Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen 10 July 2023

Why SMEs Need to Keep WordPress up to Date to Keep Websites Secure

20 years after it was first launched, WordPress is now behind a whopping 43% of all websites across the globe. Despite its vast popularity, Justin Bateman, Senior Product Manager at Fasthosts says that there are actually numerous pitfalls that can put business performance at risk if WordPress isn’t continuously optimised. Here Justin explains why it’s important for SMEs to regularly review website performance to mitigate potential business risk and enhance site visitor experiences.

It’s important that businesses who rely on WordPress don’t get complacent. There are many potential risks for companies that don’t produce the level of fast online performance that is expected by users in today’s highly competitive digital landscape.

The repercussions vary hugely, however, a key concern for businesses is that users will simply look elsewhere to purchase a product or service, leading to a loss in conversions and revenue.

Research suggests that 53% of online shoppers expect an e-commerce site page to load within three seconds. And one in two online shoppers will abandon a site if the pages load too slowly.

Because of this, there are a lot of customers who get frustrated when this happens and resort to purchasing a product or service from another provider as a result.

This scenario has obvious commercial ramifications in terms of the potential loss of valuable sales and ongoing revenues. But poor website performance also impacts search engine optimisation (SEO) prowess and can compromise a company’s reputation and credibility.

On a practical level, the ambition to be ranked highly on Google listings - which favour quick, secure, and user-friendly websites - will also be affected if the site cannot match the seamless execution of competitors when it comes to loading speeds.

Other issues impacting non-optimised websites can include overall vulnerability of cyber security. The ever-present threat of malware incidents and hacking attacks are constant cyber security concerns for businesses.

For smaller-sized companies with limited in-house IT infrastructure or resources, it is understandable that maintaining a website that matches up to these essential performance requirements can be a challenge with so many other areas of a business also requiring time and attention.

However, this could be a costly mistake and, instead, website optimisation should be regularly reviewed by any business operating online.

As a starting point for SMEs, here are five quick wins easily implementable to ensure strong website performance, mitigating site speed issues and maximising security:

  1. Avoiding the overuse of plugins which can slow down the site
  2. Optimising images by compressing them - large uncompressed images can impact page load times
  3. Ensuring plugins/themes are up to date to avoid slow performance and security risk
  4. Minimising the number of HTTP requests to the server to increase site speed
  5. Improving page load time speeds by using a Content Delivery Network provider

For those not sure where to begin, there is help available.

Take Fasthosts as an example - as part of a review of a site’s performance level, we can highlight the impact of using certain images and particular content which may affect site speed and the user experience.

Practical improvements like this can be implemented without delay and are within easy reach of small business managers looking for help.

Whether you’re taking the matter into your own hands or working with a partner to optimise your WordPress performance, acting now can help transform a website from being merely functional to one that guarantees a fantastic user experience. This will deliver on KPIs and ensure repeat site visits, as well as future conversions.

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