Using a sponsored theme? Wrong decision my friend

Are you using a sponsored theme? Here’s some news that may be unpleasant for you.

Recently at the WordCamp 2007, Matt Cutts announced 

– Don’t use sponsored theme – can lose all your trust in different search engines.

You can see this statement in the 25th slide, of his powerpoint presentation file, he released on the day.

Now, that’s not very soothing to the ears, especially for designers. Designers used to release sponsored themes because it was a source of income for them. Wondering what’s a sponsored theme? Well, sponsored themes are those themes which come with links to other sites ( probably in the sidebar ). These links are put into the theme by the designer and most probably are links to the sponsors who paid them for the link. Good designers make a fortune this way.

Now there are two ways of looking at it. Before we go into them, let’s see why one should use a sponsored theme?

Why use a sponsored theme?

  • They are free to use
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Honestly, I can’t think of another good reason why you should sponsored themes apart from the fact that they are free. The designers would allow free use of their themes provided that the footer/sidebar containing the links are in tact.

1 – How does it benefit the designers and sponsors ?

Of course, sponsors get links, a lot of them. And they should be happy indeed.

And the designers too should be happy, because they’ve got their share of the game as well.

2 – How does it affect a user?

Well, he get’s to use a cool theme for free. And what difference does two links at the footer make?

Why does Matt dislike sponsored themes ?

I think he has valid reasons to give.

  1. Google hates purchased links. They are artificial. According to Google and Matt, buying and selling links would only corrupt the algorithm. So when you are using a sponsored theme, you are indirectly helping someone to sell links and corrupt the algorithm.
  2. What if those links at your footer are totally unrelated to your blog content?
    Again, you are helping corrupt the algorithm (search results would be better word ).
    Google does not like totally irrelevant link on your site. In this case, knowingly or unknowingly, you are promoting link spam.
  3. Due to unrelated links it is highly unlikely that your blog is authoritative. After all a crawler sees only links, it can’t make out if they are bought, sponsored or genuine.

I think these are solid reasons favoring Matt and his philosophy. Not sure if this is a fair decision, because if you see it from the designer’s perspective, it doesn’t sound good at all.

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11 Comments

  1. BeachBum August 14, 2007
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