41 Free Niche WordPress Themes for Websites

By Spencer Haws |

What are the best free niche WordPress themes to use for AdSense or affiliate sites? Is there one theme that should be used all the time? Or should a new theme be used for each site?

These are some of the questions that you should consider when building websites.

If you are only building one or two larger sites, then this is really not an issue. You can just find a single great-looking theme for your site and go for it!

However, if you are going to be building dozens of small niche sites, you will want to use different-looking themes (or at least theme layouts) for nearly all of your sites!

The reason?

Manual reviews.

If for any reason Google decides to manually review your sites, you don't want to get caught having every single one of your sites looking exactly the same.

If nothing looks unique or original on your sites, then this will raise a BIG red flag to a manual reviewer!

You Need a Unique Niche WordPress Theme

Of course, we never know exactly what the Google algorithm or manual reviewers are going to do when they visit our sites. So I believe it's best to keep each site looking as unique as possible.

I personally started out building lots of small niche sites several years ago (I built several other larger sites before that and they were complete flops).

When I was building those sites, I used the exact same theme and layout on all of them. All of my sites looked exactly the same with the same free WordPress theme, same ad layouts, colors, and everything.

Since that time, I'm pretty sure these sites were manually reviewed (can you ever know for sure?), penalized, and I had other tough learning experiences.

I went on from those experiences to build more unique sites and produced better content, and as a result my Google AdSense earnings have surpassed what they were before these “tough” experiences.

So, I have some background when I state that you want to try to make each site as unique as possible. Yes, it's a little more work, but I believe its worth it.

Now when I build my sites, I do my best to use a different theme on each site. It's not hard to find a good blog theme for WordPress. There are even plenty of great free WP themes out there to choose from.

But it can take some time to find the best one for your niche site.

I certainly have some repeats of themes and layouts that I really like; however, I do my best to switch it up. 

Here are a list of both free and paid themes that I have used in the past for my niche websites.

Top 3 Free Themes for Niche Websites

There are many, many free themes available in WordPress, but they aren't all created equal.

Here's an insider's secret: Don't want to pay for a premium theme, but want pretty decent features and support? Get the free version of a premium theme, because developers behind these free themes aren't going anywhere.

One of the biggest problems with picking a random free theme is that WordPress is always getting updated, and so are a lot of WordPress plugins out there. To ensure optimal performance and security for your site's theme, you want to pick a theme with ongoing support from its developer.

With that in mind, here are my suggestions for the top 3 free WordPress themes:

1. Astra

Astra was built for a mobile world, with a publicized load speed of under half a second. This theme is available for free – forever. You can always try it for free now and then extend it with some Pro features for a reasonable yearly fee. See my full Astra review here.

Check Out Astra Here

2. GeneratePress

GeneratePress is another lightweight and multipurpose theme that should help you keep your loading time down – and allow you to make changes to your site without having to code. I like themes that work well on mobile by default, which is another good thing about GeneratePress. See my full GeneratePress review here.

Check Out GeneratePress Here

3. OceanWP

OceanWP is built as a completely free theme for both developers and hobbyists. As a niche site owner, you're probably somewhere in between. OceanWP is a great place to start, helping you to build some great-looking, responsive websites 

Check Out OceanWP Here

Top 3 Premium Niche WordPress Themes (Not Free)

You can get by with a free version of WordPress themes, but most of them don't come with a lot of premium features.

So eventually, rather than paying for plugins left and right to do all of those things, it starts to make more sense to upgrade to a premium theme.

Premium WordPress Theme Layout

What's more, some of the best premium themes are perfect for quickly building beautiful niche websites without needing a lot of technical know-how. It can be worth the money to take that off your plate, trust me!

Here are my suggestions of the top 3 premium WordPress themes right now: 

1.  Thrive Themes

Thrive Themes is an all-in-one solution for niche websites and affiliate marketing. With a subscription, you not only get ongoing access to a handful of great themes, but you also get more than 10 fantastic plugins included. See my full Thrive Themes review here.

Check Out Thrive Themes Here

2. Divi Theme by Elegant Themes

Divi Theme is one of the most versatile site builders on the planet, with a really handy visual front-end editor. It comes with literally hundreds of pre-made website layouts, so you can have a great starting point and not reinvent the wheel. Divi is a surefire way to build a great website. See my full Elegant Themes review here.

Check Out Divi Theme Here


I have purchased a few premium themes from Theme Forest (including the one for the NichePursuits blog, once upon a time!), so there are lots of good options here for those sites you want a real eye-catching design for.

Check Out ThemeForest Here

38 More Free Niche WordPress Themes

NOTE: Many of the options below are older themes – some have been updated, but others are no longer available. 

