Online business killing HTTP errors
What are HTTP errors? It takes a considerable investment of both time and money to generate fresh leads or traffic in competitive e-commerce or digital marketing. There is cut-throat competition among different players locally or internationally.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that any online user not face unexpected problems or errors while navigating the online store website.
Let's not forget that any potential prospect can easily switch to other online stores if he is not satisfied with the usability and navigation of your site. So you may lose the buyer, and that's why these are termed as lost opportunities.
HTTP errors are common in the web world but can be fatal, business-killing errors and must be addressed as soon as possible.
These HTTP messages provide valuable information about the current status and health of the web pages so that web admins can resolve them.
The HTTP status codes list is extensive, but few of them are important and require immediate attention.
What does HTTP status code mean?
There is a server response of 3 digits for the browser's server and client exchange request. The first digit of the code tells about the response type. The response codes are divided into 5 categories.
1XX: It is informational in nature and indicates that the request has been received and is in the process.
2XX: It tells whether the action was successful or not.
3XX: Provides redirection information.
4XX: The request's syntax is invalid and cannot be processed.
5XX: Different types of Server errors.
By looking at the first digit of the error code, the webmasters can decipher the type of the problem.
Such categorization of errors makes it easy for web admins to find the issues and resolve them to keep the site healthy. For example, if the error code starts with "5," then webmasters would know that something is wrong on the server-side.
If HTTP status codes start with the digit "4", there is an issue with the client-side. Either the URLs are misconfigured, or pages are broken.
Why are HTTP status codes important?
Not every HTTP error code is vital for online marketing, but few HTTP codes are highly relevant due to the nature of e-commerce.
The time spent on the website by internet users is already decreasing day by day by various distractions. So if any prospective buyer sees an error message, they would abandon the site and switch to your competitors.
If there are any broken pages, the search engine bots or crawlers' time is wasted on the pages that no longer exist. This unnecessary crawling hints to the search engines that the site is not up to date, and hence the site rank can be affected negatively.
If there are server-side HTTP status errors, search engines can estimate that a particular site server is not responding to the requests appropriately. Every search engine is trying to improve user experience day by day, so no search engine would like to display these pages in SERPs to avoid a bad reputation.
Understanding these valuable codes helps in reducing the downtime of the website. Using 301 code can tell the search engine crawlers that the corresponding page has been moved.
What does the 200 status code mean?
It shows that the requested page is found successfully. Getting 200 status codes is expected behavior for any webpage. If there were any problems, codes like 404 would have been displayed instead of 200 OK status codes.
How do HTTP codes pass link equity?
The 301 status code helps in guiding the search crawlers or auto bots to the permanently moved pages. The link equity or juice is also passed to this new URL, so it helps in ranking.
With the help of 301 redirect code, the link juice earned from backlinks with old pages, page rank, and visitors is almost retained and transferred to the new URL.
If the user searches for the old page that has been moved out, then 404 messages would be shown.
Therefore to avoid any confusion or enhance the user experience, a 301 redirect code can be used. It can also be used to avoid duplicate content on the site.
Does the 302 status code pass link juice?
No, it doesn't. For temporary moving, this code can be used. The purpose of this code is different from 301 and must be used cautiously. For example, if any product is out of stock, you can temporarily use the 302 code to point to other pages.
Where should redirection be used?
For small sites with few links, redirection codes are not essential. Still, when the big websites are modified or the content management system is changed, 301 can help avoid unnecessary issues.
It can be used in case of domain and directory change, fix broken links, switch from HTTP to HTTPS, and direct traffic from other pages.
The whole purpose of redirection is not only to improve usability but also to retain the benefits of hard work done over time. The multiple layers of redirection (a chain) may impact crawling and indexing, so it should be used with great caution.
If there are so many internal links with redirects, they should be cleaned or have minimum linkages from other pages to save the crawl budget.
How to prevent and correct 404 errors for a better SEO ranking?
Think for a moment if you are visiting an online store to buy a product. If you get a message, "Page is not found" or "File not found," what impression would you have in your mind about the aesthetics and performance of that store?
You will realize that the site is not updated correctly, and you will move to other stores to complete your purchase.
If so many prospects receive such a large number of error messages, the site will start losing buyers.
It is not about leads or traffic, but search engines also track such usability-related errors and penalize sites by awarding low ranking in search engine results pages.
The group of 400 errors is called client-side issues and can be triggered by the following reasons:-
The user typed the wrong URL address.
The requested page has been deleted or moved out without any alternative (redirection or personalized message).
The page is temporarily is not available (maybe the page is in the development phase).
The user clicks on the URL, which has the typo.
In the above cases, the connection with the server will be established, but instead of the requested page, the error message will be shown.
These would irritate customers, so better alternatives need to be provided through 301 redirect options or custom designs. There should be no dead-end in the website navigation.
There are various SEO tools to check the broken links (internal and external) and images. One of the best tools is the Google Search Console.
In this free SEO tool, look for the new Index Coverage Report and URL Inspection tool, analyze them and take the best action to clean these errors to avoid bad user experience and search rank penalty.
The server's log files (transfer and error logs) are the other sources of the HTTP code errors. The server records the critical information related to transactions that took place between server and client.
If any page produces 404 errors continuously, you can create a redirect link using the ".htaccess" file.
The robot file can be used to avoid indexing pages that are still in the development stage or are being changed frequently.
The dead-end is not a good idea, especially for online stores. Therefore to keep the customers engaged with the store, they should be taken to more meaningful pages like home, similar product pages, resources, etc.
Generating such custom templates or responsive pages would create more trust among the customers about the performance and maintenance of your online store.
What are server-side HTTP status codes?
Like client-side errors, there are many server-side HTTP codes errors. The request is accepted successfully, but the transaction will not be completed due to some problem on the server side.
The 500-internal server error would be displayed if an unexpected error occurred on the server-side.
The server resources like corrupt hard disk, outdated software tools or non-functional, syntax errors, wrong permissions for files, etc., can cause such problems.
Measures like updating tools, changing file permissions and configuration, etc., can solve such issues.
The 503-service unavailable will be shown if the server is overloaded and getting more requests than the capacity. So in such cases, the server works fine but, due to overload, does not accept requests. The other possible reasons could be network or speed problems, virus attacks, and maintenance tasks.
The correction and prevention of error messages are crucial for any website. If there are a lot of 404 messages, it would be taken as lousy maintenance or irrelevant site by the search engines and customers, which can lead to loss of revenue and site rank.
The poor aesthetic of the website also impacts the search engine rank.
The essential lessons in the e-commerce sector are that all the pages of products, tutorials, contact details should be loading and working fine.
Make sure your online store doesn't have any broken product pages and links. Therefore regular auditing, testing, and checks are necessary for the better health of the online store.