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Yoast WordPress SEO Bug Creates Duplicate Sitemaps



Yoast WordPress SEO Bug Creates Duplicate Sitemaps

A sharp-eyed search marketer noticed that Yoast was generating duplicate sitemaps. It’s not known how long this has been happening, but the head of SEO at Yoast acknowledged the bug and noted that Yoast is aware of the problem and says it is working on a fix.

Once this duplicate sitemap bug was discovered however, checking on other SEO plugins revealed that a similar issue was happening to other plugins as well, but that it wasn’t endemic to all SEO plugins.

Discovery of the Yoast SEO Sitemap Bug

Brenda Malone (@_brendamalone) discovered the bug and tweeted to Yoast about it:

Someone from Yoast responded that they know about the bug and have flagged it internally for fixing it:

Yoast SEO Sitemap

The Yoast SEO sitemap feature automatically generates a sitemap for different post types.

Page Sitemaps

For example, a site with a sitemap for pages will publish a sitemap URL like this:


Post Sitemaps

A site that doesn’t have thousands of posts will have a post sitemap like this:


A site with a lot of posts may publish sitemaps that look like this:



Yoast Duplicate Sitemap Bug

What was discovered is that Yoast is also generating duplicate sitemaps.

A site that only has a single sitemap for “pages” will have the following sitemaps:

Yoast “Page” Sitemaps Bug

Original “Page” Sitemap:


Duplicate “Page” Sitemaps:



Yoast “Post” Sitemap Bug

A site that only has a single sitemap for posts will have the following sitemap:

Original “Post” Sitemap:


Duplicate “Post” Sitemaps:



Yoast Multiple Sitemaps for Posts

A site with multiple sitemaps for posts manifests the bug in a different way.

For example, if a site has thousands of posts and requires three sitemaps, their  sitemaps may look like this:

Original “Posts” Sitemaps:


But with the Yoast sitemap bug, they now have two extra sitemaps that are duplicates of the first site map.

So in the above example, this is the first sitemap: /post-sitemap1.xml


These are the duplicates sitemaps of the original first sitemap:



Yoast Sitemap Bug is Live on

The bug can be seen on any site that uses the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, including on Yoast itself.

These URLs lead to identical Yoast XML sitemaps:

Sitemap Bug Not Limited to Yoast

What’s really weird is that this sitemap bug is not limited to Yoast.

A similar bug can be found in many other SEO plugins (but not in all of them).

It’s kind of weird that several SEO plugins would exhibit similar behavior with regards to a bug.

Something to consider is that plugin makers are bound by the WordPress open source license that dictates that plugins and themes for WordPress are considered derivative works. This is a longstanding issue that at one point was clarified by Matt Mullenweg himself in 2015.

Matt wrote:


“WordPress is under a license called the GPL, which basically says you can do whatever you like with the software, but if you distribute changes or create derivative works they also need to be under the GPL. Think of it like a Creative Commons Sharealike license.

In the past people weren’t sure if themes for WordPress were derivative works and needed to be GPL. In 2009 we got an outside legal opinion that cleared up the matter saying that the PHP in themes definitely had to be GPL, and for CSS and images it was optional. Basically everyone in the WP community went fully GPL, sometimes called 100% GPL, for all the files required to run their theme (PHP, JS, CSS, artwork).”

So it could be that certain approaches toward generating a sitemap may themselves be open source and available to all the SEO plugin companies to use and this may explain why other SEO plugins contain the same or similar bug to the one that Yoast has.

Sitemap Bug Affects Other SEO Plugins

This sitemap bug doesn’t just affect Yoast and Rank Math. It affects other SEO plugins, too.

This bug has been confirmed on the following SEO Plugins:

  • Rank Math SEO Plugin
  • SEOPress WordPress SEO Plugin
  • AllineOneSEO WordPress SEO Plugin


If your SEOPress sitemap for “posts” starts like this:


There are duplicates that are generated on these URLs:


AllineOneSEO WordPress SEO Plugin

If your AIOSEO plugin generates this URL for the “posts” sitemaps:


It also generates these:


The above is true for Rank Math plugin as well.


WordPress Sitemap Bugs Not Everywhere

Brenda Malone researched this issue and shared that some SEO Plugins appear to not contain this bug.

The following SEO Plugins generate sitemaps correctly:

  • SEO Ultimate PRO WordPress Plugin
  • Squirrly SEO

How Big of a Problem is This?

The best practice for SEO is to make things easy for search engines.

The more errors are introduced the likelier it is that the search engine bots may start tripping over the mistakes and generating unforeseen issues, especially if this issue is compound by other errors on a site.

The meaning of SEO is search engine optimization. The easier you make it for the search engine to crawl and discover web pages the better it is for SEO.

