What are the 5xx server error codes?
When a server is unable to complete a client’s request, it returns a 5xx server error.
This includes the 500, 502, and 503 errors, as well as any other HTTP status code that begins with 5.
The term “5xx server error” refers to a server error (5xx). We’ll use these interchangeably throughout this article because they all mean the same thing.
Why should you be concerned about 5xx server errors?
It’s a big problem because 5xx server errors directly harm your visitors’ experience. Consider that you run an online store and your customers are constantly encountering server errors. How long do you think it’ll take for them to give up and buy something?
No, they’ll instead shop at their next-door neighbor’s store.
What about Google and other search engines? There is little to be concerned about if they receive 5xx server errors only occasionally. However, if the 5xx server errors persist, it’s likely that organic traffic will decline over time.
Aside from discussing the negative effects on your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), we’ll go over the most common types of 5xx server errors, how to check if your site’s server is returning any, and how to resolve them.
The reasons why every server error (5xx) has a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Having 5xx server errors results in a bad user experience is well-known. Moreover, they’re bad news for your search engine rankings.
Because this is the reason:
- Your site’s performance will suffer if search engine crawlers (crawlers from here on out) consistently receive 5xx server errors while crawling your site, so they’ll scale back their efforts.
- Your site’s crawl budget is being reduced as a result of this. This slows down the process of your content being (re)indexed.
Remember: if your content isn’t indexed, it won’t be displayed in search results.
What’s the point of giving your troubled pages high search rankings if crawlers keep getting these 5xx server errors?
A poor user experience is likely to result from any visitors they send to your site. As a result, if the 5xx server errors continue, Google will begin “demoting” your URLs—assigning them lower positions or even removing them from its search results pages (SERPs).
When crawlers can’t access a page, they won’t be able to index or rank it. As a result, they will not be able to find out what the content is about, and it will not appear in Google searches for those terms.
Finally, even if you have the best content and the most powerful backlinks, you will struggle to rank in the search engine results page if your site is constantly experiencing 5xx server errors.
The most common 5xx server errors
The following are the most frequently encountered causes of 5xx server errors:
500 – Internal Server Error:Any number issues, such as bugs or incompatibilities in the server’s software, could be to blame for the 500 – Internal Server Error.
502 – Bad Gateway: The request could not be fulfilled because an upstream service (one from which you expect a response) did not respond correctly. In most cases, the upstream service consists of a CGI component such as PHP and an application component such as a CMS like WordPress.
503 – Service Unavailable: There is an issue with the server, and it will be back up and running soon. This error is commonly used during server maintenance or in situations where the server is overloaded.
504 – Gateway Timeout: As a proxy, the server didn’t receive a response from another server in time to handle the request. Remember that your web server is nothing more than a gateway, as we mentioned earlier. Is there a way to speed up your web server’s response to your back-end?
509 – Bandwidth Limit Exceeded: Your website is no longer accessible to the general public because it has exceeded the server’s assigned bandwidth limits. Shared hosting environments are notorious for experiencing sudden spikes in traffic and/or crawler activity that results in this. Despite the fact that this error is frequently used, it is not defined in any RFCs.
524 – A timeout occurred: Cloudflare CDN invented this error and shows it when the origin server (your site) doesn’t respond in a timely manner, which is the case here. Visitors and crawlers won’t get a response if the CDN doesn’t get one.
How to find 5xx errors on the server
5xx server errors are clearly detrimental to a company’s operations, but how do you discover them? Using Google Search Console (GSC) reports and log file analysis will be our first stop, as it is the quickest and most straightforward.
Monitored 24 hours a day in the cloud
It’s imperative that you keep an eye out for issues like these 5xx server errors if your website is critical to your business. You want to know if something goes wrong. The ContentKing platform does exactly that. The monitoring starts as soon as you plug in your site. You’ll be notified via Slack or email if anything goes wrong.
What’s causing the 5xx errors on the server?
When a 5xx server error is returned by your server, there are literally thousands of possible reasons for it to occur; 5xx server errors can vary widely within their class, with RFC standards and the like dictating which 5xx server error is most appropriate for a given error.
It’s also crucial to realise that server errors can occur at various levels, including:
- The CDN (e.g. Cloudflare or Akamai)
- Server for the World Wide Web (e.g. Apache or nginx)
- Language for coding (e.g. PHP or .NET)
- The Use of (e.g. WordPress or Magento)
- Input Device Plug-in (e.g. a page speed optimization or contact form plugin)
A few common causes of 5xx server errors are discussed below, but this is by no means a complete list.
Bugs in the code and incorrect updates
Code bugs are the most common cause of the 500 – Internal Server Error. To put it another way, the client requests something and the server is processing it when something goes wrong and the server cannot fulfill the request.
Running updates incorrectly is another common cause of the 500 error on a web server. When a new version of your CMS is released and you upgrade to it, but some of your plugins aren’t compatible, this can be a problem.
As a result, give your developers a starting point for debugging. If something went wrong, be as specific as you can about what and where it went wrong.
The back-end has gone down.
If your server’s back-end (such as the CGI component that runs the PHP powering your website) has crashed, it will likely respond with a 502 – Bad Gateway or 504 – Gateway Timeout error. When the back-end of your server fails to respond, your server is unable to serve a page.
An underpowered or misconfigured hosting platform
The 503 – Service An unavailable response is more likely to be returned if your hosting platform is underpowered or incorrectly configured. As a result of your PR campaign, your website has received a large number of visitors. Crawlers can also go rogue and bombard your site incessantly.
This problem does not have a “one size fits all” solution. Your developers and hosting provider should be consulted about this. The best solution is a combination of sub-solutions that is dependent on your specific situation. Several examples come to mind:
- You should beef up your server’s specs and/or your hosting platform.
- Turn on caching.
- Start utilising a CDN today (CDN).
- Make your software run faster.
- A bot management solution (opens in a new tab) and an adjustment to your robots.txt file can be used to throttle bad crawlers (the crawl-delay directive) or prevent them from accessing your site at all (disallow directive).
The 509-Bandwidth Limit Exceeded server error can be caused by a crawler situation.
How to fix 500 error codes
These errors occur when files are missing or damaged; when there are incompatible upgrades; or if there are scripts that do not work. It can be difficult to pinpoint the source of these issues. There are a few things you should check if you get a 5xx response, like:
- If the problem persists, try refreshing the page.
- Check the site’s error log.
- If you’ve recently made changes or upgrades to the system, go back and undo them until the problem is resolved.
- It’s also a good idea to take a look at any plugins you’ve just installed. Until the problem is resolved, you should uninstall any recently installed plugins.
- Incorrect upgrades, missing files, or corrupted files can also be the cause of 5xx responses. You may need to reinstall your software if you’ve recently updated it.
- If the problem persists, deactivate each plugin one at a time until it is resolved, as new themes and plugins may be incompatible with new versions of the software.
- Additionally, server-side scripts can be a problem.
- If your website is experiencing 500-error issues, you may want to investigate the source of the problem by running a script scan on your server.
- Verify that the permissions on the server are set correctly. PHP or CGI scripts should have 0755 permissions (-rwxr-xr-x).
- A PHP timeout may occur if the server is able to connect to external services. Analyse your timeout policies and error-handling procedures. There are, however, a number of ways to address this issue, including removing external connections.
- A server timeout can occur if too many calls are made at the same time, as well as a loss of server connections and a reboot of the server.
- An error in an.htaccess file could also prevent a page from loading. Remove the file temporarily and then reload the page to see if the issue persists.
- Check the script if the page has a CGI or Perl extension. Save CGI files in ASCII format and upload them to the cgi-bin directory in ASCII mode. This is the recommended method.
5xx server errors are a certainty at some point in time. If you don’t deal with them quickly, you’ll have a hard time dealing with them at all. Make sure 5xx server errors don’t negatively impact your SEO efforts.
Your website should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using Google Search Console’s tools and your server log files to find and fix any problems. If you’re getting 5xx server errors, keep an open mind as to why. There are numerous possible causes, and they can occur at various levels.