If you have created a WordPress blog, then choosing a suitable theme for your blog becomes of interest to you. There are thousands of free premium WordPress themes to choose from. Most premium themes provide the free version for their themes. The question some of my readers have asked me lately is ‘Is it advisable to use free premium themes or not’?
I am not going to offer any defamatory opinion in regards to any specific free WordPress theme. However, I will make clear my experiences using free premium themes. The decision would be left for you, whether to choose a free premium theme, a WordPress default theme, or buy a premium theme.
How free is a free premium theme?
You may think you are installing a free WordPress theme on your blog, you only get to realize it’s not completely free after installation. You will get a notification on your customization menu, telling you to upgrade to the Pro Version of that theme. So many functionalities will be limited until you complete that upgrade.
Trust me, some free premium themes are only demo versions. they are not meant for anyone with the intention of getting the most out of his/her website.
I have come across a few completely free premium themes – that don’t require any upgrade to Pro Versions. Those themes are good and may not contain any malicious scripts.
Reasons you must avoid free premium themes
My take is, it is better to buy a premium theme than use its free version. Most premium WordPress themes cost less than $50. Or better still, choose one of the default WordPress themes or make a thorough research to find a real FREE premium WordPress theme that does not have any other Pro Version.
Your safe bet are the default WordPress themes. They are not too fancy, but they are completely reliable in terms of your website’s security and other important features.
If you are confused on the reasons I have discouraged complete reliance on free premium themes, Here are my reasons:
Free versions of Premium WordPress themes may contain unfriendly scripts
When you read the details of a WordPress theme, you see a lot of information regarding how responsive they are, how search engine optimized they are. Trust me, those details apply mainly to those that pay for the themes.
If you install a free version, many scripts that are not SEO friendly are usually added to several sections of the theme files.
Those codes are put there as measures to prevent you from easily removing the attributions on the themes and other settings.
But it doesn’t stop there. Search engine bots that crawl your website will also notice those malicious scripts, and maybe, alert you by reporting the error on your search console (if you are lucky enough).
Here’s a script I found in a free Premium WordPress theme.
Now, guess what drew my attention to this encrypted script… Yeah! You guessed right.
I got a notification telling me my website had issues. I traced and discovered the scripts complained of was actually a script located within the free theme I used.
No customization support for free premium WordPress themes.
Free premium themes do not offer any support. And sadly, getting support and important documentation while configuring any theme is highly important.
If you get proper documentation and support, you will know the special CSS codes and other important codes that will help you execute tedious task in only a few steps.
Miss out on important updates
As we all know, WordPress releases newer versions of their software on regular basis. A new version of WordPress or a new important pluginmay not be supported by your theme.
If you use the premium version of any theme, it is the responsibility of the theme developers to update that theme to meet up with the recent changes.
They will also help you implement important customizations. You bet they will work on getting issues resolved as soon as possible, so that they will not lose any of their premium customers.
But for a free theme, it will take a longer time before any major updates are implemented. This may hurt your website in various areas.
Like the encrypted scripts, encrypted links are very dangerous from an SEO point of view. I deliberately separated this heading ‘too many encrypted links’ from the above SEO point.
Those encrypted links are very dangerous and can hurt your website’s growth. Google penalizes websites that have too many encrypted links. These encrypted links are in high abundance in free premium WordPress themes.
Getting the most from free premium WordPress themes
Now that you are aware of the dangers posed by a free premium theme, let’s begin to analyze all the possible ways you can use a free premium WordPress theme.
Yeah.. that’s an option. But I must say, If you are not a tech savvy, it’s a no, no. You may end up breaking your website or end up leaving it in a state that is worse off compared to not trying to hack that free premium theme.
Scripts within a free theme are so encrypted to the point that, removing them may trigger an automatic action that will bring them back in a full force. Or, worst-case scenario, your website may end up broken.
Best free option for you
like I said earlier, if you want to go for free, then go for the default WordPress themes. Although they don’t look very fancy, you can rest assured knowing that there are no malicious scripts contained within your theme.
If you have any questions or contributions in regards to free WordPress themes, feel free to communicate them using the comment section.