Edit 1st July 2013: Please be sure to read both the article itself and the comments (including a response from Joost de Valk of Yoast) to get the full picture regarding this subject.
I have been a stauch and loyal fan of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin for a long time.
I have written about it more times than I can count on websites across the blogosphere (not least the two part guide I published here on the ManageWP blog last year). If people ask me what SEO plugin they should use, the name Yoast pops out of my mouth before I’ve had a chance to consciously consider their question.
With over five million downloads at the time of writing and an all-time average star rating of 4.7 out of 5, it is a monster of a plugin. Its closest competitor, All in One SEO Pack, may have nearly three times as many downloads but it has a far inferior average rating of 3.8 out of 5.
So it is with a heavy heart that I write this article, because it would seem to me that this legendary plugin is in risk of collapsing in on itself.
Is WordPress SEO by Yoast Broken?
It all started back in April when Mike Thomas emailed me to let me know that the tag pages on my blog weren’t indexed by Google (thanks for the heads up Mike!). I checked my SEO by Yoast settings and could see that the option to noindex tags was deselected, and yet the noindex code was still appearing in my tag page source code:
I spent some time trying to figure out if there was anything on my end that might be causing the problem but I couldn’t find a solution. My next step was to email Thijs de Valk — he handles Joost’s support network and I had dealt with him previously when we covered the Video SEO for WordPress plugin.
I got an immediate response from Thijs asking for admin access to my site so he could take a look. I fired over some login details to him that same day. Six days later I had heard nothing, so I emailed Thijs again. He got back to me nine days later with the following:
Not actually sure what the issue is, but we’ll try to figure it out and see if we can fix it.
I never heard back from him.
While the issue was something I wanted to resolve it was not at the top of my list of priorities so I let it slide. However, a couple of months later I came across another problem — although I had unchecked the “Disable author archives” option on my new authority site (because it had become a multi-author site), the author pages were still missing.
That was a bigger issue — given that the site has multiple contributors, author archives are important. I emailed Thijs on 22nd June to ask (a) if he had manage to sort the noindex issue and (b) to introduce this new issue. I have not received a response to date.
Then just this morning I encountered another issue which I suppose is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was in the middle of writing a post on Google+ authorship when I discovered (by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool) that my own site did not have valid authorship.
The reason? Google was kind enough to explain:
My site is defining me as an author, but it is linking to the author page on my site (which ironically doesn’t even exist as SEO by Yoast has eradicated it) rather than my Google+ profile (which is required to verify Google+ authorship). I double-checked my SEO by Yoast settings and discovered that my Google+ profile link was present and correct.
Update 1st of July: Joost has pointed out that I needed to enter my Google+ profile URL in my Profile within WordPress as opposed to within the SEO by Yoast settings — this did resolve the issue. Thank you Joost!
So that’s three issues, none of which I have a resolution for. Furthermore, I can’t get the attention of anyone within Yoast’s team to get help with the issues. That puts me at a bit of a loss.
I figured that it would make sense to see if other people were experiencing similar problems, so I headed over to the WordPress.org Plugins Repository. The first thing I noticed was the huge proportion of unresolved support threads for SEO by Yoast:
A 15% rate of resolution isn’t particularly encouraging.
The next thing I noticed was the sheer number of support threads — there have for instance been twenty-four new threads submitted in the last twenty-four hours. While SEO by Yoast is a popular plugin, the number of threads does not compare well with plugins of similar popularity. For instance, WP Super Cache (with ~5,000,000 downloads) has had nine support threads submitted in the last day, and WordPress Importer (with ~4,700,000 downloads) has had zero support threads submitted in the same period of time.
I moved onto another good indicator of a plugin’s health — the compatibility ratings. Here’s what I discovered regarding SEO by Yoast’s compatibility with the latest version of WordPress (only recently introduced):
And here are the ratings for version 3.5.1:
None of this represents good evidence of SEO by Yoast’s efficacy.
Update 1st July 2013: at the time of writing Joost has now released updates that are far better rated in terms of compatibility.
Having said that, one cannot place their trust entirely in the above data — anecdotally speaking, there are instances where poor ratings and reports of incompatibility are down to user error rather than an issue with the plugin. However, in my experience, a high number of support threads for a plugin coupled with multiple incompatibility reports means only one thing — the plugin has issues.
So What Now?
I should make it absolutely clear that this post is not intended to be an attack on Yoast, nor do I expect anything from Yoast in terms of support. His plugin is free and so he is under no obligation to help me. (Having said that, I would happily pay for a premium version of the plugin with bundled-in support.) Furthermore, I am hugely appreciative of the benefits I have received from his plugin in the past.
However, none of that detracts from the issues regarding SEO by Yoast. For instance, Joost de Valk’s success (arguably past, present and future) relies in no small part on the continued popularity of his SEO plugin, so if it is being neglected then that raises questions. The onerous requirements placed upon those who submit support requests is one thing, but the fact that so many threads apparently go ignored must leave many plugin users feeling that they have no other option but to choose an alternative. That is the position I find myself in right now — while I am loathe to move away from WordPress SEO by Yoast, there comes a point at which I practically have no choice.
I spoke with Michael Torbert (of All in One SEO Pack fame) and he had the following to say:
All in One SEO Pack is the oldest and most downloaded SEO plugin. Five years ago I was the sole developer, but for the past three years, we’ve had a full-time development team, as well as a full-time support staff in our North Carolina office. Among other things, they work to develop and support our premium plugins at semperplugins.com and elsewhere.
I don’t personally keep up with all of the problems other plugins are having, but I do often get people switching back to AIOSEOP due to various compatibility or stability issues.
While there are many great side-project plugins for WordPress out there, we pride ourselves on offering a solid business-oriented, commercial solution, backed by an in-house team.
I for one am sorely tempting to switch to his plugin.
The Bigger Picture
In reality there is a much bigger debate to be had about free plugin support that I am not going to go into here, but beyond that, SEO by Yoast users seem to be suffering a number of issues that may have pretty major repercussions for the plugin’s popularity down the line.
What is your experience with SEO by Yoast? Are you a user and do you have any problems with it? Or do you use and/or recommend an alternative plugin? Please share your comments with us below!
I use only Yoast seo for my WordPress blog. it is user-friendly. and most of the bloggers use it. so I will prefer Yoast seo to everyone to use it. thanx for sharing your valuable information.
i personally don’t use Yoast, i think it’s over hyped !
All in one SEO plugin is more than enough!
We’ve had tons of problems with Yoast. Category pages randomly breaking. Redirects being loaded and entirely ignored. Our sitemaps keep breaking. We’re getting rid of them once and for all. Thanks for this article. I know it’s old but I’m seeing lots of people reporting issues with them!
Definitely going to try Yoast for my WordPress blog. There is so much buzz about it. Want to keep up with the market
i’m going to switch back to All In One…I’m too busy of a social media manager to have to dicker around and wait. Plus, I can’t let my clients down with something that isn’t helping them. (not to mention my own affiliate and adsense sites)
I think Yoast is the best plugin amongst all available in WordPress. It is seo friendly. I prefer for my website.
Yoast does not recognise or include the alt tags for my images when adding the images using widgets. I don’t want to add images to the page itself, but to the widgets to the left or right of the page. I’ve tried fixing this but no luck!
I’ve encountered a number of bugs/incomplete functionalities in the plugin.
After any problems listed above, I just determined a bunch of my blog posts weren’t even indexing on google (even with quotes around titles) while google was indicating my site was fine, no errors, only robot.txt for work-admin.
Based on great reviews I finally switched to SEO Ultimate, using SEO Data Transporter to smoothly transition all SEO info. What a gorgeous clean interface SEO Ultimate has. Way better than Yoast. It clearly lists all levels of SEO for title, description, indexing, etc on the actual all posts page next to each title. Yoast did not provide clear data in terms of where SEO weaknesses were. This one does.
Yes, I too am thinking there are now too many bugs to remain with this plugin. I’ve used for 2-3 years after SEOPressor started failing with an update. Now I find lots of annoying stuff like if I add keyword after writing 1st paragraph, keeps telling me it’s not there … and no longer counts keywords in alt tags so I have to calculate my own density. Not worth ongoing aggravation
Deeply disappointed in this plugin. It worked like a dream when I first used it in 2014. I was totally new to blogging and was on a massive learning curve. This plugin was perfect. I am still learning and I do not make any money from my blog – I cannot afford to pay for Premium ANYTHING at this stage so I am disappointed to find my SEO in shambles and no help available. What a cynical way to try and get paying customers. I may well have become one eventually but after reading this, and more, on the decline of the plugin and the attitude of the owner, I am going to find a new one.
A very nice and neatly written article with some smart research. Thank you for sharing this useful information.
I’m using yoast plugin and it works very well. I’m not facing any problem till now.
This Really Great Post…. Its Really Help For Learning SEO
My friend suggest me this wordpress plug in to install my wordpress website. I really happy to see big improvement of him website from this plug in. I will use this plugin on my next website.
well in my opinion plugin plays an important role in SEO as they help us to take necessary steps according to which the ranking of a website is depended.
i do not if the plugin was behind a small increase in SERP for 3 of the keywords i was targeting…
will share more details later.
Stay away from the Yoast Plugin. Both standard and premium versions. I installed the standard free version to increase and implement SEO. My site has over 400 products so SEO is a big deal for us. The plugin worked fine for 98% or the products but would save the data on a handful or them. Researched and found that the plugin wouldn’t save any data on WP pages. So… contacted their support and of course their response was buy the Premium plugin and your issues will be resolved. Right! So, $89 flew out of my wallet and into their pockets. Issues still remain… it actually caused a few more. They said it was a plugin conflict. So… I turned off all plugins and dumped the cache. No change. It’s been 3 weeks since buying the premium version that was supposed to fix my issue. Don’t waste your time or money with this product. I’m looking for a way to use all of the data I have already input.
It’s early March 2015 and I am wondering if the Yoast SEO Plugin is running good lately. I installed it last summer and I am having big problems with some of my pages not ranking well while others do rank well. What are the known issues of late if any?
Great article BTW.
Well i have to try this to improve seo on my website!
I like the options you get with the Yoast plugin like to clear up the head, no-index of categories and archives and if the page has a chance on a decent SEO score. The bits that I do not like are the meta property items that repeat the description, website name etc. In my opinion that is redundant information and I would like to have an option to leave this out.
Another thing is the content language property it is now always US while some sites of mine are in a different language.
I would like to give your plugin a 7-8 score out of 10.
