Imagine you turn on your PC, to check out how your website is working?
And you are like “what, where is my website”?
I have got a bad news for you…
Your website has got hacked and all your data is gone.
Sound scary? Isn’t it?
I did not mean to scare you, but this happens with many 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.
Imp note: There are many good looking free themes who offer encrypted free footers (Link free footer) & are of great quality. But, again their are still few donwside of 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 of the free theme 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, you will be breaching the author’s 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.
Also, you can get a dangerous virus such as Trojan on your website.
2. No SEO-optimization
As a blogger, we understand the power of SEO and how important it is for a blog or website.
You will hardly get a free theme which has inbuilt SEO options!
The following features make a theme SEO optimized:
- Clean code – A well-written code helps search engines to understand your website better.
- Light Weight – If the theme size is heavy it will take time to load.
- 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.
- Responsive Design – Free themes rarely come with a responsive design.
- 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
If you are facing problems with a free theme, you will not able to get any customer support from the company because you are not paying a single penny to them.
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 is a possibility that until that time you will lose your site.
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 who are using premium themes (with advanced features).
5. Hidden Costs
Some days back, 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 was it was free!
He checked if there were any links present on the footer, but he couldn’t find a single one!
At this time, his website was ranking well on the search engine with his specific keywords and having PR 5.
After two days, he noticed there were 25 outbound links on the right side navigation pointing 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.
After a few hours, he installed the free theme again to check out 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 actually there is a hidden cost in a free theme.
6. Plugins compatibility problems
Many free themes do not support advanced plugins, this could lead to bad user experience and poor SEO performance.
The problem occurs because the theme is rarely updated. Most plugins support an updated theme.
I have faced this issue once when I was installing a plugin to collect subscriber’s emails.
The plugins only support updated themes.
- Also read: Free WordPress themes Vs. Premium themes
Final Thoughts on using free WordPress themes:
Not all themes are coded the same & there are many good WordPress developers who have published well coded free themes & later turned it into paid theme. When you are working on a WordPress blog for short term, free theme are not bad if you could find something which is free from all the above reasons. Again, this is possible when you are well versed with spotting these mistakes & bad codes in the theme.
If you are someone like me who prefer 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 also it ensures your blog works great at the same time design looks stunning. May be couple of years back I would have recommended you to download 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 the popular premium WordPress themes & I suggest you to check all of them out & pick the one which suits your design & functionality requirement.
- ThriveThemes (Probably the only theme that you will need)
- Genesis (ShoutMeLoud is using Genesis theme as backend & using custom child skin)
- ElegantTheme (This one is perfect for niche sites)
I hope you have understood now how dangerous a free theme is!
I am curious to know your thoughts. Have you ever faced any problem with a free theme. Please share your valuable thoughts!