Google’s Accepted HTTP Status codes

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on understanding Google’s HTTP status codes! Have you ever wondered why specific web pages have different messages when visiting them? Behind every website is a complicated system of coding that determines how it responds to requests from visitors. This system includes HTTP status codes – small but powerful pieces of information recognized by Google and can make all the difference between a successful page view or an error message. This blog post will examine how these codes impact your website’s performance. We’ll also explore Google’s role in recognizing these codes so you can ensure your site runs smoothly and optimally for both search engines and users alike. So read on to learn more about understanding Google’s HTTP status codes!

A brief overview of HTTP status codes

Google is the most popular search engine in the world, so it’s essential to understand how their system works when recognizing different HTTP status codes. Knowing this information can help improve your website ranking and user experience.

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We will look at success (2xx), a redirection (3xx), client error (4xx), and server error (5xx) codes in detail, along with their definitions, use cases, importance for SEO, web performance, and security considerations. Let’s get started!

Google’s Role in Recognizing HTTP Status Codes

Google has several tools and techniques to help website owners validate their HTTP status codes. The validation process starts by checking the request header for the status code, validating any redirects in the page response, comparing the submitted URL against Google’s indexed URLs, and analyzing server responses for any irregularities. Once all these checks are complete, a final determination is made on whether or not Google recognizes (or “acknowledges”) that particular HTTP status code. This process ensures that webpages will be found correctly by both search engines such as Google and user browsers. Additionally, it helps provide users with accurate information when they visit a webpage since there will be no unexpected errors due to incorrect coding of an HTTP error message or redirection rule. Using Google’s tools to ensure proper usage and recognition of HTTP Status Codes, websites can ensure optimal performance while staying secure from potential malicious attacks by exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated codes.

Using Google to validate HTTP status codes can benefit website owners. First, it can help ensure that the correct codes are used when setting up redirects and other web pages. The search engine algorithm is constantly changing, so using a trusted source like Google for validation helps guarantee accuracy and prevents errors from occurring later if site updates are needed. Correct HTTP status code validation also ensures better SEO performance and improved user experience since incorrect or invalid codes could lead to broken links or a slow-loading page speed. Finally, validating with Google can save time and resources for troubleshooting since the search engine will have already addressed algorithm issues.

2xx Success Codes

200 OK

A server returns the 200 OK status code and indicates that the requested resource has been received without errors. It’s often used when loading web pages, downloading files, or submitting forms to a server. Everyday use cases for 200 OK include:

  • Retrieving an HTML page.
  • Viewing an image file on a website.
  • Submitting form data successfully.
  • Calling API endpoints with no issues.

This type of response is essential for basic browsing activities as it signals that all processes have been completed correctly from the user’s point of view. In addition to indicating success in accessing the requested resource, this code also allows servers to inform clients about content types and other associated information, such as headers related to caching requests.

Importance for SEO

For SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it’s essential to have proper status codes associated with your website’s pages. A well-defined structure helps search engine algorithms understand which pages are valid and relevant to index correctly, leading to better visibility within SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). 

201 Created

The HTTP status code 201 Created is returned when a request to the server has been fulfilled and creates a new resource. This status code could be triggered by an API request, sending data to a database, or creating new files. Examples include uploading photos, adding comments on articles or forums, creating user accounts, etc. This response must be issued with all required headers so the client knows how to handle the resources created in this operation. 

Examples of when this status code is used

Having a correct 201 Created status ensures that newly published public resources can be easily indexed by search engines so they appear in searches faster. This also guarantees their availability for other users searching for results related to these specific topics on Google or other major search engines such as Bing and Yahoo!

202 Accepted

The 202 Accepted status code indicates that the server has received and accepted an action but has yet to be completed. 

How it differs from 201

202 Accepted differs from 201 Created in that 202 implies only tentative acceptance of the user’s request, which may later result in success or failure – often after further processing by an application-level process.

