We had a situation here recently with a client who wasn't updating his WordPress website. I'm talking about the core WordPress software along with the plugins and theme. He's dozens of versions behind, actually. I think the last update was in 2014 or something, so really old.
Because of that, we had to move him to another server to protect our main server. We now had to move the site to a new server and it won't even run anymore because it needs PHP version 5.2 and the server has 5.4 installed - both are not supported anymore. The choice he has now is either to do the upgrades he's been neglecting or convert the site to static HTML.
At the time of writing this article, WordPress' requirements are:
Seeing this just emphasized how the folks at WordPress want to make sure websites are safe and secure. First, the minimum version of PHP is 7.3. The latest version of WordPress (version 5.2.1 at the time of writing this article) does not run with PHP less than version 7.2. That version of PHP came out in November 2017. So, not that long ago, really. And WordPress now requires HTTPS support, which means your website must use an SSL certificate.
We don't deal with a lot of hacks because most of our clients are in Website Care, which keeps their core WordPress software, plugins, and themes up to date weekly. And of all the hacks we've had to deal with, none of them were with websites that had their core software up to date. It's always sites that haven't been doing regular website maintenance with regards to updates.
This is simply because hackers are a little lazy - most of them (and for good reason - they're efficient, actually). They're looking for homes (websites) with open doors and broken windows because they're easy targets. A home (website) with locked doors and windows looks like too much of a challenge, so they move on. They know they'll find an unkempt website soon, so go after that one.
One example I like to give is, pretend you took your laptop or a brand new laptop and you nailed it down to a table and put it in a busy shopping mall or somewhere public for a day. What do you think would be on that computer by the end of the day. It would be pretty messed up, right?
Well, websites run on servers, which are computers that the public can access and they're not just in a busy shopping mall but they're available to the entire world. You can bet there are hack attempts every minute of every day for most websites. Most attacks aren't successful but they're happening. I can watch traffic and see it all the time.
Your website is more important today for your business than ever!
Your customers, prospective customers, and Google depend on it.
Google? Did you say Google?
Google wants their results to be good and up to date - all the time. If they see a website down for more than a day, you can bet they're going to update their results (we call it their "index") and remove websites that are down. Sure, they'll keep checking for a while to see if it comes back up but they don't want to send people to websites that aren't up. That's not a good result. If Google starts giving out bad results, people will switch to another search engine pretty soon. We call this "think like Google" because you need to put yourself in Google's shoes. They do tons of things to make sure their results are always good. Sending people to a hacked website or a site that is down is something they constantly want to avoid.
Your website is a 24 hour, 7 day a week salesperson.
Your website is usually the first impression people have of your business, so it's really important. It needs to be up to date (content and software), it needs to have the right message (copy writing), and it needs to look good (our specialty). You don't want a bad salesperson out there working for you, you want the best salesperson you can get, right?
We know that:
All of this points to keeping your website up to date - in terms of software and content. Things you don't take care of tend to break and your website is no different. It needs maintenance. If you're not sure how much of a budget to have for maintenance, think 10-15% of what you paid for your website per year as a good rule of thumb.
If you haven't been thinking about your website in these terms, it's time to take another look at your website:
All these things work together to have a successful website.
At Webstix, we provide all these services. We can maintain your website and help you with marketing and copywriting to make sure more of traffic (even the traffic you currently get) turns into leads and sales.
Contact Webstix today to learn more about how we can help get your website "ship shape" and working well again.