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Common server response codes and what they mean

Posted on 11th December, 2018 by Jodie Pennington

Web Design

Do you know the difference between a 404 and 503 server response? Or do you struggle to understand when you should use a 301 redirect compared to a 302 redirect? In this article, we’ll take a look at all of the common server response codes and help you understand what they mean. Understanding what these codes mean can help you see when your website has a problem and what action you need to take in order to resolve it.

What is a server response code?

A server response code or status code as it is more commonly known is an HTTP response provided by a web server to a customer’s web browser. The aim of a server response code is to inform the web browser if the page exists, if there is a problem with the page, or if there is a problem with the server.

200 Server Response Code

Unless you are inspecting the HTTP response codes of a website you are very unlikely to see a 200 server response code on a webpage simply because this is used for a successful response. A 200 server response means that there are no problems with the page or the server and the request to load the page was delivered as expected.

301 response

A 301 response is a redirection status code that shows that the requested URL has permanently moved to a new location. There are many reasons to use a permanent redirect on a URL from an item on an ecommerce store being permanently removed to a website moving to a new domain name, or a page to a new directory. A 301 redirect shows that this change is permanent and this helps to pass any link juice from the previous URL to the new URL.

302 status code

A 302 server response is very similar to a 301 but it is meant for temporary redirection. Search engines place less weight on a 302 redirect and may not pass link juice to the new URL. Where it is clear that the redirect is of a permanent nature, search engines may treat a 302 redirect like a 301 permanent redirect but this is not guaranteed. It is best to use a 302 redirect for situations such as a product that is temporarily out of stock on an ecommerce website.

404 page not found

This is perhaps one of the most common status codes that we come across. Ever visited a broken link, or typed a URL in wrong then the chances are that you will have seen a 404 page not found error. This means that the page or file could not be located on the server. For most website owners you’ll want to minimise the number of 404 errors that your website serves and make sure that these are redirected to live pages using either a 302 or 301.



A 410 response means that the resource or page has been purposely removed and that the page should be removed from search engine results. If your website has been hacked or you need to remove controversial content from the search engines, then a 410 server response is the one that you should be using.

500 status code

Where you come across a 500 error this means that there is a problem on your website server and something has gone wrong with your website’s database. 500 errors should be fixed as soon as possible as they will lead to lost traffic, lost links and the potential for a drop in search engine rankings.

503 server response

This most commonly is seen when the server is unavailable either due to being overloaded or a server outage. If you’ve just sent out a large marketing campaign directing traffic to your website and you seeing a 503 response on your website it means that your server can’t handle the traffic. A 503 error is normally a temporary issue and means that there are not enough resources available on the server.

There are many more server response codes but these are the ones that you’ll come across most frequently and the ones that you definitely need to know about when marketing your website. Feel free to share your thoughts using the comments section below.

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