Technology

Getting your hosting into shape and why you need to update unsupported versions of PHP • Yoast – SEO


In this post, we want to go into the importance of upgrading your PHP if you are using an older, unsupported version. This is crucial when it comes to the security and speed of your website. So don’t click away just yet, because we have an important update regarding Yoast SEO, Yoast SEO Premium, and our add-ons and standalone plugins such as Yoast Duplicate Post. By November 1st, 2024, we will no longer support PHP versions 7.2 and 7.3. This change is crucial as we continually strive to improve both the security and efficiency of our plugins. Read on to find out why.

PHP? Hosting? What does it all mean?

WordPress, (like Yoast SEO), is built in large part in a programming language called PHP. This language, as WordPress itself, has gradually improved over time. Web developers worldwide are enjoying the features that newer versions of PHP have brought. Also, more importantly, everyone worldwide enjoys the increased security these new versions bring. Unfortunately, WordPress developers do not get to join in.

Right now, the minimum PHP required for WordPress is PHP version 7.0. But they recommend using PHP version 7.4 or higher. Compared to WordPress, PHP has a rather aggressive update path. PHP 8.1 will receive security support for another year and a half, but anything older than that will not. As they mention on their website, any release older than that should be upgraded as soon as possible as they may be exposed to unpatched security vulnerabilities.

Why do we care about this?

At Yoast we care about a lot of things, but two things in particular are important in this regard: user happiness and developer happiness. A user is happy when they have a fast, easy-to-install, secure content management system like WordPress to build a site in. A developer is happy when they can use a modern language and tooling to build software.

Security

The most important reason for us to want to increase the minimum requirement is security: older PHP versions, while still actively in use on millions of sites, no longer get security updates.

This security concern is not a theoretical concern. We have seen time and time again that the number one reason sites get hacked is because of outdated software. WordPress has automatic updates for security updates built-in for exactly this reason. Why would we push people to update WordPress and its plugins regularly, but let the PHP version fall behind?

Speed

Another big issue is speed. WordPress is sometimes said to be slow, but it doesn’t have to be slow at all. If it’s running on old versions of PHP however it is, most certainly, slow. This will lose you site visitors and it’s also an important factor in your SEO, so make sure to take this seriously.

Modern programming language

PHP 7.3, which was released in 2018, is no longer a modern language. This makes developers unhappy because they’re missing many great features that a lot of the more recent programming languages have.

This can cause more developers to turn their back on WordPress because it’s moving too slowly. Developing themes or plugins for WordPress, where an old PHP version is required, is a hassle and thus not as much fun. Over time, losing developers can mean missing out on great contributions and other products moving faster, and WordPress will lose market share.

Enhancing performance and security

By supporting only PHP 7.4 and higher, Yoast SEO can implement more modern coding practices, which significantly improve your website’s performance. Faster, more efficient code not only boosts SEO but also contributes to a better user experience and reduces server load, thereby conserving energy.

The update also sets the stage for future developments, including our readiness for the upcoming PHP versions. Staying ahead of technology curves ensures that we can always offer the most up-to-date features without compromising on stability.

What is Yoast going to do?

As we said, the minimum PHP required for WordPress is PHP version 7.0 and they recommend using 7.4 or higher. Yoast will drop support for PHP versions 7.2 and 7.3 from November 2024. Our commitment to providing you with the best possible service means ensuring our software utilizes the most advanced and secure technology available. The phasing out of older PHP versions, much like our earlier updates, will allow us to leverage newer features that enhance plugin performance and site security.

As per WordPress’s official statistics, about 8% of WordPress installations still operate on PHP 7.2 and 7.3. Our data shows an even smaller percentage among our user base. We believe this transition will affect only a minimal number of users but is vital for maintaining high standards of quality and security.

Updating your PHP version

If you’re uncertain about how to upgrade your PHP version, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Visit our comprehensive guide on how to update your PHP, complete with resources for numerous hosting services. If your host is not listed, we’ll provide you with a template email to send to your hosting provider, requesting the update.

A huge thank you to all who have already upgraded their PHP versions in anticipation of this change. We are thrilled to journey with you towards a more secure, efficient, and robust web environment. Stay tuned for more updates as we will continue to enhance Yoast SEO to serve you better.


#hosting #shape #update #unsupported #versions #PHP #Yoast

Related Articles