What Is A Featured Image In WordPress? (All You Must Know)

Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Jordan Alexo

Did you know that articles with images get 94% more views? That’s what Forbes tells us.

So, if you’re not using primarily featured images, you don’t want to leave all those eyeballs on the table.

But what’s a featured image? And why should you care?

Well, a featured image is like the main image showcasing your WordPress post or page. It’s the first thing people see and often a decisive factor in whether they click on your content.

But keep reading because, in this post, you’ll discover what, why, and how to use WordPress-featured images.

And as a cherry on top, I’ll share some amazing free resources and tips to optimize your images for max impact. Let’s roll!

Key Takeaways

  1. Featured images ain’t just eye candy! They’re your secret weapon to grab attention, boost SEO, and increase engagement.
  2. Setting a featured image in WordPress? Easier than you think! Just a few clicks in the post editor, and you’re all set. And don’t forget to SEO optimize!
  3. How to customize your featured images? Some coding can do the trick! But remember, always make changes in a child theme to keep ’em safe.”
  4. Free images are your best friends. Sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, FreePik, Canva, and Dall E 2 – are all great places to find them.
  5. SEO all your images, not just the featured ones. Create templates for consistency, and optimize for performance. Slow-loading images? No, thank you!”

Do you have the right tools for your blog? Discover the top blogging tools you must have.

What Is A WordPress Featured Image?

Well, it’s the first thing people see when they see your content. Whether on your website, in search results, or shared on social media.

Example of Featured Image

It works similarly to a book’s cover or the poster for a movie – in a way, it gives your audience a sneak peek at what they should expect from your blog post.

But here’s the thing:

A featured image isn’t just about making your blog post look pretty. Also, it’s a powerful feature that can boost your content’s clickthrough rate and engagement.

An interesting fact:

In a study done by Forbes:

Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. 

So, if you aren’t taking advantage of featured images, you’re missing out on getting more eyeballs on your content.

3 Reasons Featured Images Are Important

Let’s check three big reasons for you always include a featured image on your WordPress blog posts:

1 – They Grab People’s Attention

Featured images are like neon signs on a dark street – they grab attention.

In our fast-paced world, where our attention has become a precious aspect: You need to catch someone’s attention in a split second before they jump to the next website, etc.

So, having fantastic images makes people stop and think, “should I read it? Hmm… yeah!”

2 – They Boost SEO

Also, featured images help your blog’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

See, you can optimize their alt text and file name with relevant keywords. This helps search engines like Google more easily understand your blog post content.

So, always optimize your images with appropriate keywords to improve your chances of ranking higher.

3 – They Increase Engagement

Another aspect is images can increase user engagement.

Based on Skyword’s study:

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.

But it’s not just about views.

A compelling featured image can also increase your page’s shares, comments, and time spent. Because interesting images get more people to read your content. And the more people read your stuff, the more they will engage with it.


Three big reasons featured images are a must-have for your WordPress site. They grab attention, boost SEO, and increase engagement. So, go ahead and start leveraging the power of featured images. You’ve got this!

How To Set A Featured Image In WordPress?

Okay, time to get your hand on the dough and set your featured image in WordPress.

Step 1 – Go to the Post Editor

Go Your Post Editor

You must be in the right place. So, head over to your WordPress dashboard. Then navigate to the post where you want to add a featured image. And Click on “Edit” to open up the post editor.

Step 2 – Find the Featured Image Box

upload a featured image

Next, you want to look over your screen’s right side. You’ll see many boxes, but the one you want is labeled “Featured Image.”

This is where you can add your featured image.

Step 3 – Choose Your Image

Get a featured image from your pc

Now, it’s time to choose your image. So, click “Set featured image,” and a new window will appear.

This is your media library, where all your uploaded images exist. You can choose an image from here or upload a new one by clicking on “Upload Files.”

Step 4 – Set Your Image

Once you’ve chosen your image, it’s time to make it official.

For this, click “Set featured image” at the bottom of the window, and just like that, you’ve set your featured image!

Step 5 – Optimize for SEO

alt text image featured

Hold on! Before you close that window, take a moment to optimize your image for SEO.

Just fill in the “Alt Text” section with a brief description of your image. I suggest including your target keyword.


Setting a featured image in WordPress? It’s easy! Just head to your post editor, find the ‘Featured Image’ box, pick your image, set it, and boom – you’re done!

But hold up, don’t forget the cherry on top – SEO optimize that image with a keyword-rich alt text.

How To Customize Your Featured Images Display And Sizes?

So, you’ve got your featured image set up and optimized. But what if you want to customize how your featured images are displayed or add new sizes?

Okay, that’s where knowing a bit of coding comes in handy. Now, before you run to the mountain panicking, don’t worry:

You don’t need to become a technical nerd to do this. Because WordPress makes the process simple.

Step 1 – Access Your Theme’s functions.php File

You need to access your theme’s functions.php file. This is where you’ll be adding your code. You can find this file in your theme’s folder in the WordPress file manager.

Step 2 – Enable Support for Featured Images

You’ll need to add a line of code to tell WordPress that your theme supports featured images.

The code you’ll add is add_theme_support(‘post-thumbnails’);. Just copy and paste this line into your functions.php file.

