Joost de Valk on the Lessons Learned After Releasing WordPress SEO 3.0

WordPress SEO Featured ImageWithin the last few weeks, a number of readers have contacted us to look into the recent upgrade woes experienced by WordPress SEO users. Since 3.0’s release on November 18th, the development team has released six point releases.

Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast.com, and lead developer of WordPress SEO, explains the mistakes made with the release and apologizes for the lack of communication, “We’ve made mistakes, obviously. Of course, there were bugs, which we have worked hard on and are still working on right now. We’ve made mistakes in communication too. We’re sorry about that,” he said.

WordPress SEO is active on more than a million sites and the fallout from issues experienced by users upgrading to the 3.0 branch has resulted in many negative reviews. Over time, the plugin has gained a reputation of breaking with each upgrade.

More Beta Testers Needed

de Valk admits that when 3.0 was pushed out to the public, users would encounter bugs, but says it’s part of having a large variety of configurations across their install base, “There were a few bugs that I think we should’ve caught in our testing period which was extensive and we’re taking precautions to make sure we do next time,” he said.

Despite the roadmap to Yoast SEO 3.0 published in November, the amount of people who tested the releases was small compared to every day users. The team is asking for ideas on how to encourage more people to participate in the beta testing process.

Communication Breakdown

de Valk and his team of five actively responded to users on Twitter and email but didn’t immediately address users on Facebook which led to harsh criticism. Paying customers were prioritized while free users were told that they wouldn’t be supported over email.

de Valk admits it was probably the wrong course of action, “This was probably, in hindsight, not what we should’ve done. For future major releases we will try to actively support everybody for a period of time,” he said.

It’s Difficult to Change a Reputation

He also addresses the usability issues caused by changes to the user interface of the snippet editor, “We thought the interface was intuitive, we also thought people would watch that (30 second) video, but we were obviously wrong. We’re now thinking about how to improve the snippet editor so it’s more obvious how you are able to edit,” he said.

The issues experienced by people upgrading WordPress SEO is a good example as to why automatically updating plugins is a bad idea. While the team continues to work hard to fix issues in the 3.0 branch, it’s going to take a number of excellent releases to erode the negative reputation that WordPress SEO upgrades will either break functionality or the site that’s using it.

96 Comments


  1. Hats off to the guy :) This plugin will always be my number 1 choice and the only one I recommend to others. A simple mistake cant undo how much his plugin has helped so many folks.

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    1. I want to echo the sentiments of Danny. I remember when Yoast SEO did not refer to a plugin, but rather a single page on Yoast’s personal website with information about SEO for WordPress. At that time, Yoast was recommending that people use an SEO plugin called “HeadSpace 2” by John Godley.

      Not only has the Yoast SEO plugin helped so many folks; Yoast personally helps people through tons of free educational resources, speaking events, and much more.

      Yoast, Yoast SEO, and the whole team at Yoast.com have a wonderful reputation in my book. Thanks Yoast.

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    2. Danny Jones, I think part of the problem here isn’t any one error, but rather a continuous serious of little errors. 6 revisions in about as many days is a real indication that something ain’t right.

      As an SEO pluging, The Yoast plugin in generally very good. But as things have moved along, it seems to have added more bloaty features and fancy display tricks that are perhaps not needed, or could be in a seperate plugin module. There is also some concern that some of the code in the free plugin is in fact pro material that you cannot access without an account. For the free side plugin, that is really unwanted bloat.

      I think the Joast teams need to learn from this experience and get back to the basics of assuring that what they put out works, at least the basics, every time.

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      1. Alex, did you read my post that Jeff referenced? :) Would be helpful if you did, I think :)

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      2. Yes, I did read it. It’s, well, vague.

        Here’s a tip from 30 years of computing: any font under 10px is pretty much a fail for an input box. You don’t need a committee or a feedback poll to figure that out. I know you are trying to duplicate what Google uses to DISPLAY the results, but for inputting, it’s terrible. Worse yet that sometimes half way through the post refreshes and reloads the original text.

        Your plugin is complex, and I appreciate that. However, 6 swings to get something to be stable is a pretty big deal. Perhaps slow down just a little bit, breath, and issue a patch 1 day later that is more completely tested and perhaps fixes more than one issue. 6 updates times a couple of hundred sites is a full time job for me!

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  2. I’m just waiting till I read and hear buzz that it’s all working just fine before updating the plugin on any site. Please keep us posted, Jeffro.

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  3. I’ve always used and loved WordPress Seo by Yoast (dam my phone keeps trying to spell toast) and once I get some more free time I would love to help submit more pull requests via GitHub. I didnt see any really huge bugs that couldn’t be fixed easily by tweaking the code or using filters. A big problem with freeloaders in the WP community is that most don’t know how to code and often they expect too much from a free product I wish more people would hire experienced developers to manage their site or if they don’t want to at least purchase the premium version that includes support – having a lot of freeloaders just complaining and not actually helping via GitHub or providing concise bug reports just makes things worse. We need developers focused on developing not answering forum comments or emails…that’s why so many plugins on wp.org haven’t been updated in years because developers often get discouraged by all the negotivity from inexperienced WP users :( whenever you use anything that is free you should be expected to be able to manage it on your own and if there are issues from an update be able to patch it yourself and if you aren’t willing to do that then you shouldn’t be looking at free products.

