Updating Yoast WordPress Plugin Causes Fatal Errors


The Yoast WordPress SEO plugin released an update, but it soon became apparent that something had gone horribly wrong for some users. It seems that the problem caused some fatal errors. Victims negatively affected by the Yoast update had to revert to a previous version of Yoast.

According to one user, his WordPress installation alerted him to a “fatal error”, according to the email sent to him.

Yoast responsibly and quickly resolved the issue and issued an apology for what happened.

Yoast plugin update version 18.4

Yoast 18.4 aimed to introduce a new feature that introduced timestamps of content and structured data for copyright protection purposes using blockchain technology.

The new feature was connected to a service called WordProof which provides verifiable timestamps telling site visitors when content was created and updated.

Failed to integrate WordProof with Yoast

The WordProof service provides a blockchain certificate to certify a timestamp and a copyright infringement tool.

The stated goal of WordProof is to foster trust with a website by providing proof and transparency.

According to WordProof:

“The internet has deep-rooted issues that are growing every day: mistrust, plagiarism and fake news. WordProof wants to create a new standard for a more reliable and trustworthy internet, with the help of blockchain technology.

Unfortunately, the integration of this feature has caused Yoast to malfunction seriously for users.

At the time of writing, some Yoast customers have reported that this error affects Yoast versions 18.4 and 18.4.1.

According to Yoast, the free Yoast plugin version 18.4.1 and Yoast SEO Premium 18.2.1 are both stable releases that no longer contain the new WordProof feature.

WordProof is a company that states on its About Us page that the husband and wife co-founders of Yoast are partners.

Bad Yoast SEO Plugin Update Symptoms

The doomed Yoast WordPress SEO plugin update caused massive disruption for some customers.

Typical issues reported:

  • The XML sitemap displays all content types, including private content that is not meant to be exposed
  • The Yoast search appearance settings tab was completely empty.
  • Fatal error message
  • WordPress sends message about Yoast plugin error

A user reported that WordPress core emailed an alert message regarding the Yoast plugin:

“Since WordPress 5.2 there is a built-in feature that detects when a plugin or theme causes a fatal error on your site and notifies you with this automated email.

In this case, WordPress detected an error with one of your plugins, Yoast SEO.

User shared documentation of Yoast SEO plugin bad errors:

Screenshot of Yoast update errors

Bad Yoast plugin update

Another Yoast customer posted on the Yoast support page to describe their issues:

“After updating the yoast seo plugin 18.3 -> 18.4 in the site health status page, I can see some errors:

…REST API encountered a performance error

…The REST API request failed due to an error.

Another Yoast plugin user wrote to inform Yoast of a similar error:

“Critical error after updating wordpress 5.9.2 & Yoast 18.4.1

…The REST API request failed due to an error.

An issue involving the REST API issue seemed to be a fairly common complaint, as other victims of the Yoast update also reported it.

Another Yoast plugin user wrote that Yoast broke their website:

“My site suddenly started showing blank pages, error pages, narrowly formatted pages on a desktop browser (i.e., not taking up the entire browser screen like they were doing before), etc. I also suddenly couldn’t change my homepage…”

Another call for help:

“I am unable to edit the post or the page. It throws an error. When I disabled the plugin. That the problem went away.

…error: The editor encountered an unexpected error.”

Yoast assures that the latest version of the SEO plugin is now stable

The plugin caused fatal errors for many users who started posting on the Yoast plugin support page on WordPress.org.

Yoast released a statement of apology regarding the troubled update:

“Despite extensive testing, some users unfortunately encountered issues with Yoast SEO 18.4.

Since they quickly contacted our 24/7 support team, we were able to act quickly and roll back this release.

….We are sorry for any inconvenience you may have experienced.”

Yoast assured customers that the latest versions (Yoast SEO 18.4.1 and Yoast SEO Premium 18.2.1) are stable and that they will come back to WordProof integration at a later date.

Yoast SEO Plugin Errors

Yoast is currently not compatible with PHP 8+. At least one of the people reporting an error indicated that they were using PHP 8.0.

In an unrelated support question, someone asked if Yoast was compatible with the latest version of PHP, version 8.x.

The Yoast support rep wrote:

“Unfortunately, we haven’t fully tested the plugin with PHP version 8 yet. The whole WordPress community is still working on it”

So it’s possible that for this particular user, PHP 8.0 made the problems worse.

Yoast recommends updating to the latest stable versions of their plugin. It may be prudent to check that your website is not running PHP 8.+ and, if possible, stage the site first to test if it is working properly.

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Read Yoast’s statement on the unfortunate update

Yoast SEO 18.4.1 and Premium 18.2.1 available now


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