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Yoast SEO issue – Are you affected by this SEO problem?

posted in: SEO 32

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.

yoast seo problem

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” 

SEO Problem
If your Redirect Attachment URLs to Attachments is set to “No” then change this to “Yes” and save.

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.

Yoast SEO Problem

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

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.

Regards Dexter


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SEO problem - Are you affected by this Yoast SEO issue? [EASY FIX]
Article Name
SEO problem - Are you affected by this Yoast SEO issue? [EASY FIX]
Check your Yoast SEO settings because there could be a big SEO problem on your site that you don't know about yet. It has recently come to light that on an update of the Yoast SEO plugin one of the settings may have been inadvertently changed in a negative way without you knowing about it,
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Follow Dexter Roona:
Social Media Expert and Blogger. I love all elements of social media and my InfoBunny Blog is now really just about providing help for those looking to build their Social Media Authority.

32 Responses

  1. Qasim
    | Reply

    Hi Dexter,

    Haven’t read about this issue, thanks for sharing. Although I am not having Yoast plugin. I have to check my plugin All-In-One SEO to see if there is a similar option.

    • Dexter Roona

      It is something that is recommended

  2. Donna Merrill
    | Reply

    Hey Dexter,

    Thank you so much! I am saving this so I can follow along step by step and not screw up. I’ve seen the decline in my blog posts for two weeks now and didn’t know why until you brought this to my attention. Again thanks and I’ll pass this on.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…The Best Kind of Content to Offer on Your BlogMy Profile

    • Dexter Roona

      Glad you caught it, your probably need the purge plugin to get you back on track.

  3. Lesly Federici
    | Reply

    Thanks Dexter, fixed 🙂

    • Dexter Roona

      Great, did you need the Purge plugin?

  4. Annette Rose
    | Reply

    Great info once again. Tx

    • Dexter Roona

      Hi, Annette have you bee affected by this issue?

  5. Ryan Biddulph
    | Reply

    Definitely good to know Dexter. This is why I wait so long to update plugins until my developer finally reads me the riot act and does it himself. If anything breaks he is there to fix it. I’ve no clue in hell how to do this stuff but you break it down super easily here.

  6. Sharon T McLaughlin
    | Reply

    Funny, I noticed my traffic was down last week. My redirect attachment was set to no. Thanks so much for the information.

    • Dexter Roona

      Sounds like you caught it. Has your traffic been down for a while or just recently? You might want to install the purge plugin to speed the fix-up. You can then delete it 6 months down the line.
      Dexter Roona recently posted…Mobile SEO Guide 2018 – The Ultimate GuideMy Profile

  7. Hazel Jarrett
    | Reply

    Thanks for the heads up on this Dexter. I’m pretty shocked this happened and feel they should have sent a message to their users notifying them with details on how to fix it. Thankfully it hasn’t affected me or any of our clients.
    Hazel Jarrett recently posted…Keyword Research Guide: How to find the best keywords for SEO and conversionsMy Profile

    • Dexter Roona

      Yes especially as they have a built in messenging system in the plugin so they could of added a notification back into our back office on Wp

  8. Blake Smith
    | Reply

    Really fantastic to see this informative article regarding Yoast SEO issue. I am very much impressed to get the solution on it because already I faced this problem and finally got the solution. Thanks a lot and appreciate for this niche post:)

    • Dexter Roona

      Yes it was a bit of a shocker this bug.

  9. Jon
    | Reply

    Thanks mate, great post. I’d already applied the “fix” plugin and I’m looking for some way to get Google to crawl and remove all those images as fast as possible (I’m a photographer with around 10,000 images on the site ….. 8-| ).


    • Dexter Roona

      Ouch, that’s gonna hurt. Hope it resolves quickly.

  10. Kams
    | Reply

    Hi, thanks for this article. I installed Search Index Purge plugin two months ago, it’s working because I see more and more 410 errors appear in my Search Console, but my traffic hasn’t recovered at all. I’m so desperate to find a fix. I lost 70% of my traffic since the Yoast bug started.

    • Dexter Roona

      Yes, it was a big mess up on their part. I’m afraid all you can do is be patient and wait for any penalty to be lifted. Just concentrate on social media for now and creating new long-form content that will speed up the fix.

  11. Lori
    | Reply

    Joost wrote a nice apology in his post, and I’m a forgiving person, and I’ve been online since the 1990s, so I get it and know I took a risk in trusting a free plugin……BUT in the comments of his post, Joost was definitely defensive and flippant about how much people were affected. Two months later, I have not recovered. My site traffic has finally gone back up to what it was, but I’m still currently penalized within Google Adsense. Here’s his comment to me:

    Lori • 2 months ago
    Since installing the patch and toggling to “yes” a week ago, my Adsense income is up (whew!). I lost hundreds of dollars; it was pretty stressful! I keep up on my site meticulously and this is the only change that could have affected my ranking, impressions and RPM/CPC. I appreciate your transparency and honesty in the post, but the replies in the comments thread area not coming across as well. We can all move on while still facing that there was definitely an impact.

    Joost de Valk
    Joost de Valk • 2 months ago
    “this is the only change that could have affected my ranking”: it might have been the only thing you did, but of course at any given time lots of things happen that can impact your rankings 🙂 not saying you weren’t hurt by this, I honestly can’t tell, but it’s good to be aware that rankings are fickle things 🙂

  12. Lori
    | Reply

    Dexter, do I need to redirect all those errors in Search Console, or do anything with them? I’m getting hundreds of 410 errors, and “submitted URL has crawl issues.” I found your article by searching for an answer to that (I so appreciate your encouragement to others in the comments! this is a very discouraging thing to go through).

    • Dexter Roona

      Did you install the extra Yoast plugin that they mad to fix this problem?
      If you have then there is nothing more for you to do other than wait.

      You could update a few posts and then fetch and render them in your search console that will bring the spiders back to your pages, that should help as the changes get applied to search quicker and that includes the attachment URL error being fixed.

  13. Danial
    | Reply

    I’m very angry with Yoast didn’t send any Email or dashboard notification about the bug. I lost 70% of page views and I checked every single aspect of SEO for my site:
    I found the problem just by chance when looking at my number of indexed pages in webmasters.
    I don’t know how long it takes our website comes back but we lost a lot of customers and money in our company.

    • Dexter Roona

      Hi Danial I think they were hoping that no one would notice but of course, they were always going to. Did you add the plugin they created that is supposed to speed up the process?

      The best advice I can give you is to social share pots that were affected, not all at once just a few a day. Make any updates to them so you can ping them and link from them to new posts so you can fetch and render new posts and crawl the associated links. You need to bring the bots back to see that you fixed the problem.

  14. sunil
    | Reply

    hey Dexter thanks
    didnt know about it until yesterday and i’ve been using and updating Yoast without any knowledge of this — my setting was set to No — i dont know any drop in my ranking but can see some index change and can see random page showing up in sitelink — even though i turned it on …. i still see my media images showing up in sitelink — is there a way to solve this ???

    • Dexter Roona

      Yoast has a plugin that they created to speed up the process of fixing it. It is all outlined in the blog.
      It will, unfortunately, take time to rectify.

      My advice is to continue to write good long-form content 1500 word plus and just to revisit all old posts and update them and ping them and notify Google of the update so they come back and crawl again.
      You can also use Fetch as Google iN your Google search console.

  15. KC
    | Reply

    Hi There,
    Thank you for the article. Wondering if anyone can help me. We have unfortunately been pretty significantly affected by this issue, so I installed the purge plugin. But, I can still click on attachments in the attachment sitemap and successfully view the attachment urls (i.e. it doesn’t seem to return a 410?).
    1) after downloading the plugin fix- should I still see the attachments sitemap?
    2) I am not seeing the 410 header on the attachment. thoughts?

    Really appreciate any help with this!

    • Dexter Roona

      I think in your case it will just take time,
      If I was you I would go to your most important posts and make some updates and then fetch and render them in search console to reflect the changes.

      You need to bring the bots back to your pages in my opinion.

  16. 10seos
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this article. Very useful information.

  17. simmy
    | Reply


    I had lots of issues with this update. I got affected by this 3 months ago.

    My pages indexed went from 55 to 477. (3 Months Before)
    My keywords Indexed Dropped 800 to 300 (Source Semrush)
    My Traffic Dropped almost 70%.

    I realized the problem 1 month ago and I have used the following steps:

    1) I have installed the Search Index Purge Plugin and indexed dropped to 75 from 477. There are around 20 more pages that I have submitted manually to remove from the search engine.

    2) I have added new posts but they are not ranking for any keyword. But my old posts still have some visitors from search engine.

    My Concern:

    Most of the attachments are indexed but my website images also deindexed from the search engine.

    There are huge internal links still showing at my webmaster tools:


    /posttopic/ 700 Internal Links
    /Aboutus/ 800 Internal Links

    These internal links are still showing even the attachment ids are deindexed from the search engine. Is that bad for seo? How I can remove them?

    Also, should I remove the Search Index Purge Plugin now and set the attachment URLs to yes?

    • Dexter Roona

      Sorry to hear this. You need to be set to Yes so your redirecting. You should also keep the purge plugin activated for around 6 months, I think that was what was suggested by Yoast.
      If you want to speed up the process then update affected posts and fetch and render them and social share them. Encourage comments that you can answer, just bring the search bots back to crawl.
      Hope this helps.

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