Yoast SEO Fail 2.0 – Here’s How to Fix It and Avoid a Google Penalty

Rohit Palit by | Updated:

The Yoast SEO plugin received a lot of wrath from the SEO community because of a critical bug in one of its recent versions, which caused thousands of sites to lose their rankings on Google.

This morning, I discovered another critical flaw, which is there since v6.3, that seems to have gone unnoticed by major SEO bloggers.

So, what is it?

The team behind the development of Yoast SEO decided to remove the 'noindex subpages of archives' option from their plugin since v6.3 - and they apparently did that because they thought, and I quote, "Google has gotten much better at working with paginated series".

Now, anyone with a decent amount of experience with technical SEO would understand that keeping dynamic archive pages with no unique content indexed may serve only one purpose - to get your site a Google penalty.

And indeed, Google has been indexing these useless pages for TechTage and many of my other sites, too.

In fact, one of my sites had over 300 of these pages indexed on Google, before I came up with a fix and applied it.

For sites like TechTage that don't use the default pagination of WordPress on their homepages and instead use a page builder, the entire content of ALL of these pagination pages would be EXACTLY the same.

This is a MASSIVE flaw in the Yoast SEO plugin and can harm the rankings of your otherwise high-quality site by letting Google index a lot entirely duplicate pages.

After discovering this, I went on to look for existing solutions to this huge issue. Though I noticed a lot of threads on the support forum of Yoast asking for an option to bring the feature back, the support team over at Yoast didn't seem to care much, and they were instead pointing to why they decided to remove it.

So, I was forced to come up with my own solution. This solution will work on all sites, and let you keep using the Yoast SEO plugin, as switching to another plugin is a pain for sites with lots of existing posts and custom meta data for most of them.

Here's the 2-step solution to re-add the noindex tag to your site's pagination pages. This will keep the tag intact regardless of if you're using the Yoast SEO plugin or not.

1. Install the Code Snippets Plugin

First of all, either head over to WordPress.org or install the Code Snippets plugin directly from: Your WP Dashboard - > Add New Plugin.

2. Add the Following Code Snippet

After you've installed the plugin, click on 'add new'. Then paste the following code in the box:

function techtage_subpage_fix() {
if(is_paged()) echo '<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"/>';}
add_action('wp_head', 'techtage_subpage_fix');

Then, click on the 'Only run on site front-end' option below. Finally, click on 'save changes'.

That's it. All of the subpages of your site's archives, be it categories, tags, or just subpages of your homepage, will now have the meta robots "noindex,follow" tag again.

Have a question? Feel free to leave it as a comment.