Yoast Confirms WordPress SEO Bug Creates Duplicate Sitemaps

Yoast, the makers of one of the most popular WordPress plugins for SEO, recently confirmed a bug that causes WordPress to generate duplicate sitemaps. 

It’s not clear how long this bug has been affecting websites, but it has reportedly been causing Yoast SEO to generate duplicate sitemaps since early February. 

The bug appears to be related to Yoast’s decision to move its sitemap generation service to the cloud, which was likely an attempt to improve performance and reliability. 

Yoast has since confirmed that it’s working on a fix, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear timeline for when this bug will be resolved.

Yoast SEO Sitemap

The Yoast SEO sitemap tool creates a sitemap for each article type automatically.

Page Sitemaps

A site with a sitemap for pages, for example, will publish a sitemap URL like this:

/page-sitemap.xml

Post Sitemaps

A post sitemap for a site with fewer than thousands of posts will look like this:

/post-sitemap.xml

A site with a lot of posts may publish sitemaps that look like this:

/post-sitemap1.xml

/post-sitemap2.xml

Yoast Duplicate Sitemap Bug

Yoast is also generating redundant sitemaps, according to the findings.

The following sitemaps will be found on a site that only has one sitemap for “pages”:

Yoast “Page” Sitemaps Bug

Original “Page” Sitemap:

/page-sitemap.xml

Duplicate “Page” Sitemaps:

/page-sitemap0.xml

/page-sitemap1.xml

Yoast “Post” Sitemap Bug

The following sitemap is for a site that simply has a single sitemap for posts:

Original “Post” Sitemap:

/post-sitemap.xml

Duplicate “Post” Sitemaps:

/post-sitemap0.xml

/post-sitemap1.xml

Yoast Multiple Sitemaps for Posts

The error manifests itself in a different way on a site with several sitemaps for posts.

If a site has hundreds of posts and three sitemaps are required, the sitemaps might look like this:

Original “Posts” Sitemaps:

/post-sitemap1.xml

/post-sitemap2.xml

/post-sitemap3.xml

However, as a result of the Yoast sitemap problem, they now have two more sitemaps that are duplicates of the first.

This is the first sitemap in the example above: /post-sitemap1.xml

These are the duplicates sitemaps of the original first sitemap:

/post-sitemap.xml

/post-sitemap0.xml

Yoast Sitemap Bug is Live on Yoast.com

The problem is visible on any site that utilises the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, including Yoast’s own website.

These URLs lead to identical Yoast XML sitemaps:

https://yoast.com/post-sitemap.xml

https://yoast.com/post-sitemap0.xml

https://yoast.com/post-sitemap1.xml

Sitemap Bug Not Limited to Yoast

What’s really stranger is that the Yoast sitemap bug isn’t exclusive to Yoast.

Many other SEO plugins include a similar flaw (but not in all of them).

It’s strange that a flaw in numerous SEO plugins causes them to behave in the same way.

It’s worth noting that plugin developers are obligated by the WordPress open source license, which states that WordPress plugins and themes are considered derivative works. 

WordPress Sitemap Bugs Not Everywhere

Brenda Malone investigated the problem and discovered that some SEO plugins appear to be free of the flaw.

The following SEO Plugins generate sitemaps correctly:

  • SEO Ultimate PRO WordPress Plugin
  • SLIM SEO
  • Squirrly SEO

How Big of a Problem is This?

Making things simple for search engines is the finest SEO approach.

The more flaws that are added, the more likely it is that search engine bots may trip over them, causing unanticipated problems, especially if the problem is compounded by other errors on the site.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is better for SEO if you make it easier for search engines to crawl and discover site pages.

Making mistakes is the polar opposite of optimizing. The more errors a website makes, the less optimized it becomes.

In terms of SEO, one may argue that these issues have a minor impact and that the site can continue to limp along and run normally despite them.

However, errors are still the polar opposite of SEO.

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