WordPress websites have been a mainstay for small businesses for over a decade. The proliferation of this once simple blogging engine into the extendable Content Management System that it is today is the result of countless nerds tip tapping away at their keyboards to create something strong, beautiful, and — when the hood is down and the engine is purring — easy to use.
But what about when your site is not running at top speed, security and efficiency? Can you tell? Likely not.
Should someone have an eye on your website for you? For reasons of SEO, cyber security and accessibility….absolutely yes!
WordPress website Maintenance in 2019
The Big Core Update
In December, WordPress 5.0 was released. This new release has brought with it several under-the-hood changes and one very large visual change: the Gutenberg Block Editor. If you’ve not yet watched one of the myriad of YouTube videos regarding the new block editor, or tried it yourself, I do suggest you do. It is a significant change meant to make editing pages and block posts easier – complete with inline image insertion, proper heading use, and other goodies like maps and videos. The intention is to get users away from HTML because it’s clunky, hard to work with, and limiting.
Personally, I don’t like the new editor because it forces my writing to be written in snippets, and not in long form. It stifles my creativity. However for you it may be a relief to not have to deal with the technical aspects of creating complicated content. There are paths forward for all of us, so by all means discuss the potential benefits of this tool with your web designer.
With the big release of WordPress 5.0, many plugins released updates to stay current with the new editor. This is a rough and wild time as not all things work together well just yet, so be careful about your plugins — and test your pages out before you completely switch to block editing.
The PHP Updates
PHP is a scripting technology. WordPress, your website theme, and all of your plugins are written, at least in large part, in PHP.
Over the past 24 months, there has been a switch to change out the underlying scripting technology that runs WordPress websites, and upgrade the PHP version from 5.x up to 7.0 or higher. Some web hosts are forcing this change, so testing of your theme and plugins is very important. While most plugins have been upgraded, if your site is found to be using a tool that is outdated and unsupported (happens a lot), then it is time to switch horses.
Yes, your website sends emails! Every time a form is filled out, a notification is sent, or an order is placed, an email gets sent to you and/or your client.
Email delivery became more and more difficult in the last couple of years, and the repercussions will be felt going forward.
Many web hosts no longer provide reliable email senders (they’ve been hit with spammers so often, they are dizzy) so many suggest using an actual email address to send email. Too complicated? Then sign up for a service like SendGrid or MailGun.
Regardless of what you do, it is crucial to set up your Domain Name Server Settings, your DNS, with all the proper DKIM, and SPF records to make things work splendidly. Google announced that it might start blocking senders WITHOUT this security information within Gmail. Time to get real.
Blog lately? Chances are you haven’t. While every WordPress website is blog-ready at birth, and given the fact that writing new, relevant article is a great way to tell Google’s Search Algorithm that you are worth reading, the truth is: writing is hard, and takes time. It’s like an exercise program — but one you can hire someone else to do the hard work for you.
Fire that COO? Need new products added? Pictures look like stock business people from 2012? Pages need updated for your customers, for your own pride, and for your sales people. Stay on it folks.
A note from Kelly
Kelly Snell Marketing is a full service traditional and digital marketing services company. We help clients with a wide variety of projects. First and foremost, usually, we help clients properly prepare their websites for other marketing efforts. (What good is any other effort, if a prospect lands on your old website and is unimpressed?) We’re here for you.