How do I fix 5xx server errors?

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the backbone of the Internet and private network communication. HTTP returns 5XX errors as part of its standard functionality. An error of type 5XX indicates several errors beginning with the numeral five. These are server errors, meaning the server ran into trouble while attempting to fulfill the client’s request

It may be a server issue, but it’s a big problem for your website’s SEO. Let’s take a closer look at 5XX server errors and what you can do about them. 

Why should I care about 5xx errors?

Before you go through the effort of fixing 5XX errors you probably want to know what benefit you stand to gain. Here’s why 5XX errors matter

5xx errors can get a URL deleted from the search index

When a user encounters a 5XX error when trying to access a URL on a website, it means that the user’s request was rejected. In addition, a 5XX error can cause web crawlers to give up on a website and delete its URL from the search index, which can devastate the site’s traffic and visibility.

Also crucial for API developers

When an API returns error code 5XX, it means that the API is either temporarily unavailable, undergoing maintenance, or has some other problem. Returning a 5XX error code when an API endpoint encounters an issue is good, anticipated behavior that can aid customers in understanding what’s occurring and handling the situation on their end.

How do I fix 5xx server errors?

Since 5XX errors occur on the server side, the issue is probably not with your computer or network. Your website’s server is experiencing some kind of problem. In the highly unlikely case of a problem on your end, there are a few basic things you can do before reaching out for additional assistance and guidance. 

Refresh your web browser

If the issue seems to be temporary, you can try refreshing the page. You can do this by pressing F5 or Ctrl-R to resubmit the URL entered in the address bar.

Delete cookies

Erasing site-specific cookies and restarting the browser is a common fix for 5XX errors. Simply access the browser’s history menu and click the delete button. You may need to select the checkbox labeled ‘Cookies’ before you can delete cookies from your device. Try refreshing the page to see if the problem still appears. 

If you need more details, check out the complete guide for removing cookies.

Talk to your server administrator

Contacting your provider directly is recommended if the issue persists. Most likely, they are already taking care of it or performing maintenance. Inquire about the estimated time to address the issue so that you can verify the 5XX errors are gone. 

Final word on 5XX errors

Problematic server failures harm your site’s usability and, by extension, its revenue. If search engines only see 5XX errors occasionally it shouldn’t be a huge issue, but repeated 5XX errors can add up and your site’s organic traffic will undoubtedly suffer.

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