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  4. I’m a premium Yoast SEO plugin guy and had many issues with this plugin. Of course this was fixed by the support team since I’m a premium member.

    I feel bad for the people who are using the free version and the lack of support for them. I know lot’s of people used a rollback plugin to get back to a stable version until Yoast’s team squashed all the bugs with this big release.

    Hopefully he learns his lesson and actually changes things for the next major release. Took 4 days for the support team to fix my issue with this plugin and I’m a paying customer!

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    1. That’s not a good experience when the plugin is one of the most popular plugins in the WordPress repo. They probably have bad testers for the major release, especially when the API is changed (from PHP to JS with live scoring).

      Hopefully they can improve the process in the future.

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      1. Everything works fine now but more beta testers is needed. Not all of us use the same plugins or have the same themes so conflicts will come up for sure.

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    2. The problem is that when something works fine people don’t give a review. But… when something breaks, bashing begins in “end of the world” proportions.

      I am using the plugin for 3 or 4 years (don’t remember) and haven’t experienced major problems. This is for roughly 600 websites (I worked a while ago for a company that offered maintenance & SEO services and I worked on a lot of websites, on different hostings with different configurations and etc.) I remember only 2 fatal crashes in the update which were fixed in a matter of hour (I think it was an year ago).

      Of course it is inconvenient especially if you are a webmaster but it’s a FREE product. And while it is a free product all glitches, errors and etc. are fixed ASAP. Which is remarkable for a free product.

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    3. Hi Derek,

      I understand the frustration, and wished we could have fixed your issue sooner. At the same time: we’re truly doing what we can. Nothing less. And really, when you say “I feel bad for the people that didn’t pay a dime”: I’m the one paying for that support. I don’t mind giving free support, I do have a problem with people feeling entitled to it. We would be loads more profitable if we did away with our free version altogether, but we don’t want too. But it’s also just too easy to expect a team of our size to support every one of our 4 million users within the matter of minutes.

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  5. While it’s nice to see a mea culpa from the Yoast team, I have a feeling they may have done themselves a lot of harm here.

    The changes from 2.x to 3.0 were not minor ones, that is for sure. Some of the issues may have been solved with better documentation and explanation (such as relocating some of the fields on the main form), while others are more complex in nature. I still shake my head when I have to type something into the little description field that appears to use about an 8 point font. Forget bugs, from a usability standpoint I didn’t see this as an improvement.

    Moreover though, I think Yoast is a victim of the WP mentality of “update, update, update!” where the fact that you are out of date on a version is in your face every time you are in the control panel. Since I wasn’t aware that there was such a big difference in versions, I did an update on some sites and then realized that it was a mistake. The 3.0 version wasn’t ready for production, and today looking at 3.0.6 I am still not sure it’s really ready – but on those sites, I have to live with it, there is no simple way to back away from the update.

    At this point, I will think long and hard before applying a major Yoast update. When 3.1 comes around (and it will soon enough, no doubt) I will be one of those people waiting for 3.1.1 or 3.1.2 before even considering it. Oh, for what it’s worth, I rarely install a .0 WP core either, they generally have problems and need another update within days.

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    1. I quite agree with you. From the usability standpoint, it doesn’t look like an improvement. The description section in the earlier version was so user-friendly. Plus, with so many colorful buttons appearing close to each other, it’s hard to tell what exactly they say. But as you say, we have to live with it.

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      1. I totally agree with you. Moreover the sitemaps in a multiste install dont work anymore. They throw a 404 page. Note: i haven’t tested this with the latest build as i had to revert to 2.3.5 because of this. Google was sending me a shitload of errors.

        I don’t however want to live with this. I am gonna swap. I have had it with this plugin.

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      2. So nice to see AIOSEO acting like vultures. That’s what we get for helping you fix security issues in your code I guess.

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      3. Joost, vulture? I think this is not your paid promotion or your site. As you mentioned you want to provide a free plugin for almost everyone (except those who you fire as customers ;)).
        Tony provide the same. What is wrong if he offers an own solution if he thinks it’s better than yours?
        This is not competition, I hope cooperation. You helped him with security issue, he can help you with huge support requests, that he can take some users for his plugin :)
        Users who use your plugin don’t belong to you, you uploaded and manage open source code to free WP directory, as Tony.
        I believe that anybody can jump into any discussion about your plugin and offer different solution/plugin/code/service for SEO.

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    2. Well alex, look at it from our side. We’ve been asking for feedback on that new snippet editor for over 5 months. We never got any negative feedback. Not a single comment. And now, suddenly, people have issues. What should we have done here? That’s what I’m asking in my post…

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      1. Took me a few seconds to realize how to edit the snippet. Much of the time I won’t watch instruction videos for the same reason I skip podcasts and automated tutorials: I like to dive straight in and prefer facts over clutter (though my own writing doesn’t adhere to my own preferences).

