Beware of the WordPress Theme Review Site

by Chris CounteyJanuary 19, 2017
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WordPress is free to download and free to use, as are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins. But selling WordPress themes is big business. Just one company that sells premium themes made a reported $73 million in 2015.

This post is not about that company or others like it. It’s about the websites that make money by sending you to them. I’m writing it to help you find the WordPress theme that’s right for your site, based on legit reviews, not affiliate-driven reviews.

The Affiliate Review Website

Searching for the “best WordPress themes 2017” might be your first stop in finding a new theme to built your next (or first) website. The search results you get will be mixed:

  • WordPress.org or other sites that list free themes
  • Websites that sell WordPress themes such ThemeForest
  • Sites that review themes or do theme roundups (Top 2,653,753 WordPress Themes of 2027!)

I’m all for monetizing your website, especially through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing at its very core is about relationships, a relationship between three parties: the advertiser, the publisher, and the consumerCommission Junction

Affiliate marketers use the internet to drive people to a product or service online. Affiliate marketing for premium WordPress themes usually involves showcasing a specific theme, a group of related themes (like themes for photographers) or via “top themes” lists.

I’m not going to mention a specific WordPress theme affiliate site, but you should know what to look for when checking out a theme “review” site.

WordPress Theme Review

In your browser, move your mouse over links to download or demo or otherwise get you to view the theme being reviewed.

WordPress Theme Link

ThemeForest, mentioned above, is a premium WordPress Theme store. Links from this “review” page will send you to ThemeForest to purchase the theme you’re reading about. At the end of the link, there is a number and a question mark followed by ref=number. That information is passed to ThemeForest and the owner of the “review” site gets a commission if you buy that theme.

As an affiliate, it’s their goal to first get you to their website and then off it, to the affiliated store to make a purchase, as quickly as possible. After browsing several pages of the review site, it was strange how amazing every single theme was!

Well, if the agenda isn’t to provide you with facts, or at least an honest review of the product, it makes the site difficult to trust.

Finding a website has unbiased reviews of WordPress themes with no affiliation can be hard. They won’t make money if you don’t click through to the store, right?

Affiliate Sites Do Have Value

Sites that want to get your click and their commission usually do so through ranking well in Google. The best affiliate sites tend to categorize themes together based on how people search, which can help you find what you’re looking for in a design quickly. Just be warned, they will probably make any theme you look at appear to be the best thing since sliced images bread.

Websites like CMS Critic even provide valuable tips about what to look for in a theme. Others, like SourceWP, will group themes together nicely, such as this post showing off 25 themes for authors and writers.

Get User Reviews from the Source

Unless you’re going to choose a free theme, just start your search at one of the top premium WordPress shops (again, I make ZERO commission from you visiting these sites):

  • ThemeForest
  • Actually. Just go there. I looked for other WordPress theme stores that didn’t suck, but couldn’t find any.

Before I purchase a theme, which could be $25-125 or more, I want to know a lot about it. I won’t buy something online if the product or vendor (Etsy!) doesn’t have user reviews.

If information on the theme does exist, read everything and compare.

  • How many sales does it have?
  • Read the comments
  • Read the reviews
  • Check if the theme needs special plugins to work properly, and research those plugins for pricing, compatibility, and security
  • Is there documentation in case you need help?
  • Is there a way to contact the developer easily in case something goes wrong? Does that cost extra?

If all else fails, ask me on Twitter or in the comments. I’ve used hundreds of themes and I’m very familiar with most of the work of the best publishers.

Katla is the WordPress theme I use for this blog. It’s fast, SEO-friendly and lets me create a BuzzFeed-style site where users can submit articles and vote on content. | Download Katla (affiliate link)

Good luck with your new WordPress site!

About The Author
Chris Countey
I am a Technical SEO Manager in Philadelphia by day and gamer by night. All opinions and bad jokes here and on social media are my own and do not represent the beliefs of any organization.

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