I’ve used version control tools for years to handle simple deployments, dating back to the old svn (not so well suited because of branch limitations), CVS (better suited because branches work better, but maybe I was just more familiar).
Better to use a distributed version contriol like git or mercurial (or bazaar).
Although I have more experience with git, I tend to use mercurial (hg) more and more, mainly because hg works okay on windows, which allows me to work in cygwin on my windows tablet, and then push to my websites.
Yes, a deployment system is better. But a VC tool is a good start.
Biggest problem - with git, maybe also with hg, not sure yet - is that it version controls file contents but not permissions. (CVS made some attempts to maintain file permissions.) You’ll need other scripts to maintain the correct permissions on directories, etc.