Unlike 201 Created, this response does not include new resources in its payload. It instead gives the client a hint that their action will be processed as soon as possible. This can be useful for long-running tasks like file uploads or complex processing jobs. Although similar to 200 OK, the difference lies in its indication of acceptance versus completion which can help developers know when a task is being worked on or waiting for further input from other services or APIs. 

The 2xx success codes indicate that the request was successful. The 200 OK status code is the most common code returned, and it indicates that the server successfully received, processed, and accepted whatever request was sent. Finally, the 201 Created status code is used when a new resource has been created on a server due to making an API call or submitting data via an HTML form. For example, if you created a customer record in your database with an API call, this status would be returned to confirm that the record has been successfully added.

204 No Content

This brings us to 204 No Content, which is seen very rarely but plays a vital role in web performance optimization since it does not include any content body in its response from the server. This can help reduce overhead (like downloading extra resources) and speed up loading times for websites/apps significantly compared to returning 200 OK responses with large payloads of unnecessary data every time there’s no change required by the client-side application(s). 

How it differs from 200

Additionally, 204 No Content differs from 200 OK as it indicates that no content was returned after performing a request while still confirming success (in contrast to 404 Not Found).

How it differs from 202

Even though both return “no content” responses, their meaning differs slightly — 202 Accepted means information about some processing operation being accepted. In contrast, 204 No Content means nothing modified, so no changes must be made on either side (client or server).

3xx Redirection Codes

Check out our article about redirection types for more information on the importance of redirection status codes, types, and options.

301 Moved Permanently

The HTTP 301 Moved Permanently status code is used when a page or resource has been permanently moved to another URL. Website owners must understand this particular HTTP code, as it can help with SEO efforts and improve user experience. This status code informs search engine crawlers that the content has been moved from its original location, allowing them to update their index accordingly. In addition, implementing a 301 redirect helps direct users from old URLs (which may have been bookmarked) to the new address automatically, avoiding any confusion during visits on future occasions.

Importance for SEO

A 301 Moved Permanently redirects a permanent redirection of an old URL to a new one. It passes the SEO value from the old page to the new URL and tells search engines that this move is permanent. Implementing them correctly ensures that traffic or link juice from those pages is passed on to their new location. Additionally, implementing 301 redirects helps website visitors navigate quickly and ensures they don’t get stuck with 404 errors after clicking outdated URLs. This improves their browsing experience and prevents user frustration or abandonment, which would negatively affect website ranking over time. 

How it differs from 302

Understanding how 302 Found differs from 301 Moved Permanently will help choose the correct status code for redirection purposes and ensure optimal performance for a website’s search engine rankings.

302 Found

The HTTP status code 302 Found is sent to a browser when a requested resource is temporarily moved or found in another location. 

This method is known as “temporary redirection,” meaning that future requests for this page should not use the alternate URL in the response header but send another request to its original location instead. 

By understanding how Google recognizes different HTTP status codes and their implications, website owners can properly manage webpages for better search engine optimization results and improved web performance.

How it differs from 301

Unlike 301 Moved Permanently, the new URL provided by the server will only be used once and then discarded. 

It’s important to note that redirects with this code do not affect SEO rankings like permanent ones (301). However, they can still be helpful for analytics tracking or other purposes, such as content management system integration. 

How it differs from 303

Additionally, unlike 303 See Other, 302 does not imply user interaction like filling out forms – it just suggests an automatic temporary redirection without any user input required. 

303 See Other

The 303 See Other status code is an HTTP response code indicating that another URL has replaced the resource requested. It’s often used when a website redirects and points to a different page than initially requested. 

How it differs from 302

Unlike the 302 Found status code, which indicates temporary redirection, this response code suggests that the new URL should be considered permanent and cached by web browsers instead of making multiple requests for the same content each time it is accessed. 

