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Yoast WordPress Plugin Update Causes Fatal Errors



Yoast WordPress Plugin Update Causes Fatal Errors

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin released an update but it soon became apparent that something went horribly wrong for some users. It appears that the problem caused fatal errors. Negatively affected victims of the Yoast update had to roll back to a previous version of Yoast.

According to one user, their WordPress installation alerted them to a “fatal error,” according to the email sent to them.

The dictionary defines a victim as someone who was harmed as a result of an accident or some other event. Under that definition, the publishers who experienced dysfunctional websites after the failed Yoast update can certainly be described as victims.

Yoast, appropriately, apologized for what happened.

The Doomed Yoast Version 18.4  Plugin Update

Yoast 18.4 was intended to introduce a new feature that introduced content and structured data timestamps for the purpose of copyright protection using blockchain technology.

The new feature was connected to a service called, WordProof that provides verifiable timestamps that shows site visitors when the content was authored and updated.

Failed WordProof Integration with Yoast

WordProof is a company that lists on their About Us page that the husband and wife co-founders of Yoast are partners.

Screenshot from WordProof About Us Page

The WordProof service provides a blockchain certificate for certifying a timestamp and a copyright infringement tool.

The stated goal for WordProof is to foster trust with a website by providing proof and transparency.

According to WordProof:

“The internet has deep-rooted problems that grow daily: distrust, plagiarism, and fake news. WordProof wants to create a new standard for a more reliable and trustworthy internet, with the help of blockchain technology.”

Unfortunately the integration of this feature caused Yoast to malfunction in serious ways for users.

At the time of writing, some Yoast customers indicated that this error affected Yoast versions 18.4 and 18.4.1.

According to Yoast, the Yoast free plugin version 18.4.1 and Yoast SEO Premium 18.2.1 are both stable versions that no longer contained the new WordProof feature in it.

Symptoms of the Bad Yoast SEO Plugin Update

The doomed Yoast WordPress SEO plugin update caused massive disruptions for some customers.

Typical problems that were reported:

  • XML sitemap shows all content types, including private content that is not supposed to be exposed
  • The Yoast Search Appearance settings tab was completely blank.
  • Fatal error message
  • WordPress Sends Message About Yoast Plugin Error

One user reported that the WordPress core emailed an alert message about the Yoast plugin:

“Since WordPress 5.2 there is a built-in feature that detects when a plugin or theme causes a fatal error on your site, and notifies you with this automated email.

In this case, WordPress caught an error with one of your plugins, Yoast SEO.”

The user shared documentation of the bad Yoast SEO Plugin errors:

Screenshot of Yoast Update Errors

Bad Yoast Plugin UpdateAnother Yoast customer posted to the public Yoast support page to describe their issues:

“after update from yoast seo plugin 18.3 -> 18.4 in site health status page i can see some errors:

…The REST API encountered an error Performance

…The REST API request failed due to an error.”

A different Yoast plugin user wrote to inform Yoast of a similar error:

“critical error after update wordpress 5.9.2 & Yoast 18.4.1

…The REST API request failed due to an error.”

A problem involving the REST API issue seemed to be a fairly common complaint, as there were other Yoast update victims reporting it, too.

Another Yoast victim wrote that Yoast broke his website:

“My site suddenly started displaying blank pages, error pages, pages formatted narrowly on a desktop browser (i.e., not taking up the full browser screen like they used to), etc. I also suddenly could not edit my home page…”

Another plea for help:

“i am unable to edit post or page. It throws error. When i deactivated the plugin. Than problem get disappeared.

…error : The editor has encountered an unexpected error.”

Yoast Assures Latest Version of SEO Plugin is Now Stable

The plugin caused fatal errors for many users who began posting to the Yoast plugin support page on

Yoast issued an apology statement about the troubled update:

“In spite of extensive testing, some users, unfortunately, experienced issues with Yoast SEO 18.4.

As they’ve swiftly reach out to our 24/7 support team, we were able to act quickly and roll back this release.

….We’re very sorry for any inconvenience you might have experienced.”

Yoast assured customers that the latest versions (Yoast SEO 18.4.1 and Yoast SEO Premium 18.2.1) are stable and that they would revisit WordProof integration at a later date.

Yoast SEO Plugin Errors

Yoast is not currently compatible with PHP 8+. At least one of the people reporting an error noted that they were using PHP 8.0.

In an unrelated support question, someone asked if Yoast was compatible with the latest version of PHP, version 8.x.

The Yoast support representative wrote:

“Unfortunately, we haven’t yet fully tested the plugin with PHP version 8. The entire WordPress community is still working on it”

So it’s possible that for that particular user, PHP 8.0 may have been a compounded the problems.