2014 was a real bad year from Yoast and all of his team-members. Crap, crap, crap. Years ago you could trust the quality now it is crap. This is another article about the “Yoast Problem” : http://blog.prensa.de/crap-for-free-bye-bye-yoast-plugins/
Cheers and happy new year eve!
SEO By Yoast has always worked perfectly for me on every site that I’ve built or managed over the four years o working with WordPress. Never had a problem with compatibility issues with themes or other plugins either.
SEO on pages was dropping for me!!
I would not expect Yoast being the cause of dropping SERP – I would expect your competition has simply upped their back-linking.
Opening up an old can of worms here – Can Yoast be replaced by just some standard SEO practices? Using heading tags, metadata, alt pictures, backlinks?
I’ve been using Yoast for five days and am already ditching it. Can’t get Instagram or Twitter photos to embed now that I’ve got Yoast working, it’s slowed down my website and the description for each post is completely being ignored by Google. At this point, I honestly don’t see any reason to use it. So, sorry Yoast, ….gone.
Im using yoast and it works like a charm
Yoast Works like a charm
I am encountering some strange problem with yoast seo plugin….when i switch back to the yoast plugin my post index time in google increase around 2-3 hrs after publishing the post….and when switch to the AIOSEO post indexing achieved with 5 minutes after pulishing…. i tested this issue several times by switching plugin…. and also not able to find the exact problem….. if anyone have any idea then pls give….. i want to stay with wordpress seo bcz it’s feature rich….
I had far better experience with Yoast than I had with All in One SEO pack. So I think I’ll still stick with Yoast for now.
Version 22.214.171.124 is giving me problems with no indexing homepage, I will go index and save, go to Google and fetch and yup it see’s it and all is good. Check again after a few days and the page is not in goggles index, login to webmaster tools, fetch > error, login and go to my homepage, set it too no index and save, then back to index and save… fetch with webmaster tools > complete.. and this process just keeps happening..
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At the present Yoast fixed that error. In 2014, i often uses WordPress SEO by Yoast for new blog because of good SEO performance.
I think it’s great for bloggers over the world. However, sometime i got delay connect hosting when try to install All SEO pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast. I don’t know if we use two SEO plugins, is it good or bad ?
Yoast seems to cause google to alter SERP titles. No matter what I do, when using Yoast the homepage always changes to “brand: title”. Even though I specifically set it as “title – brand”.
I’m also getting a few posts that are oddly being displayed in SERPs as “title – homepage title”, where my homepage title is NOT my sitewide title/brand name. So it makes no sense.
“Apparently” this is all on Googles end, however, after having 23 sites running on AIOSEO and have no title renaming issues whatsoever — I dont think so.
Yoast’s recent release has fixed the buggies. However, it’s still not properly documented for newbies.
What happened to the old comments on this post? It was published, (or at least edited) in July 1013, and it says there are 196 comments on this post but there are no comments displaying prior to Jan 2014. I’d like to see those original comments from Joost’s. I can’t even find anything that says “view more comments” or anything like that.
Good question Jim! I’ll look into this.
Jim, thank you for the heads up on this issue. The problem should be fixed now.
I can’t find the response from Joost de Valk on this article? So my SEO/page load time is hurting with this plugin active?
Yoast is a great plugin and it has been working great.
i switched all my site to it and I am very happy.
the Freemium business model may be not the best for everybody (69$ for a plugin ??) but i think it s ok to spend a premium price for their service and I did that with most of their plugins…
only problem as many stated is the support. very slow, don’t work on weekend (when most bloggers need helps), and not that useful (stop with this disable and enable plugins non sense…) . that is a shame that they are forgetting the root of their success… this new 1.5 upgrade is a mess as well.
Thanks for sharing Spike!
Tom (or anyone) – I just paid for support with Yoast, and they gave me a run around so far, even suggesting I switch hosts because cURL was needed. I showed them my own server on Debian 7.4 indeed had cURL.
QUESTION: does Yoast modify the WordPress DB? Can I switch from them to the All In One without fragments of junk left over?
Hi, I was using Yoast on many websites >10 :(. I noticed they aren’t doing so well. Although the content/titles/everything was optimized the results are pretty bad in searches. I created another 2 websites with “all in one seo” and the results are overall better, I was so disappointed when realized that the yoast plugin is broken in many ways. I found out about it before reading this article. I’ll leave the old websites with yoast but don’t trust it for the new ones.
Too bad, years ago it was a nice plugin. BTW the email I received yesterday from Yoast said, between the lines, that the plugin wasn’t working well for the last 2 years 🙂
Also – I forgot to tell you, one of my past clients told me:
I have a friend that can put my website on the first page on google(I made his website with Yoast plugin), I laughed. The website was on second and third page for multiple keywords. That guy just deleted the yoast plugin and installed all in one seo and in one week more or less he was on the first page, so the website was OK, plugin bad.
Thanks for sharing your comments and experiences Paul!
I just launched a new site, and have been using Yoast on all of my other sites. However, on this new 3.9 site (built on the Roots starter theme), Yoast will not work. Even switching to the default WP theme doesn’t help. Disabling all plugins and enabling Yoast only, still will not work. What happens? My site has a redirect loop. I’ve of course saved permalinks, checked my htaccess, etc. Has me wondering if I need to change plugins.
We also switched from All in One several months ago, and our SEO success has declined. Emailed the Yoast yesterday, hoping for a response.
Yoast recently had a post telling everyone to get rid of the sliders on their home page as they would slow their site down. (+ other arguments as well)
Recently I have been checking with the P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler and it has Yoast SEO Plugin using 29 – 39 % of plugin load time. I am using approx 18 plugins and it seems a considerable amount of time is being spent uploading one plugin.
Reading thru comments I see you are big buds again!
(better the devil you know, ha!)
I haven’t personally done any research into SEO by Yoast’s performance so I couldn’t really comment, but I’d be surprised if it was a resource hog. Using 30% of plugin load time doesn’t necessarily mean anything (for example, your other plugins could be very small).
Your readers might think it awesome if you could do the research of it’s performance and report back to us.
You are definitely right that I could be all wrong, and Yoast`s plugin is possibly no where near a resource hog that the P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler shows it to be on my site.
I like the plugin as many do and will not be changing, but was surprised that recently it had changed it`s load. It used to only use approx 17%.
I just did a quick test using tools.pingdom.com with one of my sites and found that the load time *increased* when I deactivated SEO by Yoast. Perhaps it’s doing some minifying, or perhaps its just the vagaries of variable server speeds when I run the test, but either way, I’m not concerned that SEO by Yoast is a resources hog.
Does anyone know if the premium version of the plugin has better success? We also switched from All in One several months ago, and our SEO success has declined. Emailed the Yoast yesterday, hoping for a response.
Hi Tom, great post. I’ve used Yoast and All in one SEO pack and prefer Yoast however, I’m starting to wonder if their keyword recommendations are in line with Google’s most recent updates. Considering their slow response to WP updates and user questions do you think they could be slow to keep up with Google’s changes as well?
I wouldn’t want to speculate Candice, but I can see why you would have that concern.
I noticed many people who are complaining about SEO by Yoast plugin but I didn’t find any problem yet. One of my friend face problem in XML site map which cause Error 404 on webpages so he first disabled sitemap and then enabled it and the problem was resolved. It would be due to not updating the plugin with newer version. However, its pretty hard for me to accept this reality of SEO is broken due to more problems occurring.
That’s great that you are not having problems!
Hey thanks, that actually fixed my XML site map 404 error!
Glad it helped!
I have fortunately never had to deal with any of these issues and have been a long time Yoast user. I do find it unfortunate that a plugin that has had so much success in the past is now suffering the consequences of not having customer support. Although it is a free plugin, a companies reputation is all they have.
It is unfortunate.
I don’t see why everyone thinks its so much better. It has built in sitemaps, but other than that AIOSEO seems just as good. I can’t stand that my author and archive pages don’t work, and to find out that it may be the reason why Google is saying my site is verified for authorship but for some reason it isn’t showing up… The straw is breaking the back of a camel.
I have had problems with the latest update in SEO 1.4.25 and wordpress 3.8,1
1. The SEO rating of all my posts changed and I had to update all of them plus the pages of my website
2. It keeps telling me on some posts that the keyword does not appear in the first paragraph when it does and is in some cases the first word
3. The word count in the bottom margin of the post does not equal the word count in the “page analysis” component of SEO
4. The keyword count on the “page analysis” component does not equal the one in the “general” component. And the density is given in the former as 0% when it is clearly not.
Thank you for reporting this! I have the exact same problems. I use WP 2012 theme.
I have another issue to add:
5. When checking my crawl errors in WebmasterTools, after activating the plug-in, I have over a dozen new errors. 3 of these are my bad. Many of then are somehow/magically an image that has been turned into a page. No, there is no corresponding page to be found in my dashboard. It just appears.
I read that these 404 errors don’t effect anything, but how many weird pages are going to get inadvertently created.
Since I cannot find any of these pages, I cannot do a 301 redirect.
I am getting kinda sorry I chose this plugin. As a newbie, I have enough on my plate. If anyone has a suggestion, or can point out to how I am just being an idjit, I would appreciate it.
PS- to all you SEO Consultants out there– please don’t tell your client that what is wrong with their website must be because the client is at fault. I can’t wait to email him links to this, and more, technical errors that others have encountered. He never even bothered to investigate. Just dismissed my observations as baseless. Ya, I am firing his a$$….
Thanks for the comments.
Really nice post, although I’ve got a bit different problem. For non-front pages og:image is displaying correctly, picking only one image, which is nice.
waiting for exploiring
I cannot find comment by the creater of this plugin by yoast..
Thank you for your post. I was pointed toward Yoast for my new site. I wanted to do my research before adding anything. This post is very helpful.
So after more than 6 months did you change over from Yoast? What’s the current status?
I use Yoast, but many of my clients are desiring better SEO options and I am starting to consult with some SEO experts, a few of which have recommended I use Yoast, which I already do.
I’m still with Yoast. Since the issues outlined in this post were resolved, I’ve been pretty happy.
So which one you prefer the most ? Yoast Or All in One SEO Pack ?
Please let me know to chosse the best one for my website!!!
There is no “best” I’m afraid, although I at this point my recommendation would be Yoast.
Thank you for guidence!
WoW Cool For Share
NOW I found what is causing one of my client’s ranking rocketing downwards! It’s terrible and THANK YOU so much for pointing it out. I truly appreciate that, next task …. you know what I am going to do next 🙂
No problem, glad you found the post useful!