1. Bluesense – This and Prosense are the 2 themes that I used on all of my sites initially.  Bluesense produces the best Click Through Rate I have ever seen.  However, lots of these sites got penalized.  I don't think it was Bluesense per se that caused it, but the fact that I used the same theme (could have been any theme?) on all my sites. I don't use these themes on new sites now.

2. Prosense Grey – Another free theme by DoshDosh, like Bluesense.  (Please note that no longer appears to be a working site [which is really sad because it was an excellent blog] so these themes will not be up to date).

3. Green Park 2 by

4. DarkZen by DailyBlogTips

5. iFeature theme

6. iStudio theme

7.  Platform theme

8. zBench theme

9. EvoLve Theme

10. Arjuna X theme

11. Light and Modern Theme

12. zeeDisplay Theme by

13. Baza Noclegowa Theme

14. Light Clean Blue Theme

15. Minimal Georgia Theme

16. Mflat theme

17. Magazine Basic Theme

18 – 30. – I have probably used over a dozen free themes from this site.  The only downside is they require links in the footer to their sites, the theme will be disabled if you mess with the links.  Or you can pay $19 to buy the theme without the links.

31. Application Theme

32. Jenny Theme by

33.  iBlog Theme

34. Whitehouse Theme

35. Intrepidity Theme

36. Magnolia Theme

37. SilverRay by

38. Original Premium News by WooThemes

Closing Thoughts

To be honest, I have used other premium and free niche WordPress themes as well, but I think this is a pretty good list to start with! If I were to go through every single one of my sites, I'm sure I'd find a few more themes, but this should give you some great options.

In a nutshell, there are LOTS of great themes that you can build niche websites with.  Finding a great keyword is the more critical aspect, but once you start ranking and getting traffic you can test out different ad layouts – or even different themes, if you choose to.

Do you have some additional free niche WordPress themes that you would like to share? Leave a comment below with a link to your favorite paid or free WordPress themes that you use for niche sites! Or just leave a comment or question to continue the discussion.

Wordpress | 134 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

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M. Anwar

Hi Spencer,
Nice Collection. You may also add, the recently added great free portfolio WordPress Theme- elegantia. Here is the link to the demo:


Another very effective theme I have found or adsense is iNove and Semiologic(great customization options). All the great adsense themes have one thing in common imho-minimalism.


I agree – the minimalist themes tend to work well for adsense.


Wow spencer , i was searching for this question for some time and you give in detail answer.

I used generally platform and iblog wordpress free theme on my site but now you give me lots of other options to choose.

Thank you ….


Youre welcome Ruchik!


Hey Spencer,

Thanks for the list!

Question, have you ever used clickbump themes? I’ve heard great things about them and will try them soon, but curious if you used them before.


I’ve never used them.

Sheyi Shobayo

Nice collection. I use blue sense and prosense blue as well on some of my sites.

Sheyi Shobayo
The Authority Site Guy


Thanks for the post and the free themes! I am new to the IM world and follow your site regularly. I appreciate your knowledge and honesty. These themes are a sweet bonus! Thanks again,


Thanks for following along…enjoy the bonus!

Wesley Banks

That’s quite a long list. I’ve had some really good luck finding nice themes at Themeforest, but I mainly use them for my Amazon sites. Other than that I’ve been using Bluesense and Magazine Basic for Adsense.

How do you like Elegant Themes? I haven’t heard a lot of good things about them, but the price is low and they look decent.


Wesley – I really like the look of some of the Elegant themes. They are probably not the best for most Adsense sites, but I have used a few in the past. I would use them for other types of sites primarily.


Thanks for sharing this list, Spencer! Great to know some of the themes you recommend.

As far as premium themes go, I’ve really enjoyed using Elegant Themes as a resource–and for $39 per year, you have access to all of their themes.

Another premium theme I’m using a lot now is Headway. They just upgraded to 3.0, and the new Headway is even easier to use and more powerful than it used to be. Although Headway takes a little time to get up to speed on, it’s incredibly easy to use it to customize every site you create. Highly recommended if you’re creating lots of niche sites–I’ve made 6 sites with Headway 3.0 just in the last week, and I’m loving how they look.


Thanks Matt for sharing the info on the Headway theme…I will have to check it out!


What is the learning curve on Headway? I’m mean how long do you think it would take the avg person who is a little familiar with WordPress to get up to speed? And does it work with most plugins or is that an issue at all?


Hard to say…my Headway learning curve was hard to distinguish from my WordPress learning curve. If you’re fluent in using WordPress, then Headway simplifies a lot of things.

