There are many aspects to an effective SEO. Lately, people have been focusing a lot on content and social signals as the driving forces behind website rankings. However, in order for search engines to access your content and rank your websites properly, they have to be able to access your web pages. Thus, it’s even more important that you understand how search engines discover and rank web pages from a technical perspective. This will help you properly set up your website for search engines and improve your website’s ranking.
Whenever Googlebot or other search crawlers access a page on your website, the crawlers will receive a header information from the server to tell them to either continue crawl the site or not. Without proper implementations, the status code can send the wrong signals to the crawlers and negatively impact your search rank.
Here are the most common status codes:
This means your web pages are fine and the crawlers should able to access, cache and index your page properly.
This status code tells the crawlers that your page A has been moved permanently to page B, and that they should crawl, cache, and index page B instead. All the SEO link equity should also be passed to the page B as the visitors.
Unlike 301, this status means that the page A has only been temporarily moved to page B. Both crawlers and visitors will be redirected to page B while the SEO link equity stays with Page A.
This status code means that the page does not exist and therefore is not accessible to the search crawlers. Crawlers will delete the page from the index.
This represents an error from the server side and both crawlers and search engines cannot access to the content of your site
Whenever your site undergo a site maintenance, this is the best choice. This basically tells the crawlers and visitors to return later as the site is “temporarily unavailable”.
There are many ways to find a page’s status code. Some tools include:
- Firefox Web Developer Toolbar
- Screaming Frog – highly recommended, very useful.
Having an accessible site (to both visitors and search engines) is the first step of SEO. It’s highly recommended to check status code of your site as frequently as possible (weekly) in order to assure your site is optimized and error free.