A major update to Yoast SEO fixes a bug that affected the rankings of certain websites. The founder of Yoast, Joost de Valk, personally offered an apology to victims of the error that may have suffered “Panda-like problems” and lost search rankings as a consequence.
Yoast SEO 7.0 Bug Live Since March 6, 2018
This update is meant to correct an error introduced by Yoast 7.0, in March 2018. Victims of this bug will have suffered negative changes in rankings since the Yoast March 6 update.
If your rankings have steadily dropped sometime after March 6, and you use the Yoast SEO Plugin, your site may be a victim of the Yoast SEO Plugin bug.
What Went Wrong with Yoast SEO Plugin?
The ranking bug introduced what Yoast calls, “Panda-like problems” when it updated to the 7.0 version. This change affected settings to the way image redirects are handled. Fortunately this update did not affect all users.
Here is how Yoast describes the technical problem:
The bug was simple yet very painful: when you updated from an earlier version of Yoast SEO to Yoast SEO 7.0-7.0.2 (specifically those versions), we would not always correctly convert the setting you had for the old setting into the new one. We accidentally set the setting to ‘no’. Because we overwrote the old settings during the update, we could not revert this bug later on.
Yoast Founder Offers Personal Apology
The announcement states that they quickly resolved the Yoast SEO 7.0 bug once they became aware of it. But the bug has been negatively affecting sites since March 6. Accordingly, the founder of Yoast, Joost De Valk, offered his apology:
“This post serves both as a warning and an apology. …We’re so very sorry. …we messed up. I myself, am sorry. More so than normal, because I came up with and coded this change myself…”
Affected Yoast SEO Users Upset
Understandably, some plugin users are upset. One plugin user posted that he had lost ranking positions because of this error. As a consequence, he said he had lost confidence in the Yoast Plugin forever.
Another Yoast SEO Plugin user commented on the Yoast announcement page that she had lost thousands of dollars. She also noted that her rankings have returned since applying the new updates.
Who is Affected by Yoast SEO Plugin Bug?
According to the official announcement from Yoast, this bug does not affect everyone. However if your rankings have dropped since March 6, you may wish to check your Yoast SEO Media Plugin settings.
How to Check Your Yoast SEO Search Appearance Settings
On the left side menu, 1. select the Yoast SEO icon, then 2. click the Search Appearance link.
You will be taken to a tabbed interface. Click on the tab labeled Media.
Scenario 1: Everything is OK
The “Media & attachment URLs” setting should be set to “Yes.” If it is set to “Yes” then you’re fine. Nothing is wrong. Just update your Yoast SEO Plugin (if it’s not already updated) and rest easy.
Scenario 2: Rankings Unchanged
If the “Media & attachment URLs” setting is set to “No”, but you have not suffered any rankings change, then change this setting to Yes, update your Yoast SEO plugin (if not already updated), and congratulate yourself, there’s nothing wrong.
Scenario 3: Rankings Have Dropped
If the “Media & attachment URLs” setting is set to “No” and you have experienced drops in rankings since about March 6, then you may be suffering from the Yoast 7.0 bug.
Yoast’s official announcement advised to change this setting from “No” to “Yes” and update your Yoast SEO Plugin (if it isn’t already updated). Additionally, you will also need to download the Yoast SEO Search Index Purge Plugin and apply this plugin in order to repair the bug.
Scenario 4: You’re Uncertain if You’ve Been Affected
Yoast’s advice is to change the setting to “Yes” and update the Yoast SEO plugin (if it hasn’t already been updated.)
Read the Official announcement at Yoast
Yoast has posted an official announcement on their blog. You are strongly encouraged to read that announcement and apply the solutions recommended if you are affected by the Yoast SEO 7.0 Bug. There is more information there, including a statement by Google’s John Mueller.
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