Yoast SEO 17.1 Removes Pipe ‘|’ Separator – How To Revert

The most recent update from Yoast 17.1, has removed the Pipe option as a Separator in its auto tagging for SEO meta tags. Yoast is a plugin most folks will use on WP so this post helps you revert this if you are not ready for the change yet.

Most folks will write titles using a separator called a pipe | as it is the thinnest of all the separators out there. As of writing this Google are trying to change how titles impact SEO or at least their PR is alluding to this. Yoast has now decided to take this as gospel.

But most folks do not want this to happen without them knowing it, they may have reports running, down time monitors relying on this etc. But all up a plugin change has now made this happen by default.

How to fix this:

Previously you saw this option in the Search Appearance section, you selected a Pipe | and then the platform converted this using a formula.

This then was translated via the following:

the fix is super easy

Replace the usual call to the separator with a hard coded pipe, or use the code below.

%%title%% | %%sitename%%

Please note this is to be done on all taxonomies visible in your Sitemap_index.xml, usually pages, posts and products. The Excerpt is a handy trick in case authors forget to write a meta description for posts and products, but will rarely work for a page. Ideally nothing is auto tagged on a site, but there are many instances where time does not permit manual tagging of titles/descriptions. If you want to keep the pipe by default this is the handiest way to do it without adding code. Yoast is not a plugin to try and hack without good understanding of how it works. In this case its simple to fix. They really should have communicated this or offered a way to remove the formula for folks who wanted to keep the pipe.

Whatever you do, do not keep a legacy version of this plugin for the older setup. Take the time to fix this and then monitor the updates from Yoast and check if you want to take them first. This was not well communicated at all.

In Summary

  • Yoast made a change that might impact your SERP/index via Google
  • It happened most likely without you knowing
  • If you used a Pipe its most likely a dash now –
  • There is a simple fix removing the separator template in each taxonomy
  • There is also a code solution to do this where you can make PHP changes, also a super handy WP tips site here: https://wpti.ps/add-separator-options-back-in-yoast-seo-plugin/ 
  • The impact of this is low, most likely truncation
  • Overall titles are not what they used to be, Yoast is correct in this change, but possibly a little poor in how it was communicated
  • Still the best free SEO plugin out there, once you de bloat it