Get HTTP Headers

Whether you are an ardent or casual user of the internet or an SEO, webmaster or website owner, you must have seen HTTP in the navigation bar of the browser you use. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and the entire World Wide Web uses it.

Almost all requests between browsers and web servers are transmitted through HTTP. When your browser's requests to open any website on the internet, some HTTP messages between your browser and the server are exchanged this enables you to see the required site.

The core part of these HTTP messages exchanged between your browser and the server carry information about the browser, the request, the server, the requested page and much more.

The HTTP headers establish the connection between the requestor (browser) and the server. After the browser makes the request, the server responds and sends the content.

The content is what the viewer sees on the browser display. What he or she does not know or see is the code in which the request message was sent and the reply that was received. All the transmissions that took place between browser and server via HTTP headers are not displayed.

The information exchanged between the browsers and the server using HTTP headers would look something like this after you have typed in a request. Your browser would send a similar looking message to the server.

GET

Host: User-Agent:

Accept:

Accept-Language

Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate

Accept-Charset:

Keep-Alive:

Connection:

Cookie:

Pragma:

Cache-Control:

The content sent by the browser to the server in the HTTP header states particulars of the type, capabilities, and version of the browser. The operating system being used, the pages requested, the type of outputs the client can accept and so on.

The server response would be something similar to:

HTTP/1.x 200 OK

Transfer-Encoding:

Date:

Server:

Connection:

X-Powered-By:

Pragma:

Expires:

Etag:

Cache-Control:

Content-Type:

Last-Modified:

X-Pingback:

Content-Encoding:

Vary:

The server will respond by stating the file type, date, file size and information regarding the server.

The code and its components are not explained here. It is just an example of the transmission exchanged in establishing a browser-server connection. The fields in the header will contain information generated by the client and the server.

What the user will see in the browser will be the content of the requested web page.

The five most important status fields of HTTP header code for SEOs to know the status of the server is discussed.

Status: This is not returned as a separate line its part of the header line. It gives feedback on the status of the requested website. Some examples of HTTP status are:

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found

The status code is split into five categories in hundreds and are:

  • 100s: informational. The 100s are informational and tell the client that the request has been received and is being processed.
  • 200s: success: the request was successful and is being processed.
  • 300s: redirect: the request has been received, but the requested pages have been moved and are being processed.
  • 400s: client error: the request by the client has requested a page that does not exist.
  • 500s: server error: the request asked by the client was correct but there is something wrong with the server, and it cannot deliver.

Server: the server to which the client request was sent and is being processed by will be shown here.

Server: Apache/2.2.23 (Unix)

Server: nginx

Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.0

Location: The location field tells if a request has been redirected and the absolute address to which server has redirected the request.

Link: The links that the response relays are that the requested URL has links to other resources whose URL is located in the field. The link in the HTTP header field can be used to specify a canonical URL for a given resource.

X-Robots-Tag: this HTTP tag allows the SEO to specify the robots directives. Google has provided an excellent guide on using this tag.

X-Robots-Tag: noindex

X-Robots-Tag: googlebot: nofollow

X-Robots-Tag: unavailable_after: 25 Jun 2010 15:00:00 PST

We can see from one of the examples that the tag is directing the robot not to follow links.

Only five of the main HTTP headers have been discussed. SEOs can get help from http headers chrome, http headers check, and how to use live http headers. You have to be an SEO to understand the use and importance of headers and how to modify them.

The first thing that an SEO will review is the headers when he or she is examining a website. They can do this by navigating to searchenginereports.net. Click on the ‘Free SEO Tools’ icon and all the SEO tools icons will be displayed. Scroll down the icons till you see the Get http headers icon. Click on it and enter the website’s URL address and press ‘Submit’.

The page will display the requested site’s header information. The first line will contain the Status which will have one of the codes discussed earlier under ‘Status’.

The second line will show the date and time of the header information request.

The third line will display the server name.

The fourth line will display the location of the URL

The fifth line will show the content length. The default will be 0.

The last line will display the content type.

Depending on the URL address entered to process the Get http headers request certain other information may be displayed in the returned fields.

You can check one or any number of websites header information. The utility is free to use and there’s no limitation on the number of times you can use it. SEOs can use the information to request host web server providers to change the location of their website. There are so many ways in which SEOs can use the header information. This will be a handy and useful tool for SEOs in optimizing websites.