The only problem I’m encountering with Headway is the fact that the new 3.0 only came out a couple weeks ago, and it’s still quite buggy. So it might be better to wait it out for another month or so.

With the new grid interface and a couple hours of research, I feel like a WordPress newbie could make a really nice individual site without too much trouble using Headway. The better you are at graphic design, the nicer your site will look. Graphic design has historically been the hardest part of the whole niche site creation process for me…though the more I do it, the better I’m getting.

All the plugins I usually use work perfectly with Headway. No problems there that I’ve noticed, though I’m sure there are some plugins that might not work so well with Headway. For my niche site purposes, I haven’t had any problems.


I just saw a video on Headway and am blown away! So much more flexibility than other themes. Can you place adsense anywhere and how are your load times?



I haven’t noticed any issues with load times–and particularly for smaller niche sites, I really don’t think there will be any issue there. Headway 3.0 was also supposedly designed with speed in mind, so it’s rumored to be even faster than 2.0 was.

Adsense is also very easy to place with Headway 3.0 The grid mode allows you to create dedicated adsense blocks quickly and easily. With Headway, I’ve found that doing things like placing link ads is ridiculously easy. Easier than pasting the code in the header, and you can move the link ads around and have them appear wherever you want. I like that flexibility and look forward to split testing different possible layouts that Headway makes easy to create.

Fred Bartholomai


In the line of building a theme similar to HeadWay –
have you looked at: ?
which I came across a while ago. It is similar
to HeadWay in that you can drag/drop build your
own theme. They both seem similar in that regard.

Andrew Richardson

Hey spencer. Thanks for the list. I just wanted to let you know that the first two (Bluesense and Prosense Grey) are linked to the same theme. I don’t think you intended this, if you did just ignore me :D.


Thanks Andrew…just updated the link. 🙂


Hey Spencer –

Thanks so much for pointing out all these free themes. I have done the mistake of creating all my niche sites with the same theme. I am going to have to quickly go through them and switch them up.

I don’t think it will be a huge issue for me at this stage because these sites are brand new and they aren’t ranking very well just yet so I’ll change them up and put a unique theme on each of them from the list above.

Thanks for pointing out this issue Spencer.

Got a lot more work ahead of me now. Thanks for pointing this out though.


Michael – You’re right that its probably not a huge rush to change it up right now, but its probably a good idea to do as you have time. Best of luck!


Thanks Spencer. I’ll change them up very shortly. Really need to find me a linking strategy that works first. My sites are ranking horribly right now and I am trying to avoid buying more software.

I’ll keep at it thought til I get this figured out.


Nice post Spencer. Until now I used to just create my own theme and layout using the Headway base which gives me a lot of flexibility, but I guess it makes a lot of sense to use multiple themes to cover my ass if Google comes calling. Thanks for the great resource.


Manyu – if your themes are all unique looking using the Headway base – then you are probably still okay.


This is the list I was waiting for…. Thanks Spencer!
Thanks for your insight for using different themes for each site… better safe than sorry!

Now for the free themes, look like you are able to remove the attribution link from footer in most of the free themes….Is this OK to removed them by tweaking the templates?
Do you choose Free themes only when you can remove that link legally?


I actually will leave the attribution link in place on most of the themes. If its “legally” supposed to be there, I leave it.

Trent Dyrsmid

Hey Spencer,

Thanks so much for sharing this. Question: are they all white background themes so you don’t have to create custom colored adsense ads for each different theme you use?


Hey Trent – yes almost all of them are white background. I’ve tried just a couple with different colored backgrounds; but overall adsense converts well with a white background and its easier to implement.

Steve Wells @ How to Pick up a Girl

Speaking of premium themes, themeforest, elgantthemes and woothemes are the sites to go. A good, free theme is Side Blog:


Diggin this theme, thanks 🙂

[email protected]

Thanks Spencer. I always just go about picking any theme but I have not made much to say what is affecting my earnings. I will try use some of these.

Thanks always for your help.


Best of luck Grace!


Hi Sepencer

another great resource.

I’d add in

wordpress’s free 2011 theme its awesome. It does have a link to wordpress but heck its very fexible and comes pre-installed

Also I like the themes from studiopress some paid and i think a few free.

So with this list you could but a hosting account. Find 25+ domains and have a nice little corner of the web with diverse templates.



Thanks Steve for sharing! Yep, there are so many great free wordpress themes out there – no reason not to have a new one for each site.

Bryan @

Thanks for sharing these with everyone Spencer! Those ThemeZee themes are some of my favorite and I use them for a lot of my Adsense/Amazon websites. Custom headers and colors are great, and they just look very clean overall.

