After an update of the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, a major bug has arisen that relates to attachment URLs. This may affect your rankings in Google. In this article, I will tell you more about it and explain how to fix this bug as soon as possible.
Who is bothered by this bug?
What does the bug involve?
The bug came about after an update of the Yoast SEO plugin on March 6, 2018. This bug has everything to do with attachment URLs. When you add an image in WordPress, a separate ‘attachment url’ is created for each image. This means that each image has its own url.
Normally the Yoast SEO plug-in resolves this because the option ‘Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment’ is checked by default with ‘Yes’. These URLs (with only an image) are then automatically redirected to the page where this image is located. But due to an update, this setting was overwritten and transferred to ‘No’, which caused the bug.
Why is this harmful now?
Because of this bug, images are no longer redirected to the page they are on, but are indexed by Google as separate URLs. The result is a huge amount of extra pages of low quality in the index. This allows websites to deal with ‘Panda-like problems’. Panda is an update from Google that discourages low-quality websites and rewards high-quality websites. This could be/become a problem due to this bug, and therefore it is also important that it is restored as quickly as possible.
Below is a screenshot of the number of indexed pages in Google of a website affected by this bug.
As you can see, the number of pages in the index has doubled or even quadrupled.
How do you correct this?
Yoast has apologized for this bug and has a manual to fix this bug as soon as possible.
Redirect attachment URL’s to the attachment marked with ‘Yes’?
You must manually check if this setting is checked with ‘Yes’. You can find this setting in WordPress under: SEO and Search Appearance (or Search Appearance if your language is set to English) in the Media tab. If it looks like the image below, you do not have to do anything, and you will not be bothered by the bug.
Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment marked with ‘No’?
If you have set this setting to ‘No’ for a specific reason, no change is required. You are probably aware that you have set this up. If this is not the case, then you will have to reset this setting to ‘Yes’.
Below is a picture of what it looks like when the bug strikes you. Redirect attachment URLs are set to “No”. This has to be changed to ‘Yes’.
Check traffic and rankings
Are you unsure whether your rankings and traffic have dropped and is Search Console also not unambiguous? Yoast gives the advice to only change the setting to ‘Yes’ and do nothing else.
Traffic and rankings dropped?
Have your rankings and traffic decreased? Make sure you switch this setting directly to ‘Yes’. Furthermore, Yoast has built a search index purge plug-in , to rectify this as quickly as possible.
The purpose of this plug-in is to get the images from the Google index as quickly as possible. If you only convert the setting to “Yes” and do not use the plugin, it can take months for Google to remove these pages from the index.
When you install the plug-in, the following happens:
- Each appendix url will receive a 410 status code.
- A static xml sitemap is created with all attachment URLs.
This ensures that Google re-crawls these URLs. The 410 status code ensures that Google retrieves these URLs from the index.
With a number of our customers, we saw that they were affected by this bug and we have gone through the above steps. Thanks to the search index plug-in, the images have disappeared from the index quite quickly.
Are you also affected by this bug and do you notice a decrease in traffic and positions? Let us know in the comments below.