304 Not Modified

The HTTP status code 304 Not Modified sometimes indicates that a web page has not been modified since a client last requested it. This helps web servers save bandwidth and resources as they do not have to send the same content multiple times, instead responding with this code if the required information has stayed the same. By using caching, websites can also load faster because clients don’t need to request files over the internet every time they visit a website. Instead, they are served content that had already been downloaded previously.

Caching and importance for web performance

The 304 Not Modified status code is used when a web page or resource has not been modified since the client last requested it. This allows for more efficient use of server resources as the browser can skip downloading data that hasn’t changed. Although caching plays a vital role in web performance, quickly serving content without constantly processing requests makes your website faster and more responsive to users. It also reduces bandwidth costs from multiple requests for the same information. 

307 Temporary Redirect 

307 Temporary Redirect is an HTTP status code used when a web page has been moved permanently, but the browser should continue to use the original URL. It tells browsers to redirect their requests from one URL address to another. 

Importance for SEO

Moving on from this, 307 Temporary Redirects are used when there is a change in the location of a page or resource but only temporarily different than its original URL address. 

As such, properly implementing 307 redirects has become an essential part of any SEO strategy for website owners to ensure their pages rank properly on Google and other major search engines.

How it differs from 301 & 302

This code differs from 301 Moved Permanently and 302 Found as it works on previously cached documents to avoid unnecessary request/response cycles between server and client. The most significant difference between 307 and other redirection codes lies in its ability to bypass caching of previous responses. This means that visitors will be redirected almost instantly when properly implemented without retrieving new information from the server side first. 

4xx Client Error Codes

400 Bad Request

A 400 Bad Request error is an HTTP status code sent by a server, signaling that the request made by the client was invalid. This often occurs when the URL or query parameters are incorrect, required fields and values are omitted, or extra data is added to form fields. For example, if a user attempts to access a page without logging in and their login information isn’t entered correctly, they may receive this error message. It can also mean that there has been a problem with authentication – such as invalid authentication credentials provided from the browser – or file transfer errors, in which case it’s difficult for web servers to find out what data is being requested. Understanding why bad requests happen helps website owners fix them quickly and ensure superior performance for users.

A 400 Bad Request is an HTTP status code indicating that the server could not process a given request due to syntax issues. 

Common causes and how to fix them

For example, this could be caused by incorrect formatting in the URL, unauthorized characters being used, or requests that exceed size limitations. To fix this error, you can check and correct any URLs associated with your website, ensure any queries are correctly formed and within size restrictions, and remove possibly malicious content from your website. Website owners must understand how to address these errors because if left unaddressed, they may lead visitors away from their site towards competitors’ sites which provide more user-friendly experiences. 

401 Unauthorized 

401 Unauthorized is slightly different than 403 Forbidden as it indicates authorization failure rather than forbidden access – meaning users don’t have valid logins or authentication credentials required for making specific requests. Website owners should carefully consider who has access privileges on specific site pages to avoid accidental unlocks or intentional attack attempts based on stolen login information. Understanding how HTTP status codes function will help protect the security of websites while providing optimized web performance overall.

The 401 Unauthorized HTTP status code indicates that a client’s request has not been authorized due to invalid credentials. 

How it differs from 403

Website owners must understand and differentiate between 401 Unauthorized and 403 Forbidden codes since they relate to security but serve different purposes. For example, a 403 error occurs when the server or authorization rules wholly deny access, while a 401 means authentication failed during the sign-in process. To ensure maximum website security, it’s essential that site owners can recognize these HTTP status codes so they can take appropriate action if unauthorized users attempt to access any restricted data on their sites.

Importance for website security

The 401 Unauthorized status code is essential to consider when protecting website security. It lets the user know their request has been declined due to a lack of valid authentication credentials, such as an access token or username and password combination. This can help prevent malicious actors from gaining access to your site’s data, content, and resources, which could be used for further attacks. To protect against these types of risks, website owners need to have adequate security measures in place – this includes ensuring any authorization requests are correctly authenticated. The 401 Unauthorized status code helps assure that these checks are being done correctly by refusing unauthorized requests before they reach the server level, so it’s critical that website owners understand how this works and its importance in defending their sites against potential threats.

