36 Free WordPress Themes Perfect For SEO And Adsense Niche Sites 1

36 Free WordPress Themes Perfect For SEO And Adsense Niche Sites

What makes a good WordPress theme for a niche site?

For me, it’s clean design, clean code, and very lean in features.

I’ve tried a whole bunch of different themes over the years, but it’s been a while since I went browsing around the free section.

A couple of years ago, there was a clear distinction between a free and paid WP theme. Free themes were either really bare, and/or poorly designed.

That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Of course, there still are some really poorly built themes out there, but I was surprised to see how much the selection of free themes improved both in design and function.

What I look for in a theme

Obviously, design is the main factor. But functionality and code are equally important.

I’ve found simple 2-column blog layout themes to perform best with Adsense.

But a good design is just part of the equation. A good theme is one that is light, fast, and has just enough options for what you need (like these ones).

For instance, a fancy new business theme might have a nice design.

But it also usually includes things like parallax sliders, built-in shop and checkout functionality, an option for a forum, and perhaps even a bunch of different shortcodes.

A niche site usually won’t need any of those. That results in hundreds of unused lines of code, and dozens of idle PHP and javascript files.

I like to go with bare-boned themes – ones that have exactly what I need and nothing more.

That usually means just a simple blog layout, with maybe a featured post section, and a sidebar.

1. Shamrock

Medium-inspired with 2-columns.

2. Tecblogger

2-column with a full-width header image.


3. MegaResponsive

Always full-width across the page.

4. Simpler

Clean, minimalist and all-white.

5. Salt

Compact 2-column with a full-width featured slider option.

6. Patus

Beautiful with clean typography and spacing.

7. Wilson

Left-sidebar, content-focused.

8. Basic

A clean, 2-column content grid.

9. Simple & Clean

A bold 2-column theme.

10. Pro Blogg

2-column content grid with an elegant featured post slider.

11. Ignite

A simple and clean 2-column theme with nice, big padding.

12. Cicero

Very elegant with compact widths.

13. Dazzling

Wide, versatile with a full-width slider.

14. Silk

Pretty and elegant with 3-column grid and content area.

15. Canard

Very beautifully designed with just the right amount of functionality.

16. Rams

Left-columned sidebar, large clean fonts and spacing.

17. Vito

A wide, 2-column layout with large featured images.

18. Moments

Left-sidebar, left-edge theme.

19. Rowling

A very nicely designed theme with separate left and right screen background colors.

20. Prolog

A clean, medium-sized content WordPress theme.

21. Lovecraft

My favorite theme in this list. Great design and layout with clean typography.

22. HarmonUX Core

A standard 2-column layout.

23. Radiate

24. Clean Retina

Full-screen header image, with 3 featured post/page section on the homepage.

25. Kouki

Minimalistic, white theme with 2-column grid and no sidebar.

26. Apex

A wide content area.

27. Rara Clean

A bare-bones, clean theme.

28. Masonic

3-column masonic grid on the homepage.

29. MioMio

Another compact theme with clean, elegant design.

30. Sparkling

A spacious blog theme with a full-width slider on the homepage.

31. Mesocolumn

A colorful magazine theme for sites with lots of categories.

32. Kerinci

A minimal blog theme with fancy use of typography and borders.

33. Zinnia

A very narrow one-column theme with no sidebar.

34. Keratin

A simple 2-column grid layout.

35. Portfolio

A professional-looking blog theme with a sleek featured post slider.

36. Blogger

A super clean blogging theme by Dessign.net

Are these themes Adsense optimized?

Yes, in that they do have the best layouts and designs that perform best with Adsense.

But apart from that, there’s really no such thing as a fully “Adsense optimized” theme. Optimization depends on your ad placement, not how a theme is designed.

Things like font-size, font-family, font and link colors can be easily edited for any theme and they shouldn’t be a major factor in your decision.

For some more tips on Adsense optimization, read this blog post.

What’s the difference between a free theme and a premium theme?

There are a few major differences.

The biggest being quality.