        I do have a tutorial suggestion:

        1) The first time someone scrolls to the new Yoast SEO fields of a page or post in the editor screen, show a few graphical arrows with bullet point instructions.

        2) Add an info tab to the SEO options so that people can read brief bullet pointed documentation about the SEO fields.

        3) Add an option in WordPress SEO’s settings to disable the info tab.

        I like the new design. Took me a few years to decide that WordPress SEO is the best SEO plugin for me, my clients and my readers. I still believe WordPress SEO is the best option.

        The gang-up-and-join-the-critics-mentality is a sad part of life that all creatives and developers experience at some point. I think hysteria is the big driving force behind that mentality.

        It is not your fault if people can’t be bothered to read change logs. It’s not your fault if people feel irritated by the issue of multiple bug fixes through multiple plugin updates released in quick succession. I prefer to have the bug fixes; I don’t care how many plugin updates are involved so long as they are released.

        Thank you Joost and team. You’ve helped many people over the years. Many of us do appreciate you.

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      2. I think what you should have done in this case is apply common sense web design. Extremely small fonts are NOT good for input fields, no matter what. That the field was (a) populated, (b) not in the tab input chain, and (c) tends to revert back to the original text if an autosave occurs during input just tends to make it worse.

        As for feedback, You have to understand that most of the feedback you will get in development are from like minded people. When it comes to layout issues, you will almost always find them when people are forced to a new design. The will squawk about whatever truly bothers them at that point. Get use to it, it’s the nature of interface development.

        When your plugin works, it’s the best SEO plugin around. When it’s broken, all of that benefit is lost. Just remember what it looks like to someone who’s site gets deindexed or loses SERPs because an update took out the sitemaps or killed page titles or something.

        I recommend your plugin to everyone who asks, FWIW.

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  6. I NEVER update a plugin right away on a major release, no matter what plugin it is. What I do first is to setup a local website on my pc and try the new version if I have time but in any case I wait a couple of weeks and see the pace of bug fix releases to decide if the plugin is stable enough.
    It’s not just Yoast SEO, I do it for WooCommerce too, and a client of mine thanked me because last year a major WC update would have broken her WC Subscriptions plugin if I had not waited.

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    1. I completely agree. The Events Calendar just released 4.0 and I still haven’t upgraded. I typically wait until after the first point revision to consider updating.

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  7. I have 60+ sites I manage for customers and most, if not all of them, had the Yoast SEO plugin installed.

    Stupidly, I updated 4 of them before I realised it would have been far better not to have updated any at all. I now had 4 sites with no SEO whatsoever.

    The way this major update was just allowed to wander out without proper testing is symptomatic of Jost’s gung-ho nature, I think. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, in order to fix the mess the first release made of the site, you had to sign up for some third party service in Germany I’d never heard of.

    I saw some folks writing that they thought Yoast had caused this problem deliberately, to get a million people sign up at OnPage.org and get a nice fat affiliate pay-off.

    Be that as it may, if I remember rightly, its not the first time this has happened with this plugin. The careless releasing of a buggy version, I mean.

    Anyway, oddly enough, I am now glad it happened. Because it prompted me to go and search the repository for an alternative.

    And what I found there was The SEO Framework and once I’d tried it and found out how smart and helpful the author is, it made me very VERY happy. Its super-fast and not at all bloated, unlike the like Yoast SEO plugin.

    In fact I have now installed The SEO Framework on almost all of the sites I manage and replaced the Yoast SEO plugin, which always appeared to be a very lazy development, a nonsensical UX, and very slow. A bit like Jost… 8^)

    So, thanks to the crazy Dutchman, out of adversity springs a better solution.

    Thanks Jost.

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    1. @Tony ~ I tried it once a while back and didn’t like it. Can’t remember why exactly, and no doubt it’s changed significantly since then.

      I kinda really like SEO Framework as its light, super-fast and lean, plus its based on Genesis, so to migrate my metadata from Yoast I can take advantage of the SEO Data Transporter from Nathan Rice (StudioPress).

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    2. Trolling and spamming all in one post. I’d never consider using nor recommending a plugin by any author who sought to gain off another’s misfortune. Seriously low class, pal.

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      1. There’s more than one crazy Dutchman. I know because I met several already … dank u wel alstublieft ;-)

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  8. I have the premium version and never had to signup to the onpage site. Who said it was a requirement to signup?

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    1. There were 4 releases in two days. The first release broke the site. The second release was supposed to fix it, if you signed up with OnPage.org, but it didn’t. The third and fourth releases might also have had the same requirement, I wouldn’t know. I had given up on this plugin and its author by then. Like I said, this isn’t the first time Yoast SEO has caused havoc around here.

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      1. We never forced anyone to sign up. Never. We had a bug that would show that warning erroneously to a group of people. We fixed that. But even that warning didn’t say you had to sign up.

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      2. It was just an “erroneous bug”.