403 Forbidden

The 403 Forbidden status code is an HTTP response that indicates a server refuses to fulfill a request due to the client not having permission on the requested resource. This applies when a website or other protected resources are requested, but the user does not have permission or authorization to access them. Some everyday use cases include: If someone is trying to access admin pages, they will receive this error; if someone has exceeded their limit of requests in a given period, they will also be met with a 403 message. Therefore, website owners and administrators must set up permissions correctly so that users don’t accidentally get blocked from accessing parts of websites based on settings configured by administrators. 

How it differs from 401

When compared with 401 Unauthorized status code, there is one main difference – while 401 requires authentication (credentials like username/password), 403 means that the server refuses a request regardless of whether it’s authenticated or not, simply because the user cannot access resource even after successful credentials check. As such, site owners must take extra caution when configuring security filters. A wrong configuration may make people unable to reach some parts of the site, creating a bad experience and reputation problems over time if left unchecked.

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The 403 Forbidden status code is similar to 401 Unauthorized, but the difference lies in what type of authentication or authorization is possible. In a 401 response, the server can indicate that an authorization header should be sent containing valid credentials; however, with a 403 response, no such option exists since access is forbidden regardless of credentials. This makes it extremely important for website security as any attempt to access certain APIs or data associated with such APIs will not be successful and therefore protected from malicious actors.

Importance for website security

403 Forbidden status codes are used to indicate that the user does not have permission to access a specific page or content. This is an essential concept for website owners, giving them control over who can access what on their site. Using 403 Forbidden, they can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information and make sure only those with the correct permissions can view specific pages. Additionally, this helps protect against malicious bots and hackers trying to gain access by brute force methods such as guessing passwords or exploiting security flaws. A solid safety protocol also helps protect your website from being defaced or compromised, which could damage your reputation and cost you customers.

404 Not Found

The 404 Not Found Error is one of the most commonly seen HTTP status codes returned by sites. It means that the page or file you were trying to access does not exist on the server. This error can be triggered for various reasons, such as when a user types in an incorrect URL or if a webmaster has deleted the requested page from their website but neglected to redirect old URLs elsewhere. 

Custom 404 pages and their importance

A custom 404 page allows site owners to customize what visitors see when encountering this error – displaying a branded message and providing links to your content rather than an ugly technical response code. Additionally, good custom 404 pages contribute positively to SEO rankings as it ensures users remain engaged with your website even after encountering an error code (404).

Custom 404 Pages are related to the 410 Gone status code since they often direct users who land on a no longer available page (e.g. after content has been deleted and a 410 Gone Status Code has been set). Creating an effective Custom 404 Page is essential in providing users with helpful direction when encountering a website error. For example, you could provide links to other relevant pages or your homepage so visitors can still find what they need without leaving immediately out of frustration. Additionally, customizing the page with visuals and copy that fit within the overall branding of your website establishes trustworthiness in case visitors come across errors frequently. 

Importance for SEO

Finally, an aesthetically pleasing yet informative 404 Page could help boost SEO rankings by keeping more people on-site for extended periods and reducing bounced rates from frustrated user experiences.

410 Gone

The HTTP status code 410 Gone indicates that a resource has been permanently removed from the server and will no longer be available. This code should be used instead of 404 Not Found when a page or website is intentionally deleted, rather than just not found by mistake. For example, suppose an eCommerce store takes down its inventory for seasonal sales and returns it after a certain period. In that case, they can use this code on its product pages instead of displaying error messages. 

How it differs from 404

The most significant difference between 404 Not Found and 410 Gone is that while 404 Error indicates there was once something at this location but now does not exist anymore, 410 Gone suggests the content never existed in the first place. It also provides search engines with more information about what happened so they can process those changes faster without guessing whether something exists on the server side- resulting in better SEO results overall.

