There are a number of key plugins that I use on WordPress sites. One is the Yoast SEO plugin and the other is Wordfence. Yoast provides great control over the SEO aspects of the website, from managing the indexing of pages, posts and categories, to realtime content optimisation feedback. Wordfence, on the other hand, is totally focussed on keeping the website secure from hacking and malicious files. The reason I’ve highlighted these two is down to an issue that arose from the recent update of Yoast to version 3.0.
Just upgraded to Yoast 3.0 and use Wordfence? Then you may experience the ‘Homepage cannot be indexed’ warning!
Upgrading to Yoast 3.0 brings a raft of new features, one of which is on the WordPress Dashboard. Here the Yoast SEO widget gives a summary of the SEO status of the site, which is done via integration with OnPage. After the initial install, the widget was telling me that the site was no longer indexable by Google (an email was sent to the same effect)! Whilst this message is initially alarming, a quick check of site using SEO doctor revealed that everything was as it should be. However, no further information was given by the widget other than to sign up to OnPage for a more detailed analysis of the site. I did run through this procedure to see what, if anything would be flagged up, but there was no indication that there was a problem with the SEO of the site.
It turns out that one feature of the Wordfence firewall was enabling the error on the Yoast 3.0 plugin. On the Wordfence options page, under Firewall rules, there is a checkbox called ‘Immediately block fake Google crawlers‘. If this is checked, it will cause the Yoast widget on the Dashboard to flag up that the site is no longer indexable. Unchecking this box allows the Yoast plugin to access the servers at OnPage (presumably) – giving the ‘OK’. At this stage it’s not clear why this would come under the heading of ‘fake Google crawler’, but time will tell where the issue lies. This challenge presented by the Yoast 3.0 update has led to many flagging up the issue, but at least there is a solution!
Despite this, Yoast and Wordfence are excellent and essential additions to a WordPress site and I will continue to recommend them to clients, but like anything new, there are sometimes a few issues to sort out!