I’ve also used Prosense themes on a few sites, as well as a heap of other themes (that I can’t recall the names of off the top of my head).

Always good to have a solid mix of good themes that are easy to manage and customize!



Yep, I do like the look of the ThemeZee themes. Thanks!


As always a great post! Thanks Spencer you are the best!

Mk Akan


I use Magazine Basic Theme and a few others in this list…you did not mention flexibility theme.

I will check others out.


A great free theme is Suffusion.


Nice WP themes package, Spencer, thanks! I always try to use different themes for my niche sites (it’s easy, because I have lot less ones than you have… ha-ha 😉 ) But also there are some themes I like very much (they are easy to manage and SEO optimized pretty good) so I’ve used these themes for several times. But every time I change some colors, widgets position and logo image. How do you think, can such sites be penalizes? All my niche sites are 1-5 month old so I can’t prove this theory from my experience.


Michael – Like I said, you won’t have any issues unless a manual reviewer comes along. Even then, I think its fine if you repeat a theme here and there; its just better not to raise any red flags.


Sweet…………………FINALLY 🙂

Thanks so much Spencer….

You may have posted this somewhere else… you remove the date and “posted by” on all of your sites? To make them appear more like articles vs blog posts?


Matt – Not on all my sites, but yes on some sites I have removed date and time info.


Hey Spencer,

As always, great information here. I know I struggled at first to find themes and spent a great amount of time looking for them as well.

Some of my favorite free themes to use were from Woo Themes:
Typebased – this one looks great after you start getting some content in there

I too have a subscription to the Elegant Themes and they do have some nice looking themes. I will also add that their support team is pretty stellar – I contacted them about how they were doing their comment section (not using the WordPress built in functions for generating the form) and within a couple of days they had updated their entire framework to utilize the WordPress core features. That’s killer response time and uncommon.

Recently, for a premium theme, I purchased the Catalyst Theme and I have to say, of everything I’ve used so far, this is by far the best – it’s lightweight, insanely customizable, and there’s a ton of free skins out there to get you started. Also, it’s currently $77 (down from $97 for their 1 year anniversary), and you can use it on every single site you own and there are no restrictions as far as putting it on customer sites as well – it’s an absolute bargain (in my opinion) even at $97.

One last thing I’d like to throw in here – not trying to hijack the thread, but I know many of us have probably spent hours and hours trying to find things that work the best for us. Know this – many themes out there are still using the old TimThumb plugin – please – do yourself a HUGE favor – if you download a free (or even a premium theme – my Elegant themes got hit too), check for a file named TimThumb, and if you see it, make sure you go get the latest version and replace what was in the theme. There was a vulnerability in the TimThumb image resizer that allowed hackers to take over your site in a super-sneaky way. This happened to several of my sites and caused me several nights of little sleep.

Last thing along those lines – was the only site that found the malware on my sites so I highly recommend checking your current sites if you’ve already put in a free/premium theme from somewhere.

Spencer, thanks again for the incredible information – I hope I’ve helped add to this great list.


Allen – EXCELLENT information! Thanks for sharing your experience with Elegant themes and others. I agree that for older themes, make sure the timthumb.php is up to date. I dealt with this as well. Thanks for the other tips as well!


Allen, thanks for the info. What is the learning curve on catalyst?


Mantra Rocks…


BTW – At my day job….can’t wait to get home and get to work!!!!!

I’ll bet this will be your most commented on post…..well done!!!


Thanks Matt – nothing like leaving getting off “work” so you can start your real work! I’ve been there!

Andre Garde

Thanks a lot for this list, Spencer! I’m in the process of rolling out quite a few of these niche sites and keep circling around what themes to use. Now I won’t run out of ideas for awhile.

I tried using a Developer’s license of Thesis but it was way overkill for what I needed, so I got a refund for it. Glad to see that free themes are still viable for Adsense sites.

Do you happen to know if any of them have those encrypted footers/headers/functions that mess up your site when you try to edit the layout? I find those really annoying.


I know the will for sure be deactivated if you mess with the footer. I think the rest are okay.


Man I would steer clear of any themes with encrypted footers. I dealt with clearing out malware on my very first site. I could have switched to another theme but I put so much time tweaking the code that i didn’t want to do it all over again. I am not putting down any particular site or their free themes but I would read this article if you plan on getting free themes outside of the WordPress admin panel. At least you will know what to look for and how to spot it.

@Allen, great resource. I bookmarked for future use.


Great pack – I love to grab whatever theme I like so seems that I collected some from your list Spencer 🙂

I could add a small selection of adsense-optimizaed themes (some are obviously repeating) from this blog by russian SEO guy:


Yeah my personal vote is for Catalyst – I use it on most of my sites, both affiliate and adsense – it’s really easy to customize and turn to whatever you want.