429 Too Many Requests

The server sends the 429 Too Many Requests status code to indicate that the client has sent too many requests over a given period. It’s typically used on an API when a rate limit is defined and exceeded. Common examples include too many automated page requests from bots or web crawlers or user errors in submitting multiple form submissions within a short window. This can lead to degraded website performance for all users and block access to certain pages or features until the rate limit restriction expires. Understanding how this error works can help website owners correctly handle such errors and ensure optimal site performance for their visitors.

The 429 Too Many Requests status code is when a user sends too many requests to the web server within the allotted time window. This can happen for multiple reasons, such as a website being unable to handle traffic spikes or bots sending excessive requests for scraping data. 

How to handle this status code

To handle this status code, it’s essential to have rate limiting in place so that users don’t make too many requests at one time and overload your servers. You should also monitor any unexpected activity on your site to identify potential malicious actors. Finally, proper security measures are essential for avoiding these issues. 

Importance for website performance

From a website performance standpoint, having rate limiting enabled helps reduce latency by not allowing any one user or bot to overload your servers with unnecessary resource usage. Additionally, it prevents denial-of-service attacks where malicious actors attempt to take down services by flooding them with high numbers of simultaneous requests they cannot process efficiently enough in response times expected by users and Google bots alike.

5xx error codes

500 Internal Server Error

A 500 Internal Server Error is one of the most common HTTP status codes, indicating something has gone wrong on a server. This error can be triggered in response to any request a user makes of the server, and it means that the web page they are trying to access cannot be displayed. Everyday use cases for this error include faulty scripts, insufficient memory or disk space to complete tasks requested by visitors, misconfigured servers, corrupted files, and errors with third-party services connected to your site. Website owners and administrators must understand this type of error to know how to resolve issues as quickly as possible. In addition, understanding its potential causes can help them identify where things have gone wrong more efficiently. This will minimize disruption caused when users experience an internal server error after attempting to access content from their sites.

Common causes and how to fix them

A 500 Internal Server Error is a generic response from a server indicating that something went wrong when the request was being processed. It’s one of the most common HTTP statuses and usually appears when there’s an error on the web page or application you’re trying to access.

Common causes for this error include:

  • Misconfigured website files.
  • Corrupt databases.
  • Incorrect file/folder permissions.
  • Problems with third-party plugins.

To fix it, first look through your website files and make sure they are correctly configured – check any syntax errors in HTML or PHP code, including missing semicolons or quotation marks – then verify if all database tables were successfully imported into your system. Additionally, ensure that permission settings for directories containing data have been correctly set up – no excessive privileges should be granted to scripts, as this can lead to potential security risks and unexpected behaviors. Finally, deactivate any recently installed third-party templates or plugins since these might interfere with how the server works, causing a 500 Internal Server Error response message whenever an issue occurs directly or indirectly related to their functionality within the application architecture.

502 Bad Gateway

A 502 Bad Gateway is an HTTP status code that indicates a server, while acting as a gateway or proxy, received an invalid response from an inbound server. This often occurs when the upstream server needs to respond more quickly, which can be caused by various issues, such as heavy traffic or errors on the destination website. Everyday use cases for this status code include:

  • Accessing content stored behind load balancers or reverse proxies.
  • Setting up webhooks with 3rd party services.
  • Connecting to APIs hosted outside your network.

Another use case might involve customers trying to access applications hosted on virtual machines routed through these gateways.

How it differs from 503

It differs from 503 Service Unavailable in that the former is more specific (indicating an issue between two servers), whereas 503 denotes no availability at all and points to potential maintenance activities instead.

