Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes on Google or Anywhere

Creating new blogs is a great challenge for everyone. But before you can make your own blog, you must purchase a new domain first. Make sure that the name of your website will compliment with the type of blogs that you want to create. Prior to setting up your WordPress blog, you must first search for your WordPress theme. Regardless if you have done this before or you are just a beginner, searching for a good theme can be very difficult. You’ll have to use the search term “WordPress themes.”

What are Free WordPress Themes?

Free WordPress Themes are obviously free. These are designed by developers who want to have an impressive portfolio while others are making them just for fun. Some sites such as WooThemes and Graph Paper Press offer free themes hoping that they attract users who will purchase their premium content.

If you are searching for free themes on Google, then surely you would encounter WordPress.org. They offer users a variety of free WordPress themes that are available online.

The Dangers of Downloading Free WordPress Themes

Most people are attracted to freebies because obviously, it is free. But keep in mind that not all freebies are great. You might think that a nice looking site which offers amazing Free WordPress Themes is reputable. But this is not usually the case if you attempt on downloading these Free WordPress Themes, then your computer might be in danger.

That is why searching for a good WordPress theme is very challenging. Siobhan Ambrose warns us about the dangers of searching and installing “free WordPress themes” on your computer. Siobhan Ambrose created an interesting, well-researched post about “Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes on Google or Anywhere.” on WPMU.org. She further explains how to find real free WordPress themes.

Siobhan attempted to search for free WordPress themes and found out that a lot of them are spammy. In fact, she checked the top ten websites which appeared on the search results and discovered that most of them are outdated and do not even work with WordPress. A lot of errors also appeared after the installation.

But the worst thing is most of these sites offer themes with security threats. According to Ambrose the most common one that she discovered was Base64. This is usually used for concealing any malicious code. For instance, your name and copyright information which is typically placed at the footer of the blog will be removed by Base64 and it will be substituted with a link to a free Antivirus site.

The truth is, she found out that WordPress.org was the only safe site out of the top 10 sites which appeared on Google search using the term “free WordPress themes.” There was one site which she considered as  “iffy.” While the remaining 8 sites offer themes which include possible malicious code.

But don’t be dismayed since Ambrose provided a rundown of some of the most “trusted sites” where you can download free WordPress themes such as Smashing Magazine and Theme Shaper. There are also sites such as Woo Themes which offer both premium themes and free themes. However, Ambrose recommended that the phrase “free WordPress themes” must be avoided at all times. If you suspect that these free themes might contain malicious code, then you should verify it using exploit decoders.

Nowadays, most people would use Google in searching for any type of information including WordPress Themes. And new users will likely choose the first link that will appear on the search results especially if they are enticed with the design of the free theme. But even advanced users are still tempted to download these free themes ignoring the fact that it could harm their computer. In fact, a lot of users would still visit sites which offer free serial numbers even if it is filled with porns and adware.

How to solve this problem?

There are at least two ways of solving this problem. Although it might not be able to completely solve the problem at least it could probably minimize the installation of those malicious free WordPress themes. Keep in mind that both of these choices include pros and cons, but one of them could be the best solution to this problem.

WordPress should verify the theme for any malicious content.

WordPress should check the theme first before installing it. Whenever WordPress finds out that this theme could be harmful to your computer, then the blogger must be informed. Then, it will be up to the blogger to decide whether they would take the risk of installing it or not.  However, this could be advantageous on the part of the malicious theme vendor in a way since they could use this feature to check and find ways to hide their hazardous elements better.

On the part of the users, they would quickly perceive that the site is illegal since they are using a notably illegal WordPress theme. The verification of the WordPress theme might be executed from a local code. It should also come with an auto-update feature so new rules can be added and existing rules can be upgraded. However, aside from this, there are also other ways of doing this.

Google should do something about these malicious sites.

Google must prevent these malicious sites from appearing in the results of their searches. Although there is already some talk that Google will improve their searches so these worthless malicious sites will stop enticing a lot of users. However, we still do not know when these changes can happen since this is already out of our control.

Have you experienced installing a WordPress theme and did not mind if it has malicious code or not? Do you consider the warnings if there are any? Would you like to use a Theme Checker before installing it?

Advantages of Free WordPress Themes

Why do people like using free WordPress Themes? Obviously, because it is absolutely free. You can find that there are a lot of advantages in using free themes, here are some of them:

Free themes are definitely free!