Since premium themes generate revenue, the authors need to make the extra time, care, and effort to make their product the highest quality possible.

That means extensive documentation, reliability of usage, and A+ support.

With a paid theme, you can have peace of mind knowing that your theme is well-built, will be updated frequently, and is backed by support if you need it.

I recommend going with a paid theme if possible

Your niche site is going to be your business. Get serious about it and at least give it a professional design with good functionality.

They won’t cost you much.

They’ll run you around $20-$50, and that’s just a one-time fee. Because you use WordPress, you have the luxury of using themes instead of having to pay thousands of dollars to a web designer.

Here are a few of the places you can find some beautiful, functional WordPress themes.


Creative Market


Elegant Themes
Thrive Themes

The first two, ThemeForest and Creative Market, are marketplaces. The others are individual companies.

What’s a marketplace? It’s somewhere multiple theme developers upload their themes for sale. They do go through rigorous approval processes so you can be assured they’re high quality.

Obviously, this means that there are more options to choose from.

That doesn’t mean all free themes are poorly coded and built by people who don’t care.

Any theme that’s available in the WordPress repository goes through a review process made by real reviewers that ensures a certain quality standard.

You just have to be fine with not having any real support if you run into any issues.

Be careful of WHERE you download free WP themes

You should never download a free theme from a site you don’t know or are unsure about. Some free themes out there have malicious code built into them, and installing them can cause you a lot of headaches.

I personally would only recommend you download from the WordPress repository or from a reputable paid themes company (most paid theme companies offer free themes as well).

Which WordPress theme should you use?

Any of them!

It depends on what design and layout you prefer.

They’ll all work. I would be comfortable using any one of these themes for my own niche sites.

My personal favorites from this list are #1, #10, 19, and #21.

What about you?

What theme do you use on RankXL?

I get this question almost on a daily basis, so I’ll answer it here for anybody else wondering.

RankXL uses a custom developed WordPress theme designed by yours truly. I’m not a professional developer or designer, but I love playing around with CSS and HTML.

It’s my hobby. I’m constantly browsing web design blogs, looking for inspiration, and playing around with different designs.

72 thoughts on “36 Free WordPress Themes Perfect For SEO And Adsense Niche Sites”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for recommending those WP themes. Just wondering, Newspaper WP Theme is still your favorite WordPress theme for all of your niche sites and those great themes mentioned in this blog post are for those who need a FREE WP theme?

  2. Hey Chris,
    This is such an amazing, large list…nobody will ever be without a theme again πŸ™‚

    Seriously, this is one of the most useful posts I’ve read in a while. I’ve a question… which hosting do you use for your adsense sites (I know this is more related to SEO/Pagespeed, but would be great to know)

    If you have the time, please do a post on the plugins useful while setting up a site for Adsense.


  3. Thanks for the great share Chris. I really like the newspaper theme that you recommend though, it’s well worth the price πŸ™‚


  4. Hueman theme. Also a very good free wordpress theme for adsense. Since switching to this theme my income has doubled. I use the content left and sidebar right lay out. Funny to see how a simple change can make a huge impact.

    1. I second Hueman.. it’s the theme I picked for my very first website.

      Chris, do you have any recommendations among the above themes if you like having lots of features (like hundreds) to customize? I’m currently using Weaver Xtreme which allows me to install the same theme on all of my sites and still have them all look very different by tweaking the various aspects of it.

  5. Hi Chris

    You said “But it also usually includes things like parallax sliders, built-in shop and checkout functionality, an option for a forum, and perhaps even a bunch of different shortcodes.”

    I believe that if you have a forum or some kind of community in some niches is very important. Helps get more engagement from the users, increase recurring visitors and build more authority with the visitors see a good site with a active community.

    What do you think?

  6. Hi, Chris

    Thank you for sharing this themes. I personally, love themes a lot.
    I have gone through all of your lists. they are really awesome. And it is difficult to choose one, because, almost all of them are pretty. However, Simple and clean by organizedthemes dot com was the one that I have downloaded ( I really like it.)

    Anyways, Thanks for Sharing with the community.

