Using the Featured Image Option in WordPress

WordPress

Inside WordPress, there are a number of built-in features that make it possible for you to generate more traffic for your blog posts. One of them is the ‘Featured Image’ option. It should be available for all posts and pages as long as your chosen theme supports it.

What does the option do? It attaches an image to a blog post or page so that when that post or page appears on the list of most recent updates, viewers will see both the image and a short description of text. You can implement the feature using virtually any image you choose.

Setting a Featured Image

You can implement the Featured Image option by creating a new page/post or modifying an existing one. In edit mode, look to the far right side of the page, about halfway down. You will see a small dialogue box with the heading ‘Featured Image’. Underneath the heading is a link that will let you set the image of your choice.

You can choose an image that is already in your gallery, or you can upload something new. We recommend something in the 300 x 300 range as a starting point, just to see how your image will look when it’s actually published. You may have to adjust the size up or down depending on your theme.

If you don’t want to create your own images, there are plenty of sources online, including:

  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Unsplash.com
  • Canva.com
  • iStockPhoto.com
  • Flicker

The images you find on Wikimedia Commons tend to be royalty- and attribution-free, though you do have to check licensing when you download from that site. In cases where you need to give credit, you can do so by editing the options once an image is in your library. Put the attributions in the image’s caption, alt text, or description.

Why You Should Use the Featured Image Option

Now that you know how to use the Featured Image option let’s talk about why you should use it. There are three main reasons. First, website visitors are likely to respond to images before they respond to text. Even though your blog descriptions may be very cleverly crafted so as to attract reader attention, an image will go a lot further in that regard than text alone. Pairing just the right image with very descriptive text can provide a very powerful motivation to read your blog.

Second, featured images may show up in search engine results under certain circumstances. This is never a guarantee, of course, and it does require a bit of SEO manipulation to make it happen.

Third, if you embed the same image directly into your blog post or page, social media sites (Facebook especially) will pick up the image and include it when you post. That image will then be associated with your page or blog post whenever others share it across social media, driving traffic as a result.

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