You tried Heatmap?
What is the rationale behind Google penalizing you for having similar looking websites? I don’t understand that.
If they are all very thin and ‘made for adsense style’ and get a review do you think they stand a better chance of not getting penalized if they have different themes? Why? If they are thick & great value for visitor do you think theme diversity matter?
I am not saying you are wrong or that I don’t believe your experience I just don’t understand the reason from Googles point of view.
When your were penalized can you elaborate a little on what happened and the turn of events that made you think you were penalized. Was all your sites affected? All sites with the same theme? All sites on one Adsense account? Very thin ‘made for adsense type’ sites. Would love to know some more details about that.
Thanks for great blog and resource


Dan – Its all theory – nothing can be confirmed of course. But it makes sense. If a manual reviewer (not the automatic google algorithm) looks at all your sites and sees that they look EXACTLY the same, don’t you think they might get suspicious?

I have discussed my past issues quite a number of times, but you can listen to this audio recording for some more details:


Suspicious of what? That is the part i don’t get!
Why would they care if your sites look the same? What difference does it make to their customers? How would it affect the individual users of these various sites negatively in any way. I just cant see the reason why Google would care about the theme and design.
If all your sites are super thin with aggressive adsense placement etc then sure you could get a penalty, but because of similar looking design and the same theme. It just doesn’t make sense.
Often it seems among IMers that they are of the view that Google is out to ‘get them’ and that’s it is ‘us and against them’, I am not sure I buy into it. They are not doing things for the spit of it, I think there is a logical reason behind what they do.
The reason I care in this case is because I see a benefit in having one layout and one theme when I scale because it makes it easier to set up and manage plus it is also easier & faster to fine tune the best ad placements and learn.
Maybe it makes people sleep better at night and that is fine but the thing is I just can’t see the logical reason.


Suspicious that you are just churning out sites without much care for each one. Google is not out to “get us”, that’s the wrong attitude. Google does take how a site looks into consideration, this was a big part of the panda update, read here:

Again, its all theory, and it makes logical sense to me. Sites that all look the same are more likely to be spam. Some manual reviewers may take that at face value without judging the content. I don’t want to be in that situation. I could be 100% wrong, but I like to be better safe than sorry. Just my opinion.


Sure the look of a site is important I am not arguing about that. But I have never read anything about the collective & similar look of a range of sites. That is something else. Possibly it could affect a manually reviewer but there would be nothing in the guidelines that I have seen about it.
Don’t think we get any further here and as I said it makes some people sleep better and that is fine.
Thanks for your input and great blog.

Andre Garde

Your Adsense publisher ID or your Analytics ID will clearly spell out who you are to Google anyway, unless you somehow use multiple accounts. So, they already know that we’re all trying to make a buck here. 🙂

From another angle, let’s say that you use the same theme on all your sites. Let’s suppose Google does a manual review of one of your niche sites when you’re on Page 1, Rank 1. If they find anything wrong with that, you can be that they’ll take a look at your other sites and slap them silly down the ranks if you’ve got more ads than content, for example.

Google is getting smarter and it’s only a matter of time before they won’t need a manual reviewer to check the quality of the sites anymore. Come on, how easy is it for them to check if you’re using something like CTR Theme?


I agree.


OK but how is the overall quality perception of say 10 different sites you have correlated to the theme you are using on these sites? Why would they be considered lower quality just because they look a like? Wouldn’t they be judged and scored for things like quality of the articles, ease of navigation, use of media, length of articles, number & placement of adds etc
If you would have 10 great value, thick content, 50+ pages websites but they all look alike & use the same theme. Would you consider them low quality and subject to a penalty just because they use the same theme? It just doesn’t make sense.
I think people are automatically drawing the conclusion that similar looking/same theme sites are low quality because they often are, but the thing is they don’t have to be.
But as I said before what ever makes people sleep better…


I’m afraid Dan has a point there 😉



Nice list thank you for sharing. I would like to add a caveat – be very careful where you download free themes from. You never know what type of malicious code may be included in the theme. Leland from over at ThemeLab wrote a great post about this a couple years ago but it is still very relevant today.

Elegant themes are nice looking but for someone that likes to tinker under the hood, they are a serious nightmare to work with.


Thanks for the tips Michelle!



Big +1. Thanks and for the excellent warning! Yes, that link is a must see. Definitely installing “Theme Authenticity Checker” plugin is smart. Just a note if you use that plugin after installing goto dashboard in WP and click on Appearance-> TAC. It took me about 20 minutes to figure that out! OKay, I’m a newbie but why can’t they make it obvious on how to use them plugins!