    Keep sharing

  7. Henrik Flensborg

    Loved how 31. Mesocolumn looked on my desktop – especially the Slider and the featured categories. But it looked horrible from a my mobile πŸ™

  8. nice compilation of themes Chris! One question though, I heard that changing to a new theme can affect your current rankings using your old theme. What is your opinion about this? Any experiences with this Chris?

    1. Yeah, but as long as the new theme is optimized, it should be fine. You can check for it though, and fix them through its php files.

      The most important thing is to make sure that the theme’s header tags and title tags are properly set up.

      Some themes have strange things like using h4 tags for the post title and things like that.

  9. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the in-depth list of themes, it’s a great resource.

    I was wondering what theme you used for this site? I really like how the home page goes for an optin, but also directs people to the blog.

    Thanks again,

    1. Thanks Brent! This theme isn’t available for sale. Everything is custom built, and the homepage is just a standard WordPress page that’s been custom designed as well.

  10. I like #1 the most, but I am curious what font is used on rankxl? I reads better than #1.

    If you wanted to have a very long pillar post on the homepage, what theme would you recommend?

    1. RankXL is currently using just a standard ‘helvetica neue’ font.

      Any theme will work. It’s just a matter of your preference and what you feel is best for your niche/site.

      1. Chris,

        it is a little off topic, but I came across your site when they mentioned your name in a niche pursuits podcast. They were discussing keyword research for a guy just starting out his site. They said you had some method that worked well and cost very little like something around $5, but it required a bit of manual work.

        There is a lot of content on your site, so I did not know how to find this method. Is there an article on doing keyword research on the cheap on you site somewhere?



          1. Chris, thanks for sharing the link with me. I am finding keyword research to be one of the most challenging aspects of things. Writing is probably number two in terms of challenges.

            Best regards,


  11. Bhuboy Villanueva

    Great collection of themes here Chris, sadly I already bought I theme before I read this post.

  12. Hi Chris
    These suggestions of free theme are just so awesome. I’ve used #8 (basic) and # 30 (sparkling) before for my blog. It’s a great theme. Currently, my blog is using premium theme i.e. thrive theme (luxe) and as you said, “With a paid theme, you can have peace of mind knowing that your theme is well-built, will be updated frequently, and is backed by support if you need it.”

    Just to share, I find other recommendation for free WP theme on Neil Patel’s blog which is
    32 Free WordPress Themes For Effective Content Marketing

    And #30 (Sparkling) is also on the list. Either way, Keep up the great work!


  13. Hello Chris,

    You have done a wonderful job in consolidating the good themes for the WordPress niche sites.

    I’m a WordPress theme designer and have launched my 4th theme on the grand marketplace, ThemeForest.

    It is specifically designed for Adsense users and have SEO & Speed customization as well. Frond end ad editor is the main highlight of our theme.

    Do you wanna have a look at the this WordPress theme for Adsense?


  14. hello chris
    thanks for this list. i was just wondering? can the theme you are using on your website be the cause for it begin rejected multiple times by google adsense.

    1. Oh yes!

      If your theme makes your site look spammy, or if it’s poorly coded, or if it contains malicious code.

  15. it’s so great, thank you for sharing, Chris.
    I am using Newspaper WP Theme for my blog, it’s so beautiful and convenient

  16. Hi Chris,

    Thanking for sharing a amazon list of themes.

    I am confused with selecting the theme for a Finance blog, can you recommend from the above list of theme which will be good for my finance blog.


  17. Wow. I like this great collection πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this useful themes.

    I am using Phlox on my blog which is not available on your list. I myself like it because it is a responsive and customizable WordPress theme that can satisfy everyone with its demos.

  18. Hey..

    Thanks a lot for the article. Will try out some. Are the templates shown here also tested on vulnerabilties? I have a website security audit service and what i see a lot of time with free themes that they use old slideshows and plugins which could make them vulnerable..

  19. Hi Chris… Awesome themes you draft out here.
    But the problem is I am still searching for a theme to use. Thank you anyway.

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