Why Update WordPress? Three Key Reasons

Is your website warning you to update to the latest version of WordPress? If your site is working well, you might be tempted to leave things alone (if it ain’t broke, why update WordPress?)

We give three reasons why you should update and suggest two ways of staying in control.

Article Info

December 3rd 2021 4 mins

What we will cover

Staying ahead of the hackers

Website security is the most important reason for applying your WordPress updates as soon as you can after release. When logged in to your website, you should receive a notification at the top of the screen in your website dashboard when a new update is available.

The large and active WordPress community will often come across flaws in the current WordPress code which could enable hackers to use tools known as exploits to take control over or attack a website running that version.

Each time WordPress releases an update, it will contain the latest security patches: pieces of code designed to fix the security holes that have been discovered.

But why update WordPress immediately? Is it really that time critical?

Yes, it is. Once a vulnerability has been found by the WordPress community, it is only a matter of time before someone dodgy tries to take advantage. Especially since details of newly discovered security flaws are included in a weekly WordPress Vulnerability Report.

Depending on their resources, hackers could attack websites in bulk or design exploits that specifically target websites running versions of WordPress that haven’t been updated.

Even on a smaller scale, it is very simple for hackers to work out which version of WordPress a website is running and therefore which have not been patched. They only need a standard web browser to view the source code of the website and find the WordPress version details.

Optimising performance – for people and search engines

It is now more important than ever to optimise your website’s performance. Your site should load quickly, respond to actions (button clicks, taps, scrolling actions, etc.) immediately and have a stable display (one that doesn’t shift around with tons of pop-up ads). Google measures these three elements and has given them a fancy name: Core Web Vitals.

Since September 2021, Google uses Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor. In simple terms, your site needs to meet the standard if you want it to show up in Google search. WordPress updates often contain performance tweaks so applying these quickly will help to raise the search profile of your website that much earlier.

Sometimes, a website’s performance is affected by bugs in the WordPress code. Fortunately, the WordPress community will usually find these bugs and alert the core developers who will apply bug fixes in the next update.

So this is another reason to click that WordPress update link.

Access cool new features

While security and performance are two powerful reasons to keep on top of WordPress updates, they are not the only benefits. From minor tweaks to major upgrades, WordPress core developers regularly introduce new features to the community.

For example, in December 2018, WordPress replaced its classic content editor with Gutenberg, a block-based editor. While Gutenberg divides opinion, there is little doubt that it makes building and editing WordPress websites more intuitive, especially for non-techies.

By keeping your website updated, you will be able to benefit from any new features sooner.

Staying on top of your WordPress updates

WordPress developers release both minor and major upgrades throughout the year. While minor updates are released on an ad-hoc basis, there are usually two to three planned major updates each year. It is usually a good idea to set your website to apply minor updates automatically.

Why update WordPress manually at all, I hear you ask?

It is good practice to test major updates on a development site before applying them. While WordPress developers work hard to ensure major updates are backward-compatible, they can occasionally cause conflicts which can lead to some features on some websites breaking or misbehaving.

Rather than risk angering website users, it make sense to test and then manually apply major WordPress updates as soon as possible.

Why update WordPress yourself?

Rather than concern yourself about development sites and update testing, consider handing over the responsibility to Vu Online. Our annual website maintenance service is designed with the busy, non-technical business owner in mind. As well as manually applying and testing your WordPress updates, we will provide you with a handy reporting system through which you can tell us of any issues.

For more on the benefits of a Vu Online website maintenance package, please visit our dedicated service page.

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