What are WordPress nulled themes and should you use them? Are they really that bad as people say or it’s just to scare you away from using the right stuff for free? In this article, we’re explaining in detail why you should never ever use these kinds of themes.
There are numerous reasons not to trust WordPress nulled themes and plugins, for that matter. You might think you’ll save some money along the way, but using nulled themes will cost you much more than you think. And we’re giving you six main things that these bad themes will do to you, your business and overall budget yo were thinking on saving.
Now, because we have a different kind of users, both novices and experienced ones here’s quick navigation, so you can easily skip to the most relevant part for you:
- What are WordPress nulled themes
- What happens when you use nulled themes
- How to recognize WordPress nulled themes
- Six reasons not to use WordPress nulled themes
- How to check for a WordPress theme authenticity and malware
- How to check for bad backlinks
What are WordPress nulled themes?
In short, nulled WordPress themes are pirated premium themes and as such, don’t come with all the features and benefits premium have. They also go by the term „cracked themes“ or „hacked themes“ and are highly dangerous to use. In this article, we’ll explain in details why you should never, ever use WordPress nulled themes.
What happens when you use nulled themes
Nothing in life comes for free, and it’s safe to think that nulled themes still come with a price. Anything and everything that can happen wrong will happen wrong. Just think of it that way. There are all sorts of problems that can emerge, from financial ones to even legal ones, and we’re explaining them all! Just by wanting to save some money, using nulled or cracked themes, you’re putting yourself and your business in a severe situation. Why risk yourself, your brand, your site, and the security of your visitors for merely $50-$100?
How to recognize WordPress nulled themes
One of the first things people do before creating a site in WordPress is to look for a free theme and plugins. Naturally; WordPress comes with tons of free themes – either in the depository or by premium WordPress developers. Even we have a free theme (and plugins) in our portfolio, as a way to say thanks to the community that supports and chooses us for their sites. However, and this is common for beginners, people don’t tend to check where they download free themes from. And that’s the biggest threat. There are so many websites that offer „free premium themes“ that people rarely even consider whether that really exist or not. Know this – there’s no such thing as free premium theme – not unless the theme developers offers them – ON THEIR SITE.
The safest way to use a theme that is not nulled is to download it from the author’s website – such as ours or to go directly to the official WordPress themes repository, or sites like ThemeForest. Other than that, it’s safe to assume the theme you’re looking is, perhaps, nulled. Better safe than sorry.
6 main reasons not to use WordPress nulled themes
It’s illegal to use them
As we said before, nulled themes are illegal. Those are themes that are stolen from the authors, themes that come without a license key and co,pyright material. People who stole them took out any premium related resources and are offering them either for less money or completely free. Use them, and you’ll get yourself in a serious offense since the theme owners, developers can and will sue you. Using stolen goods is not something you want you or your business to be known for.
One of the main and most essential things when making your site is its security. That should always be at the top of your priority. Which is why you really shouldn’t even consider using nulled themes in WordPress (or any other CMS).
WordPress nulled themes almost always come with some piece of malware or malicious code. Don’t even think they don’t. The very people that are taking our the copyright from premium themes are putting in some virus or a piece of code that harms you and your visitors. It can be anything from collecting confidential information from you and your visitors to redirecting or sending spam links, to getting backlinks from you. Or, they can simply shut down your site and ask for money to put it back up again!
As mentioned above, you’re risking a severe privacy breach by choosing to use WordPress nulled themes. Those malicious codes that come with nulled themes and plugins steal private data from you and your users. In the best-case scenario, you’ll lose your visitors’ confidence. The worse case? You might end up in court because of data theft, especially if you have an eCommerce business or a membership type of website, where you deal with very sensitive, private users data.
No support and updates
Nulled themes don’t come with support from the developers and theme authors. As such, any change in the theme or issue that you experience, can’t be fixed because you haven’t legally obtained the theme. You can’t simply contact the support team for a fix since you use their theme illegally. Using a nulled theme is a short term solution that comes with a much higher price than buying a regular premium theme. Buying an official, or a premium theme comes with all sorts of benefits such as support and documentation. Take our themes, for example. They are fast, responsive, clean coded and Gut,enberg ready. Moreover, they come with our official documentation and support that helps with any possible bugs, answers specific questions about the theme’s functions and listens to customer feedback. Above all, you can test run any of our themes free for 7 days with no obligations!
Nulled themes affect SEO
And not in a good way. Nulled themes usually come with all sorts of black hat SEO hacks and can seriously mess your rankings, lower your domain score and make you lose credibility. How come? Well, many (if not all) these cracked themes have malicious codes that allow other people to add their links to your site without you even knowing about it. But, Google knows and it will punish you for it, as it’s considered spamming and black hat SEO practice.
