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If my theme is sponsored, will I get banned from Google?

In short, no. However, it is entirely possible that other aspects of the theme will get you banned, and even more worryingly for some is that non-sponsored themes can get you banned just as easily.

The fact that a theme is sponsored is rarely important, and should not be allowed to put you off sponsored themes altogether. The possible dangers of downloaded themes are not a myth however. They are very real, and malicious theme owners can do any number of things which could Google will begrudge you.

A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

Most bloggers will know that when judging how to rank a site, search engines, like Google, look at links in particular. Many bloggers also know that they don’t judge your site only on the links coming in to it, but on the links going out from it. This is what has caused the commotion about sponsored themes.

The danger of the “Sponsored by…” link depends entirely on the sponsor’s website. Before you use the theme, take a look at the sponsor’s site. If you find it promoting the usual spam items, gambling, or any other shady online practice, then do not use the theme. This is the time when sponsored themes are bad to use.

However, if you find that the sponsor is a respectable website, selling IT consultancy or such, then the theme is fine to use. The link may not be directly related to your blog’s topic, but chances are that the links to WordPress.org and the designer’s website aren’t linked to your topic either. This is the time when sponsored themes are fine to use.

The Sponsored Stigma

Sponsored themes have earned themselves a negative stigma, and there is a good reason for this. A number of theme owners have engaged in immoral practices lately, hiding different codes and links from the unsuspecting user. Codes and links that could compromise security, or sink your search engine rankings. Many of these theme owners also sold sponsorship positions on their themes, which is what tarnished the name of all sponsored theme developers.

The important thing to remember is to constantly be open-minded. Do not fear all sponsored themes, but at the same time, do not trust them blindly either. No matter whether the theme is sponsored or not, the author could have hidden malicious code in the files, and tomorrow I will post about how to test for such codes.

What is your take on sponsored themes? Immoral or not? And for those who have read the hype already, do you think it was right for the official WordPress theme directory to remove all sponsored themes? (I’ll post my answer in the comments as well, once I hear what you think.)

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