Media / attachment URL: What to do with them?

In our major Yoast SEO 7.0 update, there was a bug concerning attachment URLs. We quickly resolved the bug, but some people have suffered anyhow (because they updated before our patch). This post serves both as a warning and an apology. We want to ask all of you to check whether your settings for the redirect of the attachment URLs are correct. And, for those of you who suffered from a decrease in rankings because of incorrect settings, we offer a solution that Google has OKed as well.

Is redirect attachment URLs set to “Yes”?

You need to check this manually: unless you have a very specific reason to allow attachment URLs to exist (more on that below), the setting should be set to “Yes” . If the setting says “Yes”, you’re all set. You can find this setting in Search Appearance, in the tab Media.

media attachment urls setting in Yoast SEO

Is your attachment URL set to “No”?

If your attachment URL is set to “no”, there are two different scenarios which could apply to you. You could intentionally have set this setting to “no”, but the setting  could also be turned to “no” without your intent.

Intentionally set to “No”

If you intentionally put the setting of the attachment URL to “No”, you’ll probably be aware of that fact. In that case, your attachment URLs are an important aspect of your site. You’re linking actively to these pages and these pages have real content on them (more than just a photo). This could for instance apply to a photography site. If you want this setting to say “No”, you’ll probably have put a lot of thought in this. In this case, you can leave your setting to “no”. You’re all set!

Unintentionally set to “No”

It is also possible that you notice that the setting is set to “No” and this was not intentionally. You’ve suffered from our bug. We’re so very sorry. You should switch your toggle to “Yes” and save the changes. Perhaps you need to do a little bit more, though. There are (again) two scenarios:

Traffic and ranking is normal

Ask yourself the following question: have you noticed any dramatic differences in your rankings and traffic in the last three months (since our 7.0 update of march 6th)? If the answer to this question is no, than you should just turn the redirect setting of the attachment URL to “Yes” and leave it at that. You did not suffer from any harm in rankings, probably because you’re not using attachment URLs all that much anyway. This will be the case for most sites. After switching your toggle to “Yes” and saving the changes, you’re good to go!

Traffic and ranking have decreased

In the second scenario, you notice that the redirect attachment URL setting is set to “No” and you did indeed suffer from a dramatic decrease in traffic and ranking. We’re so very sorry about that. Make sure to switch the setting of the attachment URL to “Yes” immediately.  In order to help you solve your ranking problem, we have built a search index purge plugin. Download and install this plugin here. More on the working of this separate plugin below.

What to do if you’re not sure

If you’re not sure whether you’ve been affected by this, and your Google Search Console is inconclusive: don’t do anything other than setting the setting to “Yes”. See “What did Google say” below for the rationale.

What do attachment URLs do anyway?

When you upload an image in WordPress, WordPress does not only store the image, it also creates a separate so-called attachment URL for every image. These attachment URLs are very “thin”: they have little to no content outside of the image. Because of that fact, they’re bad for SEO: they inflate the number of pages on your site while not increasing the amount of quality content. This is something that WordPress does, which our plugin takes care off (if the setting is correctly turned to “Yes”).

Historically, we had had a (default off) setting that would redirect the attachment URL for an image to the post the image was attached to. So if I uploaded an image to this post, the attachment URL for that image would redirect to this post. In the old way of dealing with this, it meant that images added for other reasons (like say, a site icon, or a page header you’d add in the WordPress customizer), would not redirect.  It also meant that if you used an image twice, you could not be certain where it would redirect.

In Yoast SEO 7.0 we introduced a new feature to deal with these pages. Now, we default to redirecting the attachment URL to the image itself. This basically means attachment URLs no longer exist on your site at all. This actually is a significant improvement.

What did the bug do (wrong)?

The bug was simple yet very painful: when you updated from an earlier version of Yoast SEO to Yoast SEO 7.0-7.0.2 (specifically those versions), we would not always correctly convert the setting you had for the old setting into the new one. We accidentally set the setting to ‘no’. Because we overwrote the old settings during the update, we could not revert this bug later on.

The impact of the bug

For some sites our bug might have a truly bad impact. In Twitter and Facebook discussions I’ve had, I’ve been shown sites that had the number of indexed URLs on their site quintupled, without adding any content. Because with that setting being “No” XML sitemaps was enabled for attachments. As a result of that, lots and lots of attachment URLs got into Google’s index. Some of those sites are now suffering from Panda-like problems. The problem will be specifically big if you have a lot of pictures on your website and few high quality content-pages. In these cases,  Google will think you’ve created a lot of ‘thin content’ pages all of a sudden.

The vast majority of the websites running Yoast SEO probably hasn’t suffered at all. Still, we messed up. I myself, am sorry. More so than normal, because I came up with and coded this change myself…

What did Google say?

We have good contacts at Google and talk to them regularly about issues like these. In this case, we discussed it with John Mueller and his first assessment was similar to mine: sites should normally not suffer from this. That’s why we don’t think drastic measures are needed for everyone. Let me quote him:

“Sites generally shouldn’t be negatively affected by something like this. We often index pages like that for normal sites, and they usually don’t show up in search. If they do show up for normal queries, usually that’s a sign that the site has other, bigger problems. Also, over the time you mentioned, there have been various reports on twitter & co about changes in rankings, so if sites are seeing changes, I’d imagine it’s more due to normal search changes than anything like this.”

We’ve also discussed potential solutions with him. The following solution has been OK’d by him as the best and fastest solution.

What does this search index purge plugin do?

The purpose of the search index purge plugin is to purge attachment URLs out of the search results as fast as possible. Just setting the Yoast SEO attachment URL redirect setting to “Yes” isn’t fast enough. When you do that, you no longer have XML sitemaps or anything else that would make Google crawl those pages, and thus it could take months for Google to remove those URLs. That’s why I needed to be creative.

Installing this plugin will do the following two things:

  • Every attachment URL will return a 410 status code.
  • A static XML sitemap, containing all the attachment URLs on a given site will be created. The post modified date for each of those URLs is the activation date and time of the plugin.

The XML sitemap with recent post modified date will make sure that Google spiders all those URLs again. The 410 status code will make sure Google takes them out of its search results in the fastest way possible.

After six months the attachment URLs should be gone from the search results. You should then remove the search index purge plugin, and keep the redirect setting of the attachment URLs set to “Yes”.

Advice: keep informed!

We try to do the very best we can to help you get the best SEO out of your site. We regularly update our configuration wizard (which has now become the configuration workout) and there is no harm whatsoever in running through it again. Please regularly check if your site’s settings are still current for your site. We do make mistakes, and this release in particular has led us to a rigorous post mortem on all the stages of this release’s process.

We regularly write about things that change in Google, so stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter below. If you want to understand more of the how and why of all this, please do also take our new, free, SEO for Beginners course, which you’ll get access to when you sign up.

Coming up next!

412 Responses to Media / attachment URL: what to do with them?

  1. Rana Sid
    Rana Sid  • 4 years ago

    My Setting was also “NO” but I have fixed it manually no to “Yes”. Thanx for this detailed article. This Article clear my lot of confusions. <3

  2. Alexandre
    Alexandre  • 4 years ago

    Example of error you are giving when installing the plugin Yoast SEO: Search Index Purge:

    thank you.

  3. Angela
    Angela  • 4 years ago

    We have installed the purge plugin and now show 600+ 410 errors in Google Search Console. Am I correct in that we’re to just leave it alone for 6 months – or do you recommend to “mark as fixed”? Please advise.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 4 years ago

      Hi Angela! You’re right, you can leave it just like that. Good luck!

  4. Beth K
    Beth K  • 4 years ago

    We may be experiencing this issue, but still are not sure. What is the harm if we install and run the plugin even if our setting is toggled to “YES?”

  5. Jessica
    Jessica  • 4 years ago


    My traffic was doing fine, but I noticed my plugin was indeed set to “no.” I set it to “yes” — and my rankings took a massive nosedive a few days later. It may be unrelated, but it seems quite strange. Should I use the search engine purge plugin?

    Thank you.

    • Joost de Valk

      “A few days later”? When was that? If it wasn’t related to you updating to that specific version, it could be tons of things…

  6. Felipe
    Felipe  • 4 years ago

    The plugin works with Bing? I see over 9000 pages indexed and I should only have 6000.

    • Joost de Valk

      It probably works similarly with Bing but that number has never been accurate for me in Bing.

  7. Rich Owings
    Rich Owings  • 4 years ago

    I hear what you are saying, that 301s take longer than 410s. But if attachment pages were getting traffic due to misconfiguration, wouldn’t I be better off just letting those redirect? Isn’t using a 410 tantamount to giving up that traffic?

    • Joost de Valk

      It gives up that traffic, which is why we say a 301 is a better solution in the long run. You should only use the, rather aggressive, 410 solution if your rankings overall are currently suffering.

      • Esteban
        Esteban  • 4 years ago

        Hi, I mentioned that I had the same issues (410) with my search console, before reading the other comments. Sorry for that.

        I clicked on “resolve issues” or whatever the option was on my search console. Will this ruin the process now :/ ?

        thanks in advance,

        • Iris Guelen
          Iris Guelen  • 4 years ago

          Hi Esteban! No, that won’t be a problem at all!

      • Rich Owings
        Rich Owings  • 4 years ago

        Sounds good. Thanks!

  8. jesusbio
    jesusbio  • 4 years ago

    hi! first thank you for your update and the purge plugin! really useful! my question is about my site, appears new folders on the sitemap like attachment, is that the purge plugin? is all ok and those folders attachment will be deleted automatically ? or will not affect the SEO?
    thank you for your answers!

    • Joost de Valk

      If you’ve enabled the purge plugin it’ll all happen automatically, yes.

  9. Jouni
    Jouni  • 4 years ago

    Am I correct in thinking that Google Search Console will keep reporting errors for the 410s as long as the purge plugin and attachment-sitemap.xml are in place because the sitemap will keep on pointing to non-existing pages?

    Furthermore – when the result of the google query “site: inurl:attachment_id” is nearing zero, is it then the right time to remove the purge plugin and related attachment-sitemap.xml? Yes, I have noted the comments about “six months”, but isn’t the result of the query above the best measure, and when it’s zero’ed, then we’re good?

    • Esteban
      Esteban  • 4 years ago


      Could you explain the “site: inurl:attachment_id” part a little more?

      When I type this in google (with my url instead of mydomain of course) nothing pops up.

      Thanks in advance,

      • Esteban
        Esteban  • 4 years ago

        Thanks for your quick answer. Just to be sure when I type “site: inurl:attachment_id” I just have to insert my URL.
        I leave the rest as is?


      • Jouni
        Jouni  • 4 years ago

        Hi Esteban,

        if your “nothing pops up” means that Google returns this..:

        “Your search – site: inurl:attachment_id – did not match any documents.”

        …then you’re likely all good, as the problematic slim content pages have not been indexed by Google.

        Just make sure that you have 1) a recent / latest version of the Yoast standard plugin that has the discussed bug corrected and 2) the setting “redirect attachment URLs” set to “yes”, and you won’t need the additional purge plugin.

    • Joost de Valk

      Hey Jouni,

      yes and yes. You’ve understood it perfectly :)

  10. yoni
    yoni  • 4 years ago

    I installed the plugin(yoast seo: search index purge 404) even though I was not sure I needed it,
    After installing the pIugin I received 1128 pages which are 404
    It’s OK? Is this supposed to work or should I delete the plugin?

    • yoni
      yoni  • 4 years ago

      Thanks for treatment
      True, you’re right, all the errors appear 410
      1. It’s OK?
      2. How long will the errors disappear?
      3. When should I delete the plugin?
      4. If I have a website that I’m not sure it affected in ranking, should I even though install the plugin(yoast seo: search index purge 404)?

      This site by the way


    • Joost de Valk

      Are they really 404? They are probably showing a 404 page, but a 410 HTTP header (which might be hard to distinguish, I do realize that).

      • yoni
        yoni  • 4 years ago

        Thanks for treatment
        True, you’re right, all the errors appear 410
        1. It’s OK?
        2. How long will the errors disappear?
        3. When should I delete the plugin?
        4. If I have a website that I’m not sure it affected in ranking, should I even though install the plugin(yoast seo: search index purge 404)?

        This site by the way


  11. Alexa
    Alexa  • 4 years ago

    I added the Search Index Purge plugin after reading the article I found. My site errors in Google Search Console went from 400 to 3700 in a few days. Is this correct? When is it going to start resolving the issues? What will be the long term traffic issues with this bug?

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Alex,

      well, Google Search Console reports a 410 as an error. So if those errors are 410’s, then yes, it’s correct. If not, something else is wrong…

  12. Ozanne
    Ozanne  • 4 years ago

    Hello Joost
    I enabled the Yoast “hack” ten days ago.

    Since I ‘m receiving regulars Google Webmaster Tools mails messages about 3 759 ERROR 404 in my case.

    When I’m going to the console these 3 759 ERROR are refered as ERROR 410, not ERROR 404.

    So I think your hack work. Next step will be the desindexing ? Correct ?


    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Ozanne, If you see 410s then you should be Ok. Now you just have to wait. Good luck!

  13. Celine
    Celine  • 4 years ago

    I’ve installed the purge plugin but now I receive message from Google about errors (the 410). Are you sure that it is the good thing to do ? Why don’t we redirect all the bad url to the HP or something like that ? Not sure that it is good that Google see this errors as he sends messages about that. What do you think ?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Celine, If you’re suffering from this bug it’s the good thing to do. 410s are a good sign in this case. They’re a sign to Google that these “thin” pages are removed/not important anymore, so your site looks healthier. Google’s John Mueller even confirmed that this solution should work and shouldn’t be harmful.

