WordPress 5.5 (a.k.a. Eckstine) went live August 11, 2020, and with it came a whole slew of updates to make WordPress websites easier to edit, better for mobile, and more search-engine friendly.
There are tons of updates that come with WordPress 5.5 like lazy-loaded images, more block editing features, increased accessibility, security, coding options and more. You can read the in-depth WordPress 5.5 field guide for all that goodness.
There’s clearly a lot to be excited about with this new WordPress update, but after Eckstine rolled out, I began to see .xml sitemap errors appearing in my site health audits. Uh-oh.
The Potential Sitemap Issue that Came When WordPress 5.5 Met Yoast 14.7
After digging into the sudden multitude of sitemap errors I was dealing with, I realized that the errors were only appearing when two things were true.
- The website had been updated to WordPress 5.5.
- The website had the popular Yoast plugin installed.
Okay. That’s a start.
The error itself appeared in two ways.
- Pages that ended with /wp-sitemap.xml were registering as 404s.
- Two “broken links” were appearing on the sites. The first was the aforementioned /wp-sitemap.xml. The second was /sitemap.xml.
Sitemap errors? Not good. So what happened?
WordPress 5.5 is generating xml sitemaps on its own (hence the /wp-sitemap.xml url).
Websites that use the Yoast plugin to create a .xml sitemap will then have two sitemaps connected to their site.
Believing that their sitemap is better (I have questions about this), Yoast is automatically disabling the WP 5.5 .xml sitemap.
This “disabling” is manifesting as broken links and 404s. Ugh.
Don’t Panic – Yet.
Before you get too nervous about this, it might not be that big of an issue. Here’s why.
The error messages appeared on a third-party website auditing platform, not Google Search Console (as of August 19). That means either Google is not registering this as a significant issue or my specific GSC accounts just aren’t showing it in my coverage or sitemap reports yet.
That being said, it’s still too early to know whether having two sitemaps is good or bad, whether disabling a sitemap will register errors in Google Search Console, or whether the need for Yoast .xml sitemaps will disappear (I’m sure the “disabling” isn’t part of that fear at all – *envision dramatic eye-roll here*).
Back to the errors. What am I doing about them?
I don’t want to run risks with 404s and broken links, so until more news comes out about which sitemap is preferred, whether there are risks of having two sitemaps, etc, I’m redirecting the disabled sitemap to Yoast’s .xml sitemap.
I’m not actually convinced that Yoast’s sitemap is superior to WordPress’s, but I do know it has worked in the past, and I’m not ready to disable it until I hear more about the reliability of the WordPress sitemap.
Did Redirection Work?
Redirecting from the 404 to the active Yoast sitemap did fix the errors, but I won’t be surprised if there’s more work to be done on this in the future.
Other than this glitch, I haven’t ran into other Eckstine issues, and I’m genuinely thrilled about some of the upgrades we’re getting with WordPress 5.5.