If you care about SEO, you are probably using Yoast on your website. If you happen to update it to 7.0 version you were probably affected by their bug. We noticed that a lot of our users are still not aware of this bug or simply forgot to update their settings. Hence, in this brief article we’ll explain what harm it may have brought to your SEO and how to recover from this issue.
How to check if my website is affected by this bug?
Here is what you need to do right now:
1. Log in to your WordPress admin
2. Go to SEO – Search Appearance – Media
3. Check if Media & attachment URLs is set to Yes (as shown in the image below)
If this setting is set to Yes, you are fine. If it’s set to No, read further.
The setting was set to No, what happened?
In WordPress, when you upload an image it creates a separate page with that image. So, if you upload hundreds of images on your site, you will have hundreds of poor pages with no unique content. This is bad for your SEO. That’s why Yoast redirects all these pages to the images themselves, getting rid of those poor pages.
Unfortunately, when they updated the plugin they accidentally set the setting to “No”, so a lot of site owners were affected by this issue. We’ve been affected as well, but we fixed it quickly and didn’t notice a significant drop in rankings.
What issues did the Yoast 7.0 bug cause?
Here are the main problems produced by this bug:
- It created multiple sitemaps with image attachment URLs (1,000 URLs in each)
- Submitted all those pages to Google index. If you noticed a huge increase in indexed pages, you were probably affected. To check this, log in to your Search Console and check: Google Index – Index status report.
- Created a lot of duplicates or too long titles/descriptions issues. To check this, go to: Search Appearance – HTML improvements report in your Search Console.
- Kept a lot of attachment URLs in index even if you fixed the bug. It takes time for Google to take those pages out of index (could be months).
- Produced a significant drop in ranking and traffic (in some cases).
- Created a lot of crawl anomalies. This happened if you already fixed the bug. All image attachment URLs have been redirected to the images themselves and created multiple crawl issues.
How to fix this bug and recover?
As previously mentioned, here is what you need to do right away:
- Log in to your WordPress admin
- Go to SEO – Search Appearance – Media
- Change the Media & attachment URLs setting to Yes
What to do next?
At this point the only thing you have to do is wait and monitor the situation in Search Console. If you don’t have Search Console, we highly recommend you to verify your website property (ownership) and start using it ASAP. Here is a video on how to set up Search Console on your site:
Once your are tracking your site in Search Console, keep an eye on the following things:
- Number of indexed pages in Google (Google Index – Index status)
- Crawl errors (Crawl – Crawl errors)
- Sitemaps (Crawl – Sitemaps)
- Organic traffic evolution (Search Traffic – Search Analytics)
If you have been hit hard by this bug and lost your rank/traffic, you can opt for a quick solution. The guys from Yoast created a separate plugin to purge all media attachment URLs from index. This is a custom fix and still might take a lot of time (up to 6 months).
Always keep an eye on your SEO metrics and be ready to act promptly. This unexpected bug created a lot of hassle, especially for those sites that are hosting a lot of images. If you are still affected, take action now.