The top 6 reasons it’s important to implement WordPress updates regularly
So you’ve got a shiny new WordPress website. With all the fancy plugins and themes. You paid good money to get an agency to do it all professional-like. So why bother updating it? It’s all good, right?
Wrong. Well, mostly wrong.
In case you missed it, there are a lot of reasons why you need to keep your WordPress website updated. And we don’t just mean the content, we mean the back-end. See, the back-end of your website is what actually makes it look pretty and functional on the outside. Regular website updates and upgrades can help prevent your site’s breakdown, fix broken links, remove or stop spam, scan for viruses, fix any bugs or other issues, and other tidbits as they come up.
At OG, we take websites seriously. So seriously, in fact, that we built a business around it. So it’s super duper important to us that everyone, clients and visitors alike, understand and protect their websites. Whether you’re looking at theme updates or security releases or spruced up plugins, it’s important to keep on top of these regularly so that the site can be found by search engines and continue to function optimally.
Top 6 reasons to maintain your site
Just for fun (and because it’s super important), we’ve listed 6 reasons why you need to maintain your WordPress site regularly. Ready?
1. Security. Probably the most important reason is security. Since WordPress is considered an “open source software,” the specifics of WordPress upgrades are available to everyone. And if one of those upgrades is security-related, someone could potentially use that information to hack your website and do bad things to it. Like clone it, delete it, plant a virus, spamvertise, redirect URLs and mess with your SEO. What many people might not know is that a hacked website infected with a malware (virus) can and will be blacklisted by Google and other search engines. This means your website will not show up in search results. And that’s bad news for business owners. Why would search engines do this? Because one website infected with a virus could also infect its visitors and possibly spread to other sites.
Although there is never a guarantee your site won’t be hacked, prevention is the best medicine. Big guys and little guys alike are open to hacking, unfortunately. Maintenance is one of the most effective things you can do to keep hackers out.
2. Compatibility. Have you ever gotten a software update request on your smartphone and not uploaded it? What happened with your apps? Quite simply, the apps have also been updated to work optimally with the software update. So if you have an outdated OS, your apps won’t work great. Try swiping right on that one! Similarly, if you don’t do the appropriate updates, your plugins, themes and security might not work as perfectly as they should (or at all).
3. New features. Just like every other technology out there, WordPress also comes up with improvements. These features might seem small and insignificant but after some time, all the little improvements do make a big difference. These little bits and bytes can help prevent your website from crashing as well as keep it stable and secure. But with WordPress also comes themes and plugins. And so too do these have updates and improvements. So when your plugins and themes get updated, it’s important to stay on top of them to ensure your site doesn’t encounter any issues. Updating your plugins, like apps on your phone, means enhanced features and less potential issues down the road.
4. Crashing. Have you ever had your website crash? And did it crash when you were in the middle of a wonderful, relaxing break whilst enjoying margaritas by the ocean? Ya, we didn’t think so. Because if it has happened to you, you’d do your darndest to avoid it from ever happening again. With regular maintenance, your website in all its glory should be backed up in case such a devastating blow should hit. This is one of the most important parts of regular maintenance because should something happen, something super duper bad, you can easily restore your site to its former glory with only a minor blip on the radar. But if you don’t backup your site, guess what? You have to recreate it from scratch. All the photos, all the designs, all the content. All. Of. It.
5. Broken links. Website updates aren’t just for software upgrades, but to ensure nothing has changed. This means checking your entire site to ensure the links all work and go to the right places. Dead links are bad for business. How? Because a visitor will assume you take as much care and pride in your customers as you do your website. And whether you like it or not, that’s how consumers roll these days. And if the Googles of the world find several dead links on your site, they’ll assume you aren’t maintaining the site and it’s out of date. And when a site is outdated, they won’t recommend it in their search results.
6. Unused features. Back to the smartphone analogy, if you have a bunch of apps on your phone that you aren’t using, what ends up happening? It takes up all your memory and slows your phone down to a snail’s pace. (Sorry snails, no offense.) If you’ve changed plugins for their newer, shinier competitors, don’t leave the old ones lingering on your site. They can still negatively affect your website’s speed and security, and really, who wants that?
What about auto-update?
You may be under the mistaken impression that updates to WordPress, themes, or plugins always go smoothly. However, there are many things that can go wrong. When they do, they can “break” your website. We don’t recommend keeping auto-update on.
For starters, WordPress releases are random so you never really know when they’re coming or what exactly will be updated. You also don’t know if they’ll work perfectly at first with the way your site is built and the plugins you’ve installed. We like to do research and be prepared for damage control rather than blindly allowing auto updates.
That means, we strategically go through the upgrades. We research, we test, we trouble-shoot, we fix, we trouble-shoot again, we fix again (rinse, repeat), and then we implement. And we do these in a controlled process so as not to miss anything.
That’s why we, and many other developers, disable auto-update. Because there’s just no telling how things are gonna go down.
Now you see the importance of regular maintenance and why we do what we do, OG stylz.
Find out more about WordPress website security and why it’s so important.