Those bad backlinks affect your good SEO by pulling your rankings down. In addition, Google will mark your site as not secure, which will decrease your traffic and make you look bad. So, if you know what you do is right, and you do all your SEO the right way and still don’t rank well, it’s good to check whether you have nulled WordPress theme or not, and check for those bad backlinks.
No WordPress update
WordPress platform has regular security, performance, and other updates which won’t happen if you use pirated themes. Due to that, outdated versions of WordPress are more vulnerable to security attacks, and it can end up costing you far more than an initial $60-$100 for a proper premium theme. Not to mention that each time WordPress has an update, you need to find the newer nulled version of that theme, to work correctly. Not to mention that themes also have regular updates that you can’t access since you use a pirated version. Are you really willing to go to so much trouble and risk everything?
How to check for a WordPress theme authenticity and malware
If you’re not sure whether the theme you plan on using is safe or nulled, these are the tools to use to detect malware and check for theme authenticity.
Virus Total is a free online checker for suspicious files and URLs. All you need to do is choose to upload the file, search or scan a URL or search a specific IP Adress, domain, or file hash and click Scan to see the results.
A free WordPress plugin that scans all your theme’s files for suspicious malicious or unwanted code. Simply install the plugin and run a scan to check for any malware. If it’s found, the plugin will tell you which file to edit, or you can just click on the file path to be taken straight to the WordPress Theme Editor.
An alternative way to check for your site’s health and authenticity is to ask Google. Just head over to Google’s Transparency report, type your domain name, and, click to find out the details.
How to check for bad backlinks
There are many online solutions out there that help in detecting bad or spam backlinks. Some of them are free, some premium but come with a free trial, and we’ll name the ones we used.
What you need to do is perform a backlink audit and to do so, feel free to use either of these tools.
Google Search Console
Login to your Google Search Console and head over to Links > External links. Click on More, and you’ll get a list of Top targeted pages with the number of incoming links and linking sites. You can export that data as CSV or Google Sheets. Afterward, it’s good old fashion research to determine which link/domain is a bad one. Usually, if there are numerous unknown links from the same domain or the links that contain irrelevant keywords, anchor links an,d such. Once you determine which backlinks are harmful ones, you can do two things:
- contact domain owners and ask to remove backlinks, or
- head over to Google to ask to disavow backlinks.
However, this is an advanced feature, and you should use it with caution. If misused, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results.
Moz Link Explorer
One of the paid features from Moz, but comes as a 30-days free trial. Go over and sign up, leave your info and credit card details (just don’t forget to cancel the subscription before the end of trial period!). Then, use the tool Link Explorer to check for all the external links to your site, and check the Spam Score feature. It will show you a list of potential spammy links and domains you can also export and sort out for the next steps.
Safe WordPress nulled themes alternative
We certainly hope this article helps you make the right call and not use nulled themes. It’s why we wrote it in the first place. Now, we do understand and recognize that – for some – the price for buying a legit WordPress theme still can be an issue, but it doesn’t have to be. Nowadays there are plenty of cheap WordPress themes out there you can get for a fraction of a full price! If only you know where to look, since there are still many sites that “offer” cheap themes that are – in fact – still nulled and harmful. That is why we recommend this very safe place called WP Budget, a site that collects all cheap and discounted themes in one place for you to cherry-pick!
Not to repeat ourselves, we covered in detail why it’s good and how to use WP Budget while writing about cheap WordPress themes, so go and take a look! And feel free to ping us when you grab your new favorite (and safe!) WordPress theme at a much lower rate, ok? We always like to know all the ways we help you guys in making the world wide web that much more approachable and friendlier to use. Besides “just” making awesome WordPress themes, that is 🙂
In the end, you learned that WordPress nulled themes are not demo or trial versions of premium themes. They are stolen, pirated versions of someone’s work and comes with a great cost. Hopefully, this article shared more light into the common reasons why not to use them. Now you have all the knowledge and tools at your disposal to check whether a theme you want to use is nulled or not. Not to mention, tools to check for bad backlinks on your site. And remember:
always use WordPress.org depository for themes and plugins, theme developers websites or other relevant and well known theme markets.
And, for the future reference, using nulled themes is bad because:
- it’s illegal
- you don’t get future theme updates nor support
- it’s bad for SEO
- it’s a security risk
- they almost always include some malware and/or viruses
Feel free to share this guide with your friends so they learn more about nulled themes. Also, let us know how it helped you in the comments below.