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5 Important Reasons to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

WordPress powers more than 23% of the top 10 million websites, giving it an estimated 60% market share of all sites using a Content Management System (CMS). While it is a trusted and popular system, like all software it's important to keep it updated. Here are 5 main reasons why you should keep your WordPress website updated:

1. Security

Possibly the most important reason to keep WordPress updated on this list is for strengthening security. Although WordPress can be a target for hackers, it is one of the most secure platforms for your website. With a large community of users and developers, any security weaknesses identified are reported. The WordPress team then works hard to release an update that resolves the issue in a timely manner.

By not keeping your WordPress site updated, you run the risk of leaving it open to malicious attacks, distributing malware, data theft and other cybercrimes. While it's true that nothing is "hacker-proof", the introduction of new data protection laws and regulations requires companies to be more pro-active in securing websites.

2. Improved Performance

Updating WordPress can also improve the performance of your website, ensuring that it functions at its best. Search Engines such as Google also rank faster loading sites higher as part of their algorithm. There are many other factors that can affect your website loading speed, but keeping WordPress updated is a great place to start.

3. New Features

Each major release (dictated by the first two sequences. For example; 4.1, 4.2, 4.3) comes with added features and improved functionality. These help update your website in new ways, giving you more control and making life easier. Previous enhancements include simplifying image uploads, improving widgets (and their content fields) and updating management of links to web sites and internal pages.

4. Bug Fixes

Every minor release (dictated by the third number sequence. For example; 4.1.2, 4.1.3, 4.1.4) is reserved for fixing security vulnerabilities and critical bugs. These are far more frequent than major releases as they quickly address issues to tighten security and remove exploits such as cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. They also fix glitches which may be causing temporary issues with content management updates.

5. Compatibility

Themes and plugins are often updated to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress, which means they may not work correctly if you have an outdated/older version powering your website. The opposite can also be true where an update can break a plugin. This usually only happens though if the plugin has not been regularly updated or does not follow best practices. This is why it's important to check your plugins are functioning correctly after an update and ensure that you backup your WordPress website on a regular basis.

What Are the Disadvantages of Updating WordPress?

There is always a risk that software will not work correctly after an upgrade. With WordPress and other open source software, the variety of third-party themes and plugins increases that risk (as we touched on in point 5). It is possible that after an upgrade, a particular plugin will no longer work properly and/or cause errors on your website.

If you manage your own WordPress installation, you may be under the mistaken impression that you only have to click the "Upgrade" button for your WordPress installation, themes, and/or plugins to be successfully upgraded. However, there are things that could go wrong, and you could break your website if you upgrade blindly. We advise that you exercise caution, check the WordPress changelogs, check any plugin and/or theme changelogs, backup your website and database, and check thoroughly for errors, bugs and glitches.

The Best Way to Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

If you're wondering how to keep on top of all the updates and needs for your WordPress site, you may want to consider signing up for one of our WordPress Care Plans. Our WordPress Care Plans are designed to remove the stress and responsibilities of website maintenance, so you can focus on your business without needing to worry about potentially missing important updates for your website. We also perform additional checks and enhancements to give you the best possible protection and support.

Learn More About Our WordPress Care Plans

If you're unsure about which WordPress Care Plan is best for you or if you have any questions regarding updating your WordPress website, please send us a message or leave a comment below.

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is one of the most valuable free tools for monitoring mentions of your brand on the Internet. It's an automated service that helps you know what people are saying and where they're saying it. It'll keep track of sites linking to you, quoting you, supporting or complaining about you. This information can then be used to help join in the conversation, reach potential customers or provide support where it's needed.

How do I set up Google Alerts?

Setting up Google Alerts is simple. Here's how to do it;

  1. Go to https://www.google.co.uk/alerts.
  2. Sign in with a Gmail account or your business email account if you're on GSuite. If you don’t have an account, don't worry, you can just start filling out the Google Alert form.
  3. Enter the key search terms that you want Google to track. To start with, we advise your brand name and any possible variation that may go with it. For example, we use both "Viron Media" and "vironmedia". There's tips on more advanced search terms later on in this article.
  4. Choose the frequency of alerts -  use/recommend daily.
  5. Select the sources you want Google Alerts to track. Automatic applies to "all", but you can be more specific if required.
  6. For language and region, you can specify. We recommend "Any Region" to capture all. You can always set up another alert to specify "United Kingdom" if required.
  7. With "How Many", if you're just starting out, we recommend setting this option to "All Results". Once your brand is well established, you may wish to change this to "Only the best results" to filter out some of the alerts if you receive too many.