  14. Jenna
    Jenna  • 4 years ago

    I’m wondering how these settings affect a photographer specifically. Since we want our images to be found, if they don’t have their own url, will they still be found in image searches for example?

    Right now they link to attachment page, my other options are link to none or link to media file. I don’t have the option to link to post with the wordpress theme I’m using. Will the Yoast “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?” setting take care of this? And again,would that be good or bad for a photographer who wants their photos to pop up in image searches?

    • Joost de Valk

      Hey Jenna,

      image search shows actual images and points them to the pages these images are shown on. These pages should be pages or posts on your site, there’s no need to use attachment URLs for that.

  15. Asad Meah
    Asad Meah  • 4 years ago


    Thanks for letting us know. It did affect my site.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Asad, We’re sorry if it did. Hope the fix works quickly for you!

  16. Vlad
    Vlad  • 4 years ago

    Hello Joost. I have installed the Search Index Purge plugin about a week ago and today I noticed a huge number of 410 errors in Google Search Console. This means the plugin is doing it’s job? Thanks.

    • Vlad
      Vlad  • 4 years ago

      Thanks for replying back. I appreciate a lot for confirming this. Have a nice day!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Vlad, it does!

  17. Bartosz
    Bartosz  • 4 years ago

    I was affected by the bug and lost about 40% of the traffic.
    I have changed media option after I saw the drastic drop and realised, that the pages was created for every attachment.
    I installed purge plugin few days ago and now I see a lots of errors in GSC.
    I got one 404 and 5845 Submitted URL has crawl issue. All of them are attachment pages. Is this by default. You have written about 404 error to be passed to the google.

  18. Jan Freire
    Jan Freire  • 4 years ago

    well, I noticed that I went from 2nd page on Google to 3rd and did not know why. Now I know. My page has tons of photographs.
    Thank You for this blog post and solution tho!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Jan, You’re welcome of course. We’re very sorry and we hope the solution helps!

  19. Guadalupe
    Guadalupe  • 4 years ago

    Just to confirm, did this bug also affect webmasters using the premium yoast?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Guadalupe, It didn’t affect a lot of sites, but it could have affected both sites with free or premium.

  20. Raphael Grässlin
    Raphael Grässlin  • 4 years ago

    great. thank you. this stuff helped me a lot. Kind regards. Raphael

    • Joost de Valk

      Good ton hear Raphael

  21. Parents & enfants
    Parents & enfants  • 4 years ago


    Please after doing the modification in the posts i got many 410 error as said in the post, that’s great.

    But, what i wanna know should i delete them manually from google to back to my ranking fast ?

    Thank you.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi, Thanks for your question. Not sure what you mean by “delete manually”. If you mean marking them as fixed in Google Search Console that won’t really speed it up. I guess you’ll just need to have some patience…

      • Parents & enfants
        Parents & enfants  • 4 years ago

        No, i mean using

        url removal tool

        Waiting for your response

        thank you.

        • Joost de Valk

          If you have the time to do that, it won’t hurt. But this should work well too.

  22. Jane
    Jane  • 4 years ago

    I inadvertently posted my question as a reply to someone else’s thread, so I haven’t had an answer. Sorry for that, and here’s my question again:

    I have a photographic website with lots of images as ‘standalone’ pages. I am not very tech savvy, but followed your instructions and found that my Media & attachments URLs option was set to NO. I really don’t know if it has always been like this or whether I’m a victim of the bug and, as your blog said that for photographic sites it may be a conscious choice to leave this as NO, I don’t know whether I should change it or not, and what the implications are either way?

    • Joost de Valk

      Ask yourself the question: if those pages no longer exist, do people still have a good experience on your website? If the answer is No, leave it to where it is.

  23. Michelle
    Michelle  • 4 years ago

    I don’t get how to change the setting from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’, the image you include above is not what my plugin has. There are extra tabs, namely ‘Media’ in your image that I don’t have, so where exactly do I go to change the setting the plugin is telling me I need to change to ‘Yes’ if the plugin (installed today) doesn’t have the same features as your example. Thanks Michelle

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Michelle, Which version of Yoast SEO are you on? If you run a version older than 7.0, you’re not affected for sure :-)

  24. Malek
    Malek  • 4 years ago

    HI, i have this problem. i have installed the plugin, now im not sure what is going on!

    in Search Console it shows /attachment-sitemap.xml 518 web pages submitted & 495 indexed + 518 images submitted & 54 indexed

    when i check the serp results i have alot (indexed) URLs that are in the following format:

    dont worry about the signs, it is notmal as we use arabic letters in the url

    please check it out, should i have to remove the plugin or continue with this process ?

    • Joost de Valk

      I don’t think you have to do anything.

      • Malek
        Malek  • 4 years ago

        Sorry, i didnt get your response! we are a premium user, it is a start-up and we are investing thousands of $ on this project, i think i deserve more than a 5 words reply.

        So, do you mean we are not affected by this issue? because according to the following post it seems that we are affected by this issue because their URL structure is the same that we got in our serps which is :

        the post is:


        • Joost de Valk

          Hey Malek,

          installing the purge plugin won’t hurt you, but I don’t think it’s necessarily needed. I had a quick look at your site’s index in Google and I don’t think it should be causing any ranking drops, but I can never be sure.

  25. Julie
    Julie  • 5 years ago

    Hi, I don’t have the range of tabs in my WordPress account as is displayed in your example. I only have three titled “Dashboard”, “Features” and “Webmaster”. I’m guessing that what this article is referring to relates to the Yoast SEO Premium?? I don’t see the Redirect URL attachment option.

    • Rory
      Rory  • 4 years ago

      Click on the Search Appearance menu link under SEO General and then you’ll see the screen shot menu

  26. shamsul
    shamsul  • 5 years ago

    When I install the plugin called “Yoast SEO: Search index purge”. I faced many problems on webmaster. It creates 2 new sitemaps called “”

    How can I solve the issue?

    • Joost de Valk

      Why is this an issue? That sitemap is intended to be there.

  27. jesus caballero
    jesus caballero  • 5 years ago

    Hi! thanks for the plugin to purge and the new update. My question is about I am finding some images like this after doing google search images: https://www.mysite/postname/imagename
    I am posting here an example:

    Do you know what is this? I have never found any before the purge plugin, thank you for your help!

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Jesus, I don’t think that’s related to the topic of this blog post. Might be a good question for me to answer in one of our ask Yoast videos, so email ask at with your question :)

  28. Susan Velez
    Susan Velez  • 5 years ago


    I just saw this in a Facebook group that I belong to. I have also noticed my rankings dropping a little bit in SEMRush.

    However, when I type in I don’t see any attachment URL’s. Yes, I had to switch the plugin to yes and I am not sure how long it was switched to No.

    Does this mean that I wasn’t affected?

    I tried adding the Purge plugin you recommend, but for some reason, I keep getting a fatal error. So I removed it from my site.

    If I don’t add the plugin if I was affected will the issue just go away on its own now that the plugin is set to yes?



    • Joost de Valk

      If it was already set to Yes, you weren’t affected. Also: there have been many updates to Google’s algorithms in the last months. Some of the articles pointing here might make you think you’ve been affected by our bug when in fact the cause of your ranking drop is something completely different.

  29. T
    T  • 5 years ago

    Our site experienced very large ranking drop, I did everything that you wrote to fix the problem and meanwhile nothing has changed.

    about the purge plugin, it created a new attachments sitemap but I can see that it isn’t return 410 I still get 200 for them

    Please tell us what to do

    • Joost de Valk

      Did you check the actual HTTP header?

  30. Simon
    Simon  • 5 years ago

    You’ve gained a lot of credibility in my eyes Joost. Companies rarely apologies, and never admit fault, but you have. Remarkable. I’m buying Yoast full version now.

    • Joost de Valk

      Great to hear Simon. These things are never fun.

  31. David Sutton
    David Sutton  • 5 years ago

    Hi My site experienced a gradual and massive drop in traffic beginning on 11th May, Traffic dropped from 14,000 per day to 1,500 per day by 25th May. There was a large drop on 11th May to about 9,000 and a gradual decline each day. The traffic has now levelled off at 1,500 per day.
    I discovered this article today and the box was unintentionally set to “No”. I did not turn it off myself.
    I have turned it to yes and installed the search index purge plugin today.
    There are 106,000 pages on the site and 123,000 images. The site content is primarily images with very little written content.
    Do you think the timing is right to blame the bug my dramatic drop in traffic?

    • David Sutton
      David Sutton  • 5 years ago

      Update – installing the search index purge plugin seemed to stop images displaying properly.
      Further analysis makes me certain the bug is NOT to blame for the drop in traffic on:
      This is because setting the box in question to “yes” prevents the media files from linking to Attachment Page, and this prevents images showing in a page and they display in the browser. I would have spotted this issue.
      Hope this is clear. Apologies for any confusion. Am exploring other reasons for the drop in traffic.
      Great article, many thanks.

      • Willemien Hallebeek
        Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

        Hi David, thanks for the update! Good to know the drop wasn’t caused by this bug, but that doesn’t solve your loss of traffic :-( Hope you’ll find the actual cause of the bug soon. Good luck!

  32. Jeroen Gerth
    Jeroen Gerth  • 5 years ago

    My respect for admitting your mistake and taking actions to fix it and be so honest. Many software developers do sweep problems like this under the carpet (is that even good English? :-p).
    I’ll check my site if they have suffered from this bug.

    • Joost de Valk

      Thanks for the kind words Jeroen!

  33. Will
    Will  • 5 years ago

    Hello Joost, I recently experienced a large traffic drop, however when I use it doesn’t appear any attachment pages have been indexed

    (From the bug the setting was on “No” to redirect the attachment pages).

    Can I CONCLUSIVELY rule out the Yoast bug as the cause of the traffic drop because those attachment pages are not indexed in Google?

    • Joost de Valk

      If they’re not indexed, then they’re not a problem, so yes, you can.

  34. Tim
    Tim  • 5 years ago

    I installed the plugin 8 days ago and only two attachment URLs have been detected as 410 in my webmaster tools. My website is crawled each day. There are in actual fact 60+ attachment pages that require de-indexing. Could there be something amiss?

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Tim,

      Google Search Console has a few days lag in everything it reports, but it could also be that it’s not crawling those pages actively. This is actually a good sign, because than it has already determined they were not important to begin with. If there are “only” 60, the impact should be negligible anyway.

  35. Lee
    Lee  • 5 years ago


    Just seen the news, I’ve now set the tab to ‘yes’ and updated to the most recent version.

    How can I confirm if I need to install the purge index as well?
    Looking at my own sitemap, if it’s not filled with loads of random image pages, am I all clear?

    The link in the below comments doesn’t seem to work for me?

    Thank you

  36. JW
    JW  • 5 years ago


    Several days ago I asked a question about whether or not I should install the purge plugin–I don’t want to make matters worse by installing it. I still have not received an answer. Please advise, thanks!

    • JW
      JW  • 5 years ago

      Whoops, disregard, I see your answer below, thanks so much!

      • Michiel Heijmans
        Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

        ;-) No problem!

  37. Ahmed Elhor
    Ahmed Elhor  • 5 years ago

    Although you destroyed my images ranking at google search and made me upset and don’t know when I will get back again, but still thank you for never leaving us down and for being honest with us, that makes us want to be always with your plugin as we know you will always be beside us. Anyway, how long will my website take to get my visitors back?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Ahmed, Thanks for your support! That’s hard to say, it depends on how bad you’ve been affected and how often Google crawls your site. It’s safe to say that after six months the attachments URLs should be gone from the index, but it’s definitely possible that your site recovers more quickly.

  38. Lori
    Lori  • 5 years ago

    Since installing the patch and toggling to “yes” a week ago, my Adsense income is up (whew!). I lost hundreds of dollars; it was pretty stressful! I keep up on my site meticulously and this is the only change that could have affected my ranking, impressions and RPM/CPC. I appreciate your transparency and honesty in the post, but the replies in the comments thread area not coming across as well. We can all move on while still facing that there was definitely an impact.

    • Joost de Valk

      “this is the only change that could have affected my ranking”: it might have been the only thing you did, but of course at any given time lots of things happen that can impact your rankings :) not saying you weren’t hurt by this, I honestly can’t tell, but it’s good to be aware that rankings are fickle things :)

  39. Katie Clark
    Katie Clark  • 5 years ago

    As soon as I installed this plugin, my number of pages discovered went through the roof, and now I’m getting tons of errors in my Webmaster Tools for not just 410 errors but 404 errors. Is this normal?

    • Katie Clark
      Katie Clark  • 5 years ago

      And the weird part is, the images are there.
      For instance:
      THe images are clearly there. But in webmaster tools, it’s showing all these images are 404. And when you click on them, they show up as 404 errors. I don’t get what’s going on.

      • Joost de Valk

        So our plugin does not cause the 404 errors, so that could be something else that’s going wrong… The 410 errors are expected and are actually “needed”: they mean Google is removing the content from the search results.

      • Sonia Gregory
        Sonia Gregory  • 5 years ago

        I am having this problem also. Was there a response somewhere addressing it?

  40. Liselore Verschuren
    Liselore Verschuren  • 5 years ago

    I have no idea how to get to the page that is displayed in the screenshot in the article. Where can I find it?

      CHINWENDU IGBAJI  • 5 years ago

      In the WP Dashboard, below settings, you’ll see SEO, click on it to take you to the Yoast SEO settings. Click on SEARCH APPEARANCE, then select the MEDIA option. That’s it

      • Willemien Hallebeek
        Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

        Thanks, Chinwendu, for your help!

  41. Joe
    Joe  • 5 years ago

    Just hoping you can check my site quickly and determine if I should disable the plugin. Site:

    • Joost de Valk

      Doesn’t look like it, you should probably look at how many tags you have though.

  42. Lisa van der Velde
    Lisa van der Velde  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,
    If I get this warning:
    Your site’s settings currently allow attachment URLs on your site to exist. Please read this post about a potential issue with attachment URLs and check whether you have the correct setting for your site.

    But in my settings there is NO option to turn this off. How do I turn this off? OR do I need to use the purge plugin and that will solve everything?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      You can’t turn these off, it’s in WordPress. What you can do, is what’s in the first screenshot in the post above. That way, attachment pages are redirected to the image, instead of there being a separate page for that.
      Please understand that the first thing to do is check if attachment pages are indexed. Afaik, these are not indexed for your site. No need to fix something that isn’t broken.

  43. Julianna
    Julianna  • 5 years ago

    I am SO SO confused!! (I am also so so new to this…) Yes, I believe I was affected by the bug, (toggled to yes and purge plugin installed about a week ago) but in the course of trying to “figure it all out,” I realized a few things.

    1. Even though my site has been up for a year, because I was still in the process of developing my it, I had never actually submitted my sitemap to Google, yet apparently my rankings for the attachment URL site were very very high, causing a veritable explosion in traffic/sales. (which have now almost completely disappeared) I did submit my sitemap last evening and now I am wondering if I should have?? Could I have just undone everything the patch is trying to fix? I’m so sorry if these questions are amateur — it’s because they are and I am and I am trying to be sure I don’t make things I truly do not understand even worse because this has been devastating.

    2. Also, Google didn’t even have my site as verified — I also did that last night. It is my understanding that this would in no way affect anything, but I am worried about the sitemap.

    Could you PLEASE check my site??? The attachment URLs, for the most part, go to and it is/was in that venue that I was ranking VERY high.

    Thank you kindly — just trying to understand what I need to do to regain my footing and make sure I don’t inadvertently make any changes that would prevent that from happening.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Julianna,
      Why do you think you were affected by the bug? Most sites aren’t. You are talking about, right? That would mean actually has little to do with is, as attachment pages are pages created on your own website that are set up specifically for an image, not for links or anything else. I would love to have some more insight on why you think this bug affected your site. From a first glance, I don’t think it has.

  44. Matthew Carpenter
    Matthew Carpenter  • 5 years ago


    In the event that “A static XML sitemap, containing all the attachment URLs on a given site will be created. The post modified date for each of those URLs is the activation date and time of the plugin” how does this look from a plagiarism perspective? For those of us who have been copied, will that then mean that we are potentially being looked at as the plagiarist by Google due to the post dates changing under this plugin?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      I don’t get the question: we create the attachment page with that date, but images are still indexed with the posts/pages you added them to.

  45. Katherine Corrigan
    Katherine Corrigan  • 5 years ago

    Hi! Darn, I wish I would have seen this sooner. I paid godaddy $80.00 to fix this and after reading your post I don’t think it’s fixed. I did receive a scary notice from google. I had noticed a lot of issues over the past little while but wasn’t aware of any specific issue until I received the email from google.
    I can’t find the page that looks like your display to make sure the box is ticked properly. Please reply. Thank you

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      It’s at Search Appearance, and click the Media tab after that. Please read the entire article carefully and leverage the provided purge plugin to get rid of the attachment pages for your site.

  46. francesco
    francesco  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,
    I really do need your help, I’m a photographer and I have on my site more than 3k pictures. I experienced some problem with my organic results and I ended here on your page.
    I just installed your purge plugin, because my sitemap now counts something like 12000 attachment pages.
    Can you please verify if I did it well and if the purge process is on its way?
    If I use this: jpg I get 2190 results but if I use site: inurl:attachment_id I don’t find anything. Usually, my attachment pages have the same name as the photo.
    I really appreciate any help you may give me. COnsider that until one months ago I was coming out as first result from USA searching for “photographer Italy”. :)

    Thanks so much,


    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Just checked one of the attachment pages in Google and could not find it, so that one is gone already. Please note that Google has to find all and see that 410 Gone status. It might take a while with so many images.

  47. Charlie
    Charlie  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,
    I’ve installed the plugin and everything seems to be working as it should, but I have a query – do I need to add the new sitemap to the Google Search Console or will Google pick it up automatically? Or does it overwrite the standard sitemap.xml one?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Charlie, our index sitemap is at sitemap_index.xml and Google will pick up on changes to underlying sitemaps automatically!

      • Charlie
        Charlie  • 5 years ago

        That’s great, thanks for your swift response Michiel!

  48. Frederique Procyk
    Frederique Procyk  • 5 years ago

    I’ve been trying to set the attachment URL to “yes” as suggested but it won’t save the modification :( It’s not working.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      That sounds like a plugin conflict or something like it. If you have our premium plugin, please contact support. If not, see if you can find what makes that the setting remains unsaved. Odd!

  49. Robin Nieuwhof
    Robin Nieuwhof  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,

    Could you please check my site’s? If i search site: inurl:attachment_id i can’t find anything, but when i search for jpg i find 9.000+ results.

    I’ve got 5.000 410 in my search console today.

    Thanks in advance.

    Robin Nieuwhof

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Sounds like your images are indexed, your attachment pages aren’t? Sounds right to me?

  50. ScoutMyTrip
    ScoutMyTrip  • 5 years ago

    Hello Joost,
    It takes a lot of courage to admit a mistake and then work upon it to improve. My site settings did said that the media attachments were being indexed and I got a notification from Yoast plugin for the same. The article has been handy for a quick resolution and now the purge is in progress. Thank you!

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Thanks for your support!

  51. Resma Jain
    Resma Jain  • 5 years ago

    Yes our ranking is now down for this mistake but we are with you and our trust on you because it’s mistake but not a major issue ya we get lots of loss but it’s part of work so thanks for updates

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Thanks, Resma.

  52. Tim
    Tim  • 5 years ago


    Can you let me know if this is working for me, as you have done others? Webmaster tools doesn’t seem to be updating and naturally I’m anxious to get my ranking back.

    Thank you,


    • Tim
      Tim  • 5 years ago

      It seems one attachment was found and de-indexed 5 days ago but the rest are still there. Nothing has been reported or de-indexed since that initial discovery.

      People are having good success with this fix. Is it usual for one 410 to be found and the remaining 60+ to not be? It doesn’t make sense to me.

      • Edwin Toonen
        Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

        Hi Tim. If I check your site via the search query site: inurl:attachment_id I see just a couple of indexed attachment pages. Looks like the process is still going. Give it a while.

        • Tim
          Tim  • 5 years ago

          Thank you, Edwin. I don’t mean to be impatient. If I know it’s working then I can rest easily. All the best.

          • Tim
            Tim  • 5 years ago

            I have this warning on Webmaster Tools:

            When we tested a sample of the URLs from your Sitemap, we found that some URLs were not accessible to Googlebot due to an HTTP status error. All accessible URLs will still be submitted.

            After a full week only 1 attachment page (out of 60+) has been found, yet my site is being crawled daily. Are they being missed?

  53. Rogen
    Rogen  • 5 years ago

    Hi. I installed this plugin few day ago. Now in webmaster tool i am seeing lot’s of 410 pages. And i searched my site on google and there is only 5-6 attachment url left. The question is when should i uninstall this plugin?

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Hi Rogen. Joost answered that in the post: “After six months the attachment URLs should be gone from the search results. You should then remove the search index purge plugin, and keep the redirect setting of the attachment URLs set to “Yes”.”

    • Alex
      Alex  • 5 years ago

      How do you check your site how many attachment url on google search?

  54. Eric
    Eric  • 5 years ago

    My organic traffic actually increased from March 7 by approximately 25% Now it is about 400 users/day. Should I say thank you for the bug?

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Good for you, Eric! I guess you’re on the right track :)

      • Michiel Heijmans
        Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

        This sounds more like an effect of Google updates, not our bug :) There were a couple early March that might have triggered this. Especially with quality updates, some rankings are reduced, benefitting others.

  55. Alex
    Alex  • 5 years ago

    After updated with latest version and setting with Yes and installed pure plugin. Today, I add new post with image but I see it still subpage for image like this: https://www.mysite/postname/imagename

    What should I do to stop this issue?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hm, do you have any image plugins? WordPress attachment pages are usually /?attachment_id=1234 and not /imagename. This sounds like another problem.

  56. Simon
    Simon  • 5 years ago

    I definitely got affected by this bug, I lost multiple places in my organic search results and my traffic dropped by 60% as did my revenue. I’ve followed the steps described and installed the plugin (which I’ll keep active for the next 6 months. It’s a real shame it took this long to fix. Hopefully my search results will recover soon…Perhaps you guys could offer some sort of ‘recovery service’ beyond the plugin as a gesture of goodwill for those that were hit the hardest.

  57. carl
    carl  • 5 years ago

    I have a website that I reset ie: deleted all the content and started to add new blogs. Can I use this plugin to get rid of all the old pages that people are still finding? I deleted them all but people still find them in the search engine results?
    they get a 404 error message for the old pages.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      If you want these pages gone without redirect, use 410. 404s just take longer to process as long as there are still links pointing to it.

  58. Ogbe Emmanuel
    Ogbe Emmanuel  • 5 years ago

    I just got a bug now and this really helped me on how to rectify the bug issues as it affected my ranking

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Thanks, Ogbe. Hope you recover quickly.

  59. Alexandre
    Alexandre  • 5 years ago

    Hello, my site was triggered by the bug plugin yoast exactly as of 03/06, which I lost about 50% of my audience coming from Google Search. I believe that the problem has been the plugin, since it was from the update that this occurred.

    I updated the plugin, put it as “Yes” in Media and installed the plugin “Yoast SEO: Search index purge” and went to check the attachment pages if it was generating status 410. However it generated a page full of strange characters. I’m reporting this because other people may be going through the same problem, they will install the plugin and give the same error. Can you check what happened?

    I emailed an attached image of the support.

    thank you.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Hi Alexandre. Do you have a link for us to check?

      • Alexandre
        Alexandre  • 5 years ago

        There is no link, I disabled the plugin to not continue the error, but I sent email to the print support of the screen, which answered by asking if I had bought the plugin, ie, they were not even careful to see the error that I reported and sent me an automated message.

  60. Adam
    Adam  • 5 years ago

    I saw an increase in indexed pages about two weeks ago – the total number of indexed pages more than doubled over a three week time period. Is there any way for you to check if the bug caused it so I know if should run the purge or not?

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Hi Adam. Yes, you can check if there are attachment URLs indexed by Google. You can use the query site: inurl:attachment_id. If I run that in Google, I see no indexed pages for your site, so there’s no need to run the purge plugin.

  61. Jim
    Jim  • 5 years ago

    I started noticing a steady drop in Google Search Analytics back in December, 2017. And, at that time, I redirected the attachment URLs. But, the drop continued even though I continuously add an average of 8 to 12 quality posts monthly.

    Google must be spanking me hard. Last week – when I looked at my Google Search Console – “Remove URLs” – I had almost 250 attachment URLs showing up as 404.

    I immediately started using the Yoast SEO: Search Index Purge plugin – which is supposed to clean up my sitemap – removing all the attachment URLs over about 6 months.

    As of today, my Google Search Analytics is still going downhill. How long is it going to take to reverse this trend? I feel I am getting punished by Google for no reason!


    • Ashin John
      Ashin John  • 5 years ago

      Hey Jim,
      If it’s about the site on your name,, it’s a clear issue of Amazon links. Almost all of the contents of your site is affiliate content. Explains the constant downhill.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Sorry to hear that, Jim. Sounds like this is unrelated to the bug, right? Unfortunately, we can’t provide SEO advice here as we really want to focus on the subject at hand in this post. Please contact a (local) SEO consultant to figure this out, because this seems worth investigating, and really can’t be fixed in a comment thread :(

  62. Cliff Hobbs
    Cliff Hobbs  • 5 years ago

    So why just include this in the Newsletter (which I hadn’t read)?

    You know who has bought this plugin so why did you not do a special mailshot given the potential impact of this?

    I happened to see this mentioned elsewhere which is unacceptable as a paying customer when you should have notified me directly.

    • Joost de Valk

      We didn’t just include this in the newsletter Cliff. We put this on our site, and we gave everyone who could have potentially been affected by this a notice in their Yoast SEO Dashboard. We can only do so much to reach you…

  63. Francesco
    Francesco  • 5 years ago

    Hey Joost, please could you tell me if the plugin is working on my website, because i still see al the attachments in Google Search Console and not 410 errors.
    Thank you so much.

  64. Alexandre
    Alexandre  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the professionalism in admitting the error, and seek to solve it as soon as possible! This attitude deserves respect, congratulations

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Thanks for your support!

  65. Sebastian
    Sebastian  • 5 years ago

    Thank u so much for your post and the plugin to fix the issue. I had a dramatic decrease in traffic (from 500 a day to 10 a day) and I didn´t figure it out what the problem is.

    I hope that traffic will increase now.

  66. Shayan Davoodi
    Shayan Davoodi  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for being so responsible for your bug that might impact security/SEO.

  67. Robbert Bögels
    Robbert Bögels  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost, is there a way to tell if the plug-in has effected your site’s traffic negatively (like too many backlinks?) with a seo tool or something? I feel like the traffic on my site has plateaud whereas i’ve expected it to grow with the implemented SEO changes, thanks!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Robbert,
      Did you have all the attachment pages indexed in Google? Because that seems solved, I see none of those listed at the moment.
      I don’t think the plugin has had that much influence, I see that most of your images are actually on another domain, am I right? Hard to tell from here though, so not sure.

  68. Paul Brannigan
    Paul Brannigan  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost. Like many badly effected by this update I’m grateful for the clarification and the Purge plugin you’ve created to help rectify the problem. Of course we all make mistakes. Our customers understand that. It’s how we handle them that matters.

    This bug has been devastating for several of our websites – one dropped from over 7000 daily visitors to just 2000 in less than 1 week, with high traffic articles plunging from consistently holding positions 1 or 2 with featured snippets to 9 and 10 almost overnight. And it’s obvious many others have suffered a similar fate.That represents a huge drop in income – not to mention the stress and head-scratching that we’ve all been through.

    I’m at a loss as to why you didn’t tell us immediately, via a high profile announcement in March. We could have simply checked our settings and potentially avoided this calamity.
    By waiting till you’d develop the Purge plugin it seems like you chose to prioritise Yoast’s reputation above your customers’ welfare.

    Making a mistake is something we can all relate to and an early and high profile admission would have gone a long way to helping your customers and enhancing your reputation. I’ve been in business many years and know that the most valuable commodity is trust. Once that’s gone it it takes a lot of hard work to win back.

    • Joost de Valk

      You seem to think we knew about the devastating ranking potential back in March. We didn’t. Some blog posts have implied that we did but they’re flat out wrong. We knew we had a bug in updating some settings, we fixed that bug. We thought we were done when we did that. We were wrong, but there was no wrong intent here.

      We released the purge plugin a week after I first heard of the ranking issue, in that time we’d gone through several sites analyzing the issue and had been in contact with Google. My initial response was 100% in line with what John Mueller from Google said, quoted in the article. And I still think that some things happened in tandem here and that not everyone who now blames their full ranking loss on us will regain their full ranking. Google did have some pretty serious updates in that timeframe too…

      It’s a bit of a perfect storm, in many ways, and I see some sites have genuinely been affected by this and I feel very bad about that. We’re constantly improving both how we test and how we communicate these things, and this is yet another lesson learnt.

  69. Nguyen Tu
    Nguyen Tu  • 5 years ago

    Thank you, Joost
    Google has reported that the number of pages not found has increased.
    Can I deactivate this plugin if all attachment pages no longer appear in search results? I use the query “” to see the indexes.

    • Willemien
      Willemien  • 5 years ago

      Hi Nguyen, that makes sense indeed. And yes you can!

  70. Francesco
    Francesco  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost, i’ve installed your purge plugin 4 days ago but in my Google Search Console i always see that attachments are indexed and just one page has been put in 410.
    What can i do to speed up the process?
    I think something is not working properly. Could you please verify my website? Thank you.

  71. Annie
    Annie  • 5 years ago

    I have Yoast Premium, but don’t have “Search Appearance” under SEO on my admin label. Help!

    • Ben Vaassen
      Ben Vaassen  • 5 years ago

      If you are still on version 6.3 or below, your menu looks different. With Yoast SEO 7.0 we changed a lot. If you update to the newest version you should see “Search Appearance” appear in the menu. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, you can also contact our support team directly via email:
      FYI: you aren’t affected by this bug though :-)

  72. bigboytravel
    bigboytravel  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up. In most cases, Google image search should be directing visitors to the Parent Page that the media is attached to anyway correct? If so the redirect fix is more for people who right click to view an image or open an image in a new tab?

    I guess maybe one of the missing pieces to this article is the importance of attaching media to the parent page they are located on, especially since Google got rid of “view this image” in image search and now has “visit page”.

    Either the empty media pages created by WordPress are kind of dumb. I understand it helps to preserve media if a page URL is changed or deleted but the URL path for any attached media should be nested under the parent URL by default in WordPress instead of its empty media page.

  73. Mark
    Mark  • 5 years ago

    Hi – thanks for the updates here.

    Just to be clear – I checked yesterday and I had an attachment-sitemap.xml with 600 web items and 600 images in it. Now I have installed the purge plug in – will those disappear? Or will they always be in there? I notice if I open that site map the last date modified on all files is now 2018-06-04 07:53 +00:00.

    If I look at there are still 746 results – a lot more than it should be. How long does it take google to de-index and how will I be sure the URLs have been removed from the index?

    Thanks, Mark

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Google needs the sitemap to find the attachment pages, but I see attachments in Google atm. Can you confirm this?

      • Mark
        Mark  • 5 years ago

        I dont see them if i click on your link. Should i?

  74. Dan
    Dan  • 5 years ago

    Hi –

    I too was significantly impacted by this bug.

    Like others, I’m getting a 200 instead of 410 for attachment pages because I use WP-Rocket. When I deactivate WP-ROcket it goes from 200 to 410.

    What is the recommended fix for this other than deactivating caching plugin which I rely on?


    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Have you tried clearing the cache in WP Rocket?

      • Dan
        Dan  • 5 years ago

        Hi Michiel, thanks for the reply.

        Regardless of cache settings and clearing it, it’s still 200 instead of 410. I would suspect this is the same for WT3 Total Cache as well as many other popular caching plugins (I tried a few to fix the issue and got the same behavior).

        However! I contacted WP-Rocket support and they sent me a link to a separate plugin they made that excludes attachment pages.

        This issue may be something you want to let people know about, since caching plugins are so common, unless they do a a header check, they may be unaware that their cache is still causing attachment pages to be a 200, in addition to a submitted sitemap.


        • kruno
          kruno  • 5 years ago

          does this apply to super cache?

  75. Julianna
    Julianna  • 5 years ago

    I too experienced a significant decrease in rankings that seriously affected traffic to a site accessed through attachment URL’s and, after weeks of trying to figure out the “why,” I can only attribute it to this.

    Because I am relatively new, I am only in the early stages of learning the “how” of algorithms as well as how to interpret analytics. Much of what is being discussed here is WAY over my head, so please forgive me if this is blatantly obvious to you — it isn’t for me.

    My site has links to a retail venue that has risen rather high in rankings, allowing for a veritable explosion in sales. I have watched it plummet over these past weeks/month(s) and, as I haven’t done ANYTHING differently, it makes sense that this could be the cause. Besides setting back to “yes” and installing the purge plugin (which I did a few days ago) is there anything else that I can/should do besides wait and pray?? This has been awful…

    Thanks for your transparency! Being in the learning process and truly having no idea where to even begin to look, I’ve been absolutely devastated at not knowing how to address this problem.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      Hi Julianna, Thanks for your comment. You can’t really do anything else than wait for now. If this doesn’t change anything for you it probably wasn’t this bug that caused it. Then you should investigate further. Google’s John Mueller stated that around the same time in March there was a Google algorithm update, this might have affected your rankings too.

  76. JW
    JW  • 5 years ago

    I’m wondering about the risk/reward involved in installing the plugin? How do we make that determination? I did note a substantial drop in traffic in March but I have a small site, so I don’t want to muddy the waters….please advise as to whether I should install the plugin or let things ride as is…thanks!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi JW, I see no attachment pages indexed, and no attachment sitemap. It’s most probably not our plugin that caused this, so no need to run the purge plugin, as there is nothing to purge.

    • Julian
      Julian  • 5 years ago

      Thanks for asking this question! I am in the same position.

      • JW
        JW  • 5 years ago

        Thank you Michiel!

  77. Breanna Jones
    Breanna Jones  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for letting us know and your honesty!

  78. floppysocks
    floppysocks  • 5 years ago

    Hello Yoast team,

    Thanks for providing information on this bug and a potential fix. It looks like there’s a chance we were effected by this issue? My attachment URL was set to “No” after checking this afternoon, and our number of indexed URLs nearly doubled during that first week of March (381 to 608 a week later). I have not yet run the plugin, but did change the attachment URL setting to “Yes”.

    When I run the test you’ve used to check others’ sites, I only see one URL showing up in the Google search. Wouldn’t you expect there to be more if the # of indexed URLs doubled?

    Also, is there any risk to running the plugin? Is there potential for it to break anything or negatively impact rankings?

    Thanks for your time,

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, you did not include your URL, but let me answer your last question: it affects your attachment pages. If you don’t have these indexed, there is no need to run the plugin. You need to have the problem first and know it’s that problem before you can fix it with the plugin, right?

      • Julian
        Julian  • 5 years ago

        I’m sorry Michiel, my site is

        I thought I had originally included that in my message.

  79. Shah Jahan Labar
    Shah Jahan Labar  • 5 years ago

    My site also got affected, my rankings was going down but i didn’t check. Today one of my friend shared SEJ post and i just checked and my media option was set to No :(
    Changes it to Yes and also installed the search index purger. Hope to get my site rankings back soon.

  80. canon drivers
    canon drivers  • 5 years ago

    how do I view an attachment URL in a google search?
    I have forgotten whether I used to select “no” or “yes”, which obviously the current setting “yes”

  81. The
    The  • 5 years ago

    Now I know why my ranking reduced. Thanks for the update and new plugin. Will download as instructed and hopefully wait to see a change in my traffic.

  82. Gids
    Gids  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost Folks, I ran the purge on half a dozen sites – no sign of attachment-sitemap.xml on any of them – what further settings are required?
    NB: sites didn’t have sitemap.xml before – I have to confess that whilst I like 80% of your plugin I’m not a fan of the sitemap side of it; is there any point having the purge plugin without the sitemap showing?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Gids,
      Are you sure your site suffered from this bug? If not, no need to fix a things that’s not broken, right? Atm I see no attachment pages in Google for your site. This bug might not have affected your site?

      • Gids
        Gids  • 5 years ago

        nohands massage is the only one affected.

      • Gids
        Gids  • 5 years ago

        No, my site isn’t even WordPress.
        Poss effected sites:

        • Michiel Heijmans
          Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

          Checked these URLs and it seems unlogical that this bug hurts your websites. There are no or little attachment pages indexed. If your site(s) suffered ranking drops, please investigate further.

  83. MerciPro
    MerciPro  • 5 years ago

    My site was concerned too. Thanks for this new plugin

  84. Rave Jungle
    Rave Jungle  • 5 years ago

    I get 410 eror almost 400 pages a day what i sould do ,, please tell me if there any solution to fix the issue fast ..

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      410 is the status the purge plugin uses to tell Google to de-index the attachment pages, so this is exactly what you want to get rid of these pages n the index. Please let me know if I misunderstood you question!

      • Catherine
        Catherine  • 5 years ago

        I really do not understand any of this but I thought I was to run this plugin. I ended up with 268 URL errors showing. I just tried the site:https://yourdomainname/ inurl:attachment_id and received “We did not find results for site:https://yourdomainname/ inurl:attachment_id

        My Media tab is on “Yes” but do I need to do anything else…….Have I hurt my site?

        Do I keep the plugin or deactivate? Did I have a problem that is now resolved or did I create a problem by using the plugin……I hope you understand because I really do not! I just need to make sure my site is okay and if there is anything else that I need to do. Please advise. Thanks.

  85. Sabine
    Sabine  • 5 years ago

    Is it necessary or helpful to put every URL into Google’s Removal Tool? I have your purge plugin but I want to know if this speeds up the process of removal?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Sabine, thanks for your comment. If you use the suggested purge plugin, this won’t be needed to speed up the process.

  86. Mehed
    Mehed  • 5 years ago

    Joost, What about your premium plugin user? How they able to remove attachment file very fast?
    This Purge plugin isn’t working with premium version.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      That sounds like another problem, it should work. As a premium user, please email our support team to figure this out.

  87. Edward Wilson
    Edward Wilson  • 5 years ago

    I am quite disappointed that this “bug” has been around for months and only now is being disclosed and a “fix” offered.

    I have deleted the YOAST plugin and replace it with the Google XML sitemap plugin.

    I deleted the OLD sitemap from the Google webmaster tools and replaced it with the one generated by the Google plugin.

    Anyone see anything wrong with this approach to this issue? It seems to make more sense than the proposed solution offered here.

    Thank you for your advice.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      It’s obviously up to you to use a fix like this, but please please please note that if you were just using our plugin for the XML sitemaps, you missed out on a lot. XML sitemaps isn’t the most important part of our plugin, so you are selling yourself short if you just use it for that.

      Please note that this bug, no need for quotation marks, let’s call it what it is, did not affect all sites using our plugin, as explained in this article. It’s sites that at one point were running the aforementioned versions of the plugin, with certain specific settings that were affected. Please check if your site was in the first place.

  88. Lisa
    Lisa  • 5 years ago

    I always update to the latest version. And this is my most disappointing time. Fortunately there are instant solutions from you. My blog was hit hard without finding a reason before coming here. Hope everything will be okay. Does it work fast?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Yes. Please note that it works when your hit was indeed caused by it. If so: we’re very sorry. If not, please investigate what else can be the case.

  89. Manoj Sharma
    Manoj Sharma  • 5 years ago

    Dear Admin,
    Please be informed you that, When i open my website dashboard i founded this error- “Your site’s settings currently allow attachment URLs on your site to exist”

    Note- i’m not using premium Yoast SEO so need to get premium or it will word as a guest. please advise me!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Not sure what your question is, but all that’s in the article, works for our free plugin. Please follow instructions in the article to adjust your settings.

  90. Anthony
    Anthony  • 5 years ago

    I installed plugin… attachments are no longer showing indexed in GSC (they show as errors at the moment: Error Submitted URL has crawl issue).

    Is it safe to remove plugin? Or does something else have to happen.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      As stated in the article: “After six months the attachment URLs should be gone from the search results. You should then remove the search index purge plugin, and keep the redirect setting of the attachment URLs set to “Yes”.”

      As you did not include the URL of your site, I can’t check if all results are gone from the search result pages.

  91. Stefan
    Stefan  • 5 years ago


    Can we get some dates for all of this? It would be great to get a timeline of events for this issue so I can try and match it up to our severe traffic drops.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      A lot is in our changelog – but that doesn’t mean you updated our plugin on this date, right. 7.0 release was on the 6th of March. Please also note that this was also the time of Google algorithm updates, so it’s hard to pinpoint these drops exactly.

  92. Matt Stephens
    Matt Stephens  • 5 years ago

    Totally professional of you, Joost.
    For you to have admitted you actually made that mistake yourself must have demanded serious ‘screwing up your courage to the sticking place’.
    Thanks for correcting the bug!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment, Matt!

  93. Dan
    Dan  • 5 years ago

    Fortunately the bug apparently has not been an issue for us. That said, you really should have chosen a different title for this post. Absolutely nothing in your title suggests there’s a potentially problematic bug of which people need to be aware. It’s also safe to assume that title was chosen very carefully and deliberately, which people may associate with a lack of trustworthiness on your part. Especially when third-party articles out there tend to include words like “urgent” and “bug” or some other attention grabbing warning signs.

    • Joost de Valk

      Hey Dan,

      the title was chosen specifically not to make people scared. It’s very simple: only a very small portion of our users could have been potentially affected by this bug. Those that were have gotten a notification from us in their Yoast SEO Dashboard when they updated to the latest version. I’m sorry to say that due to some other outlets making a big fuzz about this many more people think they were affected by this when they were in fact affected by Google’s own algorithm changes… I truly hope our solution works for some of the people complaining about this, but I’m fairly certain some will not recover their rankings, because this bug wasn’t the cause of their ranking loss in the first place…

  94. Havi
    Havi  • 5 years ago

    I will disagree here. Some sites (large sites with more than 300K uniques/month), publisher sites, get crawled by Google several times a day. To the point that anything I change on a site like this (good or bad) gets reflected on Search Console and analytics so fast, it amazes me. I have never experienced something like this on a regular 40K uniques/mo site)
    I got over 7K more URLs crawled and indexed, same amount of crawling anomalies reported and my rankings dropped to the point of getting a horrible notification from SEMrush that I may have been hit with a penalty. My revenue from Adsense dropped and even though I was able to pinpoint the problem (and found another plugin that replaced the redirect to the Post – where it was) and your team finally told me how to avoid the creation of the Sitemap for these attachment pages that were now being re-directed by another plugin, this process took me a month to troubleshoot. Finally, last week all the errors have been cleared but I have to fight so hard to regain the rankings. I have no way of reaching out to Google for reconsideration because there was NO manual penalty. What do you suggest I do?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Hi Havi,
      Recovery might not be overnight, but we have already heard from people that are back on track, so it can be quite fast. Your statement about fighting really hard to get back on track makes me wonder if there is more to this than just our bug, as Google’s John Mueller states – see the article. It might be wise to dig a bit deeper.

      • Havi
        Havi  • 4 years ago

        Hi Michiel!
        Thank you for the reply. I have been investigating and cannot find anything else.

        But I have noticed the following (and before tinkering with implementing solutions right away, I’d rather consult with you)

        I have a growing number of Soft 404s reported on Search Console. All of them for the images under wp-content/uploads/
        They are not blocked by robots.txt and when Fetched by Googlebot, they Fetch and Render correctly.

        Is it possible that because originally the re-direct was set to the images (from the attachment pages) and these may still be indexed (I have since redirected to the Posts via the plugin I mentioned) that Googlebot is confused and finding old data and de-indexing all my images?

        I checked the server responses, I checked the page manually and via Google Fetch and those pages are not 404s. I don’t know what signals I have to add to let Google know these are not 404s (or soft 404s) Their number grows daily (there’s almost 2000 of them) and I see with each growth spurt how my rankings drop.

        Will installing and running the Search Plugin Index Purge work in this case? (Like I said, the last thing I want to do, is to create even more issues)

        Thank you so much in advance for your assistance and response.



  95. Ofir
    Ofir  • 5 years ago

    So should I be seeing an “attachment” sitemap after I install the search index purge plugin? Since at the moment I’m not seeing on.


    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      If it’s not there and you don’t need it, that’ll be fine. The attachment sitemap points to all the attachment pages that you probably don’t need. So it’s the other way around in most cases: if it’s not there, that’s a good thing.

  96. Josh
    Josh  • 5 years ago

    I have previously set up it to no….should I change it to Yes now?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Please follow the steps in the article, Josh! Depends on why it’s set to “no” :)

  97. Pedant
    Pedant  • 5 years ago

    Just a tangentially-related comment: I realise that I’m a tiresome English pedant, but I can’t help it – this article contains several inappropriate uses of the apostrophe, and I’m a big believer that information is judged as more credible when edited well.
    It is incorrect to use an apostrophe when adding an “s” to a word to indicate plurality. The apostrophe indicates possession, or missing letters. For instance, “attachment URL’s”, in the context above, should be written as “attachment URLs”. One should only use an apostrophe if the URL possesses something. For instance, “The URL’s trailing forward slash is optional” would be correct. This also applies to “two scenario’s”, which should be written as “two scenarios.”
    Thanks for listening to this PSA, and thanks for the mea culpa and detailed correction about attachment URLs!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      Hi! Thanks so much for noticing these mistakes and letting us know! We completely missed those. We’ve corrected them right away. Thanks!

  98. Dee Churchman
    Dee Churchman  • 5 years ago

    My site is new so I don’t know if the fact that my attachment URL setting is “No” is having a negative effect or not. I have an Amazon affiliate site with many images that are coded with my affiliate links and I’m using the Amazon API.
    Should I leave the “No” setting or run the purge plugin? Will it purge the Amazon info?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      If your site is new, you probably will have little issues regarding our bug. I’d set the plugin to yes. I see no attachment pages indexed for your site atm.

  99. Alvin Lau
    Alvin Lau  • 5 years ago

    Glad there’s a quicker option to remove all of the attachment pages. Was wondering why my images were appearing on the search results and didn’t think it was bad for SEO. I thought it was a recent issue but it has been around for 3 months :O

    Just installed the purge plugin today and i hope it works well.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Please keep us in the loop, Alvin. Thanks.

      • Alvin Lau
        Alvin Lau  • 4 years ago

        My indexed pages dropped a little after installing the plugin. I can see some progress i guess. :)

    • Rogen
      Rogen  • 5 years ago

      Same here bro. My images also appearing on the search results.

      • Michiel Heijmans
        Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

        Please understand images is something different from attachment pages. These attachment pages are pages created especially for the images, but where you probably want images in Google, you most probably don’t want these attachment pages in there.

  100. Esteban
    Esteban  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to explain this issue thoroughly and what to do to change it.

    My site was affected by it but I noticed that my traffic has DRAMATICALLY lost a lot of backlinks and dropped hugely in traffic almost exactly a month earlier (February 6th).

    Is there a link or a tie between my drop and the March 6th drop?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Probably not at all. Thinking out loud: if you’ve lost a lot of backlinks, these might have been from something like a blog network that was penalized by Google or so. It’ll probably be another reason for the drop. This again might have triggered your site being affected by a Google update more than our bug? I could be wrong here, just wondering what might have happened and pointing out there could be other reasons.

      • Esteban
        Esteban  • 4 years ago

        Thanks for your reply. I meant to say “my site lost a lot of keywords” and not backlinks.

        Also since installing the new plugin I’ve seen improvements and traffic slowly coming back but I’ve also noticed a lot of errors appearing on my search console.

        a lot of 410 response code erros. I’ve seen other people experiencing the same. Any idea?

  101. Darren
    Darren  • 5 years ago

    Hi, when I click on Yes and the Save changes it refreshed but then shows the No selected again. I’ve tried a few times…any advice to keep it on Yes. If I have to download something please let me know what and where the instructions are to follow that procedure.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      That’s strange! Did you try again today? If you are using premium, please reach out to our support theme. Haven’t heard of this problem yet.

  102. Sanjeev
    Sanjeev  • 5 years ago


    I didn’t see a lot of drop in the traffic but traffic got distributed across the content pages and some images. Some of my images started ranking in first few results of Google image searches which have balanced the traffic.
    Now I have updated SEO plugin and installed Search purge plugin. My question is I know few of my images are ranking and can bring backlink if people use them, is there a way to keep including them in the sitemap. I don’t want to enable the complete media sitemap as many of the images are small and does not serve any purpose alone.

    – Sanjeev

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      If an image is in a post, Google will find that image. No need for a separate image sitemap.

  103. Diogene
    Diogene  • 5 years ago

    Once again you show how professional you are, now more than ever on the way you try to solve this mistake/bug.
    In the whole bunch of website we manage (more than 70) we noticed that web site that have good/solid overall site wide SEO didn’t not suffer ranking drop due to this bug. But web site where clients mange themselves the SEO and/or do not really care aboutit the ranking drop was significant.
    The conclusion is: this bug was useful to show client how important is SEO and how fragile can be if they don’t take good care of it.
    Then we find really laughable people that scream and complain about this unfortunate bug and their struggle because it is very likely that the theirs SEO was not good enough to sustain the ranking also in critical moment.
    Keep working Yoast and we trust you that ever, and we will keep suggesting your services to our client.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Thanks, Diogene.

  104. Sele
    Sele  • 5 years ago

    I installed this plugin directly at release. Yet I get status code 200 on all those in google indexed images. Does it have conflicts with WP Rocket? Or does it simply not work?

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

      Hi Sele. One of our other customers contacted WP-Rocket about this and they had a solution for this. Find his comment here:

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      As you forget to fill out your URL, it’s impossible for us to check, really. Let us know!

  105. Diego
    Diego  • 5 years ago

    Hi I installed the purge plugin a couple of days ago.
    But I can still see on the Google Search console 626 attachments URLS.

    Shouldn’t the plugin NO INDEX Them and clear them from the Sitemap?
    Please help me I’m desperate here….all my ranking have been declining since 6th of March. Thanks

  106. MP
    MP  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,

    Thanks for this.

    The fact that the plugin is indexing subpages is also a matter of concern. It is also creating duplicate pages, low-quality content. It may be fine on some sites, but it could be a disaster on some.

    In my case, I have optimized the tag pages. The subpages of the tag pages also got indexed after the update. The subpages of categories also got indexed. The subpages of homepage also got indexed. And they have literally the same content!

    Ever since then, I lost the traffic.

    Please give us a option.

  107. Greetje Kamminga
    Greetje Kamminga  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the clear explanation and the frankness.
    But…. I don’t have Search Appearance in the Media tab. I only have Library, Add new and Bulk optimize in my Pipdig WordPress theme Aruba.

    • Greetje Kamminga
      Greetje Kamminga  • 5 years ago

      Could you please explain what I have to do now I do not see Search Appearance in my Media tab?

      • Edwin Toonen
        Edwin Toonen  • 5 years ago

        Hi Geertje. You can find Search Appearance under the SEO tab on the left-hand side of your WordPress menu. It’s the second item in the Yoast SEO menu list.

        • Greetje Kamminga
          Greetje Kamminga  • 5 years ago

          Oh gosh Edwin, I feel such a dope… It was staring me in the face. Thank you for helping me with this stupid question.

  108. Alwin
    Alwin  • 5 years ago

    I have installend the Purge plugin but xould it be there is a problem when I use a chace plugin (wp-rocket)? Because when i use the Purge plugin and click on an link in the attachment sitemap I see a strange page with all black symbols. Scrolling down the page all to the bottom and I see the “good” attachment page (I mean the page containing the image). So is it a know issue that there can e problems with this plugin in combination with wp-rocket cache?

  109. Francesco
    Francesco  • 5 years ago

    I’ve a problem with my sitemap file.
    I have installed the yoast purge plugin. I have the W3 Total Cache also installed and when i’ve installed the purge plugin i did a “purge cache”.
    Now i see a XML sitemap as a blank page with plain text…

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      That might just be the stylesheet for the XML sitemap not loading. I think your cache has been updated, as I can now see the styled XML stylesheet.

  110. Candess M. Campbell
    Candess M. Campbell  • 5 years ago

    This is an expensive issue for those of us who now have to hire someone to see if we were affected. Poor performance on your part.

    • Joost de Valk

      If you haven’t noticed anything, I would certainly not start hiring someone now. It’ll fix itself if you just follow the instructions above, even when you don’t use the purge plugin.

  111. Francesco
    Francesco  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost, i’ve unfortunately been significantly affected by this issue, so I installed the purge plugin. In the Sitemap i always see the attachment sitemap xml and i can click on it and on all the images inside the attachment sitemap. Is it all ok? What i have to do in Google Search Console?

  112. Michelle Leslie
    Michelle Leslie  • 5 years ago

    Just wanted to say, in this day and age, you are so refreshing and truly amazing Joost. Thank you for being up front about what happened and for doing your utmost to fix it. You have a fan for life and don’t let this get you down please. All the work you guys and girls do, and have done, have made a huge difference to our SEO. Thank you

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment, Michelle, really nice!

  113. Krzysztof
    Krzysztof  • 5 years ago

    Thank god i found that post. Now i know what happened to my site and sudden grow of indexed paged. Hope to see results soon.

  114. Punet Jain
    Punet Jain  • 5 years ago

    thanks. actually i set it to “no” because it seems i have filled in the meta descriptions and titles of all images and videos. but still i would like your advice in case i should still mark this to “yes”.



    • fb3003
      fb3003  • 4 years ago

      an update on my previous numbers, the numbers in google search console for attachement sitemap now shows:
      webpages: 150 submitted | 3 indexed
      images: 150 submitted | 2 indexed
      now when I do inurl:attachment_id, i get zero results. it seems that all of my attachment pages have been removed.

      will report back in about a week as to serp results

  115. fb3003
    fb3003  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the solution. what should the behavior of attachment-sitemap.xml be in google webmaster tools
    for example, in attachment-sitemap.xml, within google search console, I get:
    web: 150 submitted, 145 indexed
    image: 150 submitted, 28 indexed

    is this normal? should indexed number get to zero eventually?

    • fb3003
      fb3003  • 4 years ago

      an update on my previous numbers, the numbers in google search console for attachement sitemap now shows:
      webpages: 150 submitted | 3 indexed
      images: 150 submitted | 2 indexed
      now when I do inurl:attachment_id, i get zero results. it seems that all of my attachment pages have been removed.

      will report back in about a week as to serp results

  116. David
    David  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost. Thanks for the fix and for explaining it. I had it in “NO” and I’m a photographer, so I have lots of images. Even though I haven’t noticed any major changes (only 2-5 positions down, which might be by the mere fluctuation) I switched it to yes, but I also downloaded the plugin. Should I uninstall it or it is no harm by having it installed even if I haven’t had a major strike?

    Thank you,

  117. Godei
    Godei  • 5 years ago

    I think the plugin doesn’t work as expected, it returns a 200 http code, not 410 and I think he is indexing my attachment again.

    • Godei
      Godei  • 5 years ago

      Yesterday I remove the plugin and now I have thousands of 404 errors in my Google Search Console. I was right, the plugin don’t work!!

      I’ll use my own solution that’s faster and effective:
      1) Blocking attachment-id parameter via robots.txt
      2) Getting the url and delete 1000 everyday with Search Console.

      With it I hope to resolve the problem in 1 or 2 weeks.

      • Joost de Valk

        Which plugin did you remove exactly? And is GSC showing 404s or 410s? They’re subtly different…

  118. طراحی سایت در کرج
    طراحی سایت در کرج  • 5 years ago

    i use attacchment post in my dynamic template and media attachment url set to yes . is there has problem ? i see error in my yoast page

  119. Ramesh Kota
    Ramesh Kota  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the Update and also Clarification given in detail.

  120. Jodi
    Jodi  • 5 years ago

    Hi – this happened to my website. And my rankings overall have dropped. If you check my site – [page 10+] you can see how many this has affected. Plus I am also getting images as my site links when you google my business name. How long after the plugin is installed is this fixed?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      I only see 6 attachment pages still being indexed for your website, so if there were a lot more: it’s almost done. If this was basically it, your rank drop might have been triggered by something else?

      • Jodi
        Jodi  • 4 years ago

        Hi Michael
        thanks. The images are appearing in google console now as 404 errors. Is this an issue. I installed the plugin you suggested.

        • Jodi
          Jodi  • 4 years ago

          Hi Michael
          I wanted to ask you, should I have the attachment sitemap activated in this case?

  121. Enrico
    Enrico  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,
    I have follow your guide in this article, but I have one question.
    For generate sitemap I not use your plugin but another one (Google XML Sitemaps).
    Is a problem?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      The pages might still have appeared, so you should really check if any are indexed. That would probably only have happened if you link these pages anywhere on your website. You did not include an URL, so it only guessing from here.

  122. monstajams
    monstajams  • 5 years ago

    I am currently seeing error in my sitemap, here is what is written: When we tested a sample of the URLs from your Sitemap, we found that some URLs were not accessible to Googlebot due to an HTTP status error. All accessible URLs will still be submitted.

  123. Lalaine Manalo
    Lalaine Manalo  • 5 years ago

    I am trying to see if my site was set up incorrectly but I can’t seem to find the Search Appearance tab. The options I have are Dashboard, Title &Metas, Search Console, Social, XML Sitemap, Advanced, Premium, and Redirects.

    Will you please help me? Also, there are ads on the side of Yoast and there’s a link that says I should upgrade to Yoast SEO premium if I want ads shown. I don’t mind the ads but I already have the Yoast SEO premium so why is this still showing?

    Please help!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      So you are running an older version of our plugin, that’s good, but only in this case. If you update to the latest version of our plugin, you should be fine, Lalaine.

  124. Shawn Limbach
    Shawn Limbach  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for this information. I did notice changes in search results on one of my sites and couldn’t figure it out. What I noticed was through using the Monster Insights plug-in Google ‘referrals completely’ disappeared. Looking forward to seeing those again. Peace.

  125. Micha
    Micha  • 5 years ago

    Thank you! Mine war set to “no”

  126. Alan Sutton
    Alan Sutton  • 5 years ago

    Not happy with the situation to be honest , lost about 30 % of traffic three weeks ago for no explicable reason. Today you put a warning up and sure enough the setting was on no. Apologizing and saying that in 6 months time the problem will be gone is not enough. It is a lot of work running a site and Yoast is supposed to help, not set you backwards. I suggest you come up with something better than that. Looking forward to hearing what it is.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      I have just looked at your website, and there are more things that have caused the drop, like the number of headings vs the actual content. They’re everywhere, even in your menu. 47 instances of an H2 plus 20 times an H4, next to 296 links on a page don’t help your rankings. I would really reconsider your current page setup. I did not find any indexed attachment pages for your website, atm. So there might be another explicable reason after all. Hope this helps you fix the issues, Alan!

  127. Francesco
    Francesco  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the update.

    On another note – It’s great that 7.0+ addresses the issue of unattached images. There is still the problem of media items that have been deleted: their attachment pages are somehow still being crawled and they all return 404s.

    EG: In search console I find a 404 error for this URL:
    The correspondent media item no longer exists (going to returns this WP error: `You attempted to edit an item that doesn’t exist. Perhaps it was deleted?`).

    How can we set that URL to return a 410 or a redirect of some sort? Would this “purge” plugin work in this scenario?

    • Todd
      Todd  • 5 years ago

      My question is related to Francessco’s…
      In my case, mine was set to “NO”. But I didn’t experience a dip in rankings. But around that time, and even before then, I noticed in Google Search Console I had 4 or 5 various 404 errors detected. Is this related to the “bug”? Is it a crawl error? If I only have 5 of these dead links (404 errors), should I install the plugin, or just switch the setting to YES? As a side note, in April I had a robots.txt issue in Google Search Console that hurt my rankings. I had the standard ghost robots.txt file that comes with wordpress. I updated that to allow Google to see all my pages/posts. Now Google is indexing 3 times as many pages (some unnecessarily). This sort of hurts my allotment of indexes on pages that I want Google to index. I wonder if these two issues are related? I’m wondering what the other 100 new pages are that Google is indexing? Is it photos/attachments? thanks for any insight here.

  128. Bill Flynn
    Bill Flynn  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the update and your candor.

    I appreciate the work you folks do and more importantly I trust you guys. The way you have dealt with this issue by “owning” your mistake confirms I have placed my trust in the right place.

    I am a new blogger and it’s a pretty intimidating word to negotiate. It’s a little easier knowing you and your colleagues have my back.

    Thank you

  129. Siobhan
    Siobhan  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for this! To be clear (I’m new to this), when I upload photos in my posts, should I be setting the “link to” setting to “none”? If it matters, my site is mostly for recipes.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 5 years ago

      No, that’s of no influence. Rather set the switch like explained in the top of the article to prevent attachment pages.

  130. خرید استیم والت
    خرید استیم والت  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for letting us know. i change my settings. you honesty worth more than nything

  131. Robin Nieuwhof
    Robin Nieuwhof  • 5 years ago


    Could you help me with a multi site? The Search Index Purge is only working on one of the two websites i’m using in a multisite..

    Thanks in advance.

    Robin Nieuwhof

    • Joost de Valk

      How did you activate? Network? Or individually?

      • Robin Nieuwhof
        Robin Nieuwhof  • 5 years ago

        Hi Joost,


  132. Amir
    Amir  • 5 years ago

    i see drop in my indexed image from last update in 5/30/2018
    screenshot :

  133. Jörg Mayer
    Jörg Mayer  • 5 years ago

    Oh man, and I was tearing out my hair (not literally) because I just didn’t understand the surge in indexed URLs and the 33% drop in traffic.

    Well, “to err is human”, right? Thanks for the fix.

  134. Indra
    Indra  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost, I am one of those who are not sure if I was affected or not. I paid someone to build my website and it has always been set as “NO”. But I attached TONS of images in all my posts and I would like those images to be available for everyone to search. I already set it to “YES” but as you suggested not to do anything else (with the plugin) as I am unsure if I was really affected or not. Should I do the plugin to make sure ?

    • Joost de Valk

      Nah I wouldn’t if you’ve always had it like that.

  135. Dianne Dixon
    Dianne Dixon  • 5 years ago

    Okay, I got the message, hence the reason I’m here. All of my yoast plugins are free and I don’t see any Media tab, as per the pic in your post to check/fix the issue. Thanks for the extension. I don’t see any major problems now but it helps to not get slapped in the future

  136. Barbara Drake
    Barbara Drake  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the honest and clear explanation. I set mine to “yes” and we are a go!

  137. Wayne Stiles
    Wayne Stiles  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for this. I read the post because the plugin told me: “Your site’s settings currently allow attachment URLs on your site to exist.” But when I look for the “Media” tab to check the setting, I have no Media tab. Only Dashboard, Features, and Webmaster Tools. Where do I check this setting?

    • Don
      Don  • 5 years ago

      I had same challenge until I Narrowed critically.
      Ignore what you see on that header. that is not where to find the Media tab.
      If you are using WordPress, by the left panel where you have the standard WP ( DASHBOARD, POSTS, SETTINGS etc) you would see Y SEO ( depending on how many plugins you have running, you might have to scroll down before you see it.
      Beneath Y SEO, you would see General, then Search Appearance. Click Search appearance then look up on its menu bar for the MEDIA tab.

    • Joost de Valk

      Sorry that is slightly unclear perhaps. Search Appearance → Media is where you find it.

  138. Thierry HENRY
    Thierry HENRY  • 5 years ago

    Thank for this note. I was wondering what cause this crash of traffic. It’s always good to have an answer.

  139. Mary Williamson
    Mary Williamson  • 5 years ago

    Hello – We have unfortunately been pretty significantly affected by this issue, so I installed the purge plugin. But, I can still click on attachments in the attachment sitemap and successfully view the attachment urls (i.e. it doesn’t seem to return a 410?)

    • Joost de Valk

      It does render the image, with a 410 status code. Neat huh?

  140. Jürgen
    Jürgen  • 5 years ago

    In 27th of march or so, i just recovered from migrating my sites to https, and my rankings increased a lot, then, after 2,3 days i got like sandboxed (passed from 1150 visits a day, to 15). I checked my blogs and all of them have this issue. Could it have happened during this period? anyway i’m already installing the plugin.

  141. Vladimír Juroško
    Vladimír Juroško  • 5 years ago

    Thank you, it is nice action from you.

  142. seo peru
    seo peru  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the update.

  143. Claudio
    Claudio  • 5 years ago

    Thank for having informed me (and all your public) about the issue. Very appreciated.
    And very well done to have found also the solution.

  144. Mircea G.
    Mircea G.  • 5 years ago

    Updated now, thanks for the detailed explanation of the incident and for providing us a fast solution.

  145. Sanjay Vyas
    Sanjay Vyas  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for your suggestions,now I have changed my settings as explained by you.

  146. Cremation Equipment
    Cremation Equipment  • 5 years ago

    Thank you very much for this update and your knowledge!

  147. Daniela
    Daniela  • 5 years ago

    Do we need to submit the sitemap with the attachments to Google Search Console once we installed the plug-in? Thanks!

    • Joost de Valk

      Doesn’t hurt but should normally pick it up automatically.

      • Eli
        Eli  • 5 years ago

        That´s what i´m afraid, since the last update and the search index purge plugin my Yoast has generated a xml index with two attachement urls, each one containing 80 urls of my attached images, is that normal? never happened before. I deactivated the xml function in Yoast, I don´t know if is it normal or not.

  148. Webgyaani
    Webgyaani  • 5 years ago

    I am also affected by your bug but that’s ok. Just Wanna to say thank you for letting us know.

  149. Cathal
    Cathal  • 5 years ago

    I spotted the issue a few weeks back, mainly when someone searched for the brand some of the attachments urls did show up in Google.

    To counteract it i added the plugin “Attachment pages redirect”.
    I have now changed the media settings to “yes” but I also have the above plugin active. Is this ok? I don’t want someone to click the attachment url and end up on the attachment page.

  150. Micropreneur Life
    Micropreneur Life  • 5 years ago

    My site has completely disappeared from Google. I was ranking 2nd to 3rd position for lots of terms, and it just disappeared.

    This is a serious bug, and something that has affected me, and will have consequences for a lot of people like me who monetize their blogs.

    In my case, I have lost confidence in your company and plugin forever. You can apologize, but it will take me… I don’t know, months? years? to recover.

    • Joost de Valk


      I think you should take note of Googler John Mueller’s comment above. If this “made your site disappear completely”, I honestly don’t believe it’s related to just this bug, there’s probably more at hand. Bugs happen. All we can do is fix them, provide a path forward and move on, I can’t turn back time.

      • Havi
        Havi  • 5 years ago

        Is there a way we can channel a request for reconsideration to Google through you?
        If we were Panda’ed, this would help a lot. If it was something else, the reconsideration would not have any effect.
        My site did not disappear but rankings did drop significantly. Personally it would do me a world of good if I knew Google had reviewed my site and seen all issues have been cleared.

      • Kat
        Kat  • 5 years ago

        This has really impacted my two sites. One is an commerce site and the other a company site. I had just paid a few months ago to bring up my SEO to top rankings. Now I lost those. I need help fixing this, as I did have an attached URL to one of my sites. I think I need to reindex with site maps with google. I’m not sure I can do this 100% correctly on my own. I was able to reauthenticate via Yoast w/ Google but I think since I had an attached URL, I should also reindex both sites. Are you able to help me? Thanks in advance. Kat

  151. Giorgos
    Giorgos  • 5 years ago

    For me, for almost 5000 attachment pages:
    “Google chose different canonical than user”
    Status: Excluded
    So no Issue then as google is quite clever, but nevertheless I install the plugin.
    But I believe decrease in ranking for some people might be for a different reason than attachment urls. Again Google is quite good in making such distinctions in canonical urls

  152. Robin Eyre
    Robin Eyre  • 5 years ago

    Hi. I understand the issue about showing the attachment page or image itself but would like my media to appear in search results.

    If “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?” is set to No there is an option to “Show Media in search results”.

    However, if the redirect is set to Yes, the option to show media disappears and I have no idea if it remains as Yes, or No. I want it to remain as Yes.

    Can you please clarify? If the “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?” is set to Yes, what does the “Show Media in search results” revert to? Does it remain as set (in which case why does it hide itself? Wouldn’t it be simpler to leave it as an option?), or does it default to No?


    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Robin,

      there’s a difference between the actual images, which will be in search results regardless of which setting you choose, and the attachment URLs WordPress generates. I don’t think you want the latter in the index.

      • Havi
        Havi  • 5 years ago

        Maybe my experience and solution will help. When Yoast says “Show Media in search results” it means: “Show Attachment Page URL in search results”

        I didn’t want to redirect to the image itself so I installed the Attachment Pages Redirect Plugin to re-direct the attachment page to the Post and set on Yoast under Media the following settings:
        Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself? No
        Show Media in search results? No (this eliminates the creation of the sitemaps for attachment pages)
        Hope it helps!

        • Robin Eyre
          Robin Eyre  • 5 years ago

          Thank you Joost and Havi.

          To be honest, I’m not sure what I want … I manage a few websites one which appears as a featured snippet result, for example, along with the image of the post. I don’t want to lost either the position or the image (as you know a FS can show an image from a completely different website!) – and I’ve never understood why you wouldn’t want images to show up in search results anyway if they’re related to your website. It all adds to the quality user experience, unless it’s a matter of over-using Google’s crawl budget.

          I’m going to go with Joost’s advice simply because it’s the simplest option (and I understand the thin content reasons). For those sites whose rankings I monitor I’ve not seen a massive drop that may be attributed to thin content – hope it’s not tempting fate. If thing’s turn otherwise I’ll install the additional plugin.

          Thanks, Robin

  153. Amar Ilindra
    Amar Ilindra  • 5 years ago

    I had a strange issue.
    Attachment URL’s are redirecting to actual image only when the user is logged in else it is redirecting to wp-login.php page.

  154. ARC Reef
    ARC Reef  • 5 years ago

    I have to say… way to step up to the plate! I think the public finally empathizes with a company when an issue happens, as of lately it seams that “how” they handle that issue means more to us then the fact that an issue occurred. I actually am going to now purchase the premium version simply from the fact that you showed amazing transparency, and that’s a company that I feel comfortable dealing with. I have used your plugin for free for years now, so it’s time that I come through and show my appreciation also. Thank you again for the amazing way in which you handled this.

    • Joost de Valk

      Thanks for the kind words. I have to admit that posts like these are not fun to write, nor to have to deal with… But I’m glad to see it’s appreciated.

  155. Pushpendra Singh
    Pushpendra Singh  • 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this wonderful update.

  156. Joe Dostie
    Joe Dostie  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for your honesty and owning the issue! Its refreshing to see a company and person take responsibility like this, its truly appreciated.

    My ranking went from a visibility score of 85 (took me a while to get there) and I plummeted to a 40 :(

    Fingers crossed the fix will work well and fast!

    • Joost de Valk

      Hope it works for you Joe, though that is quite the drop, you sure there’s not also something else happening?

  157. Yol
    Yol  • 5 years ago

    how about if I am using the premium Yoast plugin? I am getting a fatal error in activating this purge plugin.

    • Joost de Valk

      What is the fatal error? Do you have the entire line? Otherwise it’s hard to fix the issue.

      • Alex Podgursky • SkilfulSEO
        Alex Podgursky • SkilfulSEO  • 5 years ago

        I agree. The same issue!!!

        Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined method WPSEO_Options::set() in /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/yoast-seo-search-index-purge/src/Yoast_Purge_Control_Yoast_SEO_Settings.php:12 Stack trace: #0 /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/yoast-seo-search-index-purge/src/Yoast_Purge_Plugin.php(75): Yoast_Purge_Control_Yoast_SEO_Settings->enforce_settings() #1 /var/www/html/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(286): Yoast_Purge_Plugin->activate(”) #2 /var/www/html/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(310): WP_Hook->apply_filters(”, Array) #3 /var/www/html/wp-includes/plugin.php(453): WP_Hook->do_action(Array) #4 /var/www/html/wp-admin/plugins.php(174): do_action(‘activate_yoast-…’) #5 {main} thrown in /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/yoast-seo-search-index-purge/src/Yoast_Purge_Control_Yoast_SEO_Settings.php on line 12

      • Yol
        Yol  • 5 years ago

        Hi Joost, thanks for the reply.. Here is the entire line: Fatal error: Call to undefined method WPSEO_Options::set() in /var/www/www.*MYWEBSITE*.com/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/yoast-seo-search-index-purge/src/Yoast_Purge_Control_Yoast_SEO_Settings.php on line 12

  158. Nathan
    Nathan  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost,

    On 5th March I noticed a drop on my rankings, it was not huge, but I lost about 20% of my original traffic…

    I’ve spent 2 months searching like crazy the reasons why this had happened… And now I realized that was because Yoast Bug.

    My indexed pages has rised from 150 to 900 in one week! And was the same week my rankings droped…

    So… Now I downloaded the plugin to delete this attachments from my serp..

    The point is: Google is forcing us to configure a SSL protocol. I’m going to change all my URLs to HTTPS on the next week. Will I face problems with this plugin installed? Do I have to do something special on SSL migration because of this?

    Thank you

    • Joost de Valk

      No need to do anything for https specifically, should just work.

  159. Jessica @ The Budget Savvy Bride
    Jessica @ The Budget Savvy Bride  • 5 years ago

    Honestly, this issue cost me alot of money. I run a content website that heavily focuses on photos, and my site traffic plummeted to less than a quarter of my normal pageviews as a result. I easily lost $1-2k this month. Really disappointing, but glad that it’s been fixed. A fellow webmaster informed me of this media setting issue and I changed it to NO about two weeks ago, and just this weekend my traffic has gotten back to normal. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

  160. Brett B.
    Brett B.  • 5 years ago

    Just last night I was looking at my Google Search Console Index Status that showed my total indexed URLs plummeted from 42 at the end of March to just 1 at the beginning of April (still at 1). Is that drastic change explained by this problem? In my case, the purge plugin wouldn’t make sense, right?

  161. Jack
    Jack  • 5 years ago

    “but some people have suffered anyhow (because they updated before our patch).”

    Yoast – you are really taking this lightly. My traffic dropped by 50% – 60%. I have 4,000 thin content pages indexed by Google. I have no doubt I am experiencing Panda filtering.

    I don’t think that John Mueller got the full picture of the issue. When 75% of the site is composed of thin content Google will sure put a penalty and this is what happened in my case.

    You should have been a lot more vocal when you released the patch as the release notes are vague.

    Your plugin destroyed years of hard work.

    • Tila
      Tila  • 5 years ago

      Sorry to hear that Jack, but i the website is so important for you then you should always be informed and updated. Checking Google Search Console on a daily basis, check every changelog (not only of Yoast plugin) before you update.
      This is not first time Joost to create such a trouble but Im sure he (they) newer used/talked about that lightly.
      Hope your traffic will get back!

    • Joost de Valk

      Hey Jack,

      we’re certainly not taking this lightly. If we did, we wouldn’t have built that purge plugin, or even written this post.

  162. Leanna
    Leanna  • 5 years ago

    Hey Joost! The “Yes” setting on our .com wasn’t turned on, and I’m not sure if it was before or not. However, when I do turn it on and try to click on one of the former image links in the SERP, it takes me to our WordPress admin login page. Help!

  163. Eli
    Eli  • 5 years ago

    I was having those issues and I´ve updated Yoast and installed this plugin. I check my XML and it has two URLs of “attachement-sitemap”, is that normal? I´m afraid that´s duplicate content.
    Should I send all these URLs to Google? Thanks 2018-05-30 19:49 -03:00 2018-05-28 23:49 -03:00 2018-05-30 19:39 -03:00 2018-05-30 19:39 -03:00

    • Eli
      Eli  • 5 years ago

      (“domain” is just saying, those aren´t my links)

  164. Abdullah
    Abdullah  • 5 years ago

    Really Great Update and Article!
    I also face a derank with some of my posts like from position 3 to page 3.

    I have also find URL’s like
    which shows the image without content!

    Do you think that this might be the issue which causes a derank?

    P.S. I have enabled the Redirect!

  165. Ozanne
    Ozanne  • 5 years ago


    My experience :

    Since March i loose 50% of my traffic from 12000 visitors per day to 5400 today.
    … and i loose a LOT OF MONEY from affiliate and ads.

    – I have migrate my website to HTTPS
    – I have change the theme
    – I have read all the forums of the internet since 1999
    – I have optimize all I can optimize
    – I have rewrite lot of articles !

    With no results …

    It’s strange but … I hope i was affected by your bug !

    Thanks and keep you inform.


    • JSiev
      JSiev  • 5 years ago

      same goes for me.. For me it was switched to “Yes” as I just checked, but I have suffered as well.. So I hope this was the reason :D

  166. Jon Abernathy
    Jon Abernathy  • 5 years ago

    Will there be an update for this to work with Yoast SEO Premium?

    • Joost de Valk

      It already works with Yoast SEO Premium.

      • Jon Abernathy
        Jon Abernathy  • 5 years ago

        Do you mean, Premium already does this without the plugin, or the Search Index Purge plugin already works with Premium? Sorry for the confusion, as we have Premium installed and the SIP plugin, but this message appears: “Please upgrade the Yoast SEO plugin to the latest version to allow the Yoast SEO: Search Index Purge plugin to work.”

  167. Krunek
    Krunek  • 5 years ago

    Joost, thanks you for this, will let you know does it work for me. And for Mr. Mueller claim that “Sites generally shouldn’t be negatively affected by something like this”, well mine definitely was. The same day when thoose attach. pages appeared in google search index was the day what I saw a 40% traffic drop. I have blog 8 years old, and I never had taht high traffic drop, and this is my lowest google traffic from 2009! Also, on the date when I saw indexed pages and traffic drop there wasnt any major google search results or updates reported…

  168. Floortje
    Floortje  • 5 years ago

    Our website has been affected – we have seen a significant drop and have been wondering why.
    Besides as website, we also use the media files as the repository for all the images in our online education content.
    Do I understand it correctly, that by using the proposed fix plugin, all our pictures in our online education materials (that all refer to these picture URLs) will show up as 410 errors? If so, we shouldn’t use the plugin, that will just make matters worse.
    Any suggestions?

  169. Mies Huibers
    Mies Huibers  • 5 years ago

    En omdat je Nederlands kent en ik even geen zin heb in Engels: grote klasse zoals je deze onfortuinlijke misser recht hebt gezet.

  170. Rafia Irfan
    Rafia Irfan  • 5 years ago

    Thanks a lot for your honesty.
    Need to ask a question.
    If I am not sure that whether it harmed my site or not then, in this case, do I still need to install the purge plugin?

  171. MN Hemant
    MN Hemant  • 5 years ago

    Really helpful information… Thanks a lot

  172. Sara
    Sara  • 5 years ago

    Mistakes happen! Thanks for the honesty, the fix, and taking the time to reach out to Google. Shows how much you guys care about your product and service. Thanks for caring!

  173. انجام پروژه آباکوس
    انجام پروژه آباکوس  • 5 years ago

    Just Wanna to say thank you for letting us know and your honesty!

  174. Pirlutravel
    Pirlutravel  • 5 years ago

    Hi! Thank you for this patch, I have Yoast 7.4.2, is it safe now to update it and install this Search Purge plugin?
    Current issues I have:
    1) my attached images compete -as pages- with my posts. If yoou google my blog and a relevant keyword, the first thing Google shows is a no content page except for the image and its title. The bounce rate in my blog skyrocketed in my blog :(
    I´ve tried to erase URLs with the tool provided by Google Search Console, but it´s exhausting and it probably doesn´t work since those pages with an image and a title are still showing up.
    Also I went to WordPress admin configuration and set to “none” in the image_default_link_type.

    2) I´ve erased tags and edited URLs in February with Yoast, and Yoast made 301 redirections for those. (I was following an advice given in this blog about not having a high number of irrelevant tags) Today, Google throws me 611 errors pages! Which are 100% 404 errors. It started 25th May, never happened before, all the 301 redirects were working fine between February and May.

    3) The Breadcrumbs script causes errors in AMP pages.

    Could you tell if it is safe for my site? Should I deactivate AMP before? Thank you

    • Rob D
      Rob D  • 5 years ago

      Thank you for the honesty and transparency. It’s a great plugin, and I have enjoyed using it for years. I would suggest a different way for non-paying users to report bugs. I know that sometimes bugs turn into user error / configuration, but other times we are doing you a favor. I find the Github process confusing. I actually had reported a bug with the attachment re-direct in the WordPress plugin forum as I recall and was told to go to Github. If we are doing you a favor telling you about a bug, how about making that easier to do?
      Thanks again… go Yoast!

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi! That’s a lot of questions.

      Let me answer the first one: yes it’s safe to update. If you need the search purge plugin: yes you can install that too.

      AMP has nothing to do with this, breadcrumbs shouldn’t interfere with AMP, then you’re doing something else wrong.

      • Pirlutravel
        Pirlutravel  • 5 years ago

        Thank you for the fast answer! I´ll deactivate AMP just in case, and some other optimization plugins before updating yoast to find out where is the problem, thank you.

  175. Alex
    Alex  • 5 years ago

    On my several sites traffic from Google has fallen in 4 times. I pulled all my hair *crying*, trying to understand why. I correctly understood – I install this plugin and it is more than nothing it is necessary to do for correction?

  176. Daniel C. Boswell
    Daniel C. Boswell  • 5 years ago

    Yep I was wondering why my rankings had suffered some over the last couple of months. I hope this fix gets me back up to the top on a few of my critical blog posts! I also had some comments on those attachment pages and I couldn’t figure out what had happened. Thanks for telling us about this and taking responsibility Yoast!

    • Daniel C. Boswell
      Daniel C. Boswell  • 5 years ago

      I can confirm that in less than a week of installing the plugin, Google Search Console sent me an email about increased 404 errors on my site. The majority of those were the media attachment pages. The email says they will be removing them from index if I don’t take any action. So this plugin definitely works quickly!

  177. Marcus Tibesar
    Marcus Tibesar  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up on this Joost!

    We purposefully turn off Auto Updates for WordPress core and all plugins. Typically we don’t apply updates for 3 weeks which gives time to developers to discover catastrophic or unintended mistakes.

    How long was it from the time you released the code until you discovered the error please?

  178. Sumas Rai
    Sumas Rai  • 5 years ago

    Very helpful article and thanks also I have fixed it

  179. Carl
    Carl  • 5 years ago

    Yes! you couldn’t have timed this post any better. Literally, just been rattling a colleagues brain about this issue over an audit and he pointed this post out.

  180. stephen22
    stephen22  • 5 years ago

    Hard to believe. Our company’s traffic is down to ~25% of what it should be. I don’t trust your ‘Purge’ plugin to do anything to resolve this.

  181. Rockey Smith
    Rockey Smith  • 5 years ago

    thanks, i wonder why i have not been ranking. thanks for the update.

  182. Mike
    Mike  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for this fine example of honesty and transparency!!

    • Joost de Valk

      I’d say “my pleasure”, but I don’t think that really covers my sensations around this incident properly.

  183. Bruno Medeiros
    Bruno Medeiros  • 5 years ago

    Sadly this may the answer why my ranking lowered too much in the last month. I install the purge plugin. Cheering for better results. Thanks yoast’s crew to post the solution.

    • Joost de Valk

      Hope it works Bruno, do report back!

  184. Alex
    Alex  • 5 years ago

    I am very happy to read that my drop in traffic was caused by a human error. Im a bit less happy that it is caused by a plugin I pay for and trust. But everybody makes mistakes and I appreciate the quick fix. How fast can we expect to see results? I in fact did see 600 images indexed and traffic had decreased by 75%.

    Thanks for the update

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Alex,

      To be honest: I don’t know how soon this will work. The mechanisms are there to make this work fast, but we have no clue exactly how long this will take.

      • Mitch Bartlett
        Mitch Bartlett  • 5 years ago

        If it helps, I caught this right away and after a week total indexed pages showed in Search Console as dropped and my ranking returned to normal shortly after.

  185. Izmalkoff
    Izmalkoff  • 5 years ago

    Thanks that I have another plugin, which automatically refreshing all the plugins to the latest versions, so probably I didn’t suffer from the problems written here. Anyway for the past few months google is going crazy :) and decreasing some of the projects I have from day to day. Anyway I believe it is temporary and everything will be alright soon.

  186. scott29
    scott29  • 5 years ago

    Yes, I had the bug and yes it had a dramatic impact on my ranking results. Appreciate the ownership for the mistake but paying for a service that results in the opposite benefit of why it was installed is very upsetting!

    • Joost de Valk

      Hey Scott,

      I can totally see why you feel that way, trust me when I say this wasn’t my proudest moment. Technically you pay for the service we’ve just delivered you: updating and supporting the plugin :) So thanks for your support!

  187. Julia
    Julia  • 5 years ago

    I didn’t notice any traffic changes, even though I was set to no. I went to turn it to yes, but noticed that it turned off “show media in search results.” If I turn the redirect on, will it keep my images from being found in search? I get a lot of traffic through Google image search.

    • Joost de Valk

      No it’ll keep your images available for the search results, no need to worry about that.

  188. Lasse Kristiansen
    Lasse Kristiansen  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the write up and instructions, Joost. Heads up: Your newsletter signup form isn’t GDPR compliant. You need to add a checkbox asking for (explicit) consent. At least from European visitors.

    • Mike
      Mike  • 5 years ago

      @Lasse: For heaven’s sake: no! A checkbox ist NOT mandatory. It can even make things worse. At the very least: there is absolutely no consensus between lawyers about this very topic. So, please stop telling your customers they need a checkbox. I’ve seen really ridiculous warnings next to the checkbox: “We will save and PROCESS your data. Be aware of that, user!” The GDPR is a joke. And a really bad one!

      • Joost de Valk

        Let’s not have a discussion on the GDPR here people :)

    • Joost de Valk

      That is your understanding, ours is different, after consulting our lawyers :)

  189. Sebastien
    Sebastien  • 5 years ago

    Hello. I have activated the new plugin and when I look in the sitemap, I do see the modified date is set to today. But when I click on one of these URLs I am taken to the attachment and I do not see any 410 error. In short, I am not sure whether the plugin is acting as it should.

    Given the severity of this issue, is it possible to have someone at Yoast take a look at my set up and confirm everything is working as it should?

    Thank you

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Sebastien,

      the plugin shows the image, because that’s the best User Experience, but serves it with a 410 header so Google takes the attachment URL out of the index. So it’s behaving exactly as intended.

      • Medeiros
        Medeiros  • 5 years ago

        I’m still seeing the attachment posts, even with the purge plugin on… No 410 error, no image

        There are some code on the top of the page, and on the bottom you can see the attachment page… I have 900 hundred of then

      • Oren Nutik
        Oren Nutik  • 5 years ago

        I can’t see the 410 in the header.
        How can I confirm that it’s working?

      • Sebastien
        Sebastien  • 5 years ago

        Thank you for the reply. I’m just curious where that 410 header is located. When I look at the source code of an image attachment page, I do not see any kind file title and link. Can you please provide more details? Thank you

  190. Peter
    Peter  • 5 years ago

    Hi Joost, thanks for the thorough explanation of the incident and for providing a solution and very noble of you to apologize. One of the solutions we implemented as suggested in a Yoast Github post was to use the sukcesstrony_attachment_url_redirect function as described here:
    Essentially 301 redirecting attachment to the parent. Do you consider this to be better than the 410 status? We prefer to have the posts removed as quickly as possible also since User names also seem to appear on the search snippet description.

    • Joost de Valk

      We’ve come up with this solution as it’s the fastest. 301s take more time.

      • ton heerze
        ton heerze  • 5 years ago

        Hi Joost/Peter, in new the attachment-sitemap.xml gives 50% of the url’s a 410. The other 50% still a 404 error.

        What to do with the 404 error? Make a 410 or a 301 to the correct image?

        I lost 40% of my traffic the last month:(
        please help me.

  191. Surce Beats
    Surce Beats  • 5 years ago

    I don’t get the point, I thought it was a configuration problem on my side, anyway I have to say that my website was outdated for like 4 years (it was running an old SEO Yoast version). As soon as I took care of the website and updated everything (including SEO Yoast), started writing some articles and optimizations I saw a drop in the SERPs of almost 50%, which doesn’t make sense. Should I install ”Search Index Purge” then? Thank you for creating a fix. God bless.

    • Joost de Valk

      This depends: when did you update your unmaintained site?

  192. Kenny
    Kenny  • 5 years ago

    Joost, thank you for taking the time to write about this… and for taking responsibility and creating a fix and clean up. That is something very few people would do. So, although i havent suffered from any issues… i did just want to let you know we in the web world appreciate this proactive approach.

    • Joost de Valk

      Appreciated Kenny!

  193. Suzanne
    Suzanne  • 5 years ago

    Hi, how do I set this when I don’t have the option to set it? I guess it has to do with not having a premium membership, but of course I did the update and I want to check it!

    • Bruno Medeiros
      Bruno Medeiros  • 5 years ago

      Lateral sidebar – SEO – Search Appearance – Midia.

    • Joost de Valk

      You don’t need premium for anything that’s described above. It’s all available in Yoast SEO free.

      • Sandy
        Sandy  • 5 years ago

        Same here, i don’t find the option to set it in the free version

        • Lak
          Lak  • 5 years ago

          May be you’ve to check advanced–>permalinks–>Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL.

        • Mas Jawa
          Mas Jawa  • 5 years ago

          Keep it up yoast!

  194. wisdom
    wisdom  • 5 years ago

    I had experienced a sudden decrease in traffic and ranking due to this changes.
    I hope my site traffic will go up again, though i don’t really know how long it might take for this to happen.
    I must say it has affected badly.

    • Joost de Valk

      It’ll work, I’m not worried about that. The thing you never know for sure though: is this what caused your drop? There were several other Google changes in that timeframe that could have caused the ranking drop…

      • دانلود آهنگ
        دانلود آهنگ  • 5 years ago

        you helped me . thanks a lot dears on YOAST

      • Jane
        Jane  • 5 years ago

        I have a photographic website with lots of images as ‘standalone’ pages. I am not very tech savvy, but followed your instructions and found that my Media & attachments URLs option was set to NO. I really don’t know if it has always been like this or whether I’m a victim of the bug and, as your blog said that for photographic sites it may be a conscious choice to leave this as NO, I don’t know whether I should change it or not, and what the implications are either way?

      • Johan
        Johan  • 5 years ago

        Hi… We suffered a drastic drop in google rank, but as you said, we can never be sure of the exact reasons. However… the URL attachment was set to no when I checked. I changed it back to yes and we are thinking about installing the purge plug in. Is there any risk/downside installing and using the purge plugin?

        • Katie Clark
          Katie Clark  • 5 years ago

          I just installed the purge plugin. Before today it was showing 10,000 images submitted, and 3400 indexed (should this number be zero?). Now it is saying 23,000, but still 3400 indexed. Is this correct? All of this makes my head spin.

        • Chris
          Chris  • 5 years ago

          For those of us that don’t fully understand SEO or have a Learning disability like myself, perhaps you can advise me on what i need to do.

          I run a wedding photography site and i didn’t have either version that YOAST stated has the bug yet it was set to NO in the media tab anyway, not by me and not by anyone i know.

          So I’ve set it to yes, but i don’t know if I’ve dropped rank as i haven’t been checking (which I’m going to rectify from now on) should i use the purge URL tool anyway? even if I’m not sure its effected me?

          Or is there a more foolproof way to check if this has effected my ranking in some way?

          Please help me, Yoast creators/anyone with knowledge…


          • aylikes
            aylikes  • 4 years ago

            I really appreciate that information.

          • Jaden Jones
            Jaden Jones  • 5 years ago

            Hello Joost, Thanks for having the courage to admit your mistakes and swiftly working towards a quick solution, it’s an act of courage which I greatly commend.

            However, my website,, is barely one month old and I submitted my sitemap to google about 3 weeks ago of which my URLS and images are already being indexed.

            I’ve been getting tons of backlinks recently so my question is, will the bug render the backlinks useless or will the backlinks still be effective after the attachment “thin urls” have been purged?

            Also, kindly help me check if there are attachment urls that needs to be purged as I’m unable to check this.

            Please, your reply is important. Many thanks.

          • Ahmed Elhor
            Ahmed Elhor  • 5 years ago

            Although you destroyed my images ranking at google search and made me upset and don’t know when I will get back again, but still thank you for never leaving us down and for being honest with us, that makes us want to be always with your plugin as we know you will always be beside us. Anyway, how long will my website take to get my visitors back?

          • Exclusive Concepts
            Exclusive Concepts  • 5 years ago

            This removed one of the detected issues but there’s still two remaining: