What is 204 No Content: Meaning, Issues with 204 Status Codes

What is 204 No Content: Meaning, Issues with 204 Status Codes

Free Complete Site Audit

Access a full website audit with over 300 technical insights.

Something went wrong. Please, try again later.
Trusted by
Sitechecker trusted company

Free Website SEO Checker & Audit Tool

  • Scan the site for 300+ technical issues
  • Monitor your site health 24/7
  • Track website rankings in any geo

What Is a 204 Status Code?

A 204 No Content status code is a 2xx HTTP response status code indicating that the server successfully processed the request, but there’s no content to send in the response body. In other words, the server fulfilled the request, and there’s no additional information to send back.

Typical use cases for a 204 No Content response

PUT/PATCH requests: When updating a resource, it’s common to return a 204 status if the update was successful, but there’s no additional data to send back to the client.

DELETE requests: After successfully deleting a resource, a server might send a 204 to indicate that the deletion was successful, without sending any additional data.

Form submissions: Sometimes, when a form is submitted, a server might just want to indicate success without redirecting the user or sending back additional data.

It’s important to note that when a 204 response is received, the client should not update its document view. This means that, for instance, if you have a web page and it issues a request that returns a 204, the page should stay exactly the same without any change, refresh, or redirection.

204 Status Code SEO Implications

A 204 No Content status code, as discussed, means that the server has successfully processed the request, but there’s no content to return in the response body. From an SEO perspective, the implications of using a 204 status code are worth considering:

No Content to Index Since a 204 No Content response contains no content, search engines have nothing to index for that particular request.
If this status code is returned for a URL that you’d like search engines to index, then it could be problematic.
Crawl Budget Search engine bots have a “crawl budget” for each website, which refers to the number of pages they’ll crawl in a given timeframe. If a significant portion of your website returns a 204, it might be wasting the bot’s crawl budget on pages that have no content.
User Experience From an SEO perspective, user experience metrics are becoming increasingly important. If users frequently encounter 204 No Content responses when they expect content, they might leave your site, increasing the bounce rate.
Search engines may interpret high bounce rates as an indicator that your site doesn’t satisfy user intent, which could negatively impact rankings.
Potential for Misconfiguration If a 204 No Content response is being returned unintentionally due to a server or site misconfiguration, it could lead to key pages not being indexed or ranked.
Appropriate Use Cases There are valid use cases for a 204 No Content response in web applications, especially for AJAX requests or API endpoints where the client isn’t expecting content in return.
In these scenarios, the 204 status isn’t problematic for SEO as these aren’t typically the URLs or endpoints you want search engines to index.

204 Status Code Common Issues and How to Fix Them

The 204 No Content status code indicates that the server has successfully processed the request but isn’t returning any content. However, there can be scenarios where this status code is returned unintentionally or causes issues in certain contexts.

Here are some common issues related to the 204 status code and how to address them:

Unintended 204 Responses

A configuration or coding error might cause a server to return a 204 response for URLs where content is expected.

Review server configurations and application logic to ensure that the appropriate response codes are being returned. Check server logs and implement proper error handling in your application to diagnose the issue.

SEO Issues

As discussed in the previous answer, if content URLs are returning a 204 status code, they won’t get indexed by search engines.

Ensure that content pages return a 200 OK status with the appropriate content. Use SEO tools to crawl your site and identify any pages that are returning unexpected 204 responses.

User Experience Disruption

If users expect content but receive a 204 response, it can lead to confusion and a poor user experience.

Always ensure that the user gets feedback. For example, if you're deleting an item, rather than just returning a 204, you might redirect the user to a confirmation page or provide some visual feedback on the same page.

API Consumers Confusion

If an API endpoint unexpectedly returns a 204 response, consumers of that API might get confused or their logic might break if they’re expecting content.

Always document expected response codes in your API documentation. If an endpoint is supposed to return content but sometimes returns a 204, ensure that this is clearly documented, and provide guidance on how API consumers should handle such responses.

