A new Google Document explains how HTTP status codes affect the appearance of a site in search results. Google has released a new help document that explains how different HTTP status codes affect a site’s appearance in search results. A recent tweet suggests that Google’s Gary Illyes helped compile this document.
This is the new guide you can refer to when you are not sure how a particular status code affects SEO. Let’s take a look at what is included in Google’s new guide for webmasters and developers. Many of these may already be known to you, but it would not be a bad idea to update your knowledge of status codes with the latest information available.
How HTTP Status Codes Affect Google Search:
Google’s new doc covers the top 20 status codes Googlebot encounters on the web, as well as the most obvious DNS and network errors. For example, if a browser requests content that is no longer hosted on the server, a 404 (not found) status code will be generated. The first number of the status code indicates which category it belongs to. All 2xx codes refer to a successful scan, all 3xx codes refer to redirects, and so on. Instead of going through all 20 status codes, I’ve rounded up the basic options for each category.
HTTP 2xx (Success)
- These codes indicate that Googlebot can detect the content and pass it to the index pipe.
- Google notes that a 2xx HTTP status code does not guarantee to index, it simply means that no errors occurred.
- The exception is a 204 status code, which means the page opened successfully. But no content was found.
- Google may display a soft 404 in the search console for pages that provide a 204 code.
HTTP 3xx (Redirects)
Not all redirects are the same. A 301 status code sends a stronger signal than a 302, 303, or 307 code to which the URL should be considered normal. A status code 304 informs Google that the content is the same as the last time it was crawled. It does not affect indexing. But may cause the signals to be calculated for the URL.
What if the Redirect Does Not Work:
- Googlebot follows up to 10 hop redirects before it stops trying.
- If the content is not downloaded within 10 hops, the search console will display a redirect error in the site index coverage report.
HTTP 4xx (Client Errors)
Pages returning 4xx status codes are not considered for indexing in Google search results. All 4xx errors, except 429, are treated equally. They report to Googlebot that the content does not exist. If the content already exists, the URL will be removed from the Google search index. A status code 429 means that Googlebot could not access a URL because the server was overloaded. These URLs will be indexed by Google.
HTTP 5xx (Server Errors)
- 5xx server errors require Googlebot to temporarily slow down the crawl.
- URLs that have already been indexed and now have a server error will eventually be rejected if they continue to provide a 5xx status code.
- For more details about these server errors and information about DNS and server errors, see the full help document from Google.