        And just a group of people?

        Oh well that’s OK then.

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  9. If you have ever developed something, you are aware that mistakes can happen.

    It hurts me to see lots of strong impressions on Yoast plugin and updating WordPress plugins, lately.

    Considering you are a free user, you can use something that someone put a lot of effort and hours. You are using that. You should be happy. You should be thankful.

    I think we all forgot that lately.

    Mistakes can happen. And I would love to remind everyone that we all have a choice. If you are not happy with some plugin – develop better. Even better, put it in a repo, share it with a community.

    First time I watched Joast giving a talk at WCEU 2013, he said something like “Support can literally kill you.” At that time, I wasn’t aware what he was referring. Now I know.

    We are all humans, mistakes can happen and I am sure that WordPress SEO – Yoast will remain one of my favourite plugins on the repo and couple of flaws in updates won’t stop me from using and recommending it.

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    1. It is not a one time mistake, the mistake was made years ago by deciding to create a bloated product to cover every possible SEO related feature instead of breaking it into simple free module and a “for pro” product.

      The decision to make an overly bloated product is what leads to the mistakes, it is an obvious textbook result of such development methodology, the amount of effort in changing code is not linear to the number of lines of code, probably not exponential, but it is bad.

      The other thing I get from the story is that Jost didn’t bother to employ a QA professional, maybe the product had become so big now that he should not delay at that any longer. Software developers can be smart but good QA requires a different set of mental abilities.

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    2. I wasn’t a “free user” as you put it, and I obtained refunds for myself and my clients too. Maybe you think I should still be “grateful”. I really am sick of this kind of bigging up the freemium marketing efforts of developers like Yoast. The only reason he created the plugin was to make money, and the only reason he made a freemium version was to take advantage of the WordPress ecosystem. Its simply marketing ~ not philanthropy.

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      1. Terence, the only reason I started making money off the plugin, 5 years after I started releasing SEO plugins for free, was because I couldn’t afford to spend all my time, on my own, supporting the plugin. I needed a team. I needed a premium version to build that team.

        I understand that you’re frustrated about some of the things happening and I can relate to that, we’re working hard on fixing that. But you don’t get to change the history of this plugin or our company :)

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      2. What a load of self-aggrandising bovine excrement.

        Because of the poor way you and your, so called team, handled that release, now you don’t get to ‘change anything’ to do with any of my sites, or my clients’ sites, any more.

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      3. You don’t know what your talking about. Toast was a free plugin for years before Joost created premium adds and services.

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  10. I don’t like the annoying message after each upgrade that never goes away unless you dismiss it. And the video playing automatically. :(

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  11. Yoast’s plugins do have a tendency to break stuff on upgrades, but they’re at least minor problems and are unintentional. It does make me want to switch to another plugin, but there is unfortunately no viable replacement that I’m aware of.

    I’m more concerned about the plugins which intentionally break during upgrades. This seems to be a particularly big problem with the larger ecommerce plugins in my experience.

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    1. Really?

      I would suggest you take a look at The SEO Framework [formerly Autodescription] from Sybre Waaijer.

      Its light, fast and well, everything Yoast SEO isn’t. 8^)

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      1. There are lots of them out there, but I’m never sure whether I should trust them. Plus, I have no interest in SEO, so am relying on someone else knowing more than me. I’ll check out the plugin you recommended though.

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      2. Good or bad, let me know how you get on Ryan. I’d be interested to know.

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      3. Did you try it out?

        It was written with massive and busy (multi-)sites in mind, so its 197% to 867% faster compared to other popular SEO plugins ~ you know the plugin I’m talking about. It also consumes 177% to 260% fewer server resources and about 15% fewer database interactions (numbers may vary on this one depending on plugin compatibility).

        And there’s another thing which is guaranteed with this plugin, of course ~ 100% fewer advertisements. And the author intends to keep it that way.

        You can get The SEO Framework in the WordPress repository absolutely free!

        Enjoy.

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    2. no viable replacement

      Yes there is: The All In One Seo Plugin

      A very good replacement for Yoast Seo. No annoying red, yellow and green bulbs telling you that your seo is not what Yoast thinks it should be.

      If i decide to make my Seo the way i want it why is the plugin telling me by a red bulb it is not ok?

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      1. Neo

        That is the one I use and its a good very good SEO plugin that handles what really needs to be handled. If I want to optimize beyond what I know. I will use scribe.

        I didn’t show up to try to knock Yoast. I don’t know it. I don’t use it. But there are alternatives that work just as good, maybe better, depending on what you want out of it.

        People will pay for scribe if they want that, and if you give Michael Tolbert his due after deciding it is something you’re going to keep, pay for that one also. I am not sure that Michael cares as much though about people using it free. Not when he would be perfectly happy with a donation, lol.

        But no alternative? Yah, that is kind of funny since I see sites using scribe, which isn’t cheap, but very effective, and they have a whole lot lower PR and DA just kicking the crap out of search engine rankings. When they are getting a million views a month and it is 75 percent search, I think its working.