So did you end up switching? Im currently using Yoast atm and its not to bad but it doesn’t seem to offer as much as manually doing and checking.
I’m losing rankings left and right since last October and I can’t figure out why. I did a seo analyze on my bing webmaster tools and it’s saying I don’t have any meta descriptions. Checked Yoast and I do. Need to further investigate but I’ve 100’s of hours looking elsewhere. 🙁
It’s very buggy. Support isn’t the best either. By default, all posts are set to noindex which is crazy. Majority people would want their posts to index. Support told me it’s something I accidentally changed, which is not the case, because I have not touched any of the settings since i used it 3 months ago. Had to go into all of my posts to manually switch them to index.
I also have their video SEO plugin, which puts the video preview in Google search results. The snippet preview shows it fine when you publish the post, but when you have to make an update to the posts, it removes the video preview for Google….So frustrating.
I have been going nuts trying to figure out why the search traffic from my site has dropped so bad. I trusted this plugin so much that not for a minute it occurred to me that this could be a problem.
Don’t know what to say, other than test EVERYTHING when a problem hits.
Thanks for the comments Vidyut, hope it’s sorted now!
I personally feel that instead of using yoast(wordpress seo plugin) one should opt for other ways of seo like building links naturally,using classifieds to register the business and guest blogging. as all the natural links will be more benefitial in the long run. also second benefit of doing it independently is that we can execute latest updates of google
Thanks for your comments Raj!
So why are you still using Yoast SEO plugin if you are saying its broken?
Personally I would recommend noindexing tags and categories – so although a bug, was probably a strangely helpful one in a bizarre way!
I use AiO, much simpler to use, and does everything needed from an SEO plugin for me.
It is a bit harsh to expect Joost to spend 1000s of hours a month troubleshooting a free plugin, when most of the problems are probably caused by plugin conflicts, hosting problems etc etc.
Thanks for your input Colin!
Woops…here I am AGAIN on managewp.com where I just yesterday read one of the best posts in regards to tags and categories with WordPress. And now this very interesting article about Yoast SEO. I guess it’s time to bookmark your site, interesting stuff here.
As for SEO plugins, I use AiO for ages and never saw a reason to switch to Yoast. I think people give SEO plugins too much credit anyway. Modern “premium” themes like Genesis/Thesis and more and more others already have “built in SEO”…so with those themes there is not even a reason to use a SEO plugin. And the rest, the differences between those plugins can only be marginal..I highly doubt that one plugin would “increase my rankings dramatically” over the other, if so it’s likely a matter of different settings.
“Modern “premium” themes like Genesis/Thesis and more and more others already have “built in SEO”…so with those themes there is not even a reason to use a SEO plugin.”
Absolutely agree and when I moved over to Genesis I used the Genesis data transporter plugin to transfer my SEO data from AIOSEO to Genesis native SEO.
Yoast’s plugin may do lots more than other SEO plugins but who wants to spend that amount of time on SEO for each post?
You would do better promoting your posts on social media that tweaking SEO settings to the nth degree.
I have a major issue with images not being indexed in the sitemap created by Yoast.
I use Soliloquy plugin for galleries and although this plugin is SEO friendly, yoast, which is supposed to be THE seo plugin blocks the images to appear in the sitemap.
I installed Google sitemap XML for the moment and turned off the sitemap feature in Yoast. Waiting to see if the problem will be solved and my images will be indexed again.
What an exceptional article, this will clearly drive users either way towards Yoast or AIOSEOP.
Apart from the themes that have built in SEO, Are there really only two known SEO plugins for wordpress? Really, Only two.
As one commenter mentioned, there is a market there to be tapped into.
I am really torn between these two SEO plugins, both have different benefits & disadvantages.
The noindex is pretty shocking, there could be millions of websites out there that are having this issue and the website owners would be none the wiser.
I would also like to say a massive thank you to @Frank for his fix on the noindex by yoast issue.
Happy I stayed around to read the full article,
Bookmarked this webpage and the website,
What a great insightful read. 10/10 🙂
Thanks Lloyd! Glad you found it useful. You say there are “only” two SEO plugins, but such plugins’ feature sets are relatively limited, so I don’t really think there is much of an opportunity for anyone else to make serious inroads — especially considering how well-established the two plugins are.
I’ll put it this way: What could a new plugin do that these two aren’t doing to compete?
I sent a message to Yoast asking a few specific info about their website review, in which I was ready to make the investment. Months later, no reply. Wish I could afford to blow off potential business.
I have noticed a few issues with this plugin on a few of my sites. i acutely contacted the guy but he never replied.
i`m definitely thinking of switching to anther plugin ! BUT my question is – is it possible to import the seo settings …titles and stuff to the new plugin ?
You can import into AIOSEO.
Hey Tom, great article. I have a major problem with non index bug in Yoast. So i decided to switch to AIOSEOP but, i noticed that AIOSEOP is only for eCommerce sites? my site is not a eCommerce so would i be able to utilize this plug in?
This is marginally related I suppose, but after being an avid fan and follower of Yoast’s blog and SEO advice, I followed his web hosting advice and gave West Host a try. It was a disaster. I’ll spare you the details, but I had to migrate to another provider (mediatemple) on the day we were supposed to launch.
Reading this blog post made me decide to disable the SEO plugin as well just to be on the safe side with our migration. Sometimes a trusted ‘brand’ like Yoast gets sketchy even as it grows…..
To be fair, it’s tough with web hosting recommendations. No service is perfect. I’m a big fan of Westhost too but they won’t always get it right unfortunately.
I just saw a 404 on the sitemap that Yoast is submitting to Google, and I can’t even find the sitemap.xml in any of the directories 🙁
Not sure I follow you Margot, but if there’s a bug with the plugin, you should probably email Yoast.
The 404 report is on Google’s Webmaster.
I’ve found the solution already from another site. It has to do with the .htaccess.
Yes, my webmasters Toola just showed 14 broken links over night that Yoast was submitting “/feed” that were not in my sitemap?? also for some reason ive had trouble with indexing my homepage with Yoast??
I had the same problem with my sitemap.xml. I am also having issues with my meta description all while my site has moved back from page 2 to 5 for my keywords.
I had far better experience with Yoast than I had with All in One SEO pack. So I think I’ll still stick with Yoast for now.
I think you’re probably right to 🙂
I did use AIOSEO for some time and thought that it was a fabulous plugin.
These days I use Genesis themes, which have built in SEO much along the lines of AIOSEO and again I am happy with my rankings and the time I have to spend on SEO.
I’ve never used WordPress SEO by Yoast mainly because it looks way too complicated for the level of SEO I’m using.
Interesting…my main blog runs on Genesis but I still use Yoast…sounds like you’re looking for a no-frills solution though, so that makes sense!
I was using All in one seo pack, but later installed WordPress Seo by Yoast and had a good growth in my traffic from searches.
Can’t complain about that, can you Umer! 🙂
Can anyone please refer me to someone to help me get this plugin to work and display our meta desc. properly. Happy to pay just need it fixed.
I am using yoast for more than 3 years and never ever found any such issue with my site.Though some time wondered why my site is not on the first page of google besides my best practices. I think i need to have a deeper look into this plugin but no free plugin having such great functionality. The major paid seo plugin i have managed to review also have some very good issues that even they are not able to manage. So if they are providing such a great seo plugin and trying hard to improve their services then we must respect their ideas and let them support if we could them.
If we are able to find out any solution then we must give then so that our friends can implement in the next issue.
I do see that the no support was added to the description.
I have not updated my plugin because of the no support issue. I do understand charging for support, however, with so many people relying on the plugin and now to make it more of a development thing for techies only kind of stinks.
For Yoast and team, the WordPress platform offered them the opportunity to built a very successful business and it seems like millions of user are just left out there.
I also think that directly on the product page, there should be very big disclaimer that support is not provided.
This post helped me obtain some answers and info. Thanks.
Having used AIOSEOP from day one, I made the switch to Yoast at the beginning of this year. I heard rave reviews on it and my buddies all used it too. Ive since used it on new sites. Though 10 months on and tbh I’m really not that impressed with it. The only thing that’s changed for me is the plugin, my seo skills etc. etc., have not. Hence I should be getting better results. Instead my serps are tanking.
Sure Yoast has a lot more tweaks and what not than All in One but when you add in the all the issue of late, especially the Open Graph syntax issue. The one where yaost used these ‘ ‘ instead of ” ” which cause google, facebook and twitter to not recognise the entries.
Lets face it, if an SEO plugin is having a negative impact on a your SERP’s, it’s counterproductive. I’ve got a new site in development and I’m going back to AIOSEOP. Least then I can gauge a true idea of what works better for me, Yoast or AIOSEOP.
We have experienced all of the above problems plus more. I highly suggest moving away from this plug in as it can not even get page titles correct.
being in the seo field, i prefer non cms sites…and just controlling the backend seo myself…rather than use all sorts of plugins that throw useless code into the sites…so that noindex thing yoast does by default…hm i didnt know that..i think i owe a business partner an apology lol hahahaha…the all n 1 i used alot though…but i thought it was called something else prior …but yoast has been gaining popularity…but …does it throw more code in the back end…i know its prettier to look at interface wise but i want what creates less line of code…
Thanks for this article. I have always loved Yoast and how it looks and I just figured it was the best plugin.
After noticing my client has a NOINDEX sitting on their site however, that’s enough for me to stop using it for good.
This is something you think would take the developer about 5 minutes to fix, so it’s insanity they didn’t even get back to you.
Once I needed to contact Thijs de Valk too…but I thought he will not response me..;D
Once Thijs de Valk
Great write up. I also experienced the same issues @webprofessionals.org.
I vote for the premium upgrade that will provide the level of support we seek while establishing a financial model to pay for itself.
My issue was also with Yoast’s WordPress SEO. Once I deactivated this plugin, I no longer had the 404 error.
what plug-in do you guyz suggest if seo by yoast is nt good one ?
I used AIOSEO for years and had no problems with it.
Some WordPress themes have built in SEO (I use Genesis) so these days I use the built in SEO.
I don’t want to spend all day on the SEO for a post that took me two hours to write so that’s why I like built in SEO.
Yoast SEO always looked overdone to me.
Was talking to Yoast on Twitter last week about switching to his from AIOSEO. There are a few features that the latter just doesn’t seem to have like keyword density and the SEO tests.
Wonder whether AIOSEO will be adding anything like this?
I’ve also found that with AIOSEO I get some really crappy default descriptions in Google. Maybe my fault though.