Glad you found my comment useful. Ah, plugins yes, some are not as intuitive as others. Most do contain a readme file which will provide useful instructions.


I do agree with what you’re saying about being careful where you get your themes, but that being said, I’ve had premium themes also get hit by malicious attacks – typically because they were using popular third party plugins.

Also, I would tend to agree with what you say about many of the Elegant Themes – you really have to be a fairly adept web developer to modify those themes. But, in fairness, most of their themes look great out of the box and if they have a look you’re going for, then there is very little need to go into the source code. Again though, as I mentioned in my post above, they are great at responding to customers needs and wants. There’s not many companies out there that do that for $40/year!


I totally agree Allen, the timthumb vulernability hit many themes, premium and free. I certainly don’t believe premium is always better than free, I’ve used many free themes that I really like.

Regarding Elegant themes, to be fair I’ve never purchased one, but have tried to help a client before with a few of them. I found them frustrating to deal with simply because it’s easier for me to work with the code and CSS directly.

My client felt frustrated trying to get help with the themes in their support forum which is why she contacted me for help. I can only relay my experience and those of my client, I’m glad your experience with them has been better.



I have been using the ZeeDisplay theme for a few months now and it is working great. I place the link bar right under the header and put a medium adsense box on the right and they both do really well.


Nice list and I’m going to have to go through all of them now!

I’ve been using CTR theme on my new sites to get them rolling and once I know they’re going to make some money then I put more time and effort into giving them and unique feel with a more personal theme.


Sounds good!

Chris Guthrie


Question for you. In your opinion is just the appearance and layout of the theme that you believe may raise a “red flag” or is it the underlying coding of the theme that raises the flag?

I ask because I am pretty darn good with the Thesis theme as I have built several real estate based websites and other client’s websites with it. I can make each site look so different that you wouldn’t even know by appearance alone that they are the same theme.

I plan on switching up my themes anyways, but I was just curious as to what you think is the exact thing that raises the “red flag”… Thanks!


I think its just the appearance, not the underlying code. Again, I think themes only apply to a manual review (which probably rarely happens anyway). Also, a “red flag” doesn’t mean you automatically gets penalized – it just means the manual reviewer will look longer and a bit deeper at your sites.

Gregory Ciotti

Any opinion on the CTR theme?


Hey spencer, thanks for sharing this list. I’m looking forward to checking them out in a bit more detail later.
Have you seen/tried woothemes Canvas theme? It’s superb for customisation and has that pro woothemes look. I used it for the first time recently and was very impressed


Never tried the Canvas theme (don’t think) – I’ll have to check it out!


Thanks for the list of themes Spencer !

I have tried CTR theme and got miserable results from it.

I really like Mystique and make changes (columns locations, different adsense ads in header, use post post plug-in or all-in-one adsense plug-in to place adsense in different positions with different sizes) etc. to make different blogs more unique. Elektra is another one I use, along with Apricot theme (nice minimalist theme), etc.


Awesome, lots of great theme choices!



Great information as usual. Thanks for another great post. Do you, or anyone here, have any opinion about “Affiliate Theme” for niche sites? Is it extra good for affiliate/niche sites compared to other themes? Thanks.


Im not familiar with the “affiliate theme”.


Any opinions on FlexSqueeze Theme?

Kent @ Make Extra Money Online

I will try out some of your free themes. Some look very good and new to me. Indeed, I use CTR Theme a lot as It could get 4-5% CTR rate with various Ads layout.

I got Elegant Themes membership when it was $20 last year. They look great and professional, just that they are not SEO friendly and they load a little bit slow in my opinion.


google knowing that we’re using the CTR Theme …. thats one of my biggest concerns for sure.
For that exact reason, I’ve built my own wordpress theme that mimics teh layout of the CTR Theme, but has a completely different css footprint.



Good point JayDee173. The adsenseflippers used the CTR theme and are now switching many of their sites out of that. They also good slammed by google. Anyone thinking of using CTR theme should go read their posts.

Kent @ Make Extra Money Online

Spencer, thanks for introducing Color Theme. I am impressed with its dynamic layout for iPad and iPhone.

Lately, I got good portion of mobile traffic (20%), but mobile adsense CTR is low. Have you encountered this?


I can’t say that I have analyzed my mobile traffic that closely. I will have to look into it.

Lindsay |

I have a site that I’m using GreenPark on but am getting a really really low CTR. Have you had any problems with this theme? I’m going to try a theme know for High CTR on it now. Maybe it’s just the niche itself though.


