What happens to your WordPress site if you don’t keep it up to date?

It’s a bigger deal for you than your computer.

Ignoring WordPress updates isn’t something that you should not do, like, at all.

Failing to keep up with important maintenance tasks can have a serious effect on the way your site works, as well as your business.

It’s our job to help you out, so let’s get things going and look at why updates are so important.

The Significance of WordPress Updates

Security Vulnerabilities in Outdated Versions

  1. Patches for Vulnerabilities: Updates are designed to address identified security vulnerabilities. Ignoring WordPress updates could pause crucial defence against evolving cyber threats.
  2. Protection Against Hacking: Ignoring updates keeps the doors open for hacking attempts. Outdated WordPress sites become prime targets for hackers.
  3. Prevention of Malware Injections: Without the latest updates, your site might host malicious code, putting sensitive information at risk. This compromises your visitors’ data and destroys your site’s reputation.
  4. Safeguarding Visitor Trust: Security breaches and malware attacks can severely harm your site’s reputation. Visitors who experience security issues are likely to lose trust in your site, impacting transactions or sharing information.

Performance Improvements and Bug Fixes

  1. Enhanced Loading Speed: Ignoring WordPress updates might result in slower loading times, negatively impacting user experience. Faster-loading sites contribute to a positive user experience and can positively influence search engine rankings.
  2. Resolution of Glitches: Bugs and glitches are common in software, and WordPress is no exception. Updates come with bug fixes, addressing these issues and ensuring a smoother user experience.
  3. Compatibility with Newer Elements: Updates ensure that your WordPress site remains compatible with these newer elements. Failure to update might lead to compatibility issues, causing features to break or not function as intended.
  4. Impact on SEO Rankings: Search engines prioritise user experience, and site speed is crucial in determining rankings. An outdated site might not meet the performance standards set by search engines, potentially leading to decreased organic traffic and lower SEO rankings.

Consequences of Neglecting Updates

As you might expect, websites tend to have greater consequences for ignoring updates.

People’s passwords, payment information, emails, and even their home addresses risk being leaked.

If someone gets a whiff that your site hasn’t been updated in weeks, it’s like putting a massive target all over your site.

So, please, oh please, update WordPress.

Cyber Threats

  • Targeting Evolving Threats: Cyber threats evolve continually, and outdated WordPress versions become prime targets for new attack methods. Ignoring WordPress updates means you are not equipped to defend against the latest techniques used by cybercriminals.
  • Exploitation of Emerging Weaknesses: Security updates are designed to address emerging weaknesses in the system. You’re essentially handing cybercriminals an opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities that may not have existed in previous versions.
  • Compromised Business Integrity: The aftermath of a cyber attack can extend beyond immediate consequences. Depending on the damage done, you could lose your entire customer base in the blink of an eye.

Deterioration of User Experience and Site Reliability

  • Diminished Mobile Responsiveness: Neglecting updates may result in a lack of mobile responsiveness, alienating a significant portion of your audience.
  • Negative Impact on Accessibility: Accessibility is a key consideration for websites, ensuring that everyone, including individuals with disabilities, can access and interact with your content.
  • User Frustration and Abandonment: Visitors may abandon your site in search of a smoother, more reliable experience, leading to a loss in engagement, conversions, and potentially long-term users.
  • SEO Ranking Decline: Search engines prioritise user experience when determining search rankings. A site that fails to meet performance standards may experience a decline in SEO rankings, resulting in decreased visibility and organic traffic.

Best Practices for WordPress Site Resilience

1. Regular Backups

Before getting into the updates, always prioritise regular backups of your WordPress site.

This makes sure that you can easily restore your site to a stable state if there’s an issue.

A lot of plugins and tools are available to automate this process, making it a vital part of your WordPress maintenance plan.

2. Stay Informed About Updates

Knowledge is your greatest ally.

Read updates about the latest WordPress updates, including security patches, feature updates, and bug fixes.

If you’re interested, take a look at WordPress’s social accounts and community posts for user info and extra support.

3. Testing Environment for Updates

Create a testing environment on a local server or staging site to simulate the update process.

This allows you to find and address any potential issues without affecting the UX on your main site.

4. Selective Plugin and Theme Usage

Be cautious with the plugins and themes you integrate into your WordPress site.

Choose reputable ones with a history of regular updates and support.

Unmaintained plugins or themes can bring up security risks and compatibility issues.

5. Careful Consideration of Automatic Updates

Automatic updates can save time but can cause some slight problems.

Enable automatic updates for minor releases, and think about being more hands-on with major changes.

It means you can see possible issues before they come up and be prepared to deal with them.

Overcoming Common Hesitations Around WordPress Updates

Despite the clear importance of keeping a WordPress site up to date, several bits often lead site owners to procrastinate or avoid updates altogether.

It can be scary, but as long as you get help if you need it, it will be fine.

Let’s take a look at some of the common misconceptions and how to overcome them:

1. Fear of Breaking the Site

Concern: Many site owners worry that updates might break their site, leading to downtime or functionality issues.


  • Regularly backup the site before starting updates.
  • Set up a staging environment to test the update before trying it on the live site.
2. Lack of Awareness about Update Importance

Concern: Some people might not fully grasp the critical role updates play in security, performance, and overall site health.


  • Communicate the importance of updates through educational materials, newsletters, or in-app notifications.
  • Join communities to ask questions and learn from others’ experiences.
  • Start a support journey with a WordPress Support agency.
3. Time Constraints and Maintenance Challenges

Concern: Site owners, especially those with a lot on their plate, may feel overwhelmed by the time commitment needed for updates and ongoing maintenance.


  • Implement a scheduling for updates.
  • Allocate a dedicated time in your calendar for regular maintenance, making it a routine task.
  • Consider using managed hosting services or hiring professionals for ongoing support.
4. Plugin and Theme Compatibility

Concern: Site owners may worry that updates can lead to compatibility issues with existing plugins and themes.


  • Choose plugins and themes from reputable developers with a history of prompt updates.
  • Check the compatibility of your plugins and themes with the latest WordPress version.
  • Developers often provide this information on their websites or within the WordPress Plugin and Theme Directories.
5. Perceived Complexity of the WordPress Update Process

Concern: Some users, particularly those less familiar with technical aspects, may find the update process complex and confusing.


  • Simplify the update process by using user-friendly tools and plugins.
  • View step-by-step guides or tutorials tailored to users with varying levels of technical expertise.
  • Reach out for support if they encounter difficulties during the update process.

Final Thoughts

Please don’t start ignoring WordPress updates.

It doesn’t take too long to create a routine, and you could always get the pros involved to speed it up.

The moment you take your eye off the ball, the more likely you are to have a few issues here and there: It’s not worth the risk.

Talk to Toast today, and start the easiest journey of your life.

Lilli Foreman

Lilli Foreman

Lilli works on copy, content, site build and layout at Toast. She helps clients with optimised blogs, on-page SEO and general site work.