Google Alerts Tips and Tricks

We've found that many people who use Google Alerts already, set up their brand name as we suggested and leave it at that, but there is so much more you can do to get the most out of this free tool, such as:

  • Create an alert for "site:vironmedia.co.uk" (replacing "vironmedia.co.uk" with your domain name) to keep track of newly indexed backlinks to your website.
  • Create an alert for "vironmedia.co.uk {site:facebook.com}" (again, replacing our domain name for yours) to specifically track links to your website within Facebook. This is useful for seeing public posts and shares of your website on the social media platform. You can also add other social media platforms.
  • Create an alert for your competitors brand names.
  • Create an alert for keywords within your industry.
  • To remove a word or phrase in alerts, you can use an example alert such as "Windows -pc" to help remove computer related windows alerts (useful if you're a double glazing window sales company).

As Google Alerts works in a way that essentially saves and automates search terms, you can use all the standard search query inputs you would usually type in the main Google search engine, so learn, experiment and adapt to find your best solutions, and feel free to leave your own tips and suggestions in the comments below.

For those not familiar with what a landing page is, they are an optimised page on your website focused on getting a visitor to fulfill and action, such as to order an eBook, download a file or subscribe to a newsletter.

To create an effective landing page, it should have a clearly defined purpose. When planning the content, you need to focus on what the end goal is, such as:

  • Do you want someone to register/subscribe to a newsletter?
  • Do you want someone to fill out a form, email or call you?
  • Do you want people to attend an event?
  • Do you want people to follow your company on twitter, facebook and other social media accounts?
  • Do you want people to print, email, like, share your content and raise company awareness?

Once you know your goal, you need to work backwards and think:

  • How will I achieve this with the content I'm preparing?
  • What information do I need to provide?
  • What can I do/say to engage the reader/customer?
  • How can I make the path towards the end goal as simple and direct as possible?

It's fairly simple to make an obvious "call to action", but you need to give your readers a reason to take action. If it's not clear what you do, why you're doing it, what you're saying and why the user should take action, they won't... and your campaign will fail.

The part where we come in is adding visual interest/impact to your page and optimising the user experience. This can be done through infographics, embedded videos, user forms and social media integration. But again, without a clearly defined goal and good content, this will not achieve strong conversion rates either.

Three important aspects of a good landing page include:

  1. Clear Message - Remove any distracting features and keep on topic
  2. Make it Easy - Allow visitors to clearly understand the required action and make it easy to achieve. Use helpful clues and validation on forms.
  3. Trust factors - Include customer reviews, client lists, accreditations, security symbols and guarantees

If you would like an effective landing page for your website, get in touch with us today.

With websites becoming more affordable, and an increase in competition during these tough economic times, there are many benifits to having a website, such as;

  1. Your business is open 24/7, 365 days of the year
    Unlike normal office hours, your website is running all the time. This makes it available at all hours, meaning it is much more convenient to find out more about your business, to those who operate outside such typical office hours.
  2. It can be updated at any time
    Unlike brochures, your website can be amended at any time. This will save you a great deal of money on printing and distribution costs.
  3. Improve customer service
    By providing FAQs and contact forms, your customers can get answers to questions almost immediately. You can also provide useful or important downloadable documents.
  4. Present a professional image
    For a small business, a well-designed web site is a great way of instilling confidence and looking bigger than you actually are. In this day in age, customers assume that you already have a website. By now, your primary competitors probably already have a presence on the Internet. If they do, keep up with them and find ways to make yours better.
  5. It can increase the amount of business you do
    If you do not currently have a website you are almost certainly losing business right now! If you do have a website that is out of date, difficult to navigate around, not optimised for search engines, or simply the design creates the wrong perception of your business, you are losing business!

