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Fix ReplytoCom Links and Image Attachment Pages Issues in WordPress

Do not worry, there is no bad news waiting for you, if you are using WordPress, then you are using a very powerful CMS, but in this article I am going to share my personal experiences of some WordPress problems that almost took away my night’s sleep.

I personally own many WordPress blogs, and I have seen this problem happen to only 2 of my blog, and not the rest (I really do not know why). Basically it’s a replytocom links and image attachment pages issue in WordPress. I saw these pages getting indexed in Google for a few months, but it didn’t bother me much, before Panda started taking it seriously.

One day I was shocked to see a huge fall in my traffic stats in GA. It was just a day or two after Google launched its last Panda update. I was assured that I had lost my traffic due to the Panda update only and there was no other reason behind it.

But I was also disappointed with the fact that, even after maintaining very good quality content in my blog, how Panda can penalize my blog, all of a sudden!

After further research…

I found out the root cause of the problem to be two major Panda issues – Duplicate Content and Low-quality content.

I was 100% assured, that I didn’t create a single piece of duplicate content in my blog myself, and was also rest assured that I didn’t write a single low-quality content (nor accept any low-quality guest post).

The Problem of ?replytocom Links

This was one of the major reasons of getting my blog penalized by the Panda. I started doing some research and I found out that I was not the sole victim of this problem. There are many other popular bloggers who have also faced the same problem before.

To understand this problem, I need to tell you a bit about these replytocom links. WordPress generates a separate page for each and every new comment and that page contains exactly the parent post with just a new comment as extra.

Panda, for obvious reasons, didn’t like all these duplicate pages in my blog and got my blog penalized.

I do not understand that, even after implementing the rel=canonical tag in the posts, how Panda can consider these pages as duplicate pages. It should have ignored these pages, but unfortunately it didn’t.

Many of you may think, that you have never faced any such issue ever. You may be lucky, but I think you need to take this issue seriously and take actions regarding it.

I have seen, not only my own blog losing almost 60% of the total traffic within a day, but also the same thing happening to many of my friends blogs too.

Every problem has a solution

The good thing is that, this problem can be solved with ease.

– You can install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, and select the “Remove ?replytocom variables” option to remove the parameter from the comment URLs permanently.

– You can also use the robots.txt to “Disallow: ?replytocom” variables, but personally I do not consider this solution to be very effective.

– You can also go to Google Webmaster Tools and visit URL Parameters and select “No URLs” for the “replytocom” parameter.

All these solutions are enough to either remove any previously indexed links or to prevent any links getting further indexed in Google.

Yet another Problem of Image Attachment Pages

This is another problem, that sought Panda’s close attention to my blog. What actually happens is that, whenever you upload an image, WordPress creates a separate page for that image (See: WordPress Image and File Attachments), which contains – the image title and the image, in the content area. That’s it, and nothing more.

Now, Panda considers these pages as extremely low-quality content. Suppose, you upload 5 images on average for each post and you have a total of 200 blog posts, then just do the math’s and see the figures. You will be having 1000 images and therefore 1000 image attachment pages.

Now, Panda has no reason to stop itself from penalizing you, as you are having only 200 good quality posts and 1000 low-quality posts (containing a single image, and no content at all). This is going to kill your blog seriously.

I really do not understand the necessity of generating these useless pages. At least, WordPress should put “noindex” tag in these pages, so that these pages do not get indexed in Google.

This problem too has a solution

But the only good thing is that, there are some ways to combat this problem. The best and the most efficient way to solve this problem are to install the WordPress SEO plugin, go to the Permalinks section and check the “Redirect Image Attachment URLs to Parent Post”.

What it actually does, is that, it 301 redirects the image attachment pages to the parent post. The good thing about 301 redirect is that, it not only redirects the visitors but also passes any link juice from those pages to the parent post. You do not even need to worry about the hundreds of pages that have already been indexed, as Google will slowly de-index them automatically as it finds 301 redirect implemented on these pages.

As the few last words, all I can say is, if you have not yet been affected by these two problems, then you are surely lucky and you may never see any such problem in the future. But it is still advisable to do a regular audit of your blog and check for anomalies. Prevention is better than cure.  And those who have been already affected by this problem, do not worry. Just follow the simple solutions I have mentioned here. I think it will be enough for you to solve these problems permanently.

If you have any queries, feel free to ask me in the comments section. I will get back to you as fast as I can.

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