        Poor Yoast. I would feel terribly bad, but he probably lives in a much nicer house and drives a much nicer car, so, ummm. Sympathy card maybe?

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      2. Agreed. I switched one of my sites to AiOSEO after Yoast started to become a pain to manage, and results have been excellent. I’ll be switching the rest of my sites this weekend.

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  12. I don’t use WP SEO for a long time. Updates breaking things was so common with the plugin I was fed up. This new problem is just another one from a long list.

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  13. Not sure how useful this post really is as my careful guess would be that most users of Yoast SEO have never even heard of WP Tavern.

    The update bugs are not something recent, it has already been going on for at least a year and to be honest it seems like it is getting worse.

    It doesn’t look at all like the author and/or the team is/are learning any lessons. Paired with comments that users of the free plugin have no right to complain and basically putting stuff that was free before behind a paywall, it is clear that Joost has completely abandoned whatever he once stood for and has succumbed to greed.

    Thanks Terence for the tip, I’ll be checking out the SEO Framework and a fork of Yoast SEO is in the making…

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    1. Most WordPress SEO users may not know about WP Tavern, but most WP Tavern visitors will know about WordPress SEO.

      I don’t think Joost has abandoned anything. He’s just struggling to ensure things don’t break. I’m sure this is stressing him more than anyone else.

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      1. He’s just struggling to ensure things don’t break.

        No he is not… He breaks many websites every time with every freaking mayor update of his plugin.

        If he was careful he would have done a better job and tested more then just pushing out these bogus updates.

        Had he done a better job he would not have to struggle at all because of all the cr.. he created.

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      2. Pushing out bad updates does not benefit Yoast. It in fact damages them quite a lot. There is no way this is intentional. Negligent perhaps, but most definitely not intentional IMO.

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    2. Well, given you have the latest WPTavern news in your dashboard if you have WP News checkbox activated, I’d guess a fair few know about the site… ;-)

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  14. I am sorry to say and i guess most of you probably don’t agree with me, but this the I don’t recall how many times that the Yoast Seo update screws up a website. Moreover i am not to speak about the changes made to the once very simple layout. Yoast is monetizing more and more his plugin abilities, which is of course his good right. But the people who where using this plugin and advising others to use it also made it a success and they are left in the cold. As for the beta testing the version 3. Some of those builds could not even be tested simply because they did not install at all. And even while replying issues at GitHub people had to discover Yoast suddenly released the plugin. This was again a very bad and stupid decision. If you ask me? Dutch Stubbornness. I am seriously considering swapping over to AIO or another Seo plugin as the support for this plugin is way below any level of good support and one can only get so called ‘quality’ support if they pay? What used to be a nice and easy to use plugin is gone and way behind us.

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    1. I guess he just got lucky being the first with an SEO plugin.

      He’s also not doing a very good job with his ‘Site Review’ business.

      Probably newbies will accept what he tells them, without question, but it seems he made a major miscalculation here ~ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/bad-review-yoast-seo-firm.html

      Frankly, I think his attitude is definitely sub-optimal, and it shows in his lack of care and disrespect for the market, as evidenced in this debacle and his SEO cluster-frack.

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      1. Well that article confirms already what many think. Unbelievable that he is bragging about his achievements and totally by passing the complaints the client has and not willing to deal with those at all. It is a over the top company and plugin if you ask me reading such !

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      2. WordPress SEO was not the first SEO plugin for WordPress. There were quite a few released before that.

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      3. What was it then, do you think, made that plugin successful up to now? It certainly wasn’t the UX or the reliability.

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      4. It actually was Terence. We were and still are the only company making an SEO plugin with an actual SEO background. As I said above, I understand your frustration, but AIOSEO added a snippet preview a while back, 2 years after we did. They’re followers, following our lead.

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  15. On my end, I’ve learned some lessons after breaking entire websites with buggy updates like this: “just keep calm and DON’T apply every new update you see.”

    I manage almost 100 WP sites and every great plugin is prone to a lot of bugs in their first major update. It’s normal. When developers “modernize” the UI, refactor code, “improve” features, “deprecate” old ones, and the like, it’s absolutelly impossible to do that without failures because they simply cannot test the infinite amount of production scenarios in which their products are running.

    So, my methodology is, wait one week for popular plugins (Yoast’s, WooCommerce, Super Cache, Wordfence, BackWPup, iThemes Security, etc), and TWO weeks for least known plugins. An exception would be JetPack, which is undoubtedly well tested.

    So keep calm and keep your fingers far from that Update links :)

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    1. Ditto.

      Every time I see new update is available I used to hit the button, and update immediately- I use very few plugin, and my own theme which exclusively follows WordPress standards- so I used to think there wont be any hard issue to update ever.

      Now, at least, I’ll be more careful to update anything from Yoast- the fault they had, are not a product of “less testing in limited environments” rather mostly was the worse decision-level mistakes combined with poor execution.

