HTTP Status Code 500: What Is the 500 "Internal Server Error"?

If you're trying to figure out what a certain status code means and how to fix it, you're in the right place. In this tutorial, we'll do an overview of HTTP status code 500.
Tommy Griffth
Apr 22, 2022
3 min. read
Back to Blog
Table of Contents
Primary Item (H2)

Status Code 500: "Internal Server Error"

HTTP Status Code 500: "Internal Server Error"

The 500 status code "internal server error" is just that - it's an error on the server-side. This means that the server encountered something unexpected that prevented it from fulfilling the request. In some ways, it’s an ambiguous error. The server doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong, but it knows something is wrong.

This isn’t good. You want to fix this as soon as possible. Sometimes, administrators log error responses with more details about the request to prevent the error from happening again. You can often contact your web host and ask them if they can help.

The HTTP Protocol

Let's talk about how the HTTP protocol works.

At its very foundation, the Internet is made up of two core things: clients and servers.

Any time you click on your browser, you are accessing the Internet through a web client. It may be Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer.

When you visit a website, you are making a request to a web server.

Facebook.com, ClickMinded.com, MarthaStewart.com/1525880/marthas-chocolate-chip-cookies, all of these sites have their own home address. It's called an IP address.

Your home address might be 123 Main Street, New York, NY 10001, and Facebook's address happens to be 66.220.144.0.

Whenever you visit a page on the web, you are requesting a whole bunch of documents from that website's server. Maybe those documents are HTML, CSS, images, a PDF—whatever it is, the basic relationship stays the same: you (the client), make a request, and the website (the server) responds to that request.

The language you are using to make these requests is called the HTTP protocol. These protocols are really just standards that everyone on the web has agreed to. Just like English, Spanish and Chinese are all languages that have an understood protocol, HTTP is just a bunch of standards and an understood protocol.

There are a number of different web protocols out there – and you might be familiar with some of them:

  • DNS – Domain Name System
  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol
  • HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • IRC – Internet Relay Chat Protocol
  • SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  • SSL – Secure Sockets Layer

HTTP Status Codes

Now that we understand what the HTTP protocol is, let's talk about HTTP status codes. Status codes let us know whether the HTTP request was a success, a failure, or something in between.

Let’s take a look at the five core status codes:

  1. 1xx block: informational requests
  2. 2xx block: successful requests
  3. 3xx block: redirects
  4. 4xx block: client errors
  5. 5xx block: server errors

Some status codes are more common than others. For example, when you're doing digital marketing, you'll often come across status code 200, status code 301 and status code 404 - but you may never see status code 206 or 307.

Let's briefly go over each status code block and what they mean.

1xx Status Codes

These are informational requests. The server hasn’t fully completed the request yet and it’s still processing the information. You will not see these codes often. They include:

  • 100 – Continue
  • 101 – Switching protocol
  • 103 – Checkpoints

2xx Status Codes

These are successful requests, which means everything is okay. They include:

  • 200 – OK (you will see this one the most)
  • 201 – Created
  • 202 – Accepted
  • 205 – Reset Content
  • 206 – Partial Content

3xx Status Codes

These are redirects. These are shown when you request an address, but you are sent somewhere else. These can be good or bad. They include:

  • 301 – Moved Permanently
  • 302 – Found
  • 304 – Not Modified
  • 305 – Use Proxy
  • 307 – Temporary Redirect

4xx Status Codes

These are client errors. That means something went wrong with the request (client/user) and not the response (website/server). They include:

  • 400 – Bad Request
  • 401 – Unauthorized
  • 403 – Forbidden
  • 404 – Not Found
  • 408 – Request Timeout
  • 410 – Gone
  • 429 – Too Many Requests

5xx Status Codes

These are server errors. That means something went wrong with the response (website/server) and not the request (client/user). They include:

  • 500 – Internal Server Error
  • 502 – Bad Gateway
  • 503 – Service Unavailable
  • 504 – Gateway Timeout

In Conclusion

Looking for more on a particular status code? We have a series of short guides on every HTTP response, so you can optimize your digital marketing strategy. Grab them here:

10x Your Traffic from Google.

Get the SEO Checklist sent to your inbox.

[Free Mini-Course] Learn the SEO strategy that we used at PayPal and Airbnb.

Get the EXACT framework you need to implement to get your SEO strategy rock-solid for the rest of year.

Learn the exact SEO Keyword Strategy that we used at PayPal and Airbnb.

Reserve your spot at this special free SEO Masterclass!

SEO training to 10x your traffic from Google.

ClickMinded is where 8,702 startups, agencies, entrepreneurs and students learn SEO, get higher rankings, and more traffic.

Massively grow any business with digital marketing SOPs.

The ClickMinded SOP Library is a collection of digital marketing strategy templates, with step-by-step instructions that you can use to grow any website.

Thank you for being a part of the ClickMinded family!

Recommended

10x Your Traffic from Google.

Get the SEO Checklist sent to your inbox.

[Free Mini-Course] Learn the SEO strategy that we used at PayPal and Airbnb.

Get the EXACT framework you need to implement to get your SEO strategy rock-solid for the rest of year.

Learn the exact SEO Keyword Strategy that we used at PayPal and Airbnb.

Reserve your spot at this special free SEO Masterclass!

SEO training to 10x your traffic from Google.

ClickMinded is where 8,702 startups, agencies, entrepreneurs and students learn SEO, get higher rankings, and more traffic.

Massively grow any business with digital marketing SOPs.

The ClickMinded SOP Library is a collection of digital marketing strategy templates, with step-by-step instructions that you can use to grow any website.

Thank you for being a part of the ClickMinded family!

X
arrow-left