WordPress is one of the best content management systems around. However, it is not a platform capable of taking care of itself. WordPress is a tool that only works as well as the person who employs it. Thus, regular updates are necessary to keep it functioning well.
This post will endeavor to answer the question of how often WordPress should be updated. We start with the understanding that there is no single answer. Why? Because there are three kinds of updates, each with their own scheduling needs. WordPress users have to pay attention to:
- platform (system) updates
- plugin updates
- content updates.
Platform updates are critical to keeping WordPress secure and up-to-date with the latest web technologies. WordPress developers are working on updates continually, so there is no set schedule for releasing them. The most important thing to remember is that WordPress should never be allowed to go without updating once updates have been released.
You can set WordPress to update automatically when you first install it on your server. This is the recommended setting. Automatic updating tells the system to automatically check for updates daily and apply them when available. A WordPress installation not already configured for automatic updates can be modified in the installation settings.
Plugin updates are just as important for security as platform updates. Unfortunately, most plugins cannot be set to update automatically. A good rule of thumb is to log onto the WordPress admin every few days to see if any updates are available. If so, run them right then and there.
If you have plugins that have not been updated by developers in more than six months, then these post an unreasonable security risk. It is best to replace them with more recent alternatives. WordPress users should never install a new plugin that has not been updated in six months or longer.
Content updates, which include theme updates for the purposes of this post, are not critical for security or performance. But they are quite helpful for SEO. SEO experts generally agree that content should be updated at least once per week, at minimum. The more frequent the updates, the more favourably a site will be treated by the major search engines.
Updating content can be anything from publishing a new blog post to updating an events calendar. Just changing a header image will not help much, though. Google and the others are looking for more substantive updates that offer visitors tangible value.
Remember, WordPress is a tool that is only as good as the user who employs it. Make a point of keeping up with your WordPress installation to ensure that it stays updated. Doing so will maximize security, performance, and SEO results.
In closing, feel free to check out the WordPress documentation in the support section of the organization’s website. You’ll find lots of great suggestions for improving the performance of your WordPress site, beyond running updates.