Which HTTP Response Codes impact your SEO?
404 Errors, 301 Errors, which are the worst and why?
Penalties are incurred for bad response codes, some are worse than others. Response Codes are website-to-server communication systems that allow YOU, the client, to load, interact, and even upload data to a website. Each code is different, some, Search Engines penalise, while others they boost!
Now, as can be seen in the “HTTP Penalties” image above, some penalties are worse than others, and some other Response Codes are actually beneficial for SEO. Ideally, your website maximise the number of
200 OK codes and minimises the number of
404 Page Not Found errors.
Each Code is different, and means something else. You might have encountered
404 Not Found errors while navigating the web at some point, but I guarantee you, that you’ve experienced more
301 Permanent Redirect and
302 Found codes. Now, 404 Codes are bad news, whilst 301 and 302 codes are simply part of every-day internet navigation, therefore it’s important to know the difference.
I strongly recommending this article on types of errors before you continue to read this article.
Which Codes are Penalised?
In a short list, the following codes are significantly penalised by Google:
- 300 – Multiple Choice
- 303 – See Other
- 403 – Forbidden
- 404 – Not Found
- 408 – Request Timeout
- 410 – Gone
- 414 – URI Too Long
- 504 – Gateway Timeout
- 502 – Bad Gateway
They’re penalised because when clients are surfing the web, and land on your website, these are factors that actually reduce, or impede on the ability of the user to enjoy your website. For example a 403 code will result in the client not being able to access any information on the website, effectively rendering the website useless from Google’s point of view.
Other codes, such as 404 Not Found will result in no information being displayed, as you may have already encountered. All of the above are codes are penalised, however some are worse than others.
Why are some worse than others?
Some codes render a website/page useless, while others only restrict the information, or is a fault of your server which you are not entirely in control of. For example a
303 See Other code causes information to be gathered from a different URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) than the one they are on now. While it doesn’t remove the content on the screen, it does cause the user’s computer to have to travel to two URL’s (Uniform Resource Locator) in order to display a single site. Whereas a
404 Not Found code causes a completely useless page to be projected to the user.
All of this information is determined by the Search Engine Crawler, or “scout” of the Search Engine. They’re critical for website data analysis and processing which allows websites to be indexed. Therefore, it’s important to clear out these errors for user experience AND crawling improvement!
How do I know if my site is being penalised?
There are two ways to effectively identify penalisations:
- Use a script (like a crawler) to evaluate links on your site
- Check the Webmaster/Search Console for relevant information
The second option is far simpler, but not as wholesome. The information provided on a Google Search Console, for example, takes time to be updated if changed. For example if you make changes and request re-indexing, it can take up to 14 days before the website is fully re-indexed. That’s a long time to wait if you’re suddenly sinking in SERP rankings!
The first option requires specialists, and particularly Technical SEO specialists. TSEO specialists create scripts that test websites and run audits along all the links available and create a registry of penalisations, or bad response codes so to speak. SEOSPIDRE, for example, will then report these findings to you, the client, and take the action necessary on the back-end to remove the penalisation and ensure that your website is ranking as well as it possibly.
I think my website is being penalised, what do I do?
SEOSPIDRE is an Index & Technical SEO agency that provides solutions for exactly this kind of problem. We’ve provided Indexing Error reporting & fixing for hundreds of clients, and have extensive experience with all Search Engines. SEOSPIDRE works on a client-to-client basis, and we understand that you may have particular interests, demands, or service requests, and we would be happy to open a special variation of a service for you.