Anyway, interesting write up. Cheers.
I installed Yoast Plugin 3 times. But all the time within 10 minutes I deactivated it installed All in one SEO plugin only.
I thought cons of Yoast Plugin is only difficult setup. But now it is having big problems.
Anyway thanks for sharing your experience with us.
My permalink got broke, and i deactivated the yoast plugin 🙁
WordPress SEO is my preferred plugin but i have to deactivate it every time I work on any pages. I cannot switch between visual and text when it is activated.
Yoast does need a free SEO plugin that works and then can offer a paid version that has more features and support.
We stopped using Yoast. It was just too complicated for our customers. We prefer All In One SEO now.
Great Post this – thanks for the heads up on this – after reading this, I did some checking on my pages and ran extensive tests, found that everything is working as it – the issues you mentioned might have been resolved the following update. The version I’m using 1.4.15.
Have your issues been resolved yet?
I’m relatively new to WP, but have experienced a couple of problems in the last couple of weeks which I had suspected may have had something to do with the plugin.
One was to do with Open Graph conflict problems with NGFB+, even when Yoast’s option is de-selected. Yesterday I checked the XML sitemap on my site, and found an error link. was it me, I wasn’t sure
I went to the the wordpress support posts for Yoast to try and found resolutions and found the same – dozens upon dozens of unresolved posts, and this has unsettled me abouts it’s robust-ness.
I am a huge fan of Yoast, and have raved about it to friends but I’m now really unsure.
this is very useful post
Thanks for the great article. I prefer Yoast as well, I am going to look into these issues now and see if I am having the same experience. I will keep you posted.
I have some concerns here… I’m looking for an SEO plugin for a corporate website, and I see some major issues.
#1 If a developer things I am going to send him login access for my site, he’s absolutely on drugs. Never EVER gonna happen. If that’s the support model, not going there.
#2 A free version with issues, and a paid version, seems like a bit of bait and switch, especially given the “free plugin slacker users don’t deserve support” statements. (Would be better if the “free version” was as simpler stable version, but that’s not probably a realistic path now).
#3 Given the errors that were reported (that are supposedly fixed now), but have still caused issues in the database, I’m very loathe to attempt to integrate an invasive plugin that could cause such problems.
It seems like there is an opportunity in the SEO market for a good basic SEO plugin that perhaps is fairly vanilla, but also doesn’t step all over your site.
I to had trouble wiht this plugin. I uninstalled it as it was braking my podcast feed badly. I might try the ulternative plugin posted here and see if I have any other luck.
I found the source of the two bugs that can be fixed with a quick dive into your SQL database. For whatever reason checking off your settings on no-index and redirects for certain taxonomies and pages in Titles and Metas settings has no effect on the SQL table where these settings are stored.
If you use myPHPadmin, you will need to go into your database and search for “wpseo” which is in wp_options. Once there, edit and look for the following:
Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%”;s:17:”metadesc-post_tag”;s:0:””;s:16:”metakey-post_tag”;s:0:””;s:16:”noindex-post_tag”;s:2:”on”;s
See where it says nonindex-post_tag “on”? Change that to “off”
Look again for the “noindex-author”;s:2:”on”;s:14:”disable-author”;s:2:”on”
Change to “off” accordingly. Save the changes, problem solved. Author archives should no longer be redirecting and the noindex line should be removed from your tags. This also works for date based archives as well.
Evidently this has been an ongoing issue for at least 7 months. http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-wordpress-seo-by-yoast-author-page-link-still-redirecting-to-homepage
A little slow on the uptake, Yoast is.
I don’t begrudge requiring premium support, but these are significant bugs that probably affect thousands of users. It’s one thing to require paid support for conflicts and issues, but quite another to glibly ignore bugs because you can’t be bothered to actually fix it or out of some weird spite.
It begs the question, would Yoast eventually provide these fixes ONLY for those who pay for premium support, while leaving the rest of us out in the lurch, effectively creating two plugins? Makes you wonder.
Wow — I’m speechless! Thank you so much for taking the time to look into this for me. I’ll check this out ASAP.
i have just installed yoast’s plugin and i am now worried, not being very technical, how have you found it since is it working effectively?
Do you know how to see if it’s doing this or not? I always use Yoast and just noticed the other day on a client site that the NOINDEX was added to their site.
No setting I changed made this go away, so I assume it’s broken for good.
If you are not sure how to check this, just follow these steps.
1 – Go to the website in question
2 – Right click and select “View source” or something similar depending on the browser you are using. Or you can just go to this address
3 – When the source code is displayed, hit Ctrl + F (opens up the “Find” dialogue box” and start typing “NOINDEX”
If the plugin has added this to your site, it will show. If not, then there will be no results.
Hope that helps,
Frank, a huge thank you for providing those instructions on changing the code. It worked! I searched everywhere for a solution to the problem. (Nothing on WordPress.org) I was about to give up and install a different plugin. Very glad I found your answer on this website!
Brilliant, Frank! I’m an SEO and I’m having enough problems with WP plugin and version conflicts to have to worry about a friggin noindex bug on all my pages..
Your fix worked perfectly, and saved my the hassle of going through all the tables and finding out what’s wrong. You sir are a hero.
I’m optimistic about the outcome of this discussion for us users and hope it makes the plugin even better.:) I’m currently using it and yet to encounter a problem so i really don’t have much to say.
Apparently the plugin author is using “will not provide free support” as an excuse not to fix crucial bugs that have been reported ad infinitum for months now.
I’m slightly baffled that you approached this problem by contacting a single individual for free help by email and then went straight on to publishing a blog post with the emotive title “Is WordPress SEO by Yoast Broken?”
This is a problem that happens all the time with WordPress plugins – other open source stuff too. You find that your site has an unusual combination of stuff or a bug that you can’t get to the bottom of, it doesn’t quite perform as you’d expected, weird stuff happens, you can’t see why. The developer takes a quick look, can’t spot the issue, moves on to an easier win. What to do?
Some alternative strategies you could have used:
1) post about your problems (one at a time, with all necessary detail and solutions you tried) in a public location such as the WordPress forums or Stack Overflow, and find out if you can crowdsource your answers. If it’s a problem that lots of people are having, this can be very effective and quick.
2) contact the developer and *offer to pay for his time*. I sometimes think I am the only person that ever does this, from the surprised reactions I get when I do it, but it does usually work, and can be really quite cost-effective.
3) hire a third-party developer to work on the problem (using the original developer if you can is better, but sometimes if the developer is busy and the site owner doesn’t know where to begin, this can work. I’ve been hired to do this sort of work myself.) Because if the solution is going to make you money, isn’t it worth spending a bit on getting to that solution?
If you do 3, be nice, and share the solution you found with the original developer and the user community. Often the solution isn’t down to a problem with the plugin anyway, but is related to some other plugin or theme issue.
If I have to do 1) and crowdsource my answer, I always try to make sure I find at least 1 other question somewhere and help someone get to the answer they need.
Sharing knowledge is how we got this far, everyone should be trying to do it if they have an expertise to share! (If you don’t have any expertise to share, then do some reading. There are loads of lovely people out there who will help you to get some!)
Congratulations on your link bait. I’ll stand up for Joost here…it’s a freaking awesome plugin, period.
I’ll second that.
It’s an amazing plugin and works all the time, every single time.
I move to table. =P
WordPress SEO by Yoast is Toast? No way!
There has got to be something in that multi-site that must be causing these issues.
That said, I have to agree with Michael and Kyle.
In my experience, This plugin has worked flawlessly on every single site Ive ever installed it on. No problems to date.
I do hope you find resolutions to the issues you’re having though…so odd.
I wouldn’t say that the post is a link bait content as someone previously comented, but the title could be more reasonable. WordPress plugins and themes don’t always work out for the best and yes, developer and user errors occur from time to time, if not often.
WordPress SEO plugin is the single most useful plugin out there and I know you share the same feeling about it, Tom. I’m not a big fan of Yoast’s mug all over the plugin settings page, but I think we should all support it (not the mug), share our thoughts, better it or suggest improvements.
Why not put a title similar to – “Should I switch back to All in One SEO Pack?” or “I know how WordPress SEO by Yoast can be even a better plugin”.
I think the point of the article was to bring attention to people who use SEO by Yoast by default and have for many years; myself included. It’s worked so well in the past, that you just didn’t think about it not working. It’s nice to know when that’s changed; regardless of support. AIO SEO has more downloads, but users have a better experience with Yoast.
The post got the desired effect, he didn’t expect support, but he is letting people know that it could cause an issue you wouldn’t normally be aware of. We want to pay, and now it looks like the plugin will be profitable.. win, win.
I hear a similar sort of theme all the time from my plugins, I only have 3 free on wordpress.org and none even close to the download numbers of Yoast! so I daren’t imagine the volume of support he gets! (200 emails a day is nuts!)
I also have a number of premium plugins via CodeCanyon which are priced LOW and their model seeks free author support on top. This is sort of a WordPress.org doused with petrol and giving the users a match… the plugins work as advertised, and they’ve paid for it… but.. support isn’t included in the price… so it’s an even trickier situation to manage, for $6 sale (which goes to cover the development) any significant time on support eats into any type of profit from the sale, yet expectations are higher..
A fair bit of my “support” requests are theme or other plugin conflicts which is hard to managae, and the remainder is either not reading the documentation (at all, some are “what’s the shortcode”) when the plugin is a lightbox viewer.. then it gets rated 1* because they don’t know how to use it (even though we have forums, video tutorials and documentation).
I do think a fair bit of the confusion is down to language barriers so I’m recently moving to more video support and I’m hoping this helps somewhat.
A large chunk of “support” requests are “can it do this instead?” then dissatisfaction because it doesn’t do soemthing it wasn’t advertised to do. “Modification” and “Support” aren’t the same thing..
The solution? I’m not 100% sure but a bit of patience on the part of the plugin users and a bit of research before asking the question would help since we are all keen to please our customers.
It’s a very provocative article for sure and reading the comments has certainly been useful for myself and our offerings!
Hats off goes to Joost for coming and commenting and replying to these comments.
I’ve used the plugins on several sites – Both on standard templates and on modified templates.
Works all the time for me.
Are you sure it is not a result of some sort of incompatibility with your theme or some plugins on leavingworkbehind? Have used Yoast for a long time without any reason to complain.
Joost has provided an awesome resource for WP users and there are tens of people sitting here slamming him. The development of WordPress and plugins for WordPress will not continue without the skills and generosity of people like Joost, so ease up. Could he and his team provide more support, probably, yes. Does he have to provide support to a free plugin, no!
