Ultimate Guide to Featured Images

Featured Images 101: Why They Matter & How To Choose the Best Images


Why Featured Images Matter

Just adding featured images to posts increases the average traffic 94%.  And the more optimal the image, traffic grows from there.

We’ve assembled our ultimate guide to featured images to share the why and how.

What’s a Featured Image

Whenever you create content, whether on the web or in social media, you almost always have the ability to add a visual element.  This is commonly referred to as the featured image.

In the WordPress web development platform, whenever you create a page or post there is literally a setting where you set a featured image.  Depending on your settings, it may or may not appear on that page or post, but it will appear whenever you post a link to that page or post on social media, and elsewhere.

How To Get Started

First, be original whenever you can.  A picture or graphic that is unique to your page or post adds value for analysis like organic search rank and other factors that can influence readership.  For non-Instagram content, the best images should have a landscape orientation (versus portrait).


Never use an image you don’t have permission to use!  That’s a huge no-no.

Second, take a few minutes to properly optimize the image for search engine optimization, or SEO.  We’ve previously written about common mistakes people make, and you can read about that here.

How To Select the Best Images


Enhancing Your Image Can Add More Benefits

Adding your logo or other branding in the lower-right corner (often referred to as a “logo bug”) helps connect the content back to you as it gets shared around the Internet.

Text overlays can make your image stand out, but use it sparingly.  Facebook doesn’t like it, and the organic reach of your content will be penalized if your image is more than 20-25% text.

There are free tools available to help you embellish your images.

The Cropping Tool Can Be Your Best Friend

Don’t be afraid to crop an image, especially if you’ve used it before and want to add variety.

Cropping can be a great way to narrow the focus of an image and make it more eye-catching.

It’s also a great way to take a portrait-style photograph and convert it to landscape.

Featured Images Make a Huge Impact on Traffic

Always have a featured image when you create content.  It will at least double your traffic.

Take the time to search optimize your images.

Be thoughtful about the photos or graphics you pick.  Let’s face it, building content takes a lot of time, money, and expertise in your marketing budget.  You want to get the largest audience and ROI.

Photos Work Hand-In-Hand With Headlines

Nearly 2/3 of all the people who read your content will have clicked to it only after reading the headline and seeing the photo you’ve featured in a “preview.”

So making sure your content has a great headline and featured image are 2 of the 3 most important factors affecting the traffic your content can create.  The 3rd factor is SEO.

For more about headlines, check out our guide to headline writing rules here.

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After 3 decades as a professional marketer, serial entrepreneur and business consultant Steven Ludwig shares his best practices for small business marketing for owners, managers, and marketers with limited time, money, and expertise. Steven started his professional marketing career in broadcasting in the early ‘90s in Chicago after attending Valparaiso University. After a brief stint at an advertising agency specializing in entertainment and sports marketing where he worked with radio and television stations, movie theatre companies, record labels, musicians, and professional sports teams, he moved to Nashville to form The Marketing Group with his long-time business partner, Jim Wood. Having worked with some of the largest brands in the world, in 2010 he returned to local marketing primarily out of an interest and excitement for working with small business owners to build stronger companies. That desire comes out of early days in radio, where he worked closely with everything from car dealerships to restaurants, insurance and real estate agents, banks, home services companies, and specialty retailers of all kinds. Over the past decade, he has been on the bleeding edge of digital marketing technology, constantly seeking to understand complex strategies employed by giant corporations and then translate those capabilities into tactics small businesses can execute at a local level. Today, in addition to other business ventures with his wife and other long-time business partners, he still lives outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee and currently serves as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal, a digital marketing company building a nationwide network of digital, hyperlocal news and lifestyle publishers to provide efficient advertising opportunities for local, regional, and national brands.


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