5xx Server Error: What Are They & How To Fix Them On Google

Brandon LazovicMay 5, 2021

It's not uncommon for a server to return an error. These errors are frustrating and can cause your website's search engine optimization to suffer greatly. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to fix these issues!

The article will go into detail about what causes 5xx server errors and how they affect search engine optimization performance. It will also discuss how to troubleshoot them as well as what solutions work best for fixing them.

What Is A 5xx Server Error? 

A 5xx server error is when the server returns a response that was not found in the list of valid responses, or if it returned an incomplete message.  These are often caused by an improperly configured server, which is usually the result of misconfigured DNS or a bad IP address.

Why 5xx Server Errors Are Bad For Your Website’s SEO

5xx servers are bad for SEO in a number of ways.  They can cause your site to take longer than usual to load, making it difficult for users to stick around. They also make the website look less trustworthy because they delay or disrupt service, both to users and in the eyes of Google.

It also prevents Google from crawling and indexing your site pages, which can impact your website's crawl budget. If your content isn't getting indexed due to 5xx errors, then it won't rank at all on Google.

Different Kinds Of 5xx Server Errors

There are different kinds of 5xx server errors, which we'll cover below.

500 Internal Server Error

This is the most common type of server error. It can occur for any number of reasons, including a full hard drive or memory load on your server.

The issue with this kind of error is that it's caused by an internal problem in your site's coding - and because Google doesn't know what the exact cause is, they may penalize you as less trustworthy (if there are other errors) or rank lower than normal.

502 Bad Gateway Server 

This means that the request to load your website couldn't be completed due to an upstream service such as a CGI component like PHP, or a component trying to load on a CMS like WordPress.

503 Service Unavailable Server Error

This server error occurs when the web or network service you're trying to access is not currently available.

If this happens often, it can be an early warning sign of a larger problem with your site's infrastructure or server load and should be addressed as quickly as possible.

504 Gateway Timeout Server Error

This is similar to a 502 server error, but the main difference is that the gateway didn't receive a response from the server quickly enough. This can happen when your backend is taking too long to respond to your website's server request.

509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

If you see a 509 server error, it means there is an issue with your webhosting plan's bandwidth limit.

When this happens, the server has to shut down service for all users in order to not exceed its allocated bandwidth and cause problems on other sites hosted by the same server.

This can be avoided if you are proactive about monitoring how much traffic your site generates - so that when it does happen, you have enough time to make adjustments or switch hosting plans before anything goes offline.

524 Time-Out Occurred

Cloudflare invented this type of response code and it only shows when your website doesn't respond to the request to load in time. This will happen if a CDN doesn't receive a response from your website, meaning they can't provide search engine crawlers or website visitors with content that's loaded in the cloud service.

How To Find 5xx Server Errors

There are a number of ways to quickly find server errors on your website.

The first step is to analyze your website's server logs (or create one if you haven't already).

If you're a WordPresss user, go into the "WordPress Admin" and then navigate to "Plugins." Scroll down until you see the Server Error Log plugin. You can click this and it will take you right back to where you saw what went wrong with your site in real-time - meaning that if there's an error code up top (like for example '524') then that should be listed below as well when viewed through this plugin.

Another option is by logging into Google Search Console and opening the Crawl Stats report, which will show you the number of affected URLs that are suffering from 5xx server errors.

Lastly, you can opt into a 24/7 cloud-based monitoring service to monitor for any issues around the clock - if your site flags for a 5xx error, the service will contact you when an issue arises. There are also tools available like Screaming Frog and Sitebulb that can help crawl and check for 5xx server errors on your website.

Different Causes For 5xx Server Errors

  • It can be difficult to diagnose the cause of a 5xx server error. These errors can happen on many different site levels, ranging from:
  • Your CDN
  • A Plugin on your website
  • A CMS application issue
  • The program language you're using, such as PHP or React
  • Your web server

How To Fix 5xx Server Errors For Your Website

The first step is to determine what caused the server error, and then fix it.

When you're not sure what's causing your site issue, there are a few ways to find out:

Look for any new plugins that have been installed recently

Check if there is an updated version of WordPress available for download from their mirror on github (you can also check this by going to wordpress.org)

If you use another language other than PHP make sure all the necessary updates are made in order - most languages will email or notify users when they need updating with instructions on how to do so.

You should also check to make sure that your hosting platform isn't exceeding bandwidth, or that your back-end isn't encountering issues.

How To Fix 5xx Server Errors That Are Plaguing Your Website
How To Fix 5xx Server Errors That Are Plaguing Your Website

In this video, I will be going over 5xx server errors and how they impact your website's SEO. These errors are not as common nowadays but still exist and can come up in any web developer's path at some point. If you're someone who is interested in learning more about these kinds of error codes, or if you are a web developer yourself and want to know how to fix them - then watch this video!

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