With free themes, you don’t need to spend anything. All you have to do is download the theme and you can use it right away. That’s it! Most often, premium themes can be very costly. What if you’ve purchased a particular theme and later on you’ve decided that you don’t want it anymore? What if this theme is not compatible with the plugins that you want? Most often, it is difficult or it is impossible to get a refund for the theme that you’ve bought.

Likewise, you don’t have to hire a developer to design your website since you can easily download a free theme.

Download as many themes as you want.

After finding the theme that you like, you can immediately download it and activate it. But after a while, if you’ve decided that you’ve made a mistake in choosing the theme, then you can easily repeat the process. Look for another theme, download the theme, then activate it. If you are using premium themes, then this can cost you a lot of money. Most often, premium themes could cost $45 a piece.

But with free themes, you can always download as many themes as you want since they are entirely free. You can try different kinds of themes until you can find the best theme that fits your site.

You can always get the support that you need.

Unlike premium themes, free themes do not include any support. However, you can get some help from a lot of resources. Whether you want some help in getting started with your theme or you want to learn more about advanced customizations, you can always visit the WordPress Support Forums.

Disadvantages of Free WordPress Themes

While there are several advantages to downloading free themes, there are also some disadvantages.

Free themes are not unique.

Since free themes can be used by anyone, hence they are not unique. Some sites offer a list of the best free themes. Most people will download the ones which are regularly advertised. Hence, the best free themes might have been downloaded a thousand times. So, you can never guarantee uniqueness when you are using a free theme. A good example would be the Twenty Thirteen theme which is used as a default theme. Do you know that this particular theme has been downloaded 288,929 times? This is quite a lot of sites having the same theme.

If you want to have a unique theme for your website, then you should choose the premium theme.

Free themes do not offer sufficient support.

Although you can always get some answers from the WordPress Support Forums whenever you encounter some problems, however, it would be great to have a customer support representative whom you can talk to any time.

You can’t get all the features that you need.

Typically, free themes only include the most basic features. Since we are living in a very competitive world, then you should choose a theme that can help you keep up with your competitors. The Theme Forest would be a great example of this. Unfortunately, free themes only include limited features.

Free themes are poorly coded.

Most of these free themes are done by beginners who don’t have adequate knowledge of coding. If you use free themes, then there is always a possibility that there will be security threats to your site. At the same time, it would be difficult for your site to obtain search rankings since it is not SEO-optimized. There’s no way that you can translate your site into another language since free themes are not localization-ready.

Free themes are not regularly updated.

It is a fact that WordPress is always updating. Nearly two months after WordPress 3.7 was released,  it was quickly succeeded by the release of WordPress, 3.8. It is essential that your theme must work well with the latest version of WordPress.

For premium themes, it is the responsibility of the developer to release new updates. However, for free themes, updates could occur several months after and sometimes there are no updates at all.

There is malicious code in free themes.

With free themes, you are always facing the risk of malicious code. Most often they even include encrypted footer links which will replace your current footer content. They are known to be spammy and may even contain malware which might harm your computer.

However, when Google Penguin was implemented, Google was able to handle these sites which use spammy and encrypted links.

Free Theme or a Premium Theme – Which One To Use?

If you are just getting started with your site, then it makes sense to use free themes. You can always download and experiment with as many free themes as you want. In this way, you can gain more knowledge of how WordPress works. At the same time, you can familiarize yourself with WordPress advanced customizations.

If your main objective is to create blogs, then it’s fine to use a free theme. It won’t cost you anything. Also, since you will just be blogging, then most likely you won’t be needing any advanced features which can only be found on premium themes.

If you are just looking for a site where you can display your cool photographs, then you can download any free WordPress theme that you want. By the time that your site is getting more popular, then perhaps it’s time to purchase a premium theme.

Hence, free WordPress themes are ideal for bloggers while premium themes are best suited for sites which require advanced features including famous blogs, small business sites, or corporate sites.

When choosing a theme for your site, select the one that best describes the content of your site. Users will judge your site based on its look and feel. For instance, if the footer link of your free theme is the site where you downloaded the theme, then your visitors will quickly conclude that you did not exert a lot of effort in creating your site.

Tips for Selecting The Best Free Theme

You are the only one who knows how to choose the best free theme that is ideal for your website since you know what are your needs. The best way to remember them is to write them down and refer to it when you are searching for a theme.

For instance, do you want a theme that incorporates a portfolio or a slider? What are the features that are suitable for your needs? An excellent free theme must be able to meet your needs not only your current needs but also your future needs.

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