If you recently experienced a ranking drop (since the Panda update) and you’re using the all-popular Yoast SEO plugin, you might be the victim of the notorious Yoast SEO plugin bug that has been wreaking havoc among website owners.
Speculation regarding this issue was silenced when the founder of Yoast finally admitted the problem and offered an apology to the affected users:
The vast majority of the websites running Yoast SEO probably haven’t suffered at all. Still, we messed up. I myself, am sorry. More so than normal, because I came up with and coded this change myself…
Although Yoast released the bug fix as soon as possible, a lot of users are blaming the popular SEO plugin for their ranking drop:
What went wrong
The bug started producing its effects after the company released an update meant to correct an error that was reported on Yoast 7.0 in at the beginning of March 2018.
The bug essentially changes the way an image redirect is handled by the plugin. The bug occurred when the user tried to update from Yoast SEO 7.0 to version 7.02. Because of a coding fault, the plugin will sometimes fail to use the same redirect attachment URLs setting that the user has previously set up.
If you updated before Yoast managed to release a bug fix, the setting was accidentally set to “No” – which may or may not have caused your website to decline in rankings.
Purpose of attachment URLs
Whenever you upload an image in your WordPress website, besides storing the image, the platform also creates a separate attachment URL for every image that you upload. Because these attachments URLs have very few content (other than the image), they are bad for SEO because they significantly enlarge the number of pages that Google sees in your website.
This can hurt your ranking because the extra pages that you feature on your website don’t increase the quality content that you feature. The Yoast SEO plugin automatically takes care of this by redirecting the image to the post that the image is attached to. However, this bug prevented the plugin from doing this – hence the decrease in search rankings for some websites.
Yoast Seo Plugin Bug – Where you affected?
According to Yoast, the number of people affected is quite small. But judging by the comments, it seems like some people didn’t even realize that this was the cause of their ranking drop until the news got out.
If you’re ranking dropped since the start of March 2018, there’s one quick way to check whether this Yoast bug could have caused it. In your Dashboard, go to Yoast SEO, click on Search Appearance and open the Media tab.
In the event that the toggle associated with Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself is set to Yes, you were not affected by this bug. However, if the setting is set to No, your ranking drop might have been caused by the Yoast SEO bug.
What to do if affected by the Yoast SEO Plugin Bug
If the investigation reveals that the setting was set to No and you have suffered rankings change (in a bad way), start by changing the setting to Yes and then update Yoast SEO to the latest version (if you didn’t already do it).
If you’re ranking have significantly dropped as a result of the Yoast SEO plugin bug, you can download the Yoast SEO Search Index Purge Plugin and install it on your website in order to reverse the damage that was already done by the bug.