But the customer experience is just part of the equation. Too many error codes can seriously wreak havoc on your SEO, making it nearly impossible for potential leads to find you in the first place. If your competitors are showing up in that #1 or #2 spot on a search engine results page (SERP) and your website is not listed until the second page of the search rankings, you’re at a severe disadvantage.
Taking action to fix any existing errors will improve your SEO and guide customers to the information they need.
How to Fix HTTP Error Codes:
Unfortunately, HTTP error codes actually don’t tell you much at all about what is wrong with your website. So, unless you’re a seasoned web developer and know the ins and outs of your website, these errors can make you feel pretty helpless.
To be clear, not all codes should signal an alarm, but you should take action when you encounter those ranging in the 400s and 500s. Here’s what they mean for your website and what you can do about them.
400s (Page Missing or Not Found)
Http error codes in the 400s refer to pages that are currently missing from your website or completely gone. The two most common errors you are likely to encounter are 404 errors (Page Not Found) and 410 errors (Missing).
For 404 errors, a common practice is to create 301 redirects, but many organizations make the cardinal sin of simply sending visitors back to the homepage, which confuses the heck out of both Google and your users. To avoid disrupting the customer journey, make sure that you redirect users to relevant content. For example, if the page missing originally linked to a blog called “The 10 Best Running Shoes Under $100,” then you should try to link to another piece of content that discusses affordable running shoe options.
410 errors refer to a page that is missing and does not redirect visitors to another resource on your website. The best way to deal with these is to remove any remaining links on your website that point to pages with 410 errors to avoid sending visitors and bots to information that is no longer available.
500s (Server Error)
Error codes in the 500 range usually mean there is an internal server error or that the server is unavailable. These errors prevent both search engines and potential customers from finding you, so it’s important to determine their cause and resolve any issues as soon as possible.
Because 500 errors are a bit more complex, a good place to start is working with your web developer to find the root cause. But, let’s say you’re a one-to-two person marketing team without an in-house web developer; there are still resources available to get to the bottom of this problem. I myself had a 500 internal service error pop up on my personal website and was unable to even log in to my instance of WordPress.org. I contacted the lovely people at my website hosting provider and they fixed my problem in only a matter of minutes.
Your Website Lacks Keywords and Language That Resonates With Your Audience
Failing to have the right keywords is another common website pitfall that impacts the visitor experience and your SEO. When your website isn’t packed with keywords and optimized to rank high in search, your target audience may never know you exist or that you can provide solutions to some of their greatest challenges.
But, let’s say that your potential customers do manage to find you despite your low search ranking, failing to have top-ranking words or phrases can still put you at a great disadvantage. If the language that permeates your website doesn’t resonate with the terms and phrases your visitors use on an everyday basis, they might not be able to see the value in what you have to offer.
The lesson here is that being able to speak the language of your audience is key to creating a seamless customer experience that allows your potential customers to find you, understand how you can solve their problem, and easily convert when they’re ready.