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Traffic and Adsense earnings seriously affected by plugin update

     
6:12 am on Jul 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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About 2 - 3 months ago, I updated a plugin on my site (WP - PageNavi), a very popular plugin for site paging structure.
Apparently, this update decided to rework the URL structure of the site pages. Not the content URLs, but site page URLs. Even tag page URLs were altered.

As a result, I currently have 809 "404 not found" errors reported in Search Console since then.

Initially, I was hit with about 550 errors, when I first got a message from Google.
In an attempt to reverse this, I rolled back the plugin to its previous version.
I knew it would generate even more 404s, but the existing Google links are more valuable than the newly created URLs.

With the reverse, the new URLs were wiped off, so a fresh batch of 404s came in at once (about 250). This was 1 - 2 weeks ago.
Now, in Search Console, the previous batch of 404 links now direct to the right pages, so I can mark them as fixed.

There hasn't been a mass error batch after that, but after all said and done, my site has lost about 25% of its traffic and about 40% of its Adsense revenue.
All thanks to a single update. This is why I generally hesitate to update plugins.

Has anyone experienced a similar thing, and other than using the "mark as fixed" option in Search Console, did anything help?
7:18 am on July 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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A little late for pre-emptive advice, but always back up your files... always!

Many hosts offer a back-up feature, or you can download the entire site to your local machine.

Your traffic should rebuild after everyone's cache refreshes.

The Site Errors and the "mark as fixed" is just for your attention. It does nothing on the Google end.

As I commented in a similar thread:
When you use software to create your web property, you are directly affected by how that is accomplished. Add numerous plugins, modules, etc and the instability of controlling that outcome increases.

Not everyone is a programmer. Those that cannot code rely on products that do it for them, but there is always a risk. Problem is, it's difficult to identify possibly bad outcomes. It seems you were quick to catch it... live & learn :)
12:17 pm on July 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have a few older backups, but nothing recent enough to use without losing a significant amount of data/configurations.
I have backups after the issue, but that's not going to make a difference either.

I have W3 Total Cache on the site, and have purged caches on it.

My tag pages and category pages are still busted. The plugin roll back didn't seem to fix that.
I'll need to look closer into this, before it cripples a nearly 5 year old site.
7:19 pm on July 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Sorry to here all that and good luck getting it all fixed again.

Aren't there support pages, maybe with questions & comments, for these plugins & modules? That must have been pretty shocking to see an unexpected outcome like that.
7:38 pm on July 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am always weary of using plugins that seriously impact site structures. Future updates, abandoned plugins, bugs & conflicts. Using seriously outdated plugins can cause issues down the line too. Especially if the developers decide to move away from it.

I am in the process of updating some of my outdated installs too. Every step feels like a landmine.
8:55 pm on July 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I have had too many issues with plugins that mess with URLs or do redirects, so I don't use any of them anymore, ever. Prefer to roll my own. If I can't do it, I find someone I can trust who can.
5:32 am on July 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Keyply Thanks. The 3 to 4 people on the plugin support forum who expressed the same concerns haven't gotten responses from the author, so I haven't bothered adding mine.
The plugin has over 900k active installs, so I'm surprised not more people had issues.


@frankleeceo Yeah, I generally avoid updates to certain plugin types, but it had been a while I updated. Too bad it turned out that way. One of the downsides of Wordpress, I guess.


@netmeg I hear you. I don't have coding experience, beyond editing basic HTML and CSS, so that's not even an option for me.