Learn
Learn
Close

They Ask, You Answer

A revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing, and today’s digital consumer.

Learn MoreLearn More

Free Courses in IMPACT+

Dozens of sales, marketing, and content courses inside IMPACT+. Start learning now.

See all coursesSee all courses
Events
Events
Close
IMPACT+ Membership
IMPACT+ Membership
Close
Coaching & Implementation Services
Coaching & Implementation Services
Close

Services Overview

See how you can dramatically increase your inbound leads and sales.

Services Overview

Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery

Fast track your team’s success with IMPACT's most popular service.

Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery

Web Design

Launch a beautiful website that consistently generates leads and revenue.

Web Design

Virtual Sales Training

Equip your sales team with comprehensive training designed to help them close more deals in today's virtual-first world.

Virtual Sales Training

HubSpot Training & Implementation

Train your company to take ownership of HubSpot and get the most out of your investment.

HubSpot Training & Implementation

Case Studies

See dozens of examples of companies succeeding with Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery and They Ask, You Answer.

Case Studies
Become a Coach
Become a Coach
Close

Google: When indexing pages, status code comes first

Google: When indexing pages, status code comes first Blog Feature

Kaitlyn Petro

VP of Operations, IMPACT+, 7+ Years Of Digital Marketing Strategy, Operations/Project Management, & Process Creation Experience

October 24th, 2019 min read

Google can be tricky; we never know what it’s thinking or what changes it will make. Yet, as digital experts, we’re constantly trying to please the search engine.

Just think, without Google, would search engine optimization even be a thing?

Optimizing our content, websites, and other digital assets for search is nothing new to us. We know Google has algorithms that it uses to push us higher in the rankings and reward us for having optimized content. But what most of us don’t know is that Google actually checks status codes before anything else.

Moz helps us better understand status codes by describing them as “the Internet equivalent of a conversation between your browser and the server. They communicate whether things between the two are A-okay, touch-and-go, or whether something is wrong.”

A recent article on Search Engine Journal features a video of a Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout session with Google’s John Mueller. In this video, Mueller talks about how Google checks the HTTP status codes of website pages before rendering or indexing content. In fact, Google won’t render anything unless it returns a 200 status code. Mueller says Google doesn’t even see 404 pages, and the same goes for 500 errors and redirects, as well.

What does crawling content mean, and why is it important?

When creating content on your website, usually the ultimate goal is for it to show up in search results. In order to have this happen, Google needs to crawl the page and index it.

Crawling refers to the activity the GoogleBot partakes in when looking for healthy, 200-status pages. Indexing describes what happens once the GoogleBot finds these pages and deems them “okay” to show up in search results.

If any of your pages return a 400 or 500 code, the GoogleBot will not move any further and will not index your content to show up to searchers. In fact, returning these status codes could actually be detrimental to your website’s technical health.

Having a page with a 400 bad request error means that the request to load that page was corrupted or incorrect. The most familiar one we see is the 404. This often happens when we type in a URL incorrectly, or we try to go to a page that is no longer published (and doesn’t have a properly set up redirect in place).

If you see a 500 internal service error, this means something on the website's server has gone wrong, but the specifics of the problem could not be identified.

How to check or audit your page codes

Because of the importance of having fully indexable content, it’s imperative that you know how to check for page errors.

The easiest and quickest way to do this is to use an online tool like SEMrush or Screaming Frog.

Both offer similar site audits that can usually be completed in under an hour (depending on how large your site is). The results of the audit will show all status codes of each of your pages, so you can easily pick out which ones need attention.

Alternatively, Google Search Console can also generate a report with this information (without a full site audit, however), and it’s completely free.

We recommended that an audit like this be done at least two to three times per year.

Fixing error codes

Depending on what the cause of the actual error is, you may need to try a variety of things to rectify it. A 200 status code is the goal, and there is nothing you need to fix on these pages. Having a 300 status code doesn’t require any fixing, either, but it’s good to know that Google will not index this page; it will look to index the page you’ve redirected it to.

For 400 errors, check the status of the page. Was it once published but now stands unpublished? If so, you’ll have to set up a redirect to a live page.

For 500 errors, you may have to do some digging. These types of codes could be due to a permissions error, a PHP timeout, or a coding error in .htaccess. In these instances, your CMS and your web hosting provider will probably have documented help articles or resources you can use to better understand what’s going on and how to come to a resolution.

What does this mean for marketers?

The lesson here is simple: as we pay attention to both on-page and technical SEO elements that affect our site ranking, we need to put a special focus on HTTP status codes.

Conducting site audits regularly and ensuring proper redirects are put into place during page changes should be prioritized.

The most important thing to remember is that if Google recognizes too many error codes on your pages, it can devalue your site. This can decrease the amount of traffic you receive which, in turn, can destroy opportunities for additional business.

Want to learn more about digital sales and marketing?

Master digital sales and marketing when you join IMPACT+ for FREE. Gain instant access to exclusive courses and keynotes taught by Marcus Sheridan, Brian Halligan, Liz Moorehead, Ann Handley, David Cancel, Carina Duffy, Zach Basner, and more.

Sign up for free
Take a peek

Access hundreds of FREE courses and keynotes

Free Course
Digital Sales & Marketing Framework for Today’s Buyers
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
A New Way to Compete & Win
By: Brian Halligan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
How To Genuinely Feel Confident, Be Likable, And Build Trust On Camera
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Future of Marketing is Conversational​
By: David Cancel
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
HubSpot On a Budget: Getting Started with HubSpot Starter Hubs
By: Courtney Caldwell
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Assignment Selling: Content is Your Greatest Sales Tool
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Big, Bold, Brave New World of Marketing​
By: Ann Handley
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Investing in Incredible Digital Sales and Marketing Results
By: Chris Duprey
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
How To Show Your Content Makes Money With HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
The Visual Sale
By: Marcus Sheridan & Tyler Lessard
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Marketing Tech: What’s Now, What’s Near and What’s Not Anytime Soon?​
By: Dharmesh Shah
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Inbound Lead Generation & Conversion Optimization
By: Carina Duffy
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
Fundamentals of Videography: You Can Be a Great Videographer Too
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
The Ultimate Customer Service Toolkit for Any Budget
By: Andriti Gulati
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
6 Topics Subject Matter Experts Need to Address
By: Kevin Phillips
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Fanocracy: The Power of Making Business Personal​
By: David Meerman Scott
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Power of Pillar Content
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
SEO for the Future
By: Franco Valentino
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing
By: Stephanie Baiocchi
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
A Practical Guide To Video Graphics
By: Colton Trcic
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Session
How To Get Your Community To Know, Like, And Trust You With Video
By: Marki Lemons Rhyal
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Video Sales and Marketing Strategy
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Here Are Some Related Articles You May Find Interesting

Want to Contribute Content to impactplus.com? Click Here.

IMPACT+ Sign Up
A FREE online learning community with on-demand courses, hundreds of expert-led sessions, thousands of your peers ready to support you, and much more.
Check it out
Hundreds of courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE
Check it out
Access hundreds of digital sales and marketing courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE