Supporting older versions of WordPress

As soon as a new WordPress update comes out, Yoast will only support that update and the prior update, and not versions before that. This means we’ll end our support for WordPress 4.9, which we’d kept alive for a little bit longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and the classic editor. I’d like to explain why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

Building software for WordPress can be incredibly complex. We work in a world where there are always a couple of versions of WordPress around. Next to that, plugins can do almost anything (which they do), which also means they can interfere with each other. Every site has a different combination of plugins, leading to tens of thousands of different combinations.

Modern code

At Yoast we pride ourselves in using the best tools available to build solutions for our users. With WordPress 5.2, the WordPress core team upped the minimum PHP requirement for WordPress from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.6. We always want our software to work on the minimum requirements for WordPress, which means we could only use functionality from PHP 5.2 up until then.

Note: I know these version numbers and the fact that they’re so alike can become confusing. We’ve certainly had some confusion around that internally. I apologize for that in advance, but as you’ll understand, I can’t change these version numbers.

PHP is the language that most of the WordPress backend is built in. PHP 5.2 was released in 2006, while PHP 5.6 was released in 2014. As you can see, that’s 8 years apart, and 8 years is an incredibly long time on the internet.

By going back to our policy of only supporting the current and previous version, and thus only supporting WordPress 5.2 and 5.3, we allow ourselves to develop using PHP 5.6. Because we can use PHP 5.6 now, we can develop faster and more securely.

What does “support” mean?

When we say we don’t support an older version of WordPress it means we’ve stopped testing with it, and things are likely to break. It also means you won’t see Yoast SEO updates until you’ve updated your WordPress to a supported version.

My site doesn’t work with the classic editor

For a small portion of sites, I know this leaves them in limbo, which we hate. If you have a custom WordPress solution, built with old versions of plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), you might be “stuck”. Even though ACF has done an incredibly good job of migrating to Gutenberg, that might not “save” you.

While we think that sucks, we don’t really have any option for you other than to go to your website developer and explain them that this isn’t a state you want to stay in. You really should move to newer versions of WordPress. We will keep on supporting the Classic Editor for a few more years, so if they make it work with that, you’re good.

I don’t see any Yoast SEO updates

There are a couple of different reasons why you can’t see Yoast SEO updates. As said above: if you’re on an old version of WordPress, you will not see them. So update your WordPress first. If that’s not the case, please reinstall the plugin, simply delete it and install the latest version manually. That won’t delete any of your data, don’t worry.

Go and update your site!

So, if you’re on an old version of WordPress, go and update. Of course, before doing anything like updating plugins or WordPress, always make sure to test and back up your site!

Coming up next!

21 Responses to Supporting older versions of WordPress

  1. Bob Millard
    Bob Millard  • 5 years ago

    The vast majority of large companies (6+ employees) cannot possibly keep up with your policy of a new version every single couple of weeks. It is madness trying to keep up, and imo, a very shortsighted (or money orientated move by Yoast). You’re only going to support WordPress 5.2, which came out 3 weeks ago!! Seriously??
    I work for a very large company and we are going to have to drop Yoast. There is no point anymore, as it’s plainly obvious that Yoast is just for individuals and small companies now. Such a shame, but what can we do!?

  2. Rahul
    Rahul  • 5 years ago

    Now I’m using an old version, but after seeing this as soon as possible I will update my wordpress.

  3. Sahil Mittal
    Sahil Mittal  • 5 years ago

    Ok, Thanks for this information. I will soon update my WordPress version

  4. Abhinav Agarwal
    Abhinav Agarwal  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for this valuable information and I also find the older version better than the newer one. The editor of the newer version has got some malfunctioning and security issues.

  5. Rajeev
    Rajeev  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing valuable information, I really like old wordpress version in new version their new editor but not work and security issue.

  6. Albert
    Albert  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the useful information. Though I like the old version of WordPress but older versions better

  7. Brista Torris
    Brista Torris  • 5 years ago

    I’m not at all comfortable with the new version the old version is quite better.

  8. Joddy Edwards
    Joddy Edwards  • 5 years ago

    I liked the older versions better. Such a shame that it won’t work.

    • Joost de Valk

      The older version of WordPress? Just use the Classic Editor plugin!

  9. Arron Murray
    Arron Murray  • 5 years ago

    I am using an old version of WordPress. Thanks for updating the useful information.

  10. Zack
    Zack  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for this information. If i fail to upgrade, will my site ranking be affected?

    • Joost de Valk

      No, unless your site gets hacked, which is a real risk if you don’t keep updating your WordPress.

  11. Kenneth Hughley
    Kenneth Hughley  • 5 years ago

    I’m building my website with an older version of wordpress. Every time I use the newer version it won’t allow for the download of my themes. I have a current website that was built by someone else. They didn’t allow me any flexibility of changes without contacting them. I also wanted to port my website but the company uses a template that won’t allow my you use the content I created. However the wordpress updating saga is too much with the inability to port entire sites.

  12. Nicholas Sanderson
    Nicholas Sanderson  • 5 years ago

    Updating is one of those things I just hate doing. I always put it off as long as possible. Not really sure why. I think its all the double checking, backing up, etc etc. Gotta do it, though!

  13. John Givens
    John Givens  • 5 years ago

    I’m still in the dark about the question…
    Why should I use Gutenberg? Why change?
    All I hear is….”block editor…”. I want to understand what’s the advantage of switching from using the WP Bakery Page Builder on my Impreza-based site?

    How can I understand this dilemma? Long term… do I have to leave Page Builder behind?
    What’s a good way to “test drive” Gutenberg if I have to go there? Could I “try” Gutenberg” on some page changes to try to see how it work? How do I get proficient in Gutenberg?
    Can I leave my site as it is and just use Gutenberg for new pages? …can I use Gutenberg to make modification to current page built with Page Builder?

    Referral to some reading on how to handle the situation… would be appreciated…

    I’m very

  14. Charlotte Drew
    Charlotte Drew  • 5 years ago

    It’s been an interesting run, Yoast, but if this is your line in the sand then here is where we will part ways.

    WordPress 5.x has speed issues amongst a lot of other things still to be worked out, and there’s no reason on our end to force this transition right now. WordPress has kept it optional, so why wouldn’t Yoast? This year will really be a transitional year with WordPress, and I’d rather go through the hassle of changing SEO plugins than fighting our entire site with WP 5.x.

    Do hope you will reconsider. Thanks at least for the advanced warning.

  15. momoh ibrahim
    momoh ibrahim  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the useful information. Though i like the old version of wordpress with this i am prepared for the new version. Thanks do much

  16. Master Babu
    Master Babu  • 5 years ago

    Very nice article for the Yoast lover. I am a WordPress user and I also use Yoast SEO Plugin, as this plugin has really helped me for my off-page SEO.

    Thanks for the update, Kepp up the good work team..

  17. Albert Joseph
    Albert Joseph  • 5 years ago

    I am using an old version of WordPress for one of my projects. Thanks for updating the useful information.

  18. Webmaster
    Webmaster  • 5 years ago

    We understand you post, however your support does not address the overwhelming changes needed from Theme suppliers who are mostly behind in updating their Themes for the new versions of WordPress.
    We are stuck ourselves waiting not only for the Themes update, but the Child Themes to be updates as well. Otherwise we have to totally re-write our Web Site and not prepared to do so.
    We are not alone in this scenario, and there are many postings to the issue hoping for a quick resolution. Our theme supplier has told us that it will be the end of this year before they can catch up. So we hope you will re-consider your support due to this issue. Support for the issue will save you customer support and solidify your client base.
    Thank you
    HomesforTrade Team

  19. Srikant Kumar
    Srikant Kumar  • 5 years ago

    Thanks for the detailed information about supporting old version of wordpress. I am curious to know, would it impact in terms of ranking if I dont upgrade wordpress to latest version.