Search engine optimization encompasses many areas of a website, although most SEO professionals tend to focus on some more than others. HTTP status codes are a good example of an SEO element that most web developers & designers tend to overlook or simply don’t give it as much attention as it should.
HTTP status codes and how each of them affects your site`s ranking on SERPS
For starters, having an SEO audit of your site once in a while goes a long way in ensuring that you are headed in the right direction. How often you ought to do the audit depends on how often you upload content to your site. If you operate an extremely busy site where you are publishing a lot of content on a daily basis, weekly and monthly audits will become a necessity. This is the best way to identify if there are any errors on your website and have them fixed as fast as possible.
What types of webpage status codes are you likely to encounter?
Types of webpage status code errors
Factors that may cause a 404 error
- If the URL, image or file in question was moved to another location but the alteration of the internal links was not done correctly.
- The visitor missed some details while typing the URL
- Following dead links
How to resolve a 404 error
Having a lot of 404 errors on your website is highly detrimental, because it is a sign that the site is not properly maintained. You will risk being penalized and your pages ranked very low on SERPS because they are not friendly to both visitors and bots. It is thus important to resolve such errors immediately, once you`re notified of their existence.
To avoid having too many pages returning a 404 error code, you can use tools such as Google Search Console to check the status of your pages. It helps you to not only identify pages with 404 errors on your site; but also to easily rectify such pages.
Another great way to rectify 404 status codes is to employ a 301 redirect on such pages. However, don’t just redirect users to homepage or any random page; it is important to redirect them to the most relevant page based on the information they were after. For instance, if you operate an e-commerce store and there is a 404 code error on the kitchenware page, you can’t just redirect your visitors to the electronics page.
One of the best SEO strategies is to optimize the error page in a way that users will be prompted to stay on your site. Redirect them to other relevant pages so you don’t have to lose any traffic. This will also reduce the bounce rate on your site.
With the updates to Google Search console it continues to lead the charge on identifying errors on your website, but there are many other website crawling and indexing solutions that can also add in tracking page status. Screamingfrog and Deepcrawler are definitely worth a look and to see the website auditing and crawling tools, keep an eye on the resources page on this site.
Mike Hodgdon- SEO & Digital Marketing Expert Consultant