Why Choosing Free WordPress Themes May Put Your Blog In Jeopardy

Drawbacks of Free WordPress Themes

Imagine you turn your system on to check out how if your website is functioning fine. And suddenly you are like “Where the hell is my website”!

Such a scenario arises when your website has probably been hacked and all your data is gone.

Sounds scary? Doesn’t it?

I did not mean to scare you, but such things happen to bloggers who choose a free theme for blogging instead of a premium one.

Let me tell you the truth – free is not always good, even if it is a WordPress theme.

In this post, I will show you why choosing a free theme could be dangerous for the blog.

Important note: There are many good looking free themes that offer encrypted free footers (link free footers) and are of great quality. But, again there are downsides to using free WordPress themes over premium WordPress themes.

Why Free WordPress themes are not worth your time

1. Unwanted URLs in the footer

When you choose a free theme, you also accept the user agreement from theme developers.

In exchange for the free themes, these developers always want you to keep their affiliate URLs on your website’s footer.

Remember, if you ever try to get rid of these URLs, it will be considered breaching the agreement.

If you attempt to remove these links, you will not be able to get rid of them. Moreover, all you will get is a broken theme.

Sometimes these links are hidden with a template color, so you cannot notice them without moving the cursor over the footer.

Usually, these links are not harmful but in most cases, they redirect you to suspicious and malicious sites.

WordPress hacked

Also, you might just expose yourself to a virus such as Trojan.

2. No SEO-optimization

As a blogger, we understand the power of SEO and how important it is for a blog or a website. And, you will hardly get a free theme which has inbuilt SEO options!

The following features make a theme SEO optimized:

  1. Clean code: A well-written code helps search engines to understand your website better.
  2. Light Weight: If the theme size is heavy it will take time to load.
  3. Don’t use many JS and CSS codes: Free theme contains multiple Javascript and CSS codes. It is recommended that JS and CSS should not be more than 12-15.
  4. Responsive Layout: If your audience is not able to view your website in their mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.), you are going to definitely lose them. 
  5. Responsive Design: Free themes rarely come with a responsive design.
  6. Plugins Compatibility: There are thousands of plugins available on the WordPress that can boost your SEO. A free theme does not support these plugins.

Theme developers save other features for their premium themes.

3. No Customer Support and Updates

Customer support

If you are facing problems with a free theme, you will not able to get any customer support from the company. And guess why. You’re right! Because it’s a free theme!

In the future, if in case, the developer updates the theme for bugs and advance coding, you will not get notified. Hence, your site will be at risk. Only the premium theme holders can avail an update feature.

However, there are some theme developers who will provide an update for a free theme. But there are chances that you may lose your site by then.

4. Limited Features

Premium themes come with lots of handy features that can boost your website’s performance and usability.

If you’re using free themes (with very basic features), it will be difficult to beat your competitors which use premium themes (with advanced features).

5. Hidden Costs

A few days ago, one of my friends installed a free theme for one of his sites. He was happy to find a theme that looked absolutely beautiful, and the best part – it was free!

He checked if there were any links present in the footer, but he couldn’t find any! At this time, his website was ranking well on the search engine too.

Two days later, he noticed there were 25 outbound links on the right side navigation pointing to different kinds of sites.

However, the weirdest part was he hadn’t added any of those links. So, he tried to remove them from his site but failed!

He uninstalled the free theme and got back to a basic theme. He found no links then. A few hours later, he installed the free theme again to check what went wrong.

He assumed himself to be smarter than the theme, but as soon as he installed the free theme again, the outbound links returned.

Finally, he decided to leave the idea of a free theme completely.

So, I learned that there is a hidden cost in a free theme too.

6. Plugins compatibility problems

Many free themes do not support advanced plugins which could lead to a bad user experience and poor SEO performance.

The problem occurs because the theme is rarely updated. Most plugins support an updated theme.

I faced this issue once when I was installing a plugin to collect subscriber’s emails.

The plugins only support updated themes.

Final thoughts on using free WordPress themes:

Not all themes are coded the same and there are many good WordPress developers who have published well coded free themes and later turned it into a paid one. When you are working on a WordPress blog for short term, free theme are not a bad choice if you can find something which is free from all the above risks. Again, this is possible when you are well versed in spotting these mistakes and bad codes in the theme.

