If your website is on WordPress, you’ll want to know how to use WordPress Featured Images.
What are WordPress Featured Images?
A Featured Image is an optional image you can add to every page and post on your WordPress site. You’ll find it on the back-end editor (in page or post edit mode) in the right-hand “options column,” under the Page or Post tab. Click the black-and-white gear icon if you don’t see the options column:
The Featured Image has many uses.
Thumbnails Around Your Site
For posts, the Featured Image may be used to show listings of posts on your designated Posts or archive page. Each post’s featured image is displayed as a thumbnail, sometimes like this:
Some themes allow you to show your latest posts on any page. We do this on our homepage, and it uses the featured image for each post like this:
Other themes will use the featured image of posts for navigation buttons:
Thumbnails on Google and Social Media
Perhaps more important for the use of Featured Images is their utility for sharing and discovery.
Major social media platforms use WordPress Featured Images as a thumbnail whenever users share a link to the page or post. Here’s how it looks on Facebook and Twitter:
Google will also pull Featured Images from WordPress posts and pages, and use them in search results:
What is the Best Size for WordPress Featured Images in 2021?
Featured Images show up in so many places. That may have you wondering how to size your image properly, so it looks good everywhere.
The most common figure you’ll see online is 1200 x 628 pixels (px). This works well for horizontally-oriented placement on most screens and social platforms. But depending on your site’s WordPress theme, you may not be able to use the entire space.
Here’s what a 1200 x 628 px image looks like at its exact full size:
However, some WordPress themes will make use of the square 150 x 150 px thumbnail version of your featured image. You can see this if you go back to the example above that shows the blog navigation images we use on this site.
If we were to use our measurement graphic as a Featured Image, here’s how it would show up in the blog navigation thumbnails:
Therefore, it’s important to take into consideration whether your theme uses square thumbnails anywhere on your site when displaying Featured Images. Besides the blog navigation buttons, this could also include galleries, latest blog post areas, or plug-ins that highlight specific pages or posts.
When we create Featured Images for BizTraffic.com, we use a term I borrowed from my days working in broadcast television: “safe title.” We always make sure we keep the focal point of the image, and especially any text, within this square:
As you would with any image you post on your website, make sure your WordPress Featured Images are always optimized. That means using small file sizes (.JPG and .JPEG images work best), an image compression plug-in if you have access to one, and placing relevant keywords in the Alt Text field. Doing this will enhance the Featured Image’s utility as an SEO magnet!
If you can’t decide on what to use as a WordPress Featured Image, ask yourself, “How would I sum up the theme, topic, or focus of this page / post in a single image?” It’s okay to use abstract art with a little bit of text, if you just can’t easily illustrate your thoughts in a photo.
You’ve heard it before: a picture is worth a-thousand words!