I’m not going to get into details about what this plugin is and how it works or how to configure it but for those of you who know this plugin, I’m pretty sure you’ve realised how quickly new updates are available and how WordPress is always showing notifications on the admin side for updating the plugin.
At first, you tell yourself, “Cool! Yoast is very actively maintaining this plugin and it has to be awesome compared to the other plugins that basically do the same thing but are updated once every now and then!” . You simply make 2-3 clicks, the plugin is updated, nothing seems broken and you are happy that you have an updated plugin and that there are probably numerous improvements happening in the backend.
Well… Think again! (or maybe see again!) I really doubt they even test the plugin properly every time and this quick new version thing is probably just a commercial strategy than a proper useful and handy update! How often does a code have to be updated?! Especially a plugin like this!
As most of you are aware, search engine optimisation isn’t as simple as just adding a plugin and flipping the on/off switch for it. This plugin is one of the numerous steps required for achieving an acceptable result. It needs to be properly configured and besides that it takes time for the results to start showing up. You will not be seeing traffic improvements in a couple of hours or days. It might take weeks, months or even years to maintain a decent search engine optimised website.
However losing all your efforts or an important part of all these efforts can happen in a matter of hours!
So, what does this all have to do with Yoast WordPress SEO plugin!?
Numerous times I have seen my site titles being messed up after Yoast WordPress SEO plugin updates, sitemaps having broken links (sometimes not even having any sitemaps), import/export feature not working properly and every single time if you don’t realise these problems in time, you’ll end up having search engine crawlers going through your pages and indexing the wrong content.
This time I have seen the worst! Throughout multiple WordPress sites that I manage I saw all sorts of different messed up Yoast SEO plugins… Some had partially lost their configurations after update and some like this very blog of mine lost 95% of the configurations, changing every single page/post’s title, description and almost every other thing that had to do with this plugin! Some of the settings were back to default and some others were even empty!
I had spent hours configuring, testing, redoing these settings (and even exporting the settings to keep as backup), yet most of them were lost and the import thing never seems to work properly for me (ever!). Was really hard trying to guess what I had done since this is not something that you do every day on every website and I had to use the cached result from Google to figure some things out (on those pages that I was still lucky to have the proper entries indexed).
I’m just about done with this plugin and as soon as I get some extra time, I’ll be moving to the older and SAFER alternatives for this plugin. I never encountered these type of issues in those good old days that I wasn’t using Yoast. I’ll probably have to install 2-3 plugins to get everything the way I want but it’s pretty much worth the trouble.
Last words: Be careful with updating this plugin and don’t apply every single update. Read the changelog, see what others have to say about it and finally after you have updated your website, double check everything. Both from the backend (admin) and frontend. Make sure everything is working properly. You’ll sometimes find that the settings are unchanged and everything is there, but the titles and descriptions aren’t following the settings or the sitemaps don’t exist. In this case, deactivating and reactivating the plugin should help or perhaps emptying out all the page cache if you are using a cache plugin might also be useful.