Bad Links in Free WordPress Themes

May 27th, 2010 by under Blog, Tips

WordPress, offered by most blog hosting companies, is great for blogs and remains the easiest system to setup, use, and run your blog on. The great thing about the WordPress community is that people are more than willing to share their hard work with free themes. Because there are so many free themes out there, however, finding the right WordPress theme for your site will take time. You will have to go through many themes before finding the perfect one, but you also need to worry about more than just looks. Many themes contain embedded links to affiliate and promotion sites which can be harmful for your site.

WordPress, offered by most blog hosting companies, is great for blogs and remains the easiest system to setup, use, and run your blog on. The great thing about the WordPress community is that people are more than willing to share their hard work with free themes. Because there are so many free themes out there, however, finding the right WordPress theme for your site will take time. You will have to go through many themes before finding the perfect one, but you also need to worry about more than just looks. Many themes contain embedded links to affiliate and promotion sites which can be harmful for your site.

To understand why your site can be harmed by affiliate links, promotion links, and other types of links commonly found in many free WordPress themes, we must discuss why these types of links are typically bad. Affiliate links are special links that most anyone can obtain to sell products. When a product is sold via an affiliate’s link, the affiliate receives a monetary kickback for the sale, usually a percentage of the sale or a fixed fee. A promotion link is similar, but the author of the theme typically purchases the link via an offer that is fixed in price. In both situations, the theme’s author has no control over the content which the website links to, making the site potentially harmful.

While these sites seem fine, many affiliate links contain content that may not agree with your website’s content. Imagine a family-safe website with links pointing to adult offers such as pornographic material or drug items. Because you and the theme author both lack any control over what type of content is placed on the link, there is great potential that the content can change at any time. The link may look safe to you now, but it may not remain safe in the future. Make sure your WordPress hosting does not contain these types of links.

Affiliate links may also contain websites that promote scam products meant to cheat customers out of money. By linking to this website, your website is endorsing a scam de facto, whether you actually agree with it or not. Since Google allows all web users easy access to product reviews, your visitors will be able to learn very quickly whether your site appears to endorse scam products. Even though you were not the one to originally place the link on your theme and may not personally endorse any type of scam, your website visitors have no way of knowing this. Web hosting companies also do not like to see scam promotions, so your hosting may inadvertently be discontinued for an action you did not even intend.

Bad links in free WordPress themes lead to one more disadvantage to a website. Google and other popular search engines utilize what are commonly referred to as “spiders” that are constantly “crawling” your website and looking at every other page on the Internet, as well. One reason search engines, like Google, do this is to see how many websites link to a particular site. If there are tons of links to one website, Google assumes it is very popular and increases the overall ranking of the webpage. While this may be fine, the reason most affiliate links are placed in free themes is for this reason. By including a bad link in your website’s free theme, the author is trying to increase his or her overall Google ranking to potentially victimize even more web visitors.

Google may catch on to this type of backlinking activity and “punish” websites with links like this by reducing a page’s ranking. If you are using a free theme that includes a link that Google views as unethical or against their terms of service, Google will lower your website ranking or, even worse, “sandbox” your website and make it disappear from Google. Since most web visitors come from Google, you could eliminate your site from any future visits by using a free WordPress theme with these types of links.

In summary, using a free WordPress theme that contains affiliate links, promotion links, and other types of links that could be viewed as nefarious is simply not a good idea. Your website visitors may be turned off or offended by the link, you cannot control the linking page’s content, and Google may very well even punish your website and remove it from search listings. In some WordPress themes you can go into the theme files, found in the wp-content/themes/ folder of your website, and edit the file that contains the bad link. If not, you may want to simply find a new theme that doesn’t contain bad links.

Bio:
This article has been penned down by Joanna and Laura who are part of webhostingsearch.com from over 2 years and been in the web industry from quite some time now.

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