If you are someone like me who prefers to focus on what we are good at, it’s better to buy a premium WordPress theme. It’s not only about getting support, updates but it also ensures your blog works great and has a stunning design. Maybe, if you would have asked me for an opinion a couple of years ago, I would have recommended you to download a free WordPress themes for your blog, but these days when making money from a blog is relatively easy, buying a Premium WordPress theme is a well-thought investment. Here are some of the popular premium WordPress themes. I suggest you to check all of them out and pick the one that suits your design and functionality requirements.

  1. ThriveThemes (Probably the only theme that you will need)
  2. Genesis (ShoutMeLoud uses Genesis theme as backend and custom child skin)
  3. ElegantTheme (This one is perfect for niche sites)

I hope by now you know the risks that free themes come with.

I am curious to know your thoughts. Have you ever faced any problem with a free theme? Please share your valuable thoughts and experience. 

Here are a few guides you should read next:

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Authored By
Umesh Singh is a digital marketing strategist and the man behind curiousblogger.com and growwithweb.com . He loves to write about content marketing, social media, and SEO. He helps small companies to grow their business through web.

41 thoughts on “Why Choosing Free WordPress Themes May Put Your Blog In Jeopardy”

  1. I am not agree with you, free doesn’t means worst. I think you are talking about nulled themes. I have used more than 50 FREE themes from wordpress and outside. They all came with free support , well seo optimzed and speed optimized too. They also came with an option to remove footer credit from option panel.

    For example check HUEMAN THEME, I have 49 examples also if you say I’ll comment them with full details.

    1. Prakhar Shrivastav

      Yes of course, the points mentioned above clearly belongs to nulled themes. Free themes uploaded on WordPress are verified and doesn’t contain any out source links rather than the author url. If it does, WordPress automatically breaks the operation

  2. Well i some what agree and some what disagree to the post , indeed premium themes have so many features but some free themes are good too , infact very good , they have almost all the features .
    Secondly nulled and cracked themes are more dangerous than free themes. so one should avoid using nulled themes.

  3. Shahbaz Ali Khan

    Not agree with you dude, There are two types of free themes 1: Official released free theme by any company and 2: Nulled theme of any paid theme. And you are talking about the nulled one because i dont think any reputed company can do this cheap thing to their users.

  4. The article was good but I kind of disagree with part of it, in my opinion it’s better to say Nulled themes or some of free themes are dangerous instead of free themes as there are lots of free themes which already checked, analyzed by WordPress theme development team and listed in WP theme repository I am sure that the WordPress team never tend to provide something harmful to their users.

    1. @Rafi
      That’s true for downloading free WordPress themes. If one is downloading from a reliable resource like WordPress theme directory, he should be fine. Thanks for adding value to the post.

  5. Prakhar Shrivastav

    It is a good article on WordPress theme. As a WordPress user I would like to ask the themes which are uploaded on WordPress aren’t they verified ? Which is the best WordPress theme for a Blogger from an SEO point of view ?

  6. If i am a new user than what theme would i use for a blog?? Still i am using wordpress theme and i don’t know that its dangerous…. thankx for giving this information….!!

  7. Comment:I clearly understand the point he is making. Nothing good is free. if you want to be around for many years,you have to start picking up premium services and products. this is a secret top bloggers don’t share with their followers. blogging is a big business. in most cases you have to invest to succed.

  8. Nice post! There so many free theme out there that damage seo. i installed a free theme that almost killed my seo 2month ago…

  9. WordPress theme like what you mean? If theme nulled or crack, I agree entirely with the opinion you. But, if the theme is free on the official WordPress site, I don’t agree. Why? Because not all free themes that available on the official WordPress site it’s not as bad as you’re talking about., I use Hueman Theme. And there is no problem with Seo. The HTML and coding structure of that theme are SEO Friendly, the structure of heading tag is very good. And there is no virus or trojan on that theme. And also, i can delete footer link and replace with mine. The free theme I used has a lot of features like premium theme.

    So Don’t be scared to use the free theme.But remember this. Always use free theme from trusted developers.

  10. This is really scary thing infact. People invest their time and money on a website to grow it into a better product.But its sad to hear that.Why wordpress and other sites allow those themes into their directory without due verification.

  11. From my own experience there are expensive premium themes on the market which do look good but turn out to have the same disadvantages as many free themes have no support, poor coding. However, a premium theme will mean more flexibility as normally added.

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