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WordPress Drops Security Support for Older Installations

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WordPress Drops Security Support for Older Installations

WordPress announced a three month warning that it is halting all security updates for older installations, versions 3.7- 4.0. The affected installations will display a permanent notice that cannot be dismissed.

Out of Date WordPress Installations

WordPress versions 3.7 – 4.0 will no longer receive security updates beginning on December 1, 2022.

Anyone using these out of date versions of WordPress will put their sites at risk for hacking after the final date of support.

The reason given for dropping dropping security support is that the WordPress core development team can better focus on updating the latest versions without the burden of keeping older versions up to date.

According to the WordPress announcement:

“Officially WordPress only provides support for the latest version of the software.

The Security team historically has a practice of backporting security fixes as a courtesy to sites on older versions in the expectation the sites will be automatically updated.

Until now, these courtesy backports have included all versions of WordPress supporting automatic updates.

Versions WordPress 3.7 – 4.0 have reached levels of usage, namely less than 1% of total installs, where the benefit of providing these updates is outweighed by the effort involved.

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…By dropping support for these older versions, the newer versions of WordPress will become more secure as more time can be focused on their needs.”

Which Version Should Publishers Update To?

WordPress is advising publishers to update to the very latest installation, currently at version 6.0.2.

That said, WordPress will still be providing security support for version 4.01, which was released in 2015.

This means that publishers using older versions of WordPress could upgrade to 4.01 in order to not introduce instability to their websites because of older themes, plugins or PHP versions that may be in use.

But doing so is not recommended by WordPress because while security updates are backported to older versions, hardening updates are not backported to older versions.

Security updates are patches designed to block specific critical vulnerabilities.

Hardening is updating the code to make it more secure.

Some believe that requiring users of older versions of WordPress to update to the most up to date version may be perceived as risky because it could result in a non-functional website.

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One commenter posted:

“Skipping through 8 years of new releases in one go is a risky operation, and by only offering that option, it’s likely to disincentivize lots of site owners from doing it. The thought process is going to be “Shall I press the button and see if 8 years of updates avoids breaking anything, or shall I just hope for the best leaving it on the current version which has worked thus far?””

Permanent Notification

WordPress posted that installations from versions 4.0 and older will receive a notification within the WordPress installation that alerts publishers that their version is obsolete and that security updates have ceased, with an encouragement to update to the latest version.

Screenshot of Permanent Notification

Number of Old Versions Still in Use

According to WordPress statistics, the number of older versions that are affected by this decision constitute less than 1% of total installations.

This change should therefore not affect the vast majority of WordPress publishers.


Citation

Read the Official Announcement

Dropping security updates for WordPress versions 3.7 through 4.0

Featured image by Shutterstock/Luis Molinero

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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