      Free, or, Paid whatever it is- they should be careful what they decide to put into the code-base. Sadly, they failed, many times already-

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  16. Good try on good PR sticky plaster – I have had lots of major plugins – none break site at EVERY upgrade like this one – and the support whether paid or not is arrogant or non-existent.

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  17. Plus if you go to the forums now the poor folk that went with 3.0.6 have trashed sites as usual

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  18. I stopped using the SEO plugin awhile ago. It began to feel I was using a car to run down a mouse. There was a lot in there I really didn’t need, or want to need.

    My sympathies with the plugin developers and Joost himself. I hope things get worked out. It’s far nicer to be the popular, perfect plugin god than the one explaining what went wrong.

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    1. Your sympathies are misplaced. What about the end-users? Or maybe they should just be grateful, since they didn’t pay for it after all?

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      1. I am an end user. We have the choice to use or not use any plugin on or not on the WordPress Plugin Directory. I decided not to keep using it. No harm done to me.

        I can still have empathy regardless for what I think of a plugin they worked on. People are prone to being human.

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  19. I look after 40+ client WordPress sites and about 10 of our own. Coming up through a corporate IT background since the mid-80s, I know NEVER to update a live environment until I’m absolutely sure … and have my roll-back ready.

    I NEVER update anything just because there’s a new version (even though the nagging from Wordfence and others gets annoying). And yes, some of our PCs are still running WinXP quite happily! It’s impractical to keep stopping what I’m doing and hunt through sites to update a single plugin. It also costs more for no return. So, we operate a schedule tied to major WP releases (after the first bug-fix!). It isn’t perfect but it’s a sane and pragmatic solution.

    Before I update a plugin to a version I haven’t seen before, I ALWAYS check the release notes to see what’s changed, and the reviews in case there’s a problem. Thanks to this approach, I didn’t update any sites beyond Yoast’s 2.3.5. It’s saved me too from problems with the likes of Shareaholic and Social Sharing Toolkit.

    I use a private WP site to manage my site updates process, showing which sites have which plugins, what the latest installed versions are, and notes on any issues I’ve encountered. It’s the only way to be efficient and avoid time-consuming troubles.

    I wasn’t best pleased with Jimmy’s comments (4th comment at the top) suggesting anyone who uses something that’s free is a freeloader. I assume he’s including himself as he uses WordPress! I gave up trying to be a programmer in the 1980s, and specialised in network support and client-facing roles, something I was good at. If there’s a problem with WordPress, I can’t fix it, and one of the reasons I use the platform is because I don’t have to.

    Currently the WordPress eco-system is chaotic and anarchic … a (possibly avoidable?) consequence of open-source. It can be a nightmare for any user when something stops working because of an update (to WP, a Theme, a plugin), even when they’ve taken all the precautions. Even on this thread there are people who walked into Yoast’s update with their eyes wide shut!

    The eco-system needs to be managed and co-ordinated … it needs to grow up and be professional. For my money, that sort of step-change in outlook has to come from the top … and there are no signs of it yet.

    In the meantime … ahead with caution.

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  20. I used to use all in one seo pack (I think that’s what it was called). I moved to Yoast’s WPSEO for over a year and I have NEVER had ANY problem when upgrading on any of the 20-ish or so sites that are my own, or more of clients.

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    1. Hi Tony
      I used AIOSEO some time ago but when I moved over to Genesis I transported all my SEO info over to the Genesis built in SEO.

      I use Yoast’s plugin on one site only, an Elegant Themes site, and I might try AIOSEO on that site.

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    2. Seriously!?!?
      If your plugin is the most downloaded SEO plugin how come you still need to jump in every comment here trying to “steal” users?
      Don’t you have a plugin to maintain or support to provide?
      Its like if you have been sitting and waiting for such an error to happen so you could go for a user hunt.
      Cheap!

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      1. Thank you, Eyal. I’ve been thinking the same thing. Should I ever need to change SEO plugins it won’t be to AIO. What a vultures! Very unprofessional.

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  21. I had a client freak out a few days ago with the “your site can’t be indexed” message. Here’s what happened:

    Yoast brought in this OnPage thing, which “tests” the crawlability of a site by sending in a fake googlebot. The Wordfence plugin blocks fake googlebots. So when OnPage’s fake googlebot gets blocked by Wordfence, it complains about being unable to index the site.

    Checking Google and searching for “link:http://sitename.whatever“, the results looked as they should. So Google WAS indexing the site.

    Disabling Wordfence got rid of the ugly message, but it wasn’t necessary… only the FAKE googlebot from OnPage was getting blocked, not the REAL googlebot.

    This is a lesson in how plugins can behave undesirably when interacting with each other. The Yoast developers should have known that Wordfence is a highly used plugin and included it in a test environment.

    If Yoast wishes to force this OnPage thing onto us, they need to communicate with the Wordfence developers to find a way to allow the test crawls to happen.

