Less than three weeks ago Yoast SEO version 4.5 was released with an ugly, non-dismissible notice for sites on PHP 5.2. The notice encourages the user to upgrade to PHP 7, explaining that it is faster and more secure. It includes links for getting started and example emails that users can send to their hosting companies. In the 18 days since shipping the plugin with the upgrade nag, Yoast SEO creator Joost de Valk has seen a dramatic uptick in sites moving from old, unsupported versions to PHP 7. From December to March, PHP 5.2 usage among Yoast SEO users decreased from 1.9% to 1.7%, a modest drop over three months. After adding the nag on March 21, PHP 5.2 usage dropped from 1.7% to 1.3% for those using Yoast SEO version 4.5. PHP 5.3 usage is also steadily decreasing since de Valk began the campaign to educate his plugin’s users about the benefits of upgrading.
According to de Valk’s stats, 22.2% of Yoast SEO users are on version 4.5 of the plugin. He estimates 1,443,000 sites on 4.5 out of 6.5 million users.
“Assuming 0.5% updated their PHP versions, that’s 7K sites,” de Valk said. “And another 14-20k that updated from 5.3 to something more decent.”