How Your Old Website is Killing Your Organic Search Results

Your Old WordPress Theme Does Not Get Better with Age

A couple of days ago, I went to the grocery store and saw a beautiful 1956 Thunderbird convertible in pristine condition. The owner said he paid $155,000 for it a few years ago. Consider that in 1956, the Ford Thunderbird cost $2944. That’s an appreciation of over $2,000 per year. A bottle of Petit Mouton 2011 (an awesome French wine, I am told) has increased 150% in less than a decade. Some things get better with age and appreciate in value.

Your old WordPress website theme is not one of those things.

It is killing your search results, your image, and your business. And if you constantly search for someone to fix your old WordPress site, it might be time for an overhaul. If you haven’t updated your theme in over five years, it may not be working soon.

Your Website Structure Needs to be Fresh, Not Just Your Content

Most marketers will tell you that you need fresh relevant content for your website. Very few marketers will tell you that your website structure plays a huge role in your search engine optimization. In fact, if your WordPress theme is is five years old, updating your theme version is a must. Some themes have automatic updates. If you bought your theme from ThemeForest, you have to buy the updates the same way you bought the original theme.

Maybe you haven’t changed your WordPress theme in five years. You found a look you like and don’t want to change because “change is bad.” I have some bad news for you. Tech is always changing. Your website must change with it or it will quit working eventually. There are some premium plugins (like Slider Revolution) that will break your site if not maintained.

If your website is not a major part of your marketing or getting your message out, ignore this article and go back to watching music videos on YouTube.

However, if your website (or your organic search results) are a major part of what happens in your life, then grab a chair and read on.

How Tech Leaves Your WordPress Theme Behind over Time

If you have had a WordPress website for over ten years, you may remember that your website was on a Linux server. Then came along cPanel. You may have had to move your WordPress website from one server to another. Why? Technology changes and the code your server runs on changes. I built my first WordPress website in 2012. I did my first manual migrations in 2013 and life was good.

Things change. Although life is still good, tech changed and my websites are no exception. Let’s get specific about these changes.

1. The Code WordPress is Built on Gets Updated and Improves

You may not know this but your WordPress website runs on four languages, HTML, CSS, JavaScript (jQuery is a JS library), and PHP. PHP is the main housing language and that provides your WordPress theme with structure, security, and functionality. When I first got started building WordPress sites in 2012, PHP was between versions 5.2 and 5.5

Last year, PHP 5.6 and 7.0 reached end-of-life. This means that the people who invent and maintain the PHP language are no longer writing security updates for these PHP versions. One day (probably without warning), your server will no longer support PHP 5.6 and 7.0. If you haven’t updated your hosting plan in the last five years, your site may not be working much longer. If you haven’t updated your WordPress theme in the last five years, your WordPress site is a security breach just waiting to happen if not a broken site.

2. Gutenberg Blocks

In 2018, rumors started circulating about a new, flexible editor called Gutenberg blocks. In December 2018, WordPress released 5.0 and forced Gutenberg editor blocks on the world. WordPress website owners can still use the Classic Editor plugin and avoid the Gutenberg editor for now. Although WordPress is committed to supporting the Classic Editor plugin until 2022, Gutenberg editor is the future of WordPress.

3. Outdated Premium Plugins Can Break Your Site

When you built your site, you complained about that fancy slider plugin’s price but you broke down and bought it. You thought it would last forever. Guess what? It didn’t. With the underlying code changing, it is inevitable that your website will break because the premium plugins are not maintained. That fancy plugin you paid hard-earned money for that you keep putting off updating, will break your site one day. I promise.

Let’s Cut to the Chase

Search engines not only analyze your page content, they also analyze your site structure. If you are not maintaining your WordPress theme and your hosting plan, your search engine results will suffer. Your business and your website will suffer and will one day just go away.

Keep your WordPress theme recent, keep your premium plugins (the plugins you paid for) updated and make sure your hosting plan is running the most recent version of PHP possible (7.2 or 7.3 at the time of this writing).

Have questions? Contact me to ask any questions you may have.

Coming soon: How your old WordPress theme is a security breach just waiting to happen.

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Michael Neely

Michael Neely began his journey in web development and web design coding his first HTML/CSS site in 2011 in Atlanta. Since then, he has worked in WordPress development since 2012. Other skills include JavaScript, jQuery, SQL, Laravel, HubSpot CMS, Reactjs, and more. He lives in Maine with his beautiful fiancee', Patsy.