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HTTP Server Response Header

I created this Server Response Header Checker to allow you to see how the server that hosts your website is handling various situations like testing for proper 301 redirects when you change URLs on your site or to repair and prevent canonicalization problems. Proper server response is important for many aspects of search engine optimization for your website. Search engines do their best to adhere to the rules of the Hyper Text Transport Protocol (ie "HTTP"), and that's why you can't afford to neglect thoroughly testing how your site's server responds.

Server Response Header Check

Every time a server receives an HTTP request, its response includes a prefix or "header", which is a block of information that describes the response data itself. This includes an HTTP Status Code, that tells the receiver if the request was successful (code 200), or there was a problem - such as the common code 404 "Page Not Found", or code 301 "Moved Permanently". For all of the recommendations for situations that installing a server redirect on your website, few authors mention how you go about checking the HTTP Server Response Header to insure that you've set things properly.

Of course, since I harp so much about canonicalization issues, that's where I'm going to start. In the form below, enter the URL for your site WITHOUT THE WWW subdomain prefix. If you've installed the correct redirect code in your .htaccess file or IIs Control Panel, the response will be "code 301, Moved Permanently." A response of "code 200 OK" on the other hand, means that your server is still not making any distinction between the two URLS and you need to take corrective action.

Another situation where its handy to have a Server Header Response Checker is for dynamically-generated pages with URLs that end in ".cgi", ".php", or anything other than the common ".html". If your site relies on such file names, its important to know the value for the "Content-Type" field in the response header. The "Content-Type" setting tells the user's browser program (or the search engine) the format of the document that it is sending in response to the HTTP request. Naturally, if you want the end user to see your document as HTML, the Content-Type field should be set to "text/html" and possibly the Charset designation. Search engines depend on this field to tell them how to begin to try to scan your documents, and if the Content-Type setting doesn't match the data you won't get the results you expect. Newer browsers like Netscape v6.x+, Firefox, Chrome, and others also rely on this information for similar reasons.

Now for the header checker itself. Just enter the URL you want to check into the form below and press the "Check URL" button.

Server Header Checker

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Add My Header Checker To Your Browser! There's a simple way to add my Server Header Checker to your browser so that you can check a page's header response with a click of a button or menu selection. If you're using Firefox, you can simply click and drag the link below labeled "Header" to your button bar. If you're using Internet Explorer, just right-click on the link and select "Add To Favorites" From there, you can add it to the Toolbar.


Remember, you must have JavaScript enabled in your browser for this to work. Tip of the hat to Matt Cutts and others who have posted useful hints in this area.

This SEO Tip by Rainbo Design was last updated on April 25, 2016

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