I look forward to purchasing the free plugin Joost, hurry up and release it already 🙂
FYI Joost, why does your website always seem to be down. I have tried from my work computer, home computer and even tried a VPN too and nothing.
Wow really disappointed with a lot of the comments here that just assume Yoast is going to respond to your every whim for a free plugin which I’m sure has served you quite well.
You pay nothing so your not entitled to anything, if you get answers great if not well its not like you paid for it to begin with… do feel free to swap to an alternative product though and let the rest of us get on with appreciating all the hard work that goes into a product like this.
I’d love to see how many so called complainers take up the paid option, bet its quite low.
What can be said about all of this back and fourth? That PROGRESS is being made.
One thing I can say for certain, and I am very pleased that Joost began contributing here, is that WE WILL ABSOLUTELY purchase a subscription to Yoast plugins in order to receive premium support. Joost’s time is valuable. The old saying goes “You get what you pay for.” So who has the right to assume custom support goes with something as free and as awesome as Yoast?
If your plugins are valuable enough to be used for thousands of customer client sites, then you should without a doubt be charging for the service. It’s well worth it. I think Yoast’s event horizon of “needing to charge for this service” was a while back.
Looking forward to seeing more progress being made.
No wonder the divorce rate is so high. No one is listening, and people are marrying folks they are not compatible with. I am grateful for the heads up that the plugin had issues. Just another reason to keep up with updating and save before you do.
The original article sounded thoughtful and careful to me. AND I am hearing that these issues have been resolved.
Of course I expect a plugin to work, free or not. If it does not work I won’t pay for a premium version. AND I would never expect support or personal email response for a free plugin with so many downloads. People give away free to get a name and draw people to their sites. The fewer the downloads, the more I expect support because the developer should be concerned with customer service. if the support seems good — and this includes a quick email saying they cant help right now but I have been heard. I will go and buy the premium version.
Joist, , send auto-emails that say you are GLAD to hear about issues and are working hard to resolve them. And then Follow up with the Thank your for helping us and we fixed it email. Give a 10% off coupon for premium plugins. Don’t get defensive.
To everyone else, Arrogance is not a crime, nor is it even relevant. It is a great and AMBITIOUS plugin and we are all learning….
Give each other a break. Geez.
I’m so glad you said that my article seemed thoughtful and careful; that was certainly my intention and it seems to have gone over a lot of people’s heads! Unfortunately at this point two of the three bugs I originally reported (of which one wasn’t actually a bug) haven’t been resolved, but I’m hoping that they will be in time. Furthermore, the latest version of the plugin is marked as compatible.
As for everything else you say, I totally agree 🙂
Usually whenever I use a piece of free software I assume that it is being provided to me without warranty. I might ask for support, but if the author can’t give me any, and I can’t troubleshoot the code myself (and no one in the whole entire internet universe of support forums and code websites can’t help), I silently move on.
We as webmasters are lucky to live in a world where people write our code for us. It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted a website, you’d have to write the code by hand. Don’t know how? Maybe someone has posted some sample code somewhere… Code doesn’t work as is? Are you going to EXPECT that person fix the code? No. You either learn how to fix it yourself or you write your own.
Free plugins are no different than any other freely available code you find on the internet. They’re provided to you as is, so that hopefully you can make use of them in the state that they’re in.
I think you’ve nailed precisely the point I was making in the post Dylan. I don’t expect support for a free plugin so I have the agonising decision to make of whether to switch away from SEO by Yoast.
I’d like to add my two cents. I am a very satisfied free user of both ManageWP and WordPress SEO by Yoast, and I thank the people that have put so much effort in these -and many others- free products.
I honestly think that this article is unfair to the fine work that Joost has been doing for a long time, and from which many of us have benefited without paying a dime.
We sometimes forget how hard is for someone to contribute to the open source community while making a decent living programming.
It seems to me that Manage WP has found a viable business model with their freemium offer. The product is excellent and I would gladly pay for the pro version as soon as I have the need for it.
But MAYBE the same can’t be said for Joost. He may still be looking for a viable bussiness model (http://yoast.com/on-focus-and-how-were-slowly-changing-our-business-model/) and his plugin does not generate enough revenue to pay for the development hours it needs, and the amount of support that the community demands.
I honestly don’t know, I am just guessing. In any case, I don’t think he should be demonized for giving poor support or for the occasional bugs here and there. I think the value that he generously gives to the WP community, largely outweighs any of the shortcomings discussed in the article and in some comments.
I think Manage WP is here for the long run, and I hope that if there ever comes a time when something like this happens to them (bugs, lack of time to support the free version, or whatever), we the free users show some understanding and respect.
There are many many cases of talented people making excellent work, looking for a way to make a decent living and grow their bussinesses. I would like to see that we support each other as a community and understand one another, rather than pointing fingers when something goes wrong.
Please forget my english
Haha I meant “please forgive my english” (best example ever)
I’ve been a big fan of this plugin for many years. Have it on all of my sites and client sites. That said, I believe the plugin is rather ambitious in trying to be a single solution. When you consider how complex site SEO is, it’s really amazing that any plugin can tackle all of that and keep all of it current. Plus, keeping current with WordPress presents a whole other set of issues. This is not a simple plugin. It’s extremely complex. And, it’s built and maintained on the shifting sand of Google and WordPress. I applaud any developer who can keep up with all of that. And I doubt many folks have ever considered donating to that continued development much less for support.
I have derived so much benefit from this one plugin that I’m happy to pay for it whether or not I ever need support and am surprised it took so long for him to make the move to offer a paid version.
Here’s where I see needs improvement, especially with the paid version coming out.
– More notes in the changelog about what’s a bug update and what’s a new or changed feature.
– Updated screenshots of every settings page with default settings. (Every time I install the plugin something looks different from my cheat sheets.)
– Updates that don’t overwrite my settings, or have default settings that conflict with WordPress. (Took me hours to find out why images didn’t correctly link to attacment pages suddenly. Thought it was a recent WP update, but was a recent WP SEO update.)
– Drop the arrogant tone when communicating with folks. (Sorry, Joost, I love what you create, but not so much the attitude. However, can totally understand it when folks use your blog comments for support instead of the forums.)
I am not a plugin developer, but I will try to help on the forums where I can. And I will be purchasing the paid version and encouraging others to do the same and/or make a donation for use of the “free” version.
I was using the Joost plugin and everything seemed OK. Then, recently, there was an update that I tried to apply. The update did not work. I deleted it and tried to reinstall it with no success. So, I went with AllinOneSeo.
I’m not experienced enough to judge the merits of one plugin vs. the other. However, if the upgrade does not work, my choice is obvious.
OK, so I get it. What I didn’t get (or missed it) is there a solution? A working non-bugged SEO plugin for WordPress then?
SEO by Yoast has been a great plugin for me and I am loathe to switch (as I said in the post). I am hoping that my fears concerning its functionality are alleviated and I will continue to use it. In an ideal world Joost will bring out a premium version with guaranteed support (which I would happily buy).
I ought to add that I am just thinking of buying the Yoast Video SEO plugin. This makes me seriously worried.
Anyone with experience from how the paid plugins work?
Joost comments on here are interesting, since he likes to portray himself as a superhero. (see images)
There was a very interesting observation in the book “Give and Take”, that pointed to leaders who wanted to be seen, and promoted their image a lot, were happy to be seen in a good light, but attacked anyone, who even dared to hint any flaws. Ken Lay was used as one example.
I agree with Joost that noone can demand service for a free product.
It is also fair, that, as Joost indirectly agrees with, that 2 of the 3 flaws mentioned are real.
It would be honest, if Joost said that, he is OK delivering flawed free products, but if you pay, you may get a working one…but even if it isn’t working, we will respond quicker, and tell you, it isn’t.
It is very surprising to notice though that Joost, does not seem to realise that all products he delivers, free or paid, reflect on him, and if the first ‘free’ taste of a product is really bad, everyone will assume the rest tastes the same.
That Joost comes across as arrogant to a lot of people ought to give serious reason to pause, especially since I guess the majority of readers on this blog are professionals, and potential paying customers for Joost. (considering many are paying customers of ManageWP…)
A friend recommended this plugin to me almost ago and have been using it ever since. I am not too techy but I have to say that the plugin has helped.
I just can’t understand the aim of this post and the “tone of anger” for something you got FREE GRATIS!
I am not here to support Joost nor to praise him.
I would like to ask the author of this post one question. Is he ready to spend his time on answering thousands of questions for something he gave free? Time means money we all know.
Common, give Joost a break!
I don’t like this idea of publishing this kind of content for something you got free. You can at least report a bug and wait until the developer fixed it. He has his time to spend on more profitable things.
If I had bought the Pro version and my queries and complaints were ignored, then I might called Joost’s mama by name.
Where in my post do I seem angry? I’d like to know. And just to clarify, from the post:
“I should make it absolutely clear that this post is not intended to be an attack on Yoast, nor do I expect anything from Yoast in terms of support. His plugin is free and so he is under no obligation to help me.”
As for answering emails free of charge, it’s something I do every day for my blog. Tens of them. It’s not at at the same scale as Joost but that’s rather besides the point since we’re talking about the principle.
I *did* report the bugs and I got no response.
Joost – fyi, the link from the wordpress.org to you goes to a broken page: https://yoast.com/hire-us/wordpress-seo-consultant/
Hello All –
Here’s my take on this and I have been a WordPress developer for close to nine years, have dozens of clients on the system, have developed our own plugin (more on that below), and have written to Yoast and he has replied on more than one occasion.
* I would like to challenge every critic on this list and ask how much support money they have sent to developers using the “donate” button. I have done this before and have gotten the attention of developers by offering to make a donation in return for a fix/feature upgrade.
* With our own plugin, which has cost me around $3.5k out of pocket plus the hours of our own time, the total amount of donations: $0.00. We tried a scheme of link backs on it, which we would take off for a $5 donation and receive about $200 this way for about a year, then abandoned this angle.
* “Free plugins” and “free support” are not free. They are paid for in time, and sometimes out of pocket expense — the all in one people have a team of programmers on their plugin. This said, one can write off the expense to advertising, and we know that Yoast does indeed get much mileage from the plugin with the little ads he places within it.
* Yoast has a great plugin, and with millions of users it must be hard to keep up with support, but he has written to me and said he does not take consulting assignments for under $10k, so perhaps he can devote some of that revenue to the promise of “some” support in the repository.