Yoast recommends updating to the latest stable versions of their plugin. It may be prudent to check that your website is not running PHP 8.+ and if possible, to stage the site first to test if it functions correctly.


Read Yoast’s Statement About the Ill-fated Update

Yoast SEO 18.4.1 and Premium 18.2.1 available now

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Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?



Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Google defines “breadcrumbs” as navigation that indicates the page’s position in the site hierarchy.

When you hear the term “breadcrumbs,” Hansel and Gretel might come to mind. In the old fairy tale, the main characters leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs to avoid getting lost in the forest.

Similarly, breadcrumbs are helpful for users as they drill down into your site hierarchy.

A website can display a “breadcrumb” trail of internal site navigation so that a user can easily find their way back through the website’s structure.

Screenshot from, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

So, we know that breadcrumbs are helpful for users and that Google always tells us to focus on the user experience. Does that mean breadcrumbs are a ranking factor?

[Deep Dive:] The Complete Guide To Google Ranking Factors

The Claim: Breadcrumbs As A Ranking Factor

In 2009 Google announced that search results would begin displaying site hierarchies.

This was an effort to show users the location (thus providing context) of a page on the website.

Below is an example of what Google search results looked like in 2009 before and after this monumental change.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from search, Google, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Given that Google is tight-lipped on what exactly ranking factors are (for a good reason), the search community relies on what is accessible to better understand how search works.

This includes a medley of what we can see in the search engine result pages, patents, official documentation, and what Google representatives say.

Google changed how search results were displayed and wrote, “By analyzing site breadcrumbs, we’ve been able to improve the search snippet for a small percentage of search results, and we hope to expand in the future.”

Search marketers listened and asked the question: Are breadcrumbs a ranking factor?

The Evidence: Breadcrumbs As A Ranking Factor

Search engines try to make sense of your website by analyzing how the text is organized into main topics and subtopics.

Breadcrumbs reinforce the hierarchical arrangement of pages on a website and how those pages are related.

Google developer docs explain that using breadcrumb markup in a webpage’s body helps categorize the information from the page in search results.

Because a webpage ranks for more than just one keyword, users often will arrive at a page from multiple different types of search queries.

Each of these unique search queries returns the same webpage. But, thanks to breadcrumb markup, the content can be categorized within the search query context.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

In January 2009, Google filed a U.S. Patent Application titled Visualizing Site Structure and Enabling Site Navigation for a Search Result or Linked Page.

The patent may suggest that Google could include breadcrumbs in search results even if a website doesn’t use them.

However, the patent also explains how this could make it easier for Google to understand a website’s structure and include that information in search results.

The patent has since been listed as “abandoned.” Could that be a clue that Google has abandoned using breadcrumbs in this fashion?

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

Breadcrumbs Pass Pagerank

In reply to a question on Twitter about breadcrumbs, Gary Illyes, Google webmaster trend analyst, said, “We like them. We treat them as normal links in, e.g., PageRank computation.”

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Twitter, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

PageRank (PR) is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to rank webpages in their search engine results.

While it doesn’t have as much impact as it used to, Google still uses PageRank, among many other factors, to rank results.

Google Search Console Warning

There is a Warning in GSC featured guides under breadcrumbs for manual actions against websites that misuse structured data guidelines.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Most manual actions address attempts to manipulate Google’s search index.

If breadcrumb markup were not part of Google’s search index, it would not likely be at risk of manual actions for spammers abusing it.

Not only is Google serious about not wanting people to manipulate breadcrumbs, but they are also invested in website owners implementing breadcrumbs properly.

Check out Google Search Console’s tweet below, from September 2019.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Twitter, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

GSC updated its interface to show users where there were errors in search enhancements, including breadcrumbs.

That same weekend GSC started emailing accounts with breadcrumb structured data errors on their sites – and they’re still doing this three years later.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

If breadcrumbs were not important to Google, why would they spend time and resources to educate website owners on proper implementation and send notices when there were errors?

[Discover:] More Google Ranking Factor Insights

Our Verdict: Breadcrumbs Are Kind Of A Ranking Factor

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?


Breadcrumbs are inadvertently a ranking factor.

A ranking factor is a set of criteria that search engines use to evaluate web pages and put them in the order you see in search results.

Does Google use breadcrumbs to evaluate web pages?

Yes, Google documentation supports the theory that breadcrumbs are used to evaluate webpages.

And a representative confirmed that breadcrumbs are considered normal links in Google’s link analysis algorithm, PageRank.

The weight given to those links is unknown.

Does that mean that adding breadcrumb markup will propel your page to the top of search results or that you’re doomed to never reach page one by not having them?

Of course not; the Google algorithm is far too complex for that.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]

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