In what can only be described as an indicator of the continuing growth and importance of the WordPress platform we have now started to see that Google are sending warnings to WordPress users to update their sites if they are out of date. These warnings are sent to the e-mail address that was used to add the site to GSC (Google Search Console) and we received the first notice like this just last week:
Google has detected that your site is currently running WordPress 4.7.0 or 4.7.1, an older version of WordPress. Outdated or unpatched software can be vulnerable to hacking and malware exploits that harm potential visitors to your site. Therefore, we suggest you update the software on your site as soon as possible.
And, why is this noteworthy you may ask? Well, read on.
Importance of WordPress for the Web
I believe the first reason Google are sending these notifications is because the WordPress platform has grown to the point where it is significant to the web as a whole. It is estimated that 27% of the entire internet is based on WordPress and Google wants those sites – and the 50,000 new WordPress sites being added daily- to be kept up to date. That is over 1 in 4 sites are running on WordPress and should a large chunk of those sites be running out of date software or with WordPress malware it could quickly spread and then who knows what impact that may have on the web.
Importance of WordPress Updates
Updates are important. WordPress updates don’t occur for no reason. The purpose of WordPress updates is to continually evolve and improve the platform, fix bugs or remove security threats. If updates get pushed out by the WordPress team they should be tested and then deployed. We see it a lot that clients who self manage their sites can sometimes be tardy in applying updates (hence we got the notifications from GSC) but with Google now issuing these update notifications the importance of updates may be hammered home. These warning from Google may have been prompted due to the severity of the threat that the update resolved but the general rule holds, keep your site up to date. WordPress updates should not be considered as optional or a burden but understood for what they are – progress, and as such should be implemented as soon as possible!
Importance of WordPress Updates for SEO
As SEO is one of our main fortes we think there could potentially be an SEO angle here to these notifications – as there usually always is with Google. These update notifications tie in with Googles recent moves to reward sites that have an SSL cert in place and with their issuing of warnings for non secure sites that collect passwords in the latest version of Chrome.
Google wants to ensure that the web is safe and wants to know that if it’s sending traffic to a site that that site is secure and malware free.
One of the coarse checks Google can do for malware is to see what version of WordPress is in use on a site and if WordPress isn’t kept up to date this may then factor in to the overall SEO results of the site.
If you needed a compelling reason before to keep you site updated – as if getting hacked wasn’t enough – the potential negative SEO impacts of not updating should be enough to motivate all site owners and get them in the groove of updating.
Updating WordPress Sites
There will always be some site owners who don’t take the time to make sure their site is updated and for those of you who fall into that category the recent Google warnings for WordPress sites that need to be updated should be the catalyst for you to either start to self manage the site properly or get someone to look after it for you. If you need help in updating your site then get in touch and should be able to help you out but whatever you do – don’t forget the update notifications anymore, as Google won’t!