Yoast SEO 20.5 has been released with a number of security fixes and an improved Google SERP preview. This preview now shows mobile and desktop snippets with Google’s current styling, allowing users to see exactly how their snippets will look and adjust their optimization for Google Search results accordingly.
One of the major changes in this release is that Yoast SEO has dropped compatibility with PHP 5.6, 7.0, and 7.1. The plugin now requires PHP 7.2.5 or higher (along with WP 6.0). While this may seem like an extreme move at first glance, it’s worth noting that approximately 89.9% of WordPress sites are already running on PHP 7.2+. However, it’s possible that some sites running on much older versions of WordPress are also on unsupported versions of PHP.
Getting WordPress sites to update to the latest versions of PHP is a slow process, but Yoast SEO has historically been a force for change in pushing users to upgrade their PHP versions. In version 4.5, released in 2017, Yoast SEO urged site administrators to upgrade to PHP 7 by introducing a large, non-dismissible notice. At that time, Yoast founder Joost de Valk said, “To move the web forward, we need to take a stand against old, slow, and unsafe software… Because web hosts are not upgrading PHP, we have decided to start pushing this from within plugins.” He argued that the WordPress ecosystem was losing good developers because the project was moving too slowly and also made the case for security and speed.
Although the latest version of Yoast SEO will be incompatible with approximately 10% of WordPress sites running unsupported versions of PHP, this move is necessary for maintaining a healthy and secure ecosystem. It’s important for website owners to keep their software up-to-date to ensure that their sites are secure and functioning optimally.
In conclusion, the release of Yoast SEO 20.5 brings several important changes, including an improved Google SERP preview and dropped compatibility with older versions of PHP. While this may cause some inconvenience for a small percentage of WordPress sites, it’s ultimately a necessary step for maintaining a secure and healthy ecosystem. Website owners should always strive to keep their software up-to-date to ensure optimal performance and security.