Step 3: Add Custom Image Sizes (Optional)

In case you’d like to add custom image sizes, that’s where the add_image_size() function comes in.

This function lets you define additional image sizes. For example:

add_image_size(‘custom-size’, 220, 180, true); Would add a new image size with a width of 220px and a height of 180px.

Step 4 – Make Changes in a Child Theme

Remember, any changes you make to your theme’s functions.php file should be done in a child theme.

This ensures your changes won’t be overwritten when you update your theme. If you have no idea how to set up a child theme, you can find many guides on YouTube and plugins to help you.

5 Best Places To Find Free Images For Blog Posts

I’m always cautious not to use copyrighted images in my blog posts. I also suggest you do the same. If you don’t want to run into any legal problems.

get images from your blog posts

But where can you find fantastic free images for your blog posts?

  1. Unsplash: It has over 30,000 no-copyright images that you can add to your blog posts.
  2. Pixabay: another great source of royalty-free images. I notice that sometimes you’ll find the same images across multiple similar websites.
  3. FreePik: You can find some awesome pics here, which you can find on other platforms.
  4. Canva: You can create and customize your images in Canva. Also, you have many free templates, stock images, and icons to choose from. In case you want extra images and more, you can update to their premium subscription (budget-friendly.)
  5. Dall E 2: Let’s not forget about Dall E. This site lets you create AI-generated images based on a keyword or prompt.

That’s all the sources you’ll need to find free images for your blog posts.

What’s The Difference Between Featured Image, Thumbnail, and Cover Image?

You’ve probably heard terms like “featured image,” “thumbnail,” and “cover image” thrown around. But what do they all mean? And how are they different?

Well, let’s start with featured images.

As I’ve mentioned, a featured image is the primary image that represents your post or page. Usually, it is displayed at the top of your post and in archive pages and search results.

Now, onto thumbnails.


In WordPress, a thumbnail is a smaller version of your featured image. Often used in archive pages, search results, and widgets.

Plus, WordPress automatically creates a thumbnail of your featured image. But you can also set a custom size for your thumbnails.

And finally, cover images.

cover image

A cover image is a newer WordPress feature commonly used in blocks. It’s a wide image that spans the full width of the screen and often includes text overlay.

These cover images help create visually exciting sections in your posts or pages.

So, why does this matter?

Well, based on a study done by 3M:

Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

So, visuals play an essential role in catching someone’s attention, whether it’s a featured image, thumbnail, or cover image.

For this reason, you should add images everywhere, including within your blog posts.


Featured image, thumbnail, cover image – what’s the difference? Featured images are your post’s main attraction, thumbnails are smaller versions used in various places, and cover images are wide, full-screen visuals for a dramatic effect.

Pro Tips To Improve Your Featured Image Game

Before we wrap up, I want to share some tips to improve your featured image “game.”

Tip 1 – SEO All Your Images

Yes, I already said to optimize your featured image’s alt tag. But you should do the same with the images you include within your blog posts.

So, include relevant and important keywords in the alt text of your images. This helps search engines understand more easily what the image is about.

Besides, if someone can’t see the image, they can still read the alt text and get an idea.

Tip 2 – Create Templates

I have a layout template for my featured image. This gives a branding feel to my blog.

For this, use the same font style (if you use text over your images), colors, and layout. You can design a featured image template on Canva.

Once done, you only need to alter the text and image, and boom, it’s ready to go.

Also, create templates for the images you include in your blog posts. You want to main these images consistent in style and size. 3

I mean, it doesn’t look professional to read a blog post with images that are all different sizes and styles.

And having templates for everything speeds up your workflow.

Tip 3 – Optimize for Performance

Don’t forget to optimize your images for performance.

See large, high-resolution images can slow down your site drastically. Most people will lose interest and leave if your site takes forever to load.

So, whenever you use Photoshop or another image editing software: save your image at a lower quality to reduce file size. Your images may not look as impressive, but at least they won’t load slowly.

Plus, install plugins like TinyPNG or Smush to compress your existing images without losing quality.


Ready to level up your featured image game? Then SEO optimize all your images, not just the featured ones.

Also, create templates for a consistent branding look. And don’t forget to optimize for performance with plugins like TinyPNG or Smush – nobody likes a slow-loading site.

Last Thoughts

As you can see, featured images are not just for show. Instead, they grab your reader’s attention and engagement and boost your post’s SEO.

Now, setting a featured image in WordPress? Piece of cake!

Just head over to your post editor, find the “Featured Image” box, choose your image, set it, and don’t forget to optimize for SEO.

And if you’re feeling a bit fancy, you can customize your featured images display and sizes with some coding.

But remember, always use free images or your own. Sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, FreePik, Canva, and Dall E 2 are your best friends.

And don’t get confused between featured images, thumbnails, and cover images. Each has its place and purpose.

And before I forget, always SEO all your images, create templates for consistency and branding, and optimize them for performance.

You don’t want your site to load slowly because of large images, right?

So, there you have it. Now, go ahead and start taking advantage of featured images. If you’d like to ask something, don’t feel shy and leave it below. Thanks for reading!

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