It could just be the niche because I actually have had pretty decent CTRs with that theme. However, change it up and see if anything improves.


Any one try socrates theme? It’s made for guys like us IMers! Here is there feature list: (no affl here).

Features Include..

Built in Header Generator
230+ Niche Header Designs
Upload Your Own Headers
4 Custom Nav Bars with New Window and No Follow Links!
Optional Built In Adsense, Affiliate and Clickbank Ad Bar
Social Media Slider – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,YouTube, RSS
Choose from Dozens of Backgrounds On The Fly
Custom Styling and Color Options
Affiliate Program Integration
728×90 Banner Custom HTML Rotator
Multiple Sidebar Layouts
Internet Marketing and WordPress Training
Monetize With Any Affiliate Program or Network
Sales Page Templates
No Side Bar Template
Squeeze Page Template
Advanced SEO Layout
In Post Ad Units – Can be Disabled on Per Post Basis!
Incredible Support and Community Forum
Wordpress 3.0 and Dropdown Menu Support
Once you order you’ll also get instant access to our Videos…

Anyway, they have a 7 day trial I think I’ll give it a run. It’s $77 unlimited FYI.


Plenty of good suggestions, Spencer.

Two more:

2. arras theme

And guys, please do not even think of using the bluesense theme. It is an eyesore, to say the least. Who is gonna dare tell me that is not true? Anyone?

And anyone who is making serious dough out of a site must consider getting themselves a custom theme. I see 100 per day blog owners making use of eyesore themes. What are they thinking? Is spending 500 dollars for a theme such a bad thing or impossible?


Thanks for the tips Raj!


Thanks for mentioning that theme, this theme is already running one of my niche site.

Puneet @ Asthma Relief

Thanks for the great list mate. I have been using CTR theme for couple of my website and Semiologic for my Asthma website.

Looking to use these themes on my upcoming websites 🙂

Puneet @ Asthma Relief

Spencer – what is the adsense plugin you are using to display adsense ads. I am having little hard time to find a decent plugin. Please suggest – thanks!


I’ve used 2, and both work well:
Quick Adsense plugin
Whydowork Adsense plugin

Fred Bartholomai


Have you used the Socrates Theme ?

It was made by Joel Comm author of Adsense


FYI: We all know that page load speed is important for the user and for google rankings. So if a theme is slow that’s obviously not good. Here is a site by Google to test your load speed and it shows you how to improve your speed if it’s slow.


I don’t know why dosh dosh shut down. But he was not great internet marketer.


Hey All,

I have to say that personally, I hated Elegant Themes. I don’t quite remember what specific reason I had, but I felt that the themes always had functionality problems. I didn’t feel that Nick Roach could possibly keep up with all of the themes he had.

I went from Elegant to purcashing Catalyst, and while it’s a bit more $$, it’s so customizable, you will not need another theme as long as it’s developed. The developers themselves ALWAYS reply to your questions, no matter how small or large, and like Allen said, there are a multitude of child themes to play with. When you purchase Catalyst, you are purchasing a bundle that comes with the Core theme and Dynamik. Dynamik allows you to literally change everything.

It may be too much work for some, but you can literally create your own child theme and make that your default theme as opposed to a lot of these free, and IMHO, sketchy themes.

Just my two cents.

Somewhat new to the site and loving it so far! BTW, I purchased LTP. So far from what I’ve seen and done, it’s totally awesome. I never used MS because it was slow and felt it was too difficult to learn while trying to learn the process of IM.

Fred Bartholomai

Hey Ian,

It sounds like catalyst is similar to Headway ( and iThemes ( where you can drag/drop your way to creating a theme ?
Would you say that is correct ?

How difficult/easy was it to use in the beginning ?
I am checking our these three type of site builders.

Sounds like an easy way to customize without
having having to get into html or php. Would you
agree with that ?


Thank you Spencer !

I will try this free themes list on my sites, I’ve been playing with CTR theme, but I didn’t find that good.

My fav : woo themes

I’d like to thank you guys for sharing some diferent themes,in particular to Allen for his great advice about TimThumb file.

I heard good things about those plugins to protect your site to stop direct attacks from hackers.

– Antivirus
– WordPress firewall 2


Jenny Nassour

Thanks Spencer – I love this post! Choosing a theme for each new site is always the most time-consuming part for me so its great to have a solid list to draw upon.

A few nice free ones which look fairly minimalist that I have found recently and enjoyed include: Black with Orange, Nest, Europe, HelloSexy and Asokay. They seem to work well with adsense.

Download Wordpress Plugins

Elegant theme. It is very smartly designed.


