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Codes Decoded: A guide for HTTP Status Codes

There are dozens of status codes that a page on a website can display to its users; but what the heck is a status code anyway? This week, we dive into the specifics of HTTP status codes and how they matter for SEO.


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. 

Have you ever tried to go to a website from search results, but the page you want to visit doesn’t show up? In these situations, you may have noticed that there is actually a three-digit number that is displayed in place of the missing page.

This can be super frustrating as a shopper; but imagine the panic you’d feel if something like this happened on your website. So today, we’re going to decode some of these status code issues to keep you better informed about what to do if a page on your site experiences an issue.

Before we get in over our heads, let’s discuss some of the categories an HTTP status code can fall under. 

100 level codes tell the user that the server is processing information, but it’s just not complete yet; thus the page cannot be displayed. 

200 level codes are actually our favorite kind. These “success” codes indicate that the page has shown up as requested and everything is working correctly. 

300 level codes indicate that a redirect has been put in place from one page to the other. 

400 level codes signal that there has been an error on the browser-side when trying to receive information from the server. 

Finally, 500 level status codes signal there’s been an error on the server-side when trying to transfer information to the browser.

All in all, there are over sixty HTTP status codes in existence today, but there are only a few that are very critical for SEO. 

One of the big ones our team often applies is 301. This type of status code means that a previous URL has been redirected somewhere else for good. A “permanent” redirect is used for sending users from an older page to an updated URL. It also tells the search engines that they need to update their index of that page. 

If you want to redirect traffic temporarily while a page is either under construction or briefly pulled down, there are other options such as 302 and 307 redirects.

404 and 410 status codes are so important, too. A 404, or “page not found” error is probably the most common, and it tells us that a page is not delivering content to site visitors. 

This is usually because the URL either doesn’t exist, or you forgot to implement a redirect on that page when the URL changed. This can be a bit of an *oopsie* kind of moment, and it’s important to fix these. They can hurt the experience of your customers and send wrong signals to search engines about your site. 

410 status codes can be implemented when a URL or resource is gone and was purposefully deleted. These codes tell search engines to remove the page from the index completely, rather than redirecting to another page. 

Last but not least, is a 503 status code. This means that content is down temporarily due to a technical issue, but it tells the search engines to not de-index the page. But, if left unresolved over a long period of time, the search engines will treat it as a permanent error — and it will remove the content from the index entirely. That means lost traffic!

That’s all the time we’ve got for today’s video. As always, if you have questions or comments, leave ‘em down below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you  next week with another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.

Author Kelcey Drapp

Kelcey Drapp is an SEO Manager working at DealerOn since 2015, and in the digital space for nearly a decade. Kelcey enjoys digging deep into SEO research to discover the 'why,' and helping clients realize their potential for success online. In addition to her work in local SEO, Kelcey also likes to volunteer her digital marketing skills for non-profits in need. When Kelcey is not working, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her husband, son, & three dogs.

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