Troubleshooting an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error is like solving a mystery. You don’t know what exactly happened or why it happened — all you know is that something’s wrong and you need to fix it.
To guide you through the hassle of troubleshooting the dreaded HTTP 500 Internal Server Error, let’s go over what it exactly means and its most common causes and solutions.
Troubleshooting Popular Software Problems
If your server runs popular software like WordPress, bad installations, incompatible versions, and incorrect server permissions can all cause a HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. Here’s how you can fix this issue:
Check to see if your recently installed or upgraded software actually failed to install or upgrade. To refresh your software, check the vendor’s website for instructions.
Newly activated plugin or themes might conflict with your current plugins or themes. Deactivate them one at a time to identify the exact plugins or themes causing the internal server error.
If you just upgraded your software, your current plugins or themes might not be compatible with the new upgrade. Deactivating plugins or themes one at a time until the error disappears is the best way to find the root cause of your problem.
Debugging Server-Side Scripts
Custom scripts that are currently getting developed and tested can cause an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. Here’s how you can fix this issue:
Wrong permissions on a file or folder that has a script, like a PHP or CGI script, won’t allow the script to run. Check your permissions and make sure you set them correctly on your server.
Programming errors or unavailable resources can cause one of your scripts to run in an endless loop and make it time out.
Coding errors of a .htcaccess file and custom scripts can also cause an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error.
Asking a Server Administrator for Help
If troubleshooting popular software problems or debugging server-side scripts doesn’t fix your HTTP 500 Internal Server Error, you should read about the most common causes for this type of issue in your server’s documentation — an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error can occur in different operating systems for a multitude of reasons. You can also ask your server provider to access your error logs and find evidence for the root cause of your problem.
Investing more in one SEO strategy usually means investing less in another, at least in the short term.
Choosing the path straight down the middle isn’t going to be the best choice for every brand, either.
With that in mind, let’s talk about three primary strategic SEO trade-offs that you’ll need to consider when making important decisions for your brand optimization.
Traffic vs. Relevance
I know what a lot of you are thinking. “It’s relevance, obviously.”
Yes, an SEO strategy that doesn’t factor relevance into the game plan is obviously flawed.
Traffic from users who would never have an interest in your product is inherently wasteful.
Except when it isn’t.
Here’s the thing:
There’s actually a lot more to consider than might be immediately apparent.
Consider the following:
Pros of a High Traffic, Low Relevancy Approach
Higher the traffic earned, better are your chances of earning natural links from visitors.
High traffic means that people who would be interested in your products may hear of you second hand from visitors who never would be interested in your products, whether that is through social sharing or in person.
More traffic volume means it is easier to achieve statistically significant results from SEO experiments, A/B tests, and similar data approaches.
More traffic can ultimately mean increase in the total number of relevant visits, even if the proportion of relevant visits is lower.
High traffic strategies can reach people who are further up the sales funnel but may still ultimately take an interest in your product, often in wildly unpredictable ways.
The Disadvantages of a High Traffic Approach
High traffic keywords are often very competitive, even when they are low in relevancy. The easiest keywords to rank for are those with limited traffic potential and audiences with very specific needs.
Poor conversion rates limit the immediate financial value of high traffic strategies.
Chasing too many high traffic topics can look cynical or dilute your brand’s message.
Pros of a High Relevancy, Low Traffic Approach
Much higher conversion rates for lead generation and sales.
Less competitive keywords to target.
A more targeted psychological impact on the visitors who are most likely to ultimately buy your products, leading to a stronger brand affinity.
More enthusiastic brand advocates.
More relevant natural anchor text in your earned links.
The Disadvantages of a High Relevancy Approach
High relevancy keywords can be just as competitive as high traffic keywords if they have high conversion rates. High audience relevance often doesn’t translate to high product relevance.
High relevancy strategies can be difficult to scale, especially without alienating your existing audience.
Becoming too focused on a limited set of topics can limit your brand’s perceived personality.
Consumer vs. Influencer
It seems obvious that your target audience should consist of the people who will ultimately end up buying your products.
However, you also need to consider the fact that influencers with the power to link to us, share our content, and expose us to a broader audience are equally important as a factor.
Closely related is the question of whether we are writing for an industry or for a set of interests.
I’ll mostly be lumping “set of interests” in with “consumers”, and “industry” with “influencers,” but keep in mind that there can be a little bit of cross contamination here.
If you work in B2B, things are slightly different, but much of what applies to “consumer” applies to the businesses that would be your clients, while the “influencer” label falls to thought leaders in your industry and your client’s industries, it also includes businesses that offer services similar to your own.
