If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in traffic or decrease in your site ranking, your redirect attachment URL settings may be the bug-a-boo. Yoast, one of the most popular SEO plugins among designers, discovered a bug in their recent upgrade. Rather than defaulting to ‘yes,’ the “redirect attachment URLs” option defaulted to ‘no.’
What are Attachment URLs?
Simply put – whenever you insert an image, into a post or page, WordPress creates a new page with that single image. This new page is a called an attachment URL. The problem with these pages is that they have little to no content beyond the image and therefore are bad for site SEO. And while they increase the number of site pages they don’t contain what search engines deem as quality content, so you could get dinged because of it.
What went wrong?
Customers who updated from an earlier version of Yoast SEO to Yoast SEO 7.0-7.0.2 may not have had their settings automatically converted from the previous version to the new version. So, if in your case, the upgraded plugin did not convert your previous settings it would have overwritten those and set the attachment URL option to the default setting of ‘no.’ Thereby creating a lot of thin, ‘image only,’ pages.
Impact on websites
Worst case scenario, some sites have experienced having attachment URLs quintupled, without adding any content. Because with the setting set at ‘no’, XML sitemaps were enabled for attachments. This is where it gets bad for SEO – a lot of those attachment URLs were indexed by Google. In some cases, these sites may be suffering from Panda-like problems. If your site is image heavy and light on content, this could be a problem for you as Google then assumes you’ve put on a bunch of non-relevant content suddenly and in essence are trying to game the system. When you actually aren’t.
How widespread is the problem?
According Yoast, who put out this article, the situation does not appear to be widespread. They have, upon discovering the bug, created a patch to fix the problem of the settings default. For full information and instructions on how to remedy the situation, read the Yoast article, cited above.
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