BOTTOM LINE: I still support Yoast and his plugin, and will consider the paid support level, though along with Tom, I think a higher percentage of support answers is in order for the “free” version.
Good discussion, all.
There is a dark side to the culture of “FREE”, and this is it. I’ve never been sure how a plugin author can truly win when the very users who have gladly adopted his free plugin become the angry mob that quickly aims the cannons when things go wrong. In these cases, the more success (read: downloads) an author has, the more danger he finds himself in. We participants in the culture of “FREE” are fickle friends at best when we do this, and we don’t serve the greater interests of an open source community by baring our teeth and threatening the people who are throwing us the party in the first place.
I will be an agency subscriber just the moment the option is available, Joost, just as I am a very happy ManageWP paid user. There are always bugs. I think what you both do is pretty amazing, and since I cannot do it myself, I am happy to contribute substantively to the time and effort you put in to coding and supporting plugins that benefit me and save me time, and ultimately help my business succeed. The least I can do is to help yours sustainably thrive as well. This is the open-source culture as it has always been imagined by those that had the vision to bring it about. Let’s not forget this. Cheers!
Yoast isn’t the most responsive person, I’ve mentioned him on twitter a few times without response…but I’m sure its just because he is super busy. I don’t really expect him to answer me 😉
I would gladly pay for a premium version of Yoast SEO. Its the best SEO plugin out there and even though I have encountered a few bugs in the past, fixing them was very easy and generally my temp fixes were eventually fixed in the plugin updates.
I’m not brave enough to keep a plugin as popular as Yoast SEO on WordPress.org were “freeloaders” can easily rage and comment all day long. It’s sad to see how many people feel entitled to all sorts of free support. Isn’t having access to an amazing free plugin enough?
I suspect the motives of anyone when it comes to money .. including this author …..
if buyers must beware then freeloaders must beware even more …..
that said … WP should maintain the integrity of plugins posted on the site .. I believe more stringent business rules should be applied and any plugin regardless of status should be suspended if certain quality & service benchmarks are not maintained …
developers are not giving away anything .. and are seeking exposure as well as users willing to act as guinea pigs and free Q&A analysts …
so let’s get real .. it’s always about money & some amount of greed by some developers goes undetected by users …
I think WP should require ALL user donations contributions to plugins go into a pool and then be redistributed and/or awarded to developers based on merit …
many more users would contribute and everyone would benefit both Q&A and $$ wise
If I were Joost, I’d tell all you entitled types to eff off. I use his plugin without paying for sites that make me money, and I understand that free entitles me to exactly nothing so far as support goes.
It’s fair enough to notify developers about bugs, but a bug tracker is better for that than an article for general consumption(especially if you’re going to use that article for link-building to your own site).
Bugs occur in all software, and giving the proper notification and waiting a while for it to be fixed is the proper course of action.
You’re also wrong about the article not being wrong. To be a responsible “blogger” or “journalist”, if you write an article and you discover that the issues have been dealt with by the time of publication, then tough luck for you — you don’t publish. Furthermore, you don’t publish without giving the subject of the article a heads-up and sufficient time to respond. Not receiving support for a free product doesn’t justify your not doing proper notification and giving a chance to respond when you’re publishing an article in a popular public forum (the excuse that you didn’t expect an answer is extremely weak.)
It’s an odd quirk of human psychology that people think once you give them something for nothing, you’re eternally obligated to keep giving more.
Of course the plugin is not broken, at least not the latest version. I use it for client projects also.
Also, this is currently a FREE plugin, so developers/authors are not forced to give support! Don’t get me wrong, developers/authors should give support if at all possible!
I have currently 32 plugins on WordPress.org. That is a lot, right! The number of support requests could not be compared to these for Yoast’s. Still, I have users that do not understand that I do this all in my free time. I don’t do support on weekends and I can only do support in European time zone. Some users just will not understand/accept that. You can do nothing about it. I am not a machine, and I have a family!
To train users to look only for star rating, latest update date, and resolved support requests on WordPress.org is misleading from a certain extend on. I could change the readme.txt file but nothing really in the plugin itself. Still, that would count as an update. Lots of authors do that, so users think plugins are up to date. Also the star rating/ review system gets abused widely on WordPress.org and is misleading way to often. Devs/authors get punished for nothing!
And if you get thousands of support requests because your FREE plugin is just insanely popular? You cannot resolve all, I really understand the Yoast team here.
Joost de Valk
Thanks David, appreciate your support!
Thanks for your post. You really nailed some important points with the way Joost is doing stuff. I to got an issue with his SEO plugin. It was tinkering with my header in a way I didn’t want. I mailed Joost about it and almost get scoffed. There was no language problem I am Dutch same as Joost.
To be Blunt about a fellow DUtch man, I agree that Joost has a big ego and that his arrogance is harming his business in particular and the WordPress community as a whole. This also comes thru in the his articles and I stopped reading them quite a time ago.
He really should work on better communication and support. As the way he is doing it now is really slowly killing his reputation. Being to busy to answer to answer “all that mails in his inbox” isn’t an excuse but a tell tail of really bad customer relations management. You can hire people for that to answer and aggregate.
I think it’s a really good step Joost gets some quality feedback like you now gave on ManegeWp as he probably thinks he THE SEO guru in the WordPress universe. Well maybe he is good at SEO, but he surely fails on descant customer support.
Joost can learn some really good lessons on how ManageWp handles customer questions and service. ManageWP does that in am awesome way. Joost doesn’t even bother to be friendly. I would never buy a product or service from him. I highly distrust people how act arrogant. I do have a payed account with ManageWP and I think they are cool and add real value to the WOrdPress community.
Joost may feel offended by my words, thats OK However this how I perceive the situation and I am not alone. For me there are many that not speak out. Thanks Tom for doing so, it gave me the chance to add my words to the story.
Joost de Valk
McBart, if you were a paying customer, you would see how we treat them. While admittedly we do make mistakes at times (we’re only human), we tend to have very good support. As I’ve said in other replies here, the thing that gets to me and makes me respond as arrogant as I sometimes do is the sense of entitlement people have to free support on a free plugin. It’s just unsustainable.
ManageWP doesn’t have nearly as many free users as we do, so it’s unfair to compare us. We’re going to offer a premium version of our SEO plugin for those who want our support and want to support us, this might make this whole discussion easier as so far people couldn’t pay us for support on the free plugin yet.
I think you summed up and charactarized the situation quite nicely in your response.
When you have a “free” plugin that is a runaway success, it’s impossible to provide the support needed. Impossible.
When you start charging for the plugin or the support for the plugin, you will have a sustainable business model that will allow you to provide the service and support that people would expect from a top-notch plugin like yours which is practically an industry standard for WordPress SEO.
Best of Luck in the next phase of your plugin’s evolution!
~ Jupiter Jim
Can’t believe that mate! Joost arrogant? Foookin’ell mate, this is nonsense. Tell you something: I directly emailed Joost and asked him questions not only related to the plugin and although short, the communication was helpful and he replied in matter of hours. He also gave me valuable advice in choosing themes and other plugins. So no way arrogant, can’t believe that.
Tom has got a point here and obviously he had some problems with the plugin. Tom is one of the most respected writers on the Internet and I’m pretty sure he got frustrated to the point to write this article which is good because you cannot progress things by only say laudatory words about them.
I have to agree with “Zimbrul”, here. I have had several email conversions with Joost. In the past he has always been both affable and helpful. And like “Jupiter Jim” says its a free app and with the volume of users Joost has, I can’t imagine that he can possible to respond to all the noise that comes in.
While I use the plugin, I’m becoming less and less of a Joost fan all the time. While his attitude isn’t quite as arrogant and defensive as James Farmer’s of WPMU, it’s getting close. I used to pass this off as a language issue (perhaps English isn’t his native tongue) but it continues to come through. Then all the cartoon pictures of him everywhere. Wow, what an ego! He really does need some PR advice. The products should be the selling point, not his face.
I am also Dutch like Joost is and really it’s not a language problem Joost has, it’s the typically “I am the best” attitude problem Dutch programmers can be affected by. And yes it’s a sad thing to witness.
Joost de Valk
I’ll admit to being arrogant at times. Please be aware that that arrogance is usually in response to people who think they’re entitled to support. The simple fact of the matter is: if you’re not paying me, you’re not. That is something we’re going to make more clear though, with the release of a premium version of the plugin. I hope that takes away some of these discussions.
What about paid customer, plugins are awesome but support is not good at all.
I’ve used WordPress SEO by Yoast for more than a year now with great success. I moved from AIOSEOP for the various features and functionality found in the plugin. Not to mention, the UI was much better than most other plugins and it solved what was once handled by two or three plugins. Now it seems other SEO plugins may have caught up a bit, but I’m still on board with Yoast.
The UI has gotten a little silly looking with pictures of cartoon ads of Yoast eating popcorn and looking inside buns (hamburger) but the functionality is still awesomesauce. I don’t see much wrong with this post besides quoting seemingly inaccurate stats from WP.org and being a bit opinionated. I’m sure with a plugin as popular as Yoasts’ that it’s near impossible to resolve all support requests.
I do think Yoast may need some PR advice though as I have seen several threads in WP.org, Facebook and various blogs where he comes off sounding a bit arrogant and/or condescending. Despite this, I have seen him actually supporting people for a free plugin that does so much. So for that he needs to be commended. Overall, my opinion is that one bug here or there shouldn’t cast the whole plugin in a bad light. It’s a great plugin and is still fully in my arsenal.
Joost de Valk
Arrogance is something I admit too. I try to learn from all of this as well though, so thanks for the feedback.
I hate to read all this, because I have experienced a number of issues with WP SEO, and in the past have posted on the support forum with no response (I have one there now from 5 days ago – unanswered). I also use this plugin on 30+ client sites (some of which are managed in ManageWP and currently stall during the update leaving my sites in maintenance mode), but going back to switch them all now will be painful. True, this is a free plugin. True, I am not paying for support. All I can say is ouch. Lesson learned.
Joost de Valk
Jeffrey, you’ll be the perfect client for our agency license of the premium version of our plugin. You’ll pay us, we’ll be able to provide support. All of us are happy. You seem to think you’re entitled to support *now* though, and I’m sorry, but you’re not.
I’ve been reading this blog for some time and you clearly like Yoast and his products
Me to. So I was anxious to read his comments. And shocked by his tone. I got the impression that he’s completely overwhelmed and not able to step up to the support you needed and stated you were willing to pay for
Free or paid, my issue would be “how does a broken product become our fault?”
