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The importance of keeping your website up to date.


I wanted to take a moment to talk about why it is important to keep a website up to date.  Many times in the past I received an email or phone call stating that their site was hacked, showing system error messages instead of the site, or was shut down by the web host for having malicious files. The first thing I always notice is that nothing was up to date on the websites.  Also, most of the time there is no clean backup to revert the site back.  Hence, why site backups are so important.  Also, I have seen backups that were made with hacked files in them.

Search engines deem a site an archive if nothing changes after 6 weeks. Hence, it will rank lower in the search results because it is an archive. The later alone makes it worth updating a website continuously.  The way it works is that every letter, character, and space in the source code that creates a webpage is given an identifying number. The numbers added up equals a checksum value of which the search engine look at.  The website is deemed an archive if the checksum value never changes.

On another note, WordPress websites consist of plugins for various functions such as email forms, shopping carts, etc…  A possible security risk is created anytime there is an input field on a website.  All e-commerce sites need to have a security certificate and a URL that starts with “https” and not “http”.  All WordPress plugins need to be kept up to date along with the core WordPress files.  The process of keeping everything up to date changes the checksum value of the website pages and it will rank better in the search results.  All WordPress themes need to be kept up to date for the same reasons already mentioned.

I also install security software on all WordPress sites that I create.  It will email a monthly reminder that something needs updating, or if a plugin needs to be removed because it is no longer supported. It can even scan files outside the site’s folder on the server.

There should only be two themes installed on a WordPress installation: The theme being used and a default WordPress theme for code testing.  There should be no plugins not being used. Delete the plugin if it is no longer being used.  Basically, I want the site files to be trimmed to just what is needed which makes doing the necessary backups before updates go a lot faster. Also, plugins that are not being used or updated become a security risk.

The search engines rank sites lower if they are not mobile friendly.  So, if your site is not responsive to screen size changes or contains Adobe Flash multimedia items it will rank lower.

All the above items make a user’s experience on your website better and more efficient because most updates help make a website faster.  A faster loading website helps better search engine rankings too.  Also, optimize all images to 50-60% resolution (Adobe Photoshop does the best at optimizing images) so that they load faster.

In conclusion, all are benefited by a fresh and up to date website.

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