Pros of an Influencer, Industry Targeted Approach
Writing for bloggers, journalists, and the industry you compete in is the strategy most likely to earn the mos authoritative links. Since these are the people who own the authoritative sites, and most of them are willing to cite their sources, you can still pick up a tremendous amount of SEO authority with content that targets these people.
Likewise, producing content for this audience is the most likely to result in sharing on social networks.
Influencer-focused content can be a jumping off point for collaborative content, mutual link earning opportunities, and even business partnerships and B2B opportunities that you may not have considered.
Cons of the Influencer Approach
The influencers who can reach your audiences and the businesses who are competing with you for sales from them are often one and the same.
Industry-focused content may not necessarily appeal to your consumers, and may even alienate them.
Pros of a Consumer, Interest Focused Approach
Writing for consumers gives you a more down-to-earth appearance in the minds of the people who will actually be buying your products.
Having a direct practical impact on your consumer’s life before they even buy a product from you means they will be more likely to trust you and buy your products.
Consumer-focused content usually has more overall traffic potential.
Cons of the Consumer Approach
Consumers rarely control platforms with followed links which can help your SEO and can rarely connect you to larger audiences of their own.
Consumer-focused content, particularly when it isn’t aimed at power-users, can come across as introductory level to influencers and thus not worthy of passing on.
Trending vs. Evergreen
The choice between content that appeals to people’s desire for novelty and content that stands the test of time can be a difficult one to make.
Investing more in one type of content always means investing less in the other.
How much of each is the right balance for you?
Pros of Content About Trending Topics
Focusing on trending topics allows you to be a part of ongoing conversations, which has obvious SEO benefits in terms of earning links and engagements that contribute to your long-term authority in the search engines.
If you are one of the first to tackle a trending topic, it’s unlikely that your competitors will be able to overtake you before the interest in the topic subsides.
Emerging topics, especially the ones that haven’t been tackled by large news sites, have limited competition, and SEO is skewed more in the direction of freshness than authority, giving sites with limited SEO authority a better chance of ranking.
Cons of a Trending Approach
If you aren’t selective enough with your trending topics, you are likely to pick the same trending topics as others and unlikely to be one of the first to publish.
Trending topics earn a spike in traffic, but rarely send long-term traffic.
Pros of Content About Evergreen Topics
Since evergreen content continues to earn traffic every month, it allows you to cumulatively build your monthly traffic just by producing new content, instead of needing to chase bigger topics each month.
Since it is a recurring source of traffic, you have more freedom to update it, experiment with it, test it, and optimize it for conversions, relevance, and traffic potential.
Since your products are designed to solve problems that will continue to exist, and evergreen content is designed to solve problems that will continue to exist, the connection between evergreen content and sales is often more direct, even for topics relatively high up the sales funnel.
Cons of an Evergreen Approach
It can be difficult to earn attention from influencers for an evergreen topic without introducing some novel information, such as a survey or original research, and since it is likely that others have covered the topics beforehand making it difficult to overtake the competition. Put another way, the benefit of evergreen content for those who wrote it first is an obstacle for anybody else who would want to tackle the subject.
Evergreen content typically needs to be more comprehensive, in-depth, and well produced than content about trending topics, which can require investing more resources.
Google Trends is an official Google tool that offers a visual comparison of traffic levels. It does not tell you the exact amount of traffic. But it does show a relative amount.
This is especially helpful if you know the amount of traffic from a related keyword phrase.
Tip#1 How to Obtain More Accurate Traffic Data
If you want to unlock the traffic data of a keyword, compare that keyword with a keyword you already rank for and are familiar with the traffic levels.
Although Google Trends won’t show you the exact amounts, as long as you know the amounts for one keyword, the traffic levels of the other keyword will become more understandable.
2. Gain Insights for Content Marketing
There are two ways to look at the keyword data, stretched across over a long period of time and a short period of time.
Long Period Trends
You can set Google Trends to show you the traffic trends stretching back five years. This is valuable for showing you audience trends.
Upward Trending Long Range Trends
If a trend is going up this means to focus energy on creating content for this trend.
Downward Long Range Trends
If the trend line is moving down, then it may be a signal that audience content consumption is changing.
For example, review this five-year trend for WordPress the search term, WordPress the software and WordPress the website:
There’s a clear downward trend for WordPress in all it’s variations. The downward trend extends to phrases such as WordPress themes, WordPress plugin, and WordPress hosting.
