Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is used to establish communication between web browsers and servers. Whenever someone clicks on a link, their web browser places a request to a web server and waits until a response code is received.

Usually, a 2xx successful response code is sent back to the web browser’s HTML when the request is successful. 

However, when the response is unsuccessful, users will encounter various error codes like 4xx and 5xx.

This article will explain 12 of the most common 5xx error codes, explain how they affect your site’s SEO and teach you how to solve them.

Let’s get started. 

12 Common 5xx Website Errors and How To Fix Them

5xx error codes usually happen as a result of the server failing to fulfill a valid request. This could be due to several reasons from the server side.

1. 500 – Internal Server Error

This error code indicates that the server encountered a problem and, as a result, can’t finish your request. While this error code can mean anything related to the server, typically, it shows that the API server has crashed. 

To fix this error, try the following steps:

  1. Wait a while before refreshing your page.
  2. Check the service status page and see if there are any updates available.
  3. Double-check to make sure that you’ve inputted everything correctly.

2. 501 – Not Implemented

This error code means that the server doesn’t recognize or support the request method. The only techniques a server needs to support are GET and HEAD. GET is the default request, while HEAD returns the headers from a GET request.

If there are any other types of requests, the server might not process them, resulting in this error.

To solve this, try the following:

  1. Refresh the page.
  2. Double-check to make sure that you used the correct URL.
  3. Clear your browser cache.
  4. Do a DNS flush.
  5. If problems persist, contact your hosting provider.

3. 502 – Bad Gateway

This error code indicates that the server used was not the API server but rather a gateway server. The gateway server’s task is to call the API server in your name. 502 website error shows potential network issues, or that the API server has crashed or became unavailable.

To fix this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Refresh the page.
  2. Make sure that you typed in the correct URL.
  3. Clear browser cache.
  4. Conduct a DNS flush.
  5. Contact your web hosting provider if problems persist.

4. 503 – Service Unavailable

This error code indicates that the server had too many API requests and became overloaded; thus, it’s unable to handle any more requests. Another reason for this error could also be scheduled maintenance.

This problem will go away when clients send fewer requests or the resources get upgraded. If you still encounter this error, try doing the following:

Refresh your page.

Make sure you keyed in the correct URL.

Turn off your content delivery network temporarily.

Ask your hosting provider to see what’s wrong.

5. 504 – Gateway Timeout

This error code shows that the server takes too long to process a request within the allotted time. This could be because of the high network latency between the proxy and the API server.

Luckily, the problem can easily be solved by following these steps:

  1. Wait a few minutes, then reload the page.
  2. Check the service status page for any new updates.
  3. Change your DNS servers if the problem persists.

6. 505 – HTTP Version Not Supported

This error code indicates that the server either doesn’t support or refuses to support the HTTP version used in the request. It will usually explain why the HTTP version isn’t supported.

To solve this problem, you’ll need to contact your hosting provider. 

7. 506 – Variant Also Negotiates

This error code means that the server found an error located in its internal configuration resulting in it not being configured correctly as an endpoint. 

To solve this issue, you should contact your hosting provider to look at the server’s configuration. 

8. 507 – Insufficient Storage

This error code appears when the server has run out of memory. As a result, it fails to complete an HTTP request. Similar to a 503 error code situation, this issue is only temporary.

To quickly solve this issue, you can:

  1. Free up the server’s hard disk space.
  2. Upgrade the memory.
  3. Restart the server.
  4. If the problem persists, contact your hosting provider.

9. 508 – Loop Detected

This error code appears when the server tries to process a request but instead finds an infinite loop. So the server terminates the HTTP request and indicates that the entire request process has failed.

To solve this problem, contact your hosting provider. 

10. 509 – Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

This error code indicates that your website has exceeded your web hosting plan’s bandwidth limit. When this happens, the server will shut down the service for all users to avoid causing problems to other websites hosted on the same server.

An easy way to solve this problem is by closely monitoring how much traffic your website generates and upgrade your web hosting plan accordingly. Going with a VPS or dedicated server would be better if your traffic keeps on hitting the bandwidth limit. 

11. 511 – Network Authentication Required

This error means you need to provide network authentication codes before the server can grant you network access. 

Usually, there will be a pop-up box, and you’ll need to input your credentials in. Once the credentials have been approved, you can access the network. 

12. 524 – Time-Out Occurred

Cloudflare invented this error code. It shows that your website didn’t respond to the request to load within the allotted time. This will occur when the CDN won’t respond to your website, resulting in no content for your visitors or search engine crawlers. 

To solve this issue, you can:

  1. Refresh your page.
  2. Clear browser cache.
  3. If the problem persists, call your hosting provider.

How 5xx Website Errors Impact Site SEO

5xx error codes negatively impact your website’s SEO, mainly because your page can’t load for visitors and search engine crawlers, creating a negative user experience. (UX) 

For example, a prolonged 500 Internal server error code can cause a significant drop in your site’s search engine rankings. Server instability and frequent errors mean search engines can’t recommend the content on your website because they simply can’t access it.

Another example is a prolonged 503 Service Unavailable error code. It can result in Google punishing the website and dropping the ranking or even blacklisting your website from appearing on search engine results pages.

Conclusion

5xx error codes are standard whenever you’re running a website. While it does cause your website to be disrupted, there are simple steps you can take to fix them. 

The most common method is to refresh your web page before attempting other ways to solve the problem. And if the problem persists after several attempts, try contacting your hosting provider, and they will help you sort out the problem quickly.

Now you know the most common 5xx errors, how to fix them and their impact on your SEO. All that’s left to do is set up monitoring tools so you can take immediate action whenever a webpage encounters a server error.

Good luck!





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By Margaret Blank

At the moment I am an expert-analyst in the field of search engine optimization, leading several projects and consulting on website optimization and promotion, I am actively involved in various thematic seminars and conferences.

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