Publishers who updated to Yoast SEO 19.5 may have experienced more than they expected. Reports of fatal errors caused by the update soon began surfacing. Interestingly, the error appears confined to specific situations and not across the board.
Yoast SEO version 19.5
Yoast version 19.5 contains several changes that improve the user experience, fix a validation issue in the Article structured data, and address some minor bugs.
A standout improvement is the Front-end SEO inspector that provides an overview of posts and various SEO settings like meta tags and structured data.
Unfortunately, a bug also occurred in a specific situation that caused a fatal error.
A fatal error can occur when there is a conflict between two plugins.
Yoast Fatal Error
Eli Schwartz, search marketing expert and author of the popular book Product Led SEO, tweeted about a fatal error.
— Eli Schwartz (@5le) August 10, 2022
Turns out an update from @yoast broke it 😢
— Eli Schwartz (@5le) August 10, 2022
It’s not uncommon for a random conflict between plugins to cause a problem. But this wasn’t all that random, as others confirmed that the same thing was happening to them.
I faced the same issue yesterday when I tried to update one of my new client's website @EasyPowerUg
— Webiro (@Webiroagency) August 11, 2022
The official Yoast SEO support page on WordPress.org also contained reports of fatal errors.
One user posted:
“I woke up today and tried to access the dashboard of my website and I was met with a Fatal Error, I’m not able to access it through backend nor Login.
How can I solve this issue.”
Two others responded with the same problem, with one of them offering this comment:
“Same here. Can’t login in backend and both site and backend throw a fatal error.
Saw that Yoast has autoupdated today.
Moved both the free and the premium version from plugins directory to a temporary directory and now the site is back online.”
Someone else with the same setup of the free and premium version echoed that report, posting:
“Getting a fatal error after the update too. Also have the free version, premium version and News SEO.”
The official Yoast support person was apologetic, responding with this statement:
“We’re sorry that you’re experiencing a fatal error. Thanks for reporting.
We’re investigating and it seems to be a problem with the latest update of Yoast SEO while the newest Premium wasn’t released yet. This shouldn’t have happened.
We’re looking at getting this resolved as soon as we can by releasing a patch for free and also by releasing Yoast SEO Premium asap.
Either should fix the fatal error.
Joost de Valk, the founder of Yoast, offered this feedback to Search Engine Journal:
“A patch was created quickly by the team indeed and for most sites that resolved it entirely.
For some sites the auto update mechanism failed to run properly and therefore those sites didn’t automatically fix themselves.
We’ve been discussing this internally a lot, as we weren’t happy that this happened at all, and we weren’t happy with how we handled it. We’re all honestly really bummed by it and feel sorry for the sites we’ve broken.”
Yoast Identifies the Problem
The last commenter who noted how they had two versions of the Yoast plugin installed, the free and the premium versions, may have been a clue to what caused the fatal flaw because that situation was cited as the reason why the Fatal Error was happening.
Yoast responded quickly to the issues and issued a patch the very same day, version 19.5.1.
According to the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin changelog that documents what is in each update:
“19.5.1 – Bugfixes:
Fixes a bug where a fatal error would be thrown on the front-end when Yoast SEO 19.5 was used with an older version of Yoast SEO Premium.”
The Problem is Fixed with Version 19.5.1
Yoast 19.5.1 has fixed the problem.
One user posted this comment in the Yoast support forum:
“Update 19.5.1 has corrected the issue.”
However, because there are millions of users with millions of combinations of other plugins installed, it’s almost inevitable that very few edge cases may pop up with issues.
For example, in a post in the official Yoast support forum, one user describes updating from 19.4 directly to 19.5.1 and not having a satisfactory experience.
“I went from 19.4 to 19.5.1 and it still broke my site. I don’t think .5.1 fixed the entire issue. I never updated to 19.5. Went straight from 19.4 to 19.5.1.
I have yoast, Yoast premium, and woo. all 3. First, one to try to update was regular yoast. All other plugins and WP on my site are current. Hope that helps to fix 19.5.1
Glad I never trust autoupdate, Not a fan of paying anyone to be a beta tester.
Yet this one still got me.”
It’s not unusual for edge cases to surface for any update, and this might be the case for Yoast 19.5.1.
The cause of the problem appears to be that Yoast published an update for the free version of Yoast (19.5) but did not simultaneously publish an update to the premium version, which then caused the two plugins to conflict, resulting in a fatal error.
Featured image by Shutterstock/Kues