Tip #2 Plan Future Content
The long view helps you make decisions about future directions. The long view helps you understand where to put the focus for content. If a product is trending downward, then maybe it’s time to think about shifting content resources to another topic or product or even change the content model altogether.
3. Short View Insights
Viewing keyword trends in the short view, such as the 90 day or even 30 day view can reveal valuable insights for maximizing your content marketing.
For example, two of the top trending keyword trends are How To and and Near Me searches. When you scale down to the 90 day view you can see what days of the weeks those searches are popular.
See Anyone’s Real-Time Analytics
What will you do when you can lift the curtain on the internet? Insights you were never meant to see. Data that will change marketing forever.
Tip #3 Plan Publishing Schedule
This takes the guess work out of creating a publishing schedule. Searches related to How to trend upward on Sundays and Mondays. Searches related to Near Me trend on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you have a site or a podcast focused on how to do things or a hobby related site, then publishing on a Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday and sending out an email to subscribers may be the best approach.
If your business is a restaurant, then you know that it is important to have specials, special pricing and so on published by Thursday so that it’s ready for site traffic on Friday and Saturday.
Tip #4 Keywords by Category
Google Trends has the capability to narrow down your keywords according to categories in order to give more accurate data on your keywords.
Tip #5 Keyword by Geography
Google Trends provides keyword information by geographic location. This information can be used for determining what areas are the best to outreach to or for tailoring the content to specific regions.
Keyword popularity information by region is valuable for link building, content creation, content promotion and pay per click.
For example, if a topic is popular in a particular region you can narrow your content promotion to identifying regional magazines, groups and clubs that are related to the niche you’re publishing or marketing to.
Tip #6 Geography Data May Enhance Ranking
Geographic information can also be used to enhance your content so that it is relevant to the most people. Google ranks pages according to who it’s most relevant for, so incorporating geographic nuance into your content can help it rank for the most people, especially if those people begin to promote your content in social media, blogs, and podcasts.
Tip #7 Rising Queries
The ability to gain insight into keyword phrases that are rising is quite possibly the most useful feature of Google Trends.
All you do is type in a keyword phrase and this section will give you twenty-five related search queries that are trending upwards. This data helps keep you on target with how consumers are changing. It allows you to react to new opportunities.
I’ve since arrived at a framework for teaching SEO which I call the Three Pillars:
Technology – Crawler
Relevance – Indexer
Authority – Query Engine
Technology – SEO
Technical underpinnings of a website:HTML code, URL structure, HTTP status codes, XML sitemaps, etc.
In digital marketing, your content has to be excellent. It has to add value and engage the visitor. The more engagement, the more users will share that content and in turn, the better it will rank. Invest heavily in your content and it will pay off in spades.
A website’s technology is all about making sure search engines can crawl and index all your content and in the right way. This means having clean HTML code, properly structured URLs (with no parameters, if at all possible), the right HTTP status codes for the right kind of web pages (so a Not Found page results in a 404 code, not a 200 or 302), proper XML sitemaps, etc.
Relevance – SEO
Content, Title Tags & Meta Descriptions, Headlines, Content Structure, Readability, Topical Focus, etc.
When search engines can crawl all your site’s content, that doesn’t mean they know what your content is about.
This means having optimized title tags and headlines, properly structured content, sufficient topical focus on a single page, including the right semantic signals, etc. Writing great Search Engine-friendly content is now more important than ever. Basic SEO’s audits will focus on this aspect of your website.
Authority – SEO
Links and Citations, Sending the right signals to search engines that your website is a trusted source.
Authority relates to the quality and volume of links created over time. the more authority a website has, the more link juice it can pass on this.
As we all know, great content alone is not enough to rank well in search results. You need to be seen as a trusted source, which is where the authority aspect comes in. With sufficient links from other trusted websites, your site will be seen as trustworthy as well and search engines will rank your content higher in search results for relevant queries.
Social media is the term commonly given to Internet and mobile-based channels and tools that allow users to interact with each other and share opinions and content. As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement.
Their definition emphasizes that we need to use different digital media channels to encourage our prospects and customers to interact to form communities. It also hints at the challenges of encouraging engagement.
If social media sometimes seems like a full-time job, that’s because it is. The world’s biggest brands have teams dedicated to their social media strategy.
Armed with the latest strategies, software, and spreadsheets, they study behavior and rigorously track every post in their quest to boost engagement and expand reach.
So what about when it’s just you or your small team? As designers and illustrators, we can live or die by our self-promotion efforts: never has this been more true, or instant, than in the age of social media.