How to Check HTTP Status Codes

HTTP status codes are responses from a web server that indicate the status of a request. Knowing how to check these codes can help webmasters and SEO professionals optimise their websites and troubleshoot problems.

Using browser developer tools to check HTTP status codes

To check HTTP status codes using browser developer tools, follow these steps:

  1. Open your web browser.
  2. Navigate to the website you want to check.
  3. Right-click on the page and select “Inspect” or press F12/Ctrl+Shift+I (Cmd+Option+I on Mac) to open developer tools.
  4. Click on the “Network” tab.
  5. Refresh the webpage to start capturing the network activity.
  6. Look through the list of network calls for the specific resource or page you’re interested in.
  7. Click on the name of the resource to view details.
  8. In the headers section, find the HTTP status code. It typically appears next to the resource name at the top.
Example of what the network tab within the developer tools looks like.

Remember, a status code 200 means success, a 4xx indicates a client error, and a 5xx indicates a server error. If you encounter a status code of “null,” it may indicate that the request was not completed or no response was received. For a full list of status codes, and advice on how to interpret codes and correct errors, see other Ask SISTRIX articles. Start here, or use the links included with this article.

Using other tools to check HTTP status code

To check HTTP status codes you can also use online tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. This allows you to input your site’s URL and run an analysis, providing speed and technical insights. Included in the tests is an HTTP status code check.

Landing page of PageSpeed Insights.

Server logs can also be used to check the HTTP status codes.

Finally, external tools such as the SISTRIX Optimizer or Screaming Frog can help to identify status code errors.

Tips for monitoring HTTP status codes

To handle and monitor HTTP status codes effectively, it’s essential to implement best practices that ensure smooth website operations:

  • Automate Monitoring: Use tools to automatically monitor your server responses. This will help you detect issues like 404 errors or server errors (500) proactively.
  • Log Errors: Keep detailed logs of HTTP errors. This can be helpful for debugging and understanding the frequency and context of errors.
  • Alert Systems: Set up alerts for critical HTTP errors such as server errors (5xx) to quickly address them.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your website to identify and fix broken links that may lead to 404 errors.
  • User-Friendly Error Pages: Customise error pages to guide users back to working parts of your site, improving their experience.
  • Optimize for SEO: Monitor and fix any crawl errors reported in search engine webmaster tools to avoid SEO impact.
  • Handle Redirects: Properly implement 301 redirects for moved content to maintain link equity and user experience.

Concluding thoughts on HTTP status codes

In conclusion, understanding HTTP status codes is a key factor for diagnosing and addressing website issues. These codes provide insights into how your web server communicates with clients, helping you identify problems like broken links, server errors, or unauthorised access attempts. By checking these codes, you can ensure your site is running smoothly, providing a better experience for your visitors, and maintaining good standing with search engines.

Steve Paine