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Beginners Guide To Status Codes

Just as any other person sometimes you start browsing the web, looking for websites to explore or you are looking for information that you need or perhaps you are looking to shop online.

However, sometimes the unexpected happens and you end up running into some random three digit number codes and you don't know exactly what they mean. These codes can be very useful to understand for those who are interested in digital marketing.

By knowing what these codes mean you know if there are any problems on your website, you will know exactly why they are showing up and how you can fix them before they become difficult to deal with. 

What are status codes exactly?

Hypertext transfer protocols, known better as HTTP status code is the server response to a browser’s request. These status codes will give you the status of the websites you have requested to search on. Commonly the first number of the three digit code that shows up will always be a number between 1 through 5.

In order to compare the status codes, a conversation between the web server that stored the site files and your browser is made to return them as web pages to browsers. 

When the browser starts requesting and answer from the server of the web page, the server can respond in different ways such as:

  • Whether or not the page exists.

  • If there is any problem with the server at the current time. 

  • If the webpage is having problems at the moment. 

Some of the main status codes you should know and be aware of. 

Active Pages (2XXs)

Whether you are a visitor or a shopper, chances are that you have never seen a 2XXs code on the visitor-facing/shopper side of the webpage. This is all because a 2XXs status code usually means that the request was successfully completed and the servers gave the response that was expected. 

The 200 code is the ideal code for all your web pages and functioning sites simply because as a digital marketer, you are aware that bots, visitors, link equity and everything else are passing through your linked pages smoothly and with no problem whatsoever. 


Redirections (3XXs)

When you are being redirected to another webpage the status code that you will see popping up is the 3XXs. The most commonly used codes is this group are:


301 codes are commonly used the URL that was requested has changed their location to a new one. It is common for digital marketers once they have moved a site or web page to something improved and new to start using code 301 to increase the optimisation. 

If they don't use it, the code that will appear for both users and search engines will be 404 error page that we will discuss later on.

301 status code is very useful especially for those websites involved in e-commerce. When an item is out of stock or no longer carried by the supplier using the code 301 will redirect the customers back to the category page to look for a different product instead.


The status code 302 is used when the URL requested has only moved temporarily. Meaning you should only use it if you are sure you will still use that same URL again. Using the 302 code will bring no link value if you end up using it for transferring it over to a new URL. that is why it is not recommended to use this code if you are planning to move your domain or make any big updates to your site structure.


Client Error (4XXs) 

4XXs status codes are known for indicating an error on the client side of the website. This usually means that the problem is coming from the developer side. The nature of 400 status codes usually means that they can be fixed by the outsourced digital marketing agency or internally in-house.

404 (Not found). 

This is the most common of all the status codes even for those who don't have a clue what a status code is. 404 status codes mean that the website that is being looked for cannot be found on the server. The best way to describe this is to picture it as a file that a client was supposed to give to the server, but the file never got there, hence it is missing from the cabinet of files.

It is recommended for digital marketers to always pay attention and monitor what are the 404 codes that are currently happening on their site, so they can take the countermeasures and use the status codes 301 in order to redirect the users to the appropriate content. 

If the 404 codes are not properly redirected your clients will keep hitting the 404 error every time which will results in your clients leaving and looking for a different site, and if you thought that was bad it is important to know that when your website starts hitting too many 404s it will cause the rankings of your webpage to drop down on all search engines due to the lack of link equity passing. 


The 410 status code is used when you are trying to have a page specifically and intentionally removed and trying to purge it from all search engines. It is commonly useful if your website has been under hacker attack or you have controversial content that should be removed.


Server Error (5XXs

5XXs status code groups are the ones to indicate that the issue this time is within the server and the most common codes for these ones are:


500 status codes are commonly used to indicate that there is a problem with the server and not that the page cannot be found or is missing. Possibly the most undesired and obnoxious error to developer and users simply because it means that something has gone wrong within database level.

If 500 errors are being returned to your websites, it is of vital importance to take care of them as soon as possible, as the traffic from visitors and link value could be deeply affected. 


The 503 status codes indicate that due to an outage or overload the server is unavailable at the current time, meaning that the server could be under maintenance, overloaded or just simply unavailable. 

One of the most common examples for 503 status codes is viewed during the online Black Friday sales, where too many requests at once start overloading the server. In order to take a preventive measure against this type of issue is to expand the server bandwidth or even increasing the server capacity.

There are just way too many codes out there for all digital marketers to even keep track of, but the ones mentioned are the most common ones that beginners should really look into and be more aware of when managing their websites.

Understanding these status codes can truly help you prevent any issues from arising on your site and offering the best experience to the users. In addition to that, truly knowing the status codes will mean that you can have peace of mind while running your site as you know when your page is working smoothly and properly.

Why are status codes so important?

Ultimately, the status codes are very useful for the search engine optimisation as it gives the opportunity to know when to optimise your site. It allows you to keep track and determine what is the status of your clients and your web pages. 

If you start using status codes to redirect your old websites to the new ones, status codes can really boost the experience users receive and lead them in the right direction.