If you would like a friendly chat to discuss the possibilities for your website, or for a completely free no obligation quotation, please get in touch via our contact page.

Blogging is a great way of expressing yourself on the web. It is incredibly easy to do without the need of knowing HTML, MySQL Databases and Website Hosting. With so many free options out there such as Blogger and WordPress, it often makes people wonder:

"why should I go for a hosted option? What are the benefits?".

Free Blog Hosting

If you are ready to get started with a blog, creating your own is quick and simple. For free blog hosting, WordPress has become the most widely used and the most popular. All you have to do is go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free account. From there you can name your blog, pick a template or design, and start posting (aka blogging).

The biggest downfall with a free blog hosting account is that you are fairly limited in your capabilities. Listed below are a few examples:

  • BrandingYou cannot have your blog domain name as the URL without the free host’s name incorporated (i.e. you cannot have myblog.com, it would be myblog.wordpress.com or myblog.blogspot.com). This can look very unprofessional and often gives the impression that you are not serious about your blog
  • Resources
    Free blogs have limited resources, meaning you can only host a certain number of files
  • TemplateWordPress.com only allows you to choose from a selection of templates meaning it is hard to make your site look different from the others. Blogger allows template editing but it is not very user friendly and mostly requires a lot of hacks and workarounds to get right.
  • AdvertisementsYou cannot post adverts on your WordPress.com blog meaning you cannot generate any sort of ad revenue. Although Blogger does allow Google Adsense if your site is accepted.
  • Plugins and Widgets
    WordPress.com does not allow the installation of new plugins, widgets or any other extra features

Paid Blog Hosting

Paid blog hosting is a perfect solution for a business or individual that wants to increase their visibility by establishing a long term web presence, generate revenue from advertisements, or to simply show featured products or services.

You will be able to use your own domain name and choose from a vast selection of themes, plug-ins, add-ons, plus even more features as they continue to get produced. You also have the ability to use simple programming such as HTML and PHP to create your own unique themes and plug-ins. This gives you complete freedom over your blog and a real sense of individuality, making you stand out against other more generic ones.

The only real downfall to paid hosting is that often you will need to keep up with software updates yourself. WordPress does make this much simpler with user-friendly interfaces, notifications and update packages, but some minor technical knowledge (or more so confidence with computing) may be required.

Recommendation

For those of you looking to take blogging to another level, wanting a stronger online presence or more freedom with what you can do, paid blog hosting is for you.

WordPress.org offers fantastic free blogging software which is incredibly flexible and easy to use. With many cheap hosting packages out there, using this with paid hosting is our most recommended solution.

Our website hosting packages come with Fantastico De Luxe which enables you to install WordPress on your website with minimum fuss and is ideal for non-technical users who may be nervous and lack experience with web hosting.

As always, you can contact us for more information and take comfort as we provide complete support for all our clients.

First impressions are incredibly important on the web and visitors will look at your home page as an introduction to the site and you.

A good home page explains what your site is about, what you want the visitors to do there, and what is in it for them if they do it (or what they get out of purchasing your product).

Follow our guide below to make sure you create a home page that works hard for you and your business.

Do

  • Focus on benefits rather than features, what problems you can solve and how you can help visitors, rather then the features of your product or service
  • Use the "you" word as much as possible and the "we" word as little as possible
  • Write in language your visitors can understand. Try to steer away from complex words and meanings.
  • Provide a clear and unambiguous call to action
  • Make clear the benefit to the visitor of completing that action
  • Have all important text appear in the first screen without scrolling
  • Have supplementary links to the most important content on your site within the text or at the end of paragraphs

Do Not

  • Have a graphic only "splash-page" asking people to "click here" to reach your site. You will create extra clicks unnecessarily and lose traffic, this type of page is bad for search engine ranking too
  • Keep your content short and to the point - avoid padding out content with "buzz words" as they will switch your visitors off - our attention spans are very short on the web
  • Start every paragraph with your name or business name
  • Use the "we" word more than the "you" word
  • Use jargon - it impresses no-one!
  • Have too many graphics that make your home page more than 60kb in size, and consequently slow to download
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