He did have a point on questioning why you emailed his competitor and not him… But he admits he’s overwhelmed so its a moot point
I hope you’ll continue to update us on this
Joost de Valk
Well we were already planning a premium version with paid support and we announced it yesterday, in part in reply to all this. So let’s just say good things are coming out of this as well.
Joost has done a fantastic job and it’s quite a complex plugin. As well, everyone has a different opinion of SEO and SEO is constantly evolving. In my opinion, and because of the success ALL of our clients are seeing, the plugin has performed fantastic. I think the title of this post is link bait and should be corrected…. is it broken? Answer: No. Are there opportunities to enhance and continue improving it? Of course – as there are with any plugin.
+1 Douglas Karr – I even feel if this had been titled ‘A few bugs I found in wp seo by yoast’ it would have received a different take by most people. The author lists issues (bugs) he had with the plugin and link baited with the title. Just list your issues in the plugin repository and leave it at that. If they get to it they do. If not, fix it yourself or switch plugins. Simple.
eh hem… as you’ve pointed out it’s a free plugin, which entitles you to nowt.
If the issue is so important put your hand in your pocket and pay for an SEO expert to take care of things rather than rely on a FREE plugin.
Honestly, if you’re relying on free stuff to support your business you’re not in position to moan if it doesn’t pan out.
You’ve missed the point of the article entirely.
At no point have I said that the onus is on Joost to resolve issues (in fact, I clearly state that the onus is NOT on him).
Paying an SEO expert is not going to help me resolve bugs within the plugin.
Finally, I’ve said I would happily pay for support for the plugin.
Tom, if I’ve missed the point of the article then you haven’t made the point clearly enough.
However, I think you’ve missed my point.
If SEO is so important why are you relying on a free product to take care of that element of your business?
Your right, an SEO expert won’t resolve the issues with the plugin, but they will work with you 1 on 1 to help optimise your site, your content and any campaign stuff, negating the need for a free plugin completely.
There are plenty of ‘reputable’ experts but they’ll cost you money. If this part of your business is important then invest in it.
If you’re not willing to invest in it then quit griping about the free alternative.
Thanks for sharing your opinion Dave 🙂
I have being using Yoast plugin for a while now and though it’s complicated I do like it. I found some Yoast users on Google+ that really helped me out with questions I’ve had as it is a COMPLICATED plugin.
I did update mine the other day as soon as I saw the updates and so far no problem. It could also depend on your themes and what other plugins you are using. I try not to use too many plugins because they can conflict with one another. The plugin did cause issues for me with my Google analytics and I believe it is still not right yet.
It’s sad they don’t have more help to answer all the emails and respond in a timely manner to their users. Why would we upgrade to paid version if we do not get support?
Now CommentLuv and Triberr offer superb support – anyway that you reach them via email, on their support sites or even Twitter. It gives people faith to use their paid programs.
I’m glad Joost did come by and comment though. It’s giving me a little more faith 🙂
I’m kinda saddened by this post as well, not because it’s necessarily wrong (I suspect there are indeed issues with Yoast Support), but rather because it doesn’t seem as though you tried hard enough to contact Joost for his side of things…
I would have thought his enormous contribution to the WordPress community over the years had earned him a little more goodwill and benefit of the doubt than you gave him. It seems as though you used this post more as a way of gaining exposure for your issues, than as a value-add for the readers here. If his base plugin were a paid plugin, then perhaps your approach would be valid, but for a free plugin that is constantly updated and improved I think you’ve done a slight diservice.
In an ideal world I would have preferred to see your post starting by outlining the problems (as you have) and then talked about the issues with support (as you have), but then how you had to try numerous channels to finally contact Joost, but you made the effort (because he’s earned that) and that there was a resolution to your issues… and the final message being: that free plugins that become really popular carry with them the inherent risk of less support (as do most free and open source contributions).
However, that all said, the main takeaway is that Yoast should indeed implement a premium model asap for the base SEO plugin. In that regard, your post might be the final nudge he needs, and he may well benefit (revenue wise) from it after all 🙂
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have to say, to suggest that I wrote this post to try to get the bugs I am experiencing fixed is more than a bit of a stretch 😉
As I explained to Joost in response to his comment, the reason I didn’t get in touch with him were largely down to the expectation that I would not get a response due to the experiences I had had with him and his team in the past. Having said that, based upon what Joost has said in the comments there isn’t actually anything I would have changed about the article — it all still holds true.
As for adding value, I think this post raises an extremely valuable point — what can we expect from the plugin? I (and others) have experienced many problems (a) with bugs but perhaps more importantly (b) with support. I appreciate that Joost has no responsibility to offer support on a free plugin, but the situation is a little more complicated than that.
Joost de Valk
seriously, you wouldn’t have changed anything? 🙂 I think that’s different now isn’t it? There’s at least one of those 3 issues that was your “fault”.
Also, your reason for not contacting me still isn’t valid. Had you tried to contact me, I would have responded. You just assumed I wouldn’t. Anyway, good things are coming off of this, and indeed it was the final nudge I needed to publish our plans (which we had already) for a premium version. So I’m trying to take this all positively. Have to admit it’s hard though, to be working so hard for so many years on a plugin with so many users and getting burned when you make a mistake.
No good deed, Yoast… 😉
When I wrote that comment I didn’t know it was my fault. As soon as I discovered that fact I added an edit to the post. You are aware of the chronology of those events.
I understand that you say you would have responded, but with the greatest of respect (and based upon past experiences), I don’t think you would have. Ultimately it’s a pointless discussion to have as it cannot be proven either way!
Joost, have you begun gathering names for some sort of announcement of your premium plug-in? I am on a ramen-noodle-every-night budget, but I would find the funds somehow to subscribe. I have had good results with your current free version and believe that it drives traffic to my site even in my inept hands.
Tom… If you didn’t know this was a dangerous job when you took it, you certainly must now. Criticism comes with the territory, there is no excuse for arrogance. Hopefully, in time, you’ll learn the value of humility.
This advice is free… so I offer no extended support.
I started asking for help and/or a refund for the Local and Video add on’s w/ Thijs on May 7th. He answered one email and disappeared. I’ve replied again and again for almost 2 months for a refund to no avail.
I’m afraid Joost is not aware of the enormity of the problems his non-replying brother is causing. I’m guessing the Support needs are way too big for one person.
We had Pages disappear, we lost ranking completely on one site, we’ve had issues with the Sitemap, we had multiple probs.
We moved on, got rid of WordPress SEO and are trying to recover.
Thijs asked for login info, offered to help or a refund and then disappeared.
When your site is bonked, you can’t wait for weeks or months for a reply.
I had the same experience Mike (albeit with a free plugin) — he ased for login details then never came back to me, despite reminder emails. Perhaps Joost simply wasn’t aware of the issues regarding support?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t update this thread with the news that Thijs refunded me for the Local and Video plugins a few minutes ago. Kinda think I owe you a debt of gratitude or a lunch, Tom 😉
Joost de Valk
I emailed you back on may 7th, after your chats with Thijs, explaining our issue and that I thought you misunderstood how to use the plugin… We’re currently looking into what might have gone wrong on our side, but we normally respond to these the same day. For free plugin, that Tom is complaining about, we don’t. I think the reason for that is obvious.
To sum it up: Totally unprofessional.
Joost de Valk
McBart: I beg to differ. We handle hundreds of tickets, most of them the same day. We don’t provide support on a free plugin though, for obvious reasons. If those reasons aren’t obvious to you, see my latest post on yoast.com. I have to say that that is a good thing that came out of these: me soliciting more help from the community and actually receiving it. That feels rather good 🙂
I have said this before and I will say it again:
I really think that you should make it a *lot* more clear in the WP Plugin Repository that there is “no support for that version”.
What good is it to hide a message – that you have no problem ventilating here – in a sentence without emphasis in the forums?
If you would be more straightforward about that in for example the first paragraph of the description of your plugin, then I bet it would already result in half of the support requests.
And thinking of it, it’s pretty ironic, isn’t it?
a. the news that you have (finally) decided to offer a premium version (with support) only broke a week orso ago. Before that, there was no alternative!
b. because of a. the very people that helped give you the feeling that you are the superman of (WordPress) SEO, you have left hanging for quite a while already. You have used the Repository to gain popularity and when it became too much, you started hiding behind the phrase “no support for a free plugin”, *without* offering any alternative way of getting support. Even now, the premium version is coming in August, so people that need support now, will just have to wait?
People accuse you of beijing arrogant and you get defensive the moment people say anything (negative) about your plugin. Part of the arrogance will stem from the fact that you’re Dutch, especially compared to people from North America our (I’m Dutch as well) straightforwardness is often mistaken for arrogance, however you didn’t get to 5mio+ downloads in a day, so this is something that you should have learned a *long* time ago already.
My advice would be to grow thicker skin; most feedback is not personal, but instead aimed at the plugin. Also with 5mio+ downloads, what do you expect?
I’m going to switch back to All In One…I’m too busy of a social media manager to have to dicker around and wait. Plus, I can’t let my clients down with something that isn’t helping them. (not to mention my own affiliate and adsense sites)
Joost de Valk
unfortunately my longer comment is awaiting approval, but the article is simply wrong on several aspects. Go to WordPress.org and check both the version number and the ratings 🙂
Just for clarity’s sake Joost, I have to say that I don’t think it is correct to call the article “wrong.” The images haven’t been doctored after all. At worst you can say that the article refers to older versions of the plugin. At the time of writing (which was only late last week) everything within the article was current.
Joost de Valk
Tom, I’m sorry to say but: you’re doing it *wrong*. You check facts before you publish, not when you’re writing. So when you hit publish, you *were* wrong.
At worst outdated but in no way “wrong.”
The article refers to what had (by the time of publication) become historic updates in the past tense. That’s valid. It does not claim that the issues are current. That’s valid. The compatibility issues experienced with those updates are completely genuine — just because you introduced further updates doesn’t make that reality any less valid.
Having said that, in a perfect world there would have been an addendum to the article stating that further updates have been released. There is such an addendum.
Personally speaking I think it is interesting (and concerning) that four versions of your plugin in a row were all voted as incompatible either with 3.5.1 or 3.5.2. There’s nothing “wrong” about that fact and I think it bears mentioning to say the least.
Joost de Valk
I have to admit I’m a bit sad reading this post. You have my email address. You decide to email Michael Torbert, but don’t check with me before publishing. Or you could, before you hit publish, check your facts… The version you write about was indeed broken, as was version 1.4.8, a few days before that, I blogged about that. But 1.4.10 is already old. We’re at 1.4.12 now. I released 1.4.11 a day after 1.4.10 because I’d found the bugs.