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  22. It’s just me or here we have an army of trolls sent from competitors plugins? :)

    Yes, sometimes it’s really annoying to update a few times in a week, yes sometimes they break things with the updates, and yes, it looks like they are a bit sloppy with the testing process, but like many of you noted – it’s a free plugin, keep that in mind please.
    WordPress it’s a really nice tool but it really spoiled so many people who are expecting so many things for free…
    Try to support products like this one and you’ll see how hard actually is.
    Here is an advice – try the next beta and provide an useful feedback, instead of complaining here in the comments :)

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    1. It’s just you.

      You need to learn the difference between a critic and a troll.

      Those with negative experiences have as much to contribute as those with positive experiences. Otherwise, what would be the point of the star rating system on wordpress.org?

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      1. I do know the difference between a critic and a troll. Seeing so many comments from users with anonymous identity makes me wonder how many of you actually experienced any issues with the plugin?

        Just to clarify – I don’t like when a plugin break sites, but again – it’s really easy criticize someone for their mistakes, but how many of the active users provide a real, useful feedback for any of the beta/official release?

        I don’t like the fact this plugin real users for beta testers, give the fact sometimes we have 3-4-5 updates per week, but there are plenty of other plugins you can use if you are not satisfied of Yoast’s plugin, am I right?

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      2. @Stanko,

        I don’t use any SEO plugins, so I don’t have a dog in the fight.

        I have just been reading what people say, and found comments both for and against to be informative. I thought that was what the Tavern was for. So please don’t call those with whom you disagree “trolls”.

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    2. So if people don’t agree with the quality of a plugin they are trolls? Nobody is expecting too many things from something which is free, but what i don’t expect is it to break my website, regardless if it is free or not. And this is not the first time it did so. Yoast should have learned his lessons years way back when he created such mess the first time.

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      1. Posting negative reviews might not be trolling. But trying to advertise your own plugin by posting a negative review in almost every comment posted in here is kind of trolling.

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      2. I’m thinking the people from AIO are the trolls trying to take advantage of the situation

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      3. Maybe they just offer another solution for people who are not satisfied with Yoast plugin … Both plugins are listed free in WP directory, so there is not such thing as customers, clients … just users who use some plugin.
        If some code does not work well for those users, its great that there is different solution. This post is not on Yoast website, this is global community site, very open to everyone. So if any developer make plugin what he think do better job than Yoast, its right place to show up here, why not?
        Btw. Tony does not attack Joost or his plugin, just offer his solution for everyone free.

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  23. Yes agreed no trolls just people who suffered at the hands of these updates – and the tired old ‘free so one shouldn’t be demanding of quality’ argument. I respect all authors and developers, and support many – I have a number of paid for plugins and would pay for WPSEO – because it’s a business for me I prefer to pay for something that I need to enhance my site’s offering. Maybe that’s the issue – a nominal fee of even $20-30 per year is affordable for anyone serious about their site and would generate the income Yoast needs to test properly and release quality updates?

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    1. Hi Patrick, seeing these and your other comments above, did you actually read my post and the other ones? We did test, for weeks on end. The problem is that won’t make this any better. 3.0 was a major release for us, so we won’t have any changes a big as this for a while to come, but it was a needed one.

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      1. You mean Just because wp build in the title support in 4.4? That could not have caused such a dramatic change in your plugin. That could have easily taken care of another way. What was the reason for such a big change? I cant read anywhere anything about that.

        But even in the past when updates were released the plugin caused many issues and crashed websites. It is not the first time Joost.

        I appreciate that the issues were dealt with within a week. But still there are issues left and i still like the old way of the plugin how it gave you the abilities to add the title, meta description and keywords(regardless if they are used or not).

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  24. Hi Joost and team!

    I can’t actually remember how far back I started using your SEO plugin but I’ve always been a fan and I’ve always installed on my own as well as my clients sites. More than happy to do some beta testing just fire me over the link.

    Creating any form of software is a tricky thing to do. Creating something in the current climate with every bored teenager looking to hack into whatever they can for no real gain is a nightmare and I take my hat off to anyone that gives it a go. Version 3 is heading in the right direction with regards to the WordPress roadmap and as always keeps up with the requirements of Google. Issues are quickly ironed out and if you are a free user then to have something for free well maybe take a look at how much your giving before criticising?

    As far as the comments that are here from ‘other’ SEO plugin folks, I think a few lessons in business etiquette wouldn’t go a miss here. By acting the way you have on this thread, in forums and on social media you have made a firm 100% believer in me…. I will never use your software as I feel the companies/developers/chimps that have written them are in no way the sort of people I want to work with in business. I wish you well in your journey but I feel you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

    Joost I am a premium subscriber and I am more than happy with the progression of the plugin, to the point where I and my team are grateful to yourself for the hard work that you have put in over the years, in many cases for little or no return.

    Keep up the good work.

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  25. Constant issues with the licensing. It became maddening, I had to move on to a different plugin

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  26. Yoost

    Ok yes I appreciate that I’m sure it isn’t easy – but it isn’t here that you should really be addressing this I would suggest – its at .org where entire business have dozens of clients’ sites down, or everyone is rolling back anyway.

