What Does 5XX Server Error Mean?

Businesses and those looking to successfully operate online rely on having all of their website running smoothly and cannot afford to have error pages. 

Some error messages can be confusing too, so when you see a code that you’re not familiar with, you could be faced with a serious problem. 

What Does 5XX Server Error Mean

We’ve written this guide to try to help you if you’re seeing this error code or one of your visitors is reporting it. 

Read on to know how to resolve it. 

What Does It Mean?

You’ll be faced with a 5xx server error when the server is unable to complete a request from the client. 5xx can refer to any HTTP code including 500, 502 and 503. 

Does This Error Matter?

You should definitely be giving this error code serious thought and consideration. The experience that your users are having is damaged and this could potentially be beyond repair. 

Think about this, if you are running an eCommerce website and you have potential customers that are consistently clicking on a link to receive 5xx server errors. Do you think they’ll stick around and wait for you to resolve the issue?

Unfortunately not. Customers by their very nature are subconsciously fickle and as they are in the market to spend their hard earned money, they will not wait for problems that should be addressed and resolved. 

Due to huge competition, customers do not need to wait around either, and this is even more so when we’re talking about first time customers. 

Not only this, but if Google picks up regular 5xx server errors, you might start to notice organic traffic decrease – and this can be very damaging over time. 

Server Error 5xx – An SEO Nightmare 

Not only is this server error code something that is harmful to your user’s experience – but it can also be detrimental to your SEO. 

There are a number of reasons for this. Search engine crawlers (bots that extract information from multiple websites essentially) will try to curtail putting more troubles onto your website which is experiencing performance issues. 

As a result, they will stop crawling as frequently and begin to lower your crawl budget. What this means for you is that, quickly your website can begin failing to rank on search engines entirely. 

As you’ll likely be aware, this makes it incredibly difficult to maintain an online presence and your revenue will undoubtedly drop. 

Google essentially will drop your URLs further and further down the rankings and then completely take them off its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). 

If they cannot be found by crawlers, the pages cannot be reindexed and therefore, the content is unknown and Google’s search engine will not show your content on its result pages. 

The unfortunate scenario here is, you could have very good quality content and even better products to sell, but you will be totally lost from the online world. 

What Does 5XX Server Error Mean

What Are Common 5xx Server Errors?

There’s lots of different 5xx server errors, so we’ll look at the most common individually to make it a little easier to explore. 

500 

Error 500 is an internal server error. This could be for a mountain of different reasons as the server has had trouble processing the request. Typically, you could put this down to bugs, tech trouble or software issues. 

502 

A 502 error code is because of a bad gateway. This occurs when the upstream server could not or did not respond to your request. You may notice this from CMS (content management systems) like WordPress. 

503 

This is perhaps the most simple one to confirm. This error code is down to an unavailable service. Likely, this is down to either a huge amount of traffic to the site, or because of maintenance work. 

504 

This is due to a gateway timeout – the server did not receive a response in a timely manner. This can likely be resolved by refreshing the page, but if this persists, it could be down to a number of reasons which need to be fixed. 

509 

This is when your website has gone past the limits of the available bandwidth, and now is unavailable to be accessed by public users. This often happens for people using shared-hosting services and then randomly get huge traffic numbers. 

524 

524 is simply another timeout and normally comes up with an error page telling you how to resolve the problem. It quite literally depicts via the imagery that there is an error from the host. 

Keeping Track Of 5xx Server Errors 

Luckily, there’s a number of ways that you can keep an eye on these error codes. Let’s briefly examine them. 

Cloud Monitoring (24hrs) 

Many businesses and services need to keep their websites operating and functioning smoothly 24/7 and as a result, they cannot afford to have any of these codes appearing and stopping the process. 

There are many platforms that offer a monitoring service and will alert you of any problems directly to your chosen communication method. Many businesses will choose to use Slack for example. 

Google Search Console’s Index Coverage Report 

This is a very popular and powerful tool to use for this. It can show you a tracking report of any server 5 errors that Google has had from your URLs. All you need to do is log onto the GSC (Google Search Console) and check for problems via the error category. 

Additionally, you can use this tool to see crawler stat reports. From there, you can see if crawlers have had trouble accessing data and what has occurred in the process. 

The Bottom Line 

Being able to identify and address 5xx server error codes is very important for the smooth operation of your website and overall, the more streamlined journey of your business. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand this error code better and how to try and resolve it for the future.

Justin Shaw
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