Check #1: Update to WordPress 5.0!
This is a biggie! But don’t let that deter you. The latest big release of the ever-popular just landed on December 6th 2018 and is now available to upgrade to via your WordPress dashboard. It’s important to update your WordPress website to the latest version for a number of reasons, not limited to improved security, features, performance and compatibility with future plugins, themes and browser protocols.
Before you go ahead, make sure you have a backup in place, just in case. You’ll find a guide on how to take a manual backup right here. It’s also important to keep your own backups in place, and only rely on your web host’s backups as a last resort. Check out tip #1 in our WordPress protection guide for more information on how to set up a backup system.
To update your WordPress website to 5.0, simply log in to your website (which usually can be accessed via www.yourwebsiteaddress.com.au/login). Then, from your dashboard, navigate to Dashboard > Updates. Here, you should see that you have an update waiting for you (if you haven’t already installed WordPress 5.0).
Check #2: Make sure you have an SSL certificate installed correctly and that your web hosting PHP version is up to date.
We’ve talked about performing both of these checks a few times this year. That’s because it’s more important now than ever before that they are both up to scratch. In the case of having an SSL certificate properly installed, this not being done can have a big impact on your Google rankings with Google now prioritising SSL-protected websites over those without. You can check out our previous guide on SSL certificates and how to get one installed right here.
When it comes to your PHP version, this can have a significant impact on your website in two major ways. The first is security. Hackers know that many, many website owners do not keep up to date with patching their website and using the latest software versions and they will exploit this to no end. Leaving your website outdated makes it a low-hanging fruit for anyone with malicious intent who goes out looking for websites to exploit. The second impact your PHP version can have is on the speed and general performance of your website. For instance, those using PHP 7.0+ have a 50% speed boost over those using 5.6 and below. This trajectory will only continue, with every new version bringing with it a more secure, reliable and faster-performing coding environment for your website to live in. You can check out our previous blog, which includes information on checking and updating your PHP version right here. The most current version of PHP that we would recommend using (at the time of writing this article) is PHP version 7.3. You can follow PHP’s release and support schedule here.
Check #3: Make sure your WordPress website is using a modern, mobile-friendly theme.
Google now place more weight on a website that is well designed for use on a mobile device than anything else. This is because statistics show that roughly 53% of internet users now access websites via mobile devices rather than desktop computers.
Traditionally, website design was always prioritised for how a website looks, feels and behaves on a desktop, with mobile coming in as more of a secondary consideration. The opposite is certainly now the case.
Most modern WordPress themes will already be responsive, so for many website owners, this item could already be checked off the list to varying degrees. However, if you’re still running a website that does not have a responsive version for smaller-screened devices, now might be the time to look into giving your website a bit of a face-lift.
To check if your website is responsive to mobile, open it on your mobile device and check how it looks. If your website does not rearrange itself to fit the screen better, e.g. the fonts are too small to read without zooming in and you can see the whole website layout the exact same way it looks from a desktop computer, that may mean you’re not running a mobile-friendly theme. You may wish to look for a more up to date theme, or if you’re not confident to make these changes yourself you may want to consider opting for a managed website and have your personal web developer make the updates for you. Pricing starts at just $99 per month, so this can be a highly affordable way to ensure your websites is always up to scratch.
That’s it from us for this week. As always, if you have any questions about this post or our shared hosting, VPS, Reseller or dedicated server plans, simply call us on 1300 MY HOST (694 678) during business hours, or submit a ticket through our Support Portal and one of the crew will be in touch!