I thought DoshDosh was excellent too, and I visited it a lot. There had been no updates for ages when I read on the Warrior Forum somewhere that Maki (the guy behind DoshDosh) had been killed in a car crash just before Christmas some months earlier. There is nothing left of DoshDosh but a white page now, and Maki put a lot of work into that site and did not seem like the type to abandon it, so sadly I think that what I read on WF was probably true.

Back to themes, I bought Flexsqueeze and use it pretty much universally now (you can make it look different every time anyway with just a little work – even as a user I don’t always immediately recognise another Flexsqueeze installation when I see one). My favourite free theme is AdFlex Niche – I’ve had some great results with that one.


Regarding adsense, people should know whats happening! I am finding that if someone is using Google adsense (say for some months no problem and money increases double month over month) and then they sign up with advertising on Bing – even though Unique visits continues to climb, the adsense clicks suddenly drop by more then 60%!!! Nothing anyone can do I’m sure, which is why and how Google can do this crap, but I wanted to at least let people know what is happening. Its more then scammy its fraudulent! At least one website this is happening too is -FYI


Your website don’t even has adsense ads and that would mean you are trying to promote your website here in Spencer blog. Don’t mislead other people friend.


Hey Spencer,

Do you write your own content for your niche sites? or outsource? Maybe mix of both?


Nice list, Spencer. As a newbie, I have a more basic question. How to get approved for Adsense quickly without having to wait for 6 months. Need your help badly.

Chris Guthrie

6 months? When I applied it only took 2 days. That was back in August.


What rank tracking software do you guys uses? Just LTP?


Hey Spencer, I have never really commented on here before, but you said you use different themes on all
your sites.

I know you said you have 4 different ad sense accounts. But obviously the same ID lines up on a lot of them.

So with a manual review wouldn’t it be pointless because they all share the same Adsense id?

Please explain thanks


Please disregard my last comment

Fred Bartholomai

If anyone is interested – there is a discount available for
purchasing headway themes.

HW33 for 33% off any package except Base.

If you want Base, you can get 25% off with code THEMESORTER25.


I’ve read a few articles online, telling people to be careful of free themes. I only use popular free themes.


Just looking for a new theme for one of my new sites and it was great to have this list here. I keep popping back to check on templates as it’s nice for all my sites to have their own identity. Cheers


Hey Spencer,
Do you happen to know if the manual review involves a source code check? Reason I am asking is because I was curious if I could just develop and design my own theme and just keep changing the look and feel with only minimally having to edit the code. I would just be changing background images, border colors and width, sidebar widths, etc…
Thanks in advance!


I doubt it involves a source code check.


How much could a change in theme effect CTR rates on adsense? I am averaging around 60 unique visitors a day though organic search and have a bounce rate from 25-60% But only a few clicks a week. Ad layouts have been optimized along with everything else on page. So thinking maybe a theme change might help.



I think Weaver is a good theme because it’s very configurable and based on Twenty Ten which is the good, old WordPress favourite.


Thanks for sharing the names of the themes, Spencer. But i would like to know one more thing. Do you use these themes in their default settings OR tweak it well before using?

Pls share….


Jeremy DePrato

do you feel like this list is more or less ranked by CTR?


Hi guys, I found a work around that may help you hiding the footer links if the encrypted code is all over the place.

I just put a simple php loop around the links I want to hide!


This means the links will only show on a page called “empty”.

Tip: We don’t have a page called empty!

Hope it helps. 🙂


lol.. the code didn’t come out in the comment as it’s in the php.. You may view the code here:


Wow spencer , i was searching for this question for some time and you give in detail answer thanks


Thanks mate…seriously a wonderful collection of themes..!!! surely helped me alot 🙂

New launched Power Opportunity

thank you for sharing and i’ll go thorugh and use if i found any good theme…cheers!!!



Good to see a great list. Would try to use them with few of my sites.

I follow you a lot and i now want to know your views about CTR and HeatMap Theme…….Obviously you have a very good theme also for niche sites but still would you think to use of CTR, HeatMap, Niche Website Theme on multiple sites repeated is good……..Also i am getting a good CTR with CTR Theme so thinking to use it on another website but now i will wait for your reply. And lastly, l love your tool, longtailpro as it hsa mad my lift a lot easier


Lewis Saka

Is load time effected by the theme? If yes, which theme is the best for making sure visitors experience your site in a quick and smooth way


Hi Spencer – great list, and enjoying your Long Tail Classroom course. The links for BlueSense and ProSense Grey currently go to versions of those themes which have been converted for Blogger, not the original WordPress versions.


thanks very much guys 😀

Jenny Condo

Thanks for the great suggestions!!

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