You basically list three issues:
– A version that is broken, well, as I said that version has seen 2 updates since. Within a day the first, two days later a second one, fixing all those issues. If you check now, you’ll see it’s showing as working on WordPress.org.
– You have apparently had some personal issues, and we might have had a bug with settings, I’m looking into what could have caused that, but it’s certainly not widespread. Which doesn’t mean we won’t try to find and address it.
– You see a lot of unresolved issues on WordPress.org: you’re right. I’ve stopped most of my support there. We’ve started preparing for premium support as the amount of free support we were giving was simply unsustainable. WordPress.org does not allow me to define how I do support for my plugin, so I could do it differently, they force the forums, that I don’t like at all, on me. The fact that there are so many support requests is because the plugin does so much. It basically “competes” with 4 or 5 other plugins.
You quote Michael, whom I respect a lot btw because he’s obviously pioneered the premium plugin model, but have you seen their recent updates? In their latest major release, they added 4 or 5 new features, things like a “snippet preview”. You know which other free plugin had that 2 years ago? Right. Even with those changes that plugin still doesn’t do half of what our WordPress SEO by Yoast does. We work on the cutting edge of SEO, we implement incredibly quickly when search engines or social giants like Facebook or Twitter release new stuff. With this speed comes the inherent chance of a few more bugs, a risk we’re trying hard to mitigate.
I just hired another full time developer and you’ve seen that we have quite good premium support in place for our premium plugin offerings, we’re planning on using that infrastructure for a premium version of WordPress SEO, which should allow both the free and premium version of that plugin to become even better.
While I’m sad to read this post, it also shows me that we have to do even better. And we will.
Thanks for taking the time to comment here — I know you’re busy and I appreciate it. Furthermore, I apologise if you are saddened by the post; like I said in the post itself, it wasn’t intended as an attack on you (or your plugin for that matter, which I have supported a great deal in the past).
You mentioned that I didn’t email you before publishing, which is true. With the greatest of respect, I have emailed you on more than one occasion in the past and have never had a response. The only time we have corresponded via email was when Thijs approached us to ask if we would be interested in reviewing your Video SEO plugin. Despite the fact that Thijs approached us, it took fifteen days and a reminder email from me to get a response from you. Furthermore, Thijs hasn’t been responding to my emails for months regarding issues with the plugin. (Not even a “We don’t have time to look into this for you,” which really would have been appreciated and would have only taken five seconds to compose and send.)
I had a short deadline for this article and quite frankly I didn’t think I would get a response from you so I didn’t send an email. Can you blame me for thinking that, given my prior experience? (Incidentally, Michael Torbert responded to my email the same day I sent it.)
Regarding the issue of historic updates, that would simply seem to be a case of bad timing. The day I went on the site I saw what I saw and took screenshots accordingly. Nonetheless, the issues were there to be seen and are (in my opinion) indicative of deeper issues. I will edit the article accordingly.
You mention that I have experienced personal issues with the plugin that are not widespread. I’m not convinced. I would find it really surprising if me encountering three different bugs across two different websites over the course of several months isn’t indicative of a larger issue with regards to bug tracking and ongoing development.
You put a good argument forward for SEO by Yoast by comparing it with All in One SEO Pack. You don’t need to tell me twice — if you have read any of the hugely positive pieces regarding the plugin that I have written all over the web you would see that I have been totally sold on it in the past. That is why I am still a user despite having so many fundamental problems with it and having being ignored by Thijs (that’s just a statement of fact rather than malice). Having said that, I am now on the brink of switching, even if it is to an inferior product, because at least I can expect it to work and there is a support system in place!
I for one would love to see (and happily pay for) a premium version of SEO by Yoast. But I have three bugs that are more than just a simple nuisance — they completely oppose the intended functionality of three key features. What would you do in my shoes?
Joost de Valk
To clarify, I have asked for login details to your site yesterday to look at bug #1 and #2, as i’m still not sure they’re bugs. #3 wasn’t a bug but a mistake you made because you didn’t read the documentation, (which is something we’re trying to improve on all the time as well, but it’s damn hard to make people actually read stuff).
One thing did come out of this that’s very positive: I’ve posted yesterday asking for help on the WP forums and got it, including a number of great patches. So: thanks 🙂
I think much of this frustration – and much of the need for this perceived support – will go away with the new enhancements I’ve seen your team allude to (i.e., better documentation and a setup wizard) for this plugin. I’m by no means an expert on plugin development or even configuration but there is a bit of a learning curve on this great tool – and it is f@¢king great. Better illustration of what each setting means as well as a common issues/FAQ will certainly minimize the confusion and make all the folks enjoying this free plugin much happier.
Personally, I’m looking into your Local SEO plugin for some clients and I’m concerned that that plugin has a similar structure from a documentation and support perspective.
My two pennies:
I love WordPress SEO by Yoast, however it saddens me to say that I have to agree with some of the points raised in the article.
I’ve too noticed a number of bugs/incomplete functionalities in the plugin.
In the spirit of open source, I actually made the effort to dig into the code and *fix* these bugs and completed the incomplete functionality.
I first did so in version 126.96.36.199 and reported the bugs + fix availability in the WordPress forum.
When after a while when there was no reply and several new versions had been released, I investigated other ways to contact Yoast and have tried via several ways, including their own website and his personal twitter account, again: no response.
As mentioned above, the plugin is currently at version 1.4.12 and it’s been over 9 months since my initial bug report and so far, my fixes have not even been looked at by the Yoast team.
To be clear: I’m not asking for support. I’m trying to give back to this great plugin and it pains me to say that even those voices are not being heard.
Joost de Valk
Hey, we get an enormous amount of email (seriously, you wouldn’t believe it), so we unfortunately have to ignore most of it. Please link me up to the thread on wordpress.org or submit a pull request on github: http://github.com/jdevalk/wordpress-seo/
Excellent! Forked & diffing now.
Send you 2 pull requests with 6 commits so far & counting. 5 are bug fixes, one an enhancement. Hope this helps.
Joost de Valk
You just made my day Jrf 🙂 We’ll be sure to hook you up with every license you want from us 🙂
[Can’t reply to the bottom comment, so sorry for the one up]
Glad to make your day 😉 No need for any licenses, glad to help.
Oh.. and if it all becomes too much again… you’re welcome to push some (paying) work my way 😉
Your splitting hairs Joost and totally out of line with accusations of “old version”.
If you are releasing buggy version after buggy version in rapid succession it’s a week man’s comeback to blame the reviewer for commenting on something that was valid at the time of writing.
If you release three updates in 24 hours you expect a reviewer anywhere in the world to keep up with that?
To blame WordPress for your inability to provide a reasonable level of support is also pretty poor.
WordPress.org does not allow me to define how I do support for my plugin, so I could do it differently, they force the forums, that I don’t like at all, on me.
These aren’t knew requirements and they are the rules that everyone plays by as part of teh WordPress “community”. Don’t like it? GO focus of Drupal or something else.
Shooting the messenger and failing to address the issues is a pretty standard defence of people when they’ve got nothing else to fall back on.
I have previously deleted your plugin because of issues and no support response seeing the way you have addressed this article and the issues it contains is enough for me. I’ll go with the guys who care even if their product does contains all the bells and whistles of your.
Better 30 features that work than 50 with 10 broken.
Your response to JRF is totally appalling and exudes nothing but arrogance. It leaves nothing but the impression that you don’t even bother opening emails that people take the time to write and send to you. In this case it’s caused you to lose.
Most people will accept that things occasionally go wrong with an update. It’s only when that known bugis continually pushed out as an update with the known fault (such as W3TC) did earlier this year that people get totally pissed – or having their forum questions,
and emails totally ignored.
Perhaps you should follow the maxim of good newsrooms. Be first… but be right.
I totally agree with you John.
Joost is doing the worst case of damage control I have seen in years. If he wants to be part of the WordPress community he better stops pissing people of with arrogant answers.
He forgets that “we the people” contribute to a great deal of his popularity. This popularity is a really great and free marketing campaign for a developers services. If he doesn’t treasure that he will fail sooner or later. This would be a pity, cause some features are really awesome. But you can’t just abuse users with live customer websites to “beta test” your software. As a popular plugin contributor that’s is crossing a line you should not cross as it will have serious ramifications for your free marketing campaign that the WordPress user community does for you.
Joost should take the blame he is getting and learn the free and valuable lessons in customer service that are in this post and all the comments.
Bad damage control indeed. I wouldn’t want to offer this guy any monetary support. And yes, I do pay for services that I think are worth it. Why offer a free plugin if you are going to be so bitter towards the people who use it? I know it must be frustrating but if you can’t take it, don’t offer the free plugin in the first place.
Joost de Valk
I’m not wanting to come across as arrogant at all. The issue is simple: we have a business to run and we get over 200 emails every day asking for support on stuff people didn’t pay for. We simply can’t handle that. I don’t think my response to Jrf was appalling: development of the plugin has been on Github for a while now, she did two pull requests there yesterday evening which I’ve merged this morning.
The prominence of the WordPress.org forums *is* “new”, it was added just about a year ago, my plugin is older than that, granted, the forums where there before but they weren’t displayed so prominently. We try hard to provide the community with a great plugin, but if the burden of support for over a million users falls upon your shoulders because you’ve built a great plugin, you’re left with a choice: stop doing free support, or go bankrupt. It’s as simple as that. We’ve chosen the former, I hope you understand that.
I’d be interested to hear what you decide.
The latest plugin update actually broke my site. I had to deactivate it.
Simple matter of hitting “Refresh” on your browser when it comes back up in maintenance mode. Maintenance mode gets turned off. Everything is fine.
I’ve experience problems with WordPress SEO by Yoast in the past. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great plugin, but even before one of the more recent updates (which broke one of my sites), I encountered problems with the plugin not doing what it was “supposed to do” ie. indexing pages that weren’t supposed to be, non-indexing pages that were supposed to be indexed, canonical URLs not working properly, etc.
At my site’s most peak point in the SERPs last year, I was using All-in-One SEO with some simple tweaks and that was that. But I decided to jump on the bandwagon and switch to Yoast a few months back.
WordPress SEO by Yoast like I said is GREAT, but I’ve too thought about switching to All-in-One. But should the thought of switching SEO plugins scare the crap out of me?
Unique content is important too. You need to provide content that has different information than what is on other sites and other Web pages.