Mistakes are the opposite of optimizing. The more mistakes are generated by a website the less optimized a site is.

In terms of SEO, an argument can be made to minimize the effect of these errors and say that yes, the site can keep on limping and perform normally despite these errors.

But mistakes are still the opposite of SEO.

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right



Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

In the last decade or so, the concept of “fake news” has become a major thorn in the side of consumers and content writers alike.

Digital marketing experts who write SEO content at the enterprise level might not consider themselves journalists or news reporters – but there’s a greater overlap between the roles than many people realize.

Like journos, enterprise SEO content writers need to earn the trust of their audience by demonstrating authority, relevance, and experience.

And while you might think that, as a content marketing specialist, the only person you’re serving is your client or employer, the truth is that good SEO content provides just as much service to consumers.

You’re not just advertising to people; you’re helping them find answers, information, and solutions to their problems.

That’s why, for SEO content writers, getting the facts right is crucial.

“Fake news” has eroded a lot of people’s trust in media. Online content, in particular, is always fighting an uphill battle due to the oversaturation of the digital space – and the sheer amount of misinformation that finds its way into blogs and social media sites with little quality control.


Today, fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before.

One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.

But what does it mean to get your facts right? Is it just ensuring every name is spelled correctly, and every claim has an attributed source?

Both of these things are an important part of SEO fact-checking, but they’re only a small piece of a large puzzle.

Enterprise SEO Fact Checking Best Practices

Fun fact: Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does.

Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.

Want to avoid the wrath of the almighty algorithm? Here’s what you need to do:

Get The Basics Right

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that fact-checking isn’t limited to correctly writing people’s names, ages, positions, and pronouns.


Nevertheless, getting the basics right is still important. If you can’t do at least that much, then you won’t be prepared to do more in-depth fact-checking.

It’s especially important to get this information right when you’re quoting multiple people.

Not only do you need to attribute quotes and ideas to the proper sources, but you also have to make sure the information they shared with you is accurately reproduced.

Double Check Everything

If you get a quote from someone that says the sky is blue, go outside and look up, just to be sure.

Okay, that might be an exaggerated example – but you get the point.

Double and triple-check everything.

If you find a useful quote or statistic online, track down the original source. See if you can find other reliable web pages with the same information.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research yourself. Crunch the numbers and try to find corroborating evidence.


Never take anything at face value.

Go To The Source

Speaking of tracking down the sources of stats and quotes: That’s a cornerstone of fact-checking so important, it merits expanding on now.

Have you ever had a teacher or professor tell you, in no uncertain terms, never to use Wikipedia as a source?

Well, that’s just as true when writing enterprise-level SEO content. Wikipedia might be useful in pointing you toward helpful sources, but it shouldn’t be your primary text.

Nor should any second-hand source. If another web page states something as a fact, confirm where it got that fact.

If it’s a disreputable source and you parrot it, then you become a disreputable source, too.

Understand The Information

Content writing – especially at the enterprise level and especially in an agency (rather than in-house PR team) context – often requires authors to cover many different areas of expertise in many different industries.

It can be tempting to regurgitate and plagiarize information that already exists, but if you do that, you won’t be able to offer any meaningful insights.


You have to understand the information you’re relaying.

That will help you spot contradictions and factual errors and demonstrate genuine authority.

Is AI Automation The Future Of Fact Checking?

Enterprise-level content fact-checking requires a lot of time and effort, but cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, just as it has with many other aspects of SEO, AI automation may soon be able to simplify the process.

U.K.-based independent fact-checking organization, Full Fact, has been leading the charge in recent years to develop scalable, automated fact-checking tools.

Full Fact’s efforts have already garnered the attention of the biggest names in search engine technology.

In 2019, the non-profit organization was one of the winners of the 2019 Google AI Impact Challenge, which provides funding for potentially revolutionary automation research projects.

Full Fact’s stated goal is to develop AI software capable of breaking down long content pieces into individual sentences, then identifying the types of claims those sentences represent, before finally cross-referencing those claims in real-time with the most up-to-date factual news data.


Though Full Fact is still years away from achieving its goal, the benefits of such a breakthrough for SEO content writing are self-evident.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the future to use AI automation and other software tools to help you fact-check.

For example, the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker not only identifies duplicate content taken from another source but also highlights portions of text requiring attribution.

Commonly used enterprise SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, meanwhile, can be used to investigate a domain’s authority, helping you decide which sources are considered reputable.

Fact-checking in today’s oversaturated news and information marketplace can be intimidating at first glance. But the number of resources available to content writers is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Making full use of these resources better enables you to win consumer trust in an age when that kind of trust is a very delicate, precious, and valuable commodity.

More resources:

Featured Image: redgreystock/Shutterstock


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