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  27. Yoast SEO is a great plugin but I have learned NEVER to update the plugin when a new release comes out across 60+ sites (unless it is a security fix) because of the follow up micro updates. Even if he had 10 times the beta testers they wouldn’t catch everything.
    Considering the user base of the free plugin people should cut him some slack or just wait a few days to update. Let the others test the new release.
    People are quick to criticize on the web or social media. Do the math..5 support people and over a million active installs.

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    1. Melanie, if everybody will wait, who will discover these bugs then? You just “profit” from those people (who “criticize” from your perspective) who did not wait and updated, so bugs pop up and you can do your safe update when everything is fixed.

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  28. Well it’s either wait as Melanie does and so do I – or lose business – like I said I’d happily pay for it – again look at .org where 60 clients’ sites from one guy all
    crashed – I pay for a number of plugins and the supports ok for some and good for others – none of them – and I’m looking here at big plugins; event calendars/real estate plugins and on a really complex theme. There’s a difference between a casual blogger and the guy with 300k pvs 50k uniques and a full time job that relies on serving the client. That’s why I pay plugin authors when I can – without them I couldn’t do what I do – Yoost you should stop the free plugin – charge $29 a year or something – even drop features and do a light free version. I would pay so would thousands of others and you could afford to debug

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  29. Joost clearly feels bad about the release bugs, and communication issues. My company manages hundreds of sites, and probably a third of them use YOAST SEO. And about 50% of those use premium adds.

    Joost would be the first to tell you I don’t pull punches, no matter who is involved. And I would still recommend his plugin over AIO hands down. Why? Because it’s a much better plugin for one. And two, Joost would never try and take advantage from another’s misfortune. The fact that AIO did here is reason enough not to trust that author.

    Did 3.0 cause problem?. Yes. Is it reason enough to abandon the plugin? Not in my opinion. But to each his own. Joost should be commended. Not just for the plugin but for the tons of work he’s done to educate users about SEO.

    Want to make sure plugins won’t cause problems during updates? Use a staging site to test changes and back your sites up before committing those changes to your live site(s).

    The last thing a plugin author wants is a buggy release, paid or not.

    Lastly, if you get paid to manage client sites like mine does, you should take the precautions I just mentioned. If not, don’t come crying when it occasionally goes bad, because it’s software and it’s gonna happen.

    Joost, still love your work. Still hate the post update nag messages ;-)

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  30. I could deal with the other problems from this update, but to me the biggest issue was stuffing in the onpage.org check with no way to disable it. This was clearly a violation of the WordPress plugin rules about phoning home (#7) https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/

    The last update did add a way to disable, however it is still turned on by default.

    That was obviously not well thought out nor well implemented. A simple disable option would have prevented a TON of issues in the first few 3.0 releases.

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    1. I don’t disagree about your points. More and more plugins use third party analytics and tools. But they should be disclosed responsibly. And an opt out should be included.

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  31. Just an update that by request of Michael Torbert of AIO SEO who has consulted with Joost de Valk, I have deleted Tony’s comments.

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  32. I wish I had seen this post & thread before the censorship. Unfortunately I have been very busy troubleshooting and eventually rolling back a certain SEO plugin.

    I am fine with hearing polite comments about alternatives, even if they come from the authors. After all, we have been very tolerant of the irritating dashboard ads from Yoast.

    Although the Yoast SEO plugins, free and premium, have some great features, we have long wondered if it is worth the problems caused by poor testing and excessive dashboard promotions.

    We have decided it is not. For now 2.3.5 is an adequate temporary solution. Longer term, we are going to look at all the competition and decide what other solution(s) best fit our many clients and students.

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  33. I’m gonna be a bit different. I’m not going to go off on a rant like others, but I do have some big complaints. The stupid snippet editor was perfect, but now it’s a nightmare. The fact that such a stable plugin is now breaking sites (not mine fortuanatly), is just ridiculous. Here’s a solution: REVERT TO THE WAY IT WAS!!! Sorry if that was a bit much.

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  34. Since I am not a coder, it would be difficult for me to even comment on the struggles that the creator of this amazing plugin has endured to bring us what we already enjoy. That being said, the one thing I did find in my upgrade of the plugin, when it was offered, was what seem to be a glitch causing updates in the editor to be extremely slow at best.

    After doing a little research, I was able to find that one of the settings in the plugin that enables the “onpage” indexing feature was the culprit behind that. Also, I have noticed that if you utilize a page builder of any sorts, the long the page and obviously the shortcodes that are involved seem to slow down the behind the scenes of Yoast’s plugin.

    However, since I disabled that one little feature, it has seem to help dramatically in the operation and speed. Seeing that this is one of the largest SEO type plugins that seems to be utilized across the WP community, I will just offer up my continued prayers and support to the development team of it!

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  35. Don’t get me wrong, there were bugs with Yoast 3.0 but (in my opinion) this is a minor setback if you consider the years that many of us have used this plugin (for free!), seeing great success with our websites and clients websites, with little to no problems. Obviously Joost is taking this feedback seriously and I’m sure the Yoast team will only come out of this with an even better version.

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