Why you should keep your website software up to date

software upgradeYour website is your online business presence. It’s the best way to attract potential new customers, tell them about your company and services and build and maintain an ongoing relationship through social media posts newsletter subscriptions or special promotions. If your website isn’t up to scratch, you might as well take it offline because a bad impression can potentially ruin your business for good.

Apart from the content, it’s the software behind your website that defines its speed, appearance, user-friendliness and functionality. Updating your website software regularly is vital if you want to stay in the game and build your business online. Otherwise, you’re risking a drop in Google search rankings, grumpy users who don’t get out of your website what they were hoping for, and you’re also wasting money by paying for a service that is outdated.

Security

This should be the main reason to update your website software on a regular base. Popular website software providers such as WordPress are sought-after targets for hackers. They look for vulnerable entry points into the system to cause damage to as many sites as possible. Once successful, they can access your server, steal private information and cause serious damage to your brand and your business. In order to stay on top of these threats, WordPress and other software developers regularly release new updates and plugins to prevent hacking and make your website safer.

However, unless you download these plugins and software updates as soon as they are released, you face the threat of being targeted by hackers. Fortunately, most website software will prompt you when a new update or version becomes available. All you have to do is download and install it. Receiving these prompts on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times a week, might be annoying to some, but the time you invest in following these prompts, the greater the long-term benefits.

Even the smallest data breach due to an insecure website can cost you your customers’ trust and their loyalty. It can damage your reputation long-term, as it takes time to recover from these events. A study undertaken by KPMG showed that 89% of small business who experienced a security breach said it impacted on their reputation. 31% reported brand damage and 30% lost clients as a result of the cyber attack.

Performance

Apart from safeguarding your customers’ security and protecting your website from unwanted attacks, speed and performance are also essential reasons to keep your website software up to date. You want your website to be fast, reliable and stable. How frustrating was it back when the internet worked on dial-up connections and you could make yourself a cup of coffee every time you tried to load a new website? Having a site that loads quickly, without delays or interruptions, and that displays pictures, videos and other media without issues is essential if you want to establish yourself as a professional in your field.

Because technology advances at the speed of light, it’s important to keep your software up to date with the latest features and performance enhancements. Neglecting to do so could result in potential customers leaving your website before even looking at it, no matter how much value your services or products could add to their lives.

The speed with which your website loads is also a critical factor for Google. The faster your load time, the higher Google will place you in its search results. Regular website updates will include speed performances, making sure you’re staying ahead of the game.

Compatibility

Many plugins you use for your website are likely to be provided by third-party providers. They will release their own regular updates to ensure the security and functionality of their products. In turn, these updates are usually integrated into updates or upgrades of your website software. Failure to install the latest version can result in your website becoming incompatible with plugins, which can affect the functionality, accessibility and appearance of your website. Whatever the reason, if your website or parts of it are down even for just a short period of time, it can cost your business dearly regarding traffic, reputation, customer loyalty and ultimately, revenue.

This is also the case should your website be theme-based. Checking for updates and making sure you always run the latest version of your theme won’t change the look of your website but will ensure that it works smoothly with optimum performance.

Appearance

While you should never judge a book by its cover, most of the time that’s exactly what happens. The same goes for websites. A poorly designed site with lack of structure, user-friendly navigation and eye-catching content will not help you become a leader on the market. Design trends change all the time, and if your site looks antiquated and outdated most users will assume that so is your business.

Furthermore, older website software versions may not have included responsive design functionality, meaning your website is not easily accessible and readable from devices such as smartphones. Updating your software will ensure your design remains stylish and works across all devices, from mobile to laptop, from tablet to desktop.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines such as Google constantly update their algorithms to ensure they provide the best possible search results to your queries. If your website software is outdated you may risk being overlooked by Google, resulting in a critical drop in rankings. And if your website doesn’t appear among the first few pages, you will never be found, no matter how good your content.

So, while it’s important to keep the content of your business website fresh and meaningful, it’s also extremely important to update and maintain the parts of your site that clients and potential customers can’t see. Putting safety and performance first by regularly updating your website software will help you build trusting relationships with your clientele, providing them with a reliable and effective tool to make business with you.

If you’d like to know more about how to maintain a successful website, give our friendly team at Energise a call today.

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