It has been reported that there has been a recent bug affecting Yoast SEO.
This bug could be creating a big SEO problem on your site.
The problem first occurred on a routine update on the popular SEO plugin back in March 2018 and has taken until recently to come to light.
There has been a lot of negative feedback regarding how Yoast has handled this incident.
It is quite a serious SEO problem yet they seem to have been playing down its severity.
So what is the SEO problem?
When you normally update to the latest version of Yoast your settings are supposed to carry over.
If they didn’t you would have to check your settings every time you update.
For some reason, one of the settings regarding image attachments switched and got turned off.
When you upload an image, WordPress creates a separate so-called attachment URL for every image uploaded.
These attachment URLs are links to the images and these pages just carry the image and that is really all.
They are seen by Google as very “thin” because they have little to no content outside of the image and as a result, are very bad for your on-page SEO optimization.
Every time you upload an image you create a new page. The page created is a page that Google doesn’t really like. And if you add lots of images you create a lot of problematic pages.
Yoast SEO has a setting
Yoast SEO has a yes/no setting that allows you to redirect attachment URLs back to the post they are added to so fixing the problem. It is recommended that you have this setting set to “Yes” and this is where it all went wrong in the update as for some reason this setting was changed from “Yes” and set to “No” stopping the redirects and causing this is a big SEO problem.
So here is the fix
The good news is that there is a really simple fix.
Go to your dashboard then to your plugins and into Yoast SEO.
When you are in Yoast go to “Search Appearance” and then select “Media”
If your “Redirect Attachment URLs to Attachments” is set to “No” then change this to “Yes” and save.
Now you may have been set to “No” and just not have been penalized, but change the setting anyway to “Yes”
If you do have this SEO problem and have seen a drop in search rankings and traffic then you will also need to purge the search results of the attachment pages that you are being penalized for.
Just changing the plugin setting to “Yes” will work over time but it will take a very long time.
Yoast has created a new plugin to run alongside Yoast SEO to purge the search results much quicker to hopefully make Google love your site once more.
All you have to do is to download the Yoast SEO: Search Index Purge and activate the plugin and that is it.
What does the plugin do exactly?
Search Index Purge makes all your attachment URLs return an HTTP 410 status.
It then creates an XML sitemap with a recent last modified date, containing all those URLs.
The XML sitemap with recent post-modified date makes Google spider all those URLs again.
The 410 status code makes sure Google takes them out of its search results in the fastest way possible.
Yoast SEO Problem – Takeaways
There is understandably some anger directed at Yoast about how they have dealt with this problem.
It has been said that this incident has been played down.
Now, of course, you are not going to advertise such a problem.
But they could have and should have found a better way to tell users that there is an issue. And quite a significant SEO problem as well.
The only place that I have found Yoast speak about this optimization problem is on their blog and hidden under a title that really doesn’t tell you that they have made an error Media Attachment URLs and what do to do with them.
It’s not really an article title that tells you there is a problem straight away and that you should go check your settings.
And bare in mind that Yoast SEO also has notifications built into their plugin.
They could have sent a message to users for them to check that the setting was set correctly directly into the plugin users dashboard.
Infobunny was lucky enough not to be affected by this problem.
If after reading this post you go to check your settings and find that your Redirect Attachment URLs to Attachments was set to “No” then let me know in the comments below
I would also like to hear from you if you have an opinion on how Yoast has handled this SEO problem. It is potentially a very bad SEO problem to have that doesn’t have a quick fix.
Have they been transparent enough in reporting this issue to users?
To Yoast’s credit, they have given us a workable option in the new plugin to speed up the process. But if you have been affected since March and only just found out about this problem have they done enough because it will still take some time to recover.
But despite the problem, Yoast SEO is still a kick-ass SEO plugin in my opinion.
That’s all for now
If you have found this article useful then let me know in the comments below.