After being through numerous WordPress installations and running into the frustrating situation where the featured image on a blog post is getting cropped into a smaller size, I know the perfect sizes for your featured image. Let’s dive in.
The most generic size and a size you will always feel safe going with is 1200 x 628 pixels. This continuously varies from theme to theme. You can read your theme’s documentation or ask your theme developer what featured image size they have developed the theme for.
Now there are still some things you can do to optimise your image even more by using various plugins, changing the sizes of your featured images and much more.
What Is A WordPress Featured Image
Whenever you’re writing a blog post or building a page in WordPress, you can add a featured image. A featured image is the image representing your post or page. You always want to add this featured image.
You will find it on the right side of the gear icon, then make sure you click on “Post” in the menu and then scroll down to the title Featured image.
For a page, it makes excellent sense as it will be the image showing whenever that page is shared on social media. For a page, the featured image is rarely used on the website itself.
Though, for a post, it’s a different story. It works the same way as a page, where it will be the image representing the post when shared on social media. But on a post, this image is also shown as the hero image both in the blog overview and on the single post view.
There is another benefit of adding an image to each of your pages and posts, and that’s for your SEO profile. I’ll dive more into this further down the article.
But the size of the image is super important. If you make it too small, it will be zoomed in, and the quality will be terrible. If you make it too big, it will be cropped, which will neither look good. So let’s take a look at how you can upload the perfect size of the image to your blog posts and pages.
The General WordPress Featured Image Size
The general size of a featured image in WordPress and a size you will always be safe going with is 1200 x 628 pixels. Depending on your theme, this will vary, but as a rule of thumb, go with this size if you’re in doubt.
The ratio as well to always go with as a safe choice is 16:9. But there is an even better thing you can do.
Eventually, it is your theme which decides what the perfect featured image size is. What I always recommend is to follow the size which is highlighted in the documentation of your theme. If you can’t find it, then reach out to the theme’s developers. They know the correct size.
You can sometimes find the sizes in your WordPress admin area if you go to Settings -> Media. But you will often find sizes 150 x 150, 300 x 300 and 1024 x 1024. These sizes are just set per default from WordPress and will not work.
Now with the size in order, it’s time to take a look at the SEO benefits of using a featured image appropriately sized.
How To Optimise WordPress Featured Image For SEO
Images play a significant role in SEO as well. All your images from your website, whether a featured image or an image in your body text, will be indexed by Google based on your alt tag sorted in the Google Image Search.
That is why it’s super important we use this opportunity to gain more traffic by following some simple steps to optimise our chances of ranking our images in Google Image Search.
1. Use Your Own Images
Google knows the difference between stock images and unique images. You can easily use stock photos, there is nothing wrong with that, but you won’t rank those images in Google Image Search.
To rank in Google Image Search, you must take your own images or make them yourselves. This is alpha-omega to increase your chances of ranking in Google Image Search. This tells Google it’s an image Google hasn’t seen before.
2. Describe Your Images With Alt Tags
The alt tag is the next important thing after ensuring your images are unique. This describes to Google what your image is and what is happening on the image. So be descriptive in this field.
You fill out the alt tag in the media library in WordPress. Simply go to your admin area and click on Media. Then click on the image you want to fill out the alt tag for. And below the image, you will see the alt tag field.
3. Make The File Name Searchable
Except for the alt tag, Google uses the file name secondarily to determine the image. So make sure you give your images describing file names. When it’s the featured image, I often just use the title of the page or post as the file name.
Once you have uploaded the image to WordPress, you can’t rename the file without adding a plugin to do it. So make sure you do it before you upload the image. If you forget it, I recommend you delete the uploaded image, rename it on your computer, and re-upload it.
4. Use ShortPixel To Optimize Your Images
The last point is to use a plugin that makes sure you lazy load your image and makes sure the size of your image is the smallest possible. The smaller size of your image is, the faster it will load and the better the user experience is.
This is just a win-win-win all the way around. The more user-friendly your website is, the longer people will spend, which is a significant factor in Google’s ranking factors. I like to use ShortPixel, but there are a lot of great plugins out there.
With these 4 steps and the right image size, you’re now ready to rank on Google with a brilliant website.
5. Lazyload your images
This step will help your website load faster, improve the user experience and help you rank better with your content. Google loves websites loading fast, and so do people who want to sit and wait more than 5 seconds for a website to load.
This you can easily achieve with a plugin like WP Rocket. WP Rocket is a premium plugin and undoubtedly the best in the industry. You get a lot more than just lazy loading.
If you want a free plugin to enable lazy loading, then I’ll recommend Shortpixel, where you can also optimize your images, up to 100 images a month, for free.
How Do I Change The Size Of An Image In WordPress?
Sign into your WordPress admin panel. Go to Settings -> Media. Here you can change the size of your thumbnail to medium or large size.
What Is The Aspect Ratio For Featured Images On WordPress?
The most used aspect ratio is 16:9.