You may be familiar with the ever popular WordPress plugin, Yoast. It is extremely helpful when it comes to optimizing your website for SEO. What’s more, if you are a premium user, then you will have access to the many other useful features it has to offer.
Yoast works very well and we take pleasure in using it daily, using its premium features helps us to improve our SEO efforts even further but it’s not good when those extra features decide to break your website.
Let us explain.
The problem lies in the 301 redirect function of Yoast. When you add a basic URL to redirect to another basic URL, for example, mydomain/old-page to mydomain/new-page then it will do what you’d expect it to, it will send you to the alternative page you have requested it to go to. It works great and there is no problem.
However, if you wanted to redirect mydomain/old-page?utm_source=email to mydomain/new-page?utm_source=email then the user will unfortunately be met with a 404 error page.
The reason this is happening is because a parameter (?) has been added to the URL. A Parameter is a way to pass information about a click, through a URL. It seems that the Yoast premium plugin does not handle parameters at all which is frustrating as it won’t always be you manually adding them.
For example, if you are using Google Ads they will automatically add a parameter to the end of every clicked link in your Ads campaign. Then finally adding a GCLID to the end each one e.g. mydomain.com/new-page?GCLID= a GCLID links everything together – what keyword they matched, what search query they typed, what date this happened etc…
Everytime Google Ads adds these parameters to your URL, and you have used the premium Yoast 301 redirect plugin feature, the user will unfortunately be met with a 404 page. We advise you to check any outstanding ads you have running at the moment as this could be resulting in you wasting your budget and your time if the links are broken.
Other examples where this is happening is when using Google Analytics and MailChimp. These use UTM Tags (a snippet of text you can attach to the end of a URL in order to track a source and campaign name) These also turn out to be parameters which again, will throw up errors when being added to the end of your URLs when you use the redirect function in Yoast premium.
There are hundreds of systems and hundreds of reasons why you’d want to use parameters in your URLs which makes it all the more frustrating when the Yoast Premium redirect function is breaking them.
What you can do.
We have a few suggestions you can do whilst Yoast hopefully fixes this problem in the near future.
- Find an alternative 301 redirect plugin to use (there are many available on WordPress) in the mean time or implement with .htaccess
- A less practical solution is to stop the external URLs in those external systems adding parameters
- Join us in asking Yoast support to quickly fix this issue in the hope that this premium feature can be used to its fullest.