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WordPress® All-in-One For Dummies® by Michael Torbert, Andrea Rennick, Kevin Palmer, Cory Miller, Lisa Sabin-Wilson

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Understanding What to Avoid with Free Themes

Although free themes are great, you want to avoid some things when finding and using free themes. As with everything on the Web, themes have the potential to be abused. Although free themes were conceived to allow people (namely designers and developers) to contribute work to the WordPress community, they've also been used to “game the system” and wreak havoc for users. As such, you need to understand what to watch out for and what to avoid.

Here are some things to avoid when searching for free themes:

  • Spam links: Many free themes outside the WordPress Free Themes Directory include links in the footer or sidebars that can be good or bad. The good uses of these links are designed to credit the original designer and possibly link to her Web site or portfolio. This practice — a nice reward to the creators — should be observed because it increases the designer's traffic and clients. Spam links, however, aren't links to the designer's site; they're links to sites you may not ordinarily associate with or endorse on your site. The best example is a link in the footer that links to odd, off-topic, and uncharacteristic keywords or phrases, such as weight loss supplement or best flower deals. Mostly, this spam technique is used to increase the advertised site's search engine ranking for that particular keyword by adding another link from your site or, worse, to take your site visitor who clicks it to a site unrelated to the linked phrase.
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