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How To Future-Proof Your WordPress Website

Posted On: 28th April 2022
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Read Time: 10 Minutes

There’s no crystal ball to know what the future of website creation holds. But there are steps you can take to prevent your website becoming outdated or falling out of favour with Google. In this guide, we’re sharing our insight on how to prepare your WordPress website so you can continue to reach your goals without any hiccups.

The good news is that WordPress is the most popular and well established platform. It’s consistently updated and SEO-friendly. That means it’s an optimum platform to maintain your website in line with the best digital marketing and web development practices.

Future-proofing a website can be hard work, but this guide should bring some clarity to help you focus on what’s important.

Future-proof your website – essential checklist

Host and server

We’ll start with the more technical side of website maintenance. It’s important to make sure your server and hosting account is updated with the latest version of any software.

WordPress is built on the PHP coding language. Using an old version of this code can lead to your website becoming unstable, slow, or even infected with malware. If your PHP code is on version 5, it’s time to upgrade. Right now, in April 2022, we recommend version 7 as a minimum.

Themes and plugins

A question we often get asked is whether you should update your themes and plugins, and how often? You can automate this process, however, there are some plugin updates that can cause your website to crash (Woocommerce springs to mind!).

That being said, you shouldn’t let your theme, plugins and WordPress become outdated.

If there are any open updates ready to be installed, go to ‘Dashboard’ then ‘Updates’.

Before hitting the ‘Install Now’ button make sure to check the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress and has plenty of active installations. Make sure to backup your website!

SEO-friendly

If you’re serious about getting your website seen in search engines you’ll want to pay attention to the latest SEO best practices. This is predominantly controlled by Google. With Google getting the most user searches, it’s worth spending time getting your keywords to rank well on this search engine.

Last year, Google’s focus turned to user experience (Core Web Vitals) and delivering the most relevant content.

SEO never sleeps! Google is constantly changing its metrics. This means website owners need to keep their finger on the pulse. From on-page and off-page optimisations to technical SEO, all aspects need to be taken care of and regularly reviewed.

Following SEO best practices could be the difference between getting a top-spot on page one of the search results or getting stuck on page 10 (a place where few, if any, web users venture).

Clear website design

When it comes to user experience, think of a minimal, clear site structure with logical call to actions. Helping your visitors find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible should be a key aim of the overall design. Case studies suggest that e-commerce customers increasingly favour convenience. In other words, don’t make things difficult for them.

Look out for points of friction. These are aspects of a website that could slow down user engagement or even cause a potential user to go elsewhere, negatively impacting your sales cycle or conversions.

If you’re an e-commerce website, you should make the buying journey plain-sailing for your customers. Offering multiple ordering and payment options and various customer service communication channels not only helps to open up your business to more people, but it also adds convenience to the shopping experience.

Safe browsing

Making sure your website is secure is always a good place to start when it comes to future-proofing. If you haven’t already, you should make sure you’ve moved all your indexable pages from http to https. It’s important to offer a safe environment for your website visitors – this is especially true if you’re an e-commerce website.

It’s not just about protecting your users. Third-party hijacking is a potential nightmare for any website owner and you’ll want to protect your website from malicious attacks.

Privacy

Oh – and don’t forget privacy! Privacy was a huge legal change for website owners with the introduction of GDPR in 2018. The onus is on you to keep all your visitors updated on how you use their personal information. The trend for privacy looks set to continue. In other words, you should keep your privacy and cookie policy as up to date as possible.

Mobile-friendly

Internet searches are increasingly made on mobile devices. In fact, by late 2021, mobile searches accounted for approximately half of the world’s web traffic. This is factored into Google’s ranking factors too. If your website isn’t geared up for mobile, your organic rankings and conversions could take a hit.

More websites are taking a mobile-first approach, but before jumping on the bandwagon, it’s best to do some competitor research. Using tools like Semrush’s Traffic Analysis, you can see how your mobile traffic compares with similar websites. If you’re considerably below the competition, this suggests you’re missing out on valuable visitors.

Having a responsive design across all devices is key. Any glitches should be tended to – particularly on the pages you want to get the most conversions from. Focus on page load speed, responsiveness and how content appears on the smaller screen. If your pages are built with mobile in mind, you can’t lose.

Luckily, there is an abundance of tools you can use to check your website is mobile-friendly. At Echo, we like to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to identify any errors that could be letting a page down. You can also use Google Search Console to perform a site-wide check. You should do your own checks too.

Remember, it’s all about making sure your customers experience a presentable and easily navigable website, no matter what device they’re using.

What’s Most Important?

Future-proofing your website really takes a holistic approach. A website is never finished. It’s a constantly evolving entity. It needs careful and consistent maintenance to keep it performing at its best. Just like your car needs regular servicing and MOTs, a website also needs its fair share of upkeep! Future-proofing your website is more about conducting regular maintenance.

With that in mind, what should you prioritise?

Make sure your WordPress site is secure and that the host and server software is all up to date! From there, create an action plan to tackle the SEO and user experience points listed in this article.

Key Takeaways

In summary, these are the key takeaways you should implement across your site if you don’t want your website to lag behind.

  • Make sure all pages are secure
  • Backup your website
  • Check that your PHP is up-to-date
  • Regularly maintain themes and plugins
  • Check that your site is mobile-friendly
  • Review your privacy and cookie policy
  • Review your website for areas that could offer a better user experience (remember you want to make the site as clear and easy to navigate as possible)

These are just a handful of key takeaways to get you started. Need help? The team at Echo Web Solutions are more than happy to help. Give us a call to get your free site audit – your one-way ticket to a WordPress website that’s built with the future in mind.

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Darren Hudson at Echo Web Solutions
Darren Hudson
Web Developer
Coming to Echo with an extensive array of website development skills, technical ability and years of experience, Darren is normally found deep within some code of his latest project and is rarely beaten when given a challenge.

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