Have Your Website Rankings Dropped? It Could Be the Yoast SEO Bug…
I have been using the Yoast SEO plug in for a while now. In fact I am incorporating it into all my old and new websites because it is that good.
However, in one of their recent updates for the WordPress plugin, there was a bug. It was only a small issue but the impact could be quite significant for your website and its rankings.
The release of Yoast SEO 7.0 caused a setting to be switched from the recommended setting that could possibly damage your rankings.
If you go to:
Yoast SEO – Search Appearance – Media
…you will see the option “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself? Y/N?“
This, for most people (especially photographers), should be set to yes.
However, the bug in Yoast 7.0 accidentally switched this to “no” in may cases which could be a problem for you.
Whenever you upload an image to your WordPress website, WordPress will always create what is called an “attachment page”. This is where that image lives.
The trouble is that Google will then index that page that has barely any content and their Penguin Low Quality Penalty could be enforced. If you upload hundreds of images, this could be quite severe as you unintentionally create many “thin” pages.
The Yoast option above is meant to create a redirect from that low content, image holding page to the actual image itself. This will then remove those pages from the Google index.
How to Fix It?
Simply switching the option back to yes won’t do a lot right away but do it right away anyway. You should also, and immediately update to the latest Yoast SEO version.
Lastly, Yoast recognised this error here:
…and created a workaround plug in that is accepted by Google to hopefully reverse any damage done to your website. You can download and install it here:
Once downloaded and installed, activate the plug in and wait 6 months. That should be enough time for Google to remove the attachment URL’s from their search results. At this point, remove the Search Index Purge plug in and set the above Media & attachment URLs switch back to “yes“.
Hope this helps!