Misuse in Client-Side Requests

AJAX or other client-side requests expecting a JSON response or content might break if they receive a 204 response.

Ensure that client-side requests are correctly configured to handle a 204 response. This might involve setting up specific error handling or feedback mechanisms for users.

Caching Issues

Some caching mechanisms might get confused by a 204 response, especially if they’re expecting content.

Review your caching configurations and ensure they're set up to handle 204 responses correctly. This might involve adjusting cache headers or setting specific rules for URLs that might return a 204.

Monitoring False Positives

If you’re monitoring uptime or the health of your application, a 204 response might be treated as an error or downtime by some monitoring tools if they’re expecting content.

Configure your monitoring tools to recognize a 204 response as a successful response, or adjust the endpoints being monitored to return a different status code.

If you’re facing issues related to the 204 status code, the key is to diagnose whether the response is appropriate for the context. Monitoring, logging, and regular audits can help you identify and address any issues promptly.

HTTP Status Code Checker Tool for Identifying HTTP 204 Status Code

HTTP Status Code Checker Tool for identifying-http204-status-code

HTTP Status Code Checker tool that provides a detailed insight into the HTTP status codes returned by web pages. This is particularly useful for webmasters and SEO professionals who want to ensure that their websites are returning the correct status codes.

By inputting a URL into the tool, SiteChecker.pro scans the given webpage to identify its HTTP response. If a page returns an HTTP 203 status code, or any other code for that matter, this tool will flag it. Recognizing a 203 status code can help in understanding non-authoritative information in the server response, allowing web administrators to rectify issues or verify that such a response is intentional.

In addition to detecting specific status codes, using SiteChecker.pro’s HTTP Status Code Checker can provide broader insights into the health and performance of a website. By regularly monitoring the status codes of key pages, webmasters can ensure optimal site functionality and maintain a positive user experience.

Conclusion

The 204 “No Content” HTTP status code signifies that while the server has successfully processed a request, there’s no content to be presented in the response body. This is commonly utilized in scenarios such as PUT/PATCH requests, DELETE requests, and specific form submissions. It’s critical to understand, especially for webmasters and SEO experts, that a 204 status can impact a site’s ranking and overall user experience.

When misused or misconfigured, it can lead to search engines not indexing pages, a potential waste of the search engine’s crawl budget, and other SEO-related challenges.

FAQ
When a 204 status code is received, it means the request was successful but there's no new content. Therefore, updating or refreshing the page would not be appropriate, as there's no new content to display.
Excessive 204 responses can waste a search engine's crawl budget, which is the number of pages a search engine will crawl on your site in a given timeframe. This could lead to important pages not being indexed.
For form submissions, a server might use a 204 status code to indicate success without the need to redirect the user or provide additional data, ensuring a seamless user experience.
Yes, certain caching mechanisms can get confused by a 204 response, especially if they anticipate content. It's essential to review caching configurations to ensure proper handling of 204 responses.
If an API endpoint returns a 204 unexpectedly, it could confuse the API consumer or break their logic, especially if they're anticipating content in the response.
A 200 status code indicates a successful request with content returned in the response body. A 204 status also signifies a successful request but with no content in the response body.
Fast Links

You may also like

View More Posts
The Most Important Steps for Local SEO Optimization
SEO Basics
The Most Important Steps for Local SEO Optimization
Roman Rohoza
Jan 31, 2024
What is HTTP 304 “Not Modified”: Meaning, Issues with 304 Status Codes
SEO Basics
What is HTTP 304 “Not Modified”: Meaning, Issues with 304 Status Codes
Ivan Palii
Sep 28, 2023
What is 421 Status Code: Common Issues and How to Fix Them
SEO Basics
What is 421 Status Code: Common Issues and How to Fix Them
Ivan Palii
Sep 27, 2023
close