You have probably already encountered an error message when trying to access a web page. This message, or HTTP status code, appears when your browser fails to reach the page you requested.
When your site displays an error message, it negatively affects user experience and your site’s performance on search engine results pages.
However, there are various types of status codes, divided into five large groups ranging from the 1xx to 5xx error messages. Each code specifies a different cause for the connection error.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the nature of these error codes and know how to eliminate them. In this article, we will focus on the 5xx errors, including their definition, common types, their impact on your site’s SEO, and how to solve them.
What Is a 5xx Error?
The 5xx error code indicates that a web server cannot fulfill requests and is aware of the issue.
When returning this code to a user, the server usually includes its cause and whether it is a temporary or permanent error. That’s because the exact 5xx error code provided allows you to narrow down the source of the problem.
Common 5xx Errors
There are several types of 5xx errors that may appear during a server connection issue. Understanding the nature of these codes is an integral part of solving the problem.
- 500 – Internal Server Error. It is the most generic error code you get when encountering a server issue. The 500 error code indicates that the webserver cannot determine the exact source of the problem, covering a lot of reasons related to issues like malware and bugs.
- 501 – Not Implemented. The 501 code shows that the web server does not have the functionality necessary to fulfill a request or recognize the request method. This code may also suggest the functionality will be available in the future.
- 502 – Bad Gateway. You get the 502 bad gateway error when the server acting as a gateway or proxy receives a wrong response from the upstream server.
- 503 – Service Unavailable. This code means that the server is temporarily unavailable due to overload or maintenance. You may also get a Retry-After header that indicates how long to wait until the server works properly.
- 504 – Gateway timeout. This error code works similarly to the 502 code. The only difference is that you will get the 504 code when the upstream server didn’t respond in time.
- 524 – A timeout occurred. This is another version of the 504 error code, used exclusively by the Cloudflare CDN when the origin server doesn’t respond in time.
How 5xx Errors Affect Your Site’s SEO
Having a 5xx error on your server negatively impacts user experience and your site’s SEO. That’s because search engines such as Google or Bing determine your site’s ranking by indexing its content using a web crawler.
When the crawler encounters a 5xx error code, it can’t reach your content and will potentially fail to index your site. Thus, the errors will probably lower your site’s crawl budget, meaning that your content will get indexed more slowly.
Additionally, a page that constantly returns error messages is also considered a troubled page and has fewer chances to rank high on SERPs. These errors might harm your website’s growth regardless of its content quality, interface design, and strong backlinks.
How to Eliminate 5xx Errors
Now that you know all the issues 5xx errors bring, it is time to learn how to solve them. Let’s take a look at five easy ways to eliminate 5xx errors.
1. Find What Is Causing the 5xx Error
There are multiple ways to detect a 5xx error on your site. Since locating it manually can be difficult, you may use SEO tools like OnCrawl, Ahrefs, or Moz. They help you find the 5xx error faster, especially if the site has thousands of pages.
Google Search Console is also a great tool to track down any server errors Google has found. Use features like the Index Coverage report and Crawl Stats report to see which page returned an error message during Google’s crawling process.
Another good idea is to provide a dedicated channel where users can report any error they encounter on your site. Quickly detecting the source of a 5xx error is crucial to maintain a good SEO performance and user experience.
2. Consider Any Changes or Updates
Changes or updates to your site can also cause issues like the 5xx error. You may have installed a new plugin or upgraded software that resulted in corrupted or missing files, which can easily cause 5xx responses and prevent access to your website.
To find which plugin caused the error, try disabling the plugins one by one until you no longer get the error.
3. Refresh Your Browser
Sometimes a 5xx error can be temporary, and refreshing your web browser may resolve the problem. This is arguably the fastest and easiest way to get around a 5xx error message if you are on the user side.
Try clicking the refresh button, pressing F5 (Windows) or CMD + R (Mac) on your keyboard, or re-entering the URL into the browser’s search bar.
4. Remove Cookies
Cookies are text files containing information that identify and store user preferences while browsing a site. Sometimes, these cookies can also be the cause of the 5xx error. Therefore, deleting them from your browser may help fix it.
The process of removing cookies may differ slightly depending on the browser you use. For example, on Chrome, click the three dots on the top right corner of the browser. Choose More tools and then Clear browsing data.
A new window will appear, allowing you to choose which type of browsing data you want to clear and the time range. After clearing the cookies, try to refresh the page and see if the error was resolved.
5. Contact Your Hosting Provider
If resolving the error yourself is not possible, your best option is to contact your hosting provider. Their customer support team might directly solve the error or guide you through the process of fixing it yourself.
It is also possible that the provider is conducting maintenance and all you need to do is wait for it to complete. Regardless of the potential solution, contacting your hosting provider can give you more information about the cause of the error and put your mind at ease.
5xx error is a type of HTTP status code indicating that a web server can’t complete a request and is aware that it has come across a problem. When your site constantly displays a 5xx error message, it can negatively impact the user’s experience and its SEO performance.
In this article, we have learned about the common types of 5xx errors and how they can affect your site’s rankings. We also looked at five simple ways to solve this error message, including:
- Find the cause of the 5xx error
- Consider any changes or upgrades
- Refresh your browser
- Remove cookies
- Contact your hosting provider
Even though 5xx errors tend to be temporary, they might cause a significant impact. Thus, it is crucial to fix them as soon as possible.
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the 5xx error codes and how to overcome them.
About the Author
Evelyn has been a content writer for more than three years. With her IT passion as a background, she hopes to share her knowledge with other tech enthusiasts. In her free time, Evelyn likes to play video games and cooking as a side hobby.