Hosting provider for more information.