A 502 Bad Gateway error occurs when a server attempting to act as a gateway or proxy to another server receives an invalid response. This contrasts the 503 Service Unavailable status code, indicating that the backend server is down and can’t fulfill requests due to maintenance or other issues. A 502 error serves as an intermediary between two servers that could not negotiate with each other; it indicates there may be something wrong on either side of the connection, but specifically atypical from a standard service interruption caused by an overloaded backend server.

503 Service Unavailable

A 503 Service Unavailable error is an HTTP status code that appears when a web server cannot respond to requests due to temporary maintenance or unexpected overload. This typically happens when the server has been taken offline for some reason, and it can affect any number of individual websites and entire networks. Use cases include planned outages like system updates and fixes being done, unplanned outages such as power failures and hardware/software malfunctions, blocked IP addresses by firewalls, or overreaching security solutions in large organizations with complex network settings.

The 503 Service Unavailable status code indicates that the server cannot handle a request due to maintenance, overloading of resources, or an internal server error. 

Common causes and how to fix them

Common causes for this error include misconfigured servers and web hosting services with high resource usage. First, to fix this issue, ensure your hosting provider provides enough computing power for your website by analyzing its CPU and memory usage or switching to another host if needed. You may also need to optimize your database and check if any plugins are causing errors on the server side, as well as clear out the cache to free up more resources. Finally, it’s essential to keep track of when such incidents happen so you can identify trends to prevent them from occurring again.

508 Resource Limit Is Reached

A 508 Resource Limit Reached error occurs when a web server detects its resources are exhausted and can no longer handle an incoming request. This type of error usually indicates that the website’s hosting plan has reached its maximum limits on CPU usage, memory usage, or network resources such as concurrent requests. Common causes include too many visitors accessing the website simultaneously, running excessive scripts or plugins, running large database queries without proper optimization, and others. Use cases for this status code might be an overly busy web page with many images hosted on multiple servers, which leads to exceeding resource limits during peak times. Another use case is when a faulty script written in PHP (or another scripting language) consumes more than its fair share of processing power from the server, resulting in severe performance issues for all users trying to access that particular webpage. With these examples in mind, it’s essential to take proactive steps before reaching 508 errors by ensuring your site is optimized for speed and efficiency to minimize potential resource limitations and ensure smooth operations during peak activity hours.

How to handle this status code

The web server issues the 508 Resource Limit Is Reached status code when it hits a limit set in its configuration. It indicates that the resource limit has been exhausted, and further requests will be denied temporarily until resources become available again. This can occur if a website receives too many requests or requires significant memory to fulfill a request. You should check your web hosting account’s control panel for information on which limits have been exceeded and any other current settings and performance metrics related to your hosting account/website. Once you understand which resource was overextended, you may need to optimize aspects of the server infrastructure or application logic (such as caching) to reduce strain on those resources in the future.

Conclusion

Google recognizes various HTTP status codes, each with its purpose and meaning. For example, 2xx Success codes include the 200 OK (meaning that the request was successful), 201 Created (a resource was created as requested by the client), and 202 Accepted (the server accepted but did not yet process a request). On the other hand, 3xx Redirection codes like 301 Moved Permanently indicate to search engines or browsers that a page has moved and should now be accessed at another location instead. Understanding which status code applies in each situation is essential for website owners who want to ensure their websites are indexed correctly by Google and perform optimally.

Understanding and implementing the correct HTTP status codes when developing a website is essential. Google recognizes all standard HTTP status codes, so it is vital to use them correctly to improve SEO and overall website performance. For example, 301 Moved Permanently for a permanent redirect will help preserve link equity, whereas 404 Not Found can negatively affect SEO rankings. Additionally, 429 Too Many Requests should be adequately handled, as an overloaded server can lead to significant slowdowns in web performance. 

In conclusion, choosing the correct HTTP Status code for each situation can make or break your website’s SEO and user experience success. Therefore site owners and developers must thoroughly understand these core concepts before launching any projects online.

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References: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing/http-network-errors

About the author

SEO Strategist with 16 years of experience