WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System. It’s flexible enough to be used for any size website, is SEO friendly, and has a plethora of themes and plugins that can extend the look and functionality for any number of uses.
Of the 1.8 billion websites (that’s almost one website for every 4 people on Earth!) about 30% of them are WordPress. If we consider just websites that use content management systems (CMSs), a whopping 60% are WordPress. Having and maintaining a website these days is much more than just getting it up and running. Having a ‘set it and forget it’ attitude eventually leads your site down a path of a slower, outdated site with poor SEO and security vulnerabilities that could result in your website being hacked. We’ve all heard the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;’, and while that applies to many things in life, your website is not one of them.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important reasons why you should regularly update and maintain your WordPress website.
a more secure website.
WordPress is Open Source meaning it’s free to use, edit and redistribute. As a platform, it is regularly updated to accommodate security patches and other optimizations that are necessary to support and keep secure a platform powering over a quarter of the websites on the Internet.
Ultimately, WordPress is very secure and has been hardened over the years to prevent attacks. In actuality, most vulnerabilities in recent years have been exploited through one of WordPress’s greatest strengths: its plugins. This brings us to the number one reason to keep your WordPress site updated regularly; plugins, themes, and WordPress Core are regularly updated to address potential issues or security flaws, as well as add new features, improve usability and optimize performance. Old WordPress sites with out-of-date plugins and themes are ripe to have malicious code injected or hacked to spread malware. And for those looking to minimize costs, it’s almost always more cost-effective to properly maintain your website than to repair, restore and fix a compromised one.
faster website with more functionality.
Like with security updates, the WordPress Open Source community makes regular updates to help optimize code and make the site load faster. This affects visitors’ experiences with your site and can add a slight boost to your page rankings.
In addition, using Caching and CDN plugins on your WordPress site can ensure that your assets are delivered quickly. Plugins that optimize your images are helpful, so visitors aren’t downloading unnecessarily large images. Things like a LazyLoad plugin that delays the loading of non-visible images can increase load times dramatically.
Remember though, using these plugins to keep your site faster brings us back to the point of why we’re writing this. Maintenance is key to a happy website. Leaving well enough alone doesn’t apply to the Internet.
better for your visitors.
The previous two reasons have a direct impact on how your visitors feel after visiting your site. It’s not a tangible number or something you can capture in a bar graph; it’s that feeling you get when leaving a site. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about going to a site. Will they have new content? Is my information safe there? Is my computer going to be harmed by visiting this site?
The better experience visitors to your site have, the more likely they are to return. If your site loads fast, offers updated articles/information, and leaves a positive impression, you’re much more likely to have repeat visitors. Having your site fully updated keeps hacks and errors at bay, making you look your best. Having broken links, errors, or a slow loading site and projecting a sloppy image of neglectfulness can leave the user with a negative taste.
I always think of the old Joe DiMaggio quote: ‘There’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time; I owe him my best.’
Bonus Tip: Keep an eye on non-WordPress updates too. Chrome’s ‘Not Secure’ SSL warning can make users second guess putting their information into forms on your site, knowing that it may be compromised.
updating often is efficient & cost-effective.
When plugins, themes, and Core WordPress are updated at a regular cadence, you end up spending less time and effort making more minor updates than one big update once a year. The smaller incremental updates make it less likely to cause problems and conflicts with WordPress, which in turn, gives your site a longer lifespan.
We’ve seen sites with so many out-of-date plugins that it ends up being easier to export the site’s data and start from scratch, costing more money in the long run. A little effort keeps things running smoother and can keep you free of future headaches.
search engine optimization is a must.
In the world of search, things can get pretty complex pretty quickly, but in basic terms, Google sends out spiders/GoogleBots to go through your site and determine where your site will rank. Numerous ranking factors determine where you’ll land on searches, and you can always request ‘crawls’ from search engines to update their indexing when you’re making more extensive updates.
If not requested, search engines will typically update their page rankings every 3 to 4 months and will check your site’s ‘if-modified-since’ and ‘Last-Modified’ dates to see if your site has changed since the last time it was crawled. Regularly updating your site ensures that there is fresh content and will help your site rank higher.
On top of having your site updated regularly, your site’s performance affects the rankings, meaning the faster those spiders can go through your site, the better it will be indexed. That harkens back to our talks about a faster website and emphasizes regularly maintaining and updating your site. Not making frequent modifications or updates can cause you to slide down in rankings under more active competitors.
so who has time to constantly update a site?
Short answer? We do. We’ve always got our hands in WordPress somewhere and are experienced with the numerous touchpoints involved in updating, maintaining, and creating content. We offer monthly packages that range from simply keeping things updated to full site maintenance, including social media and content generation. If you could use a hand keeping your site fresh, reach out and give us a call.