Kill Googlebot

Major SEO Issue With WPengine

As of March 13, 2019 WPengine has added a front-facing control for users to not only know about the pagination bot redirection discussed below but also turn the function on and off.

Everyone who’s followed my comments on hosting over the years will know that I’m a pretty big fan of WPengine. Or maybe it’s “was” as there is a major issue with their setup that not only may impact SEO but if you have any type of sizeable site – WILL impact it.

The Problem With Pagination …

The problem is with the pagination.

For those not familiar with the term –> your blog, categories, etc. likely have a lot of posts across a lot of pages. When you scroll to the bottom of the page you’ll likely see something like:

Pagination on the Beanstalk site.

Click any of those links and you’ll get to /page/2/, /page/3/, etc. all the way up to /page/81/ (in this case).

Well it turns out that at WPengine this works by default all the way up to /page/9/ for both users and search engine bots. As soon as you enter double-digits the bots are redirected to the homepage.

You can see it in action in the GIF below on the Beanstalk site:

WPengine redirecting Googlebot

This is obviously a major issue. Not only does it impact content discovery but it will impact the PageRank flow through your blog and specifically to older posts. Some may not even be discoverable by bots.

What Can You Do?

I immediately got onto support chat and the cause of the issue was described as:

“That is happening because of a setting on our platform called redirect bots. It can be turned off but by default it is enabled.”

So … if you’re hosted with WPengine, get on the phone or chat system and get them to disable “redirect bots”.

5 Comments

  1. Maybe we all need to dial back our enthusiasm for WPEngine. It’s not the fastest hosting, despite what they say. I like the staging features, but along with that comes their complex an unintuitive control panel, which is hardly an improvement over the time-tested WHM/Cpanel combo. WPEngine restricts plugins one is allowed to run, and even restricts caching. Every time we have had a client on WPEngine (and it’s often here in Austin because they promote so heavily here) we spend a LOT of time messing with the hosting and we can never get it as fast as a dedicated WHM installation with SSDs.

  2. Doc Sheldon says:

    I have a couple of friends who swear by WPEngine, but I tried it several years ago and the plugin limitations and caching issues forced me to move my client to a more flexible host.

    I also was helping a friend who was trying to speed up his site, and the best we could get out of it was slightly over 3.5 seconds. I put a clone of his site on my host and it loaded in 1.7. So for me, WPEngine is right up their with WIX, at the top of hosts to avoid.

  3. Doc Sheldon says:

    … right up “there”