When and Why to Link Images in Blog Posts

When and Why to Link Images in Blog Posts

According to split testing and heat maps of online behavior, Internet users frequently click on images even if they are not linked to anything. As a blogger, you can use this tendency to your advantage.

When writing a post, ask yourself if you want your readers to go somewhere as a result of clicking on a particular image.

Don’t Link Your Images

More than likely you do not want your readers redirected elsewhere after a click on an image. Your image is in the post to accentuate or illustrate your text. You want your reader to stay on that blog post and dig deeper into your blog, reading additional posts or fulfilling some other action.

That means that as a general rule, you should unlink images on your blog.

As default, when you insert an image on a WordPress blog, the image is linked to the photo URL. However, you can easily unlink it.

Look at the example below. To unlink the image, either delete the image URL or simply click the NONE button. Your image will still be there, but it will not be clickable.

unlink-images-post

 

A big problem with images linked to their image URL is Pinterest. Imagine your reader loves your latest tutorial and clicks on the photo of the finished product. Because your image was linked to the image URL, she lands on a page with just the image. From there, she decides to pin your image on Pinterest.

Great, right? You are getting social media love.

No, it’s not great.

That pin will now refer back to the image URL on your blog and not the actual post where you used the image. The image on Pinterest is now isolated from the directions. Most visitors will not take the time to search for the original post and will leave in frustration, feeling rather cheated. You got a click to your site, but it is not going to convert into a reader or subscriber.

Another problem with images linked to image URLs is the trouble they provide for mobile users using touchscreens. Have you ever accidentally clicked an image when you were actually scrolling? It happens to all of us. Then the user has to find the back button and more carefully scroll down. Avoid frustrating your readers by unlinking images from their image URLs.

Do Link Your Images

But is there ever a time to link your images? Yes, there are reasons to deliberately link an image.

If you want that image to redirect to another post or page on your blog, link to it. This is a great way to propel readers deeper into your content. Remember that Internet users like to click on images, so link your images exactly where you want them to go.

If you are selling or promoting a product, always make the product images link to a sales page, a shopping cart, or an affiliate link.

The bottom line is to be deliberate about the linking of your images. If you want to link an image, link it to something useful — a sales page or more great content. If you want your image to just be that — a pretty accessory– unlink it.

  • Wow! There is so much here that I didn’t know about. As a relative newbie blogger, I hadn’t considered the issues around image URL versus blog post URL. My blog is on Blogger. I need to investigate what the default settings are here. Thank you so much for opening my eyes!

  • Great tip! I always disliked clicking on an image and being taken to the image URL but never knew how to deactivate it on my own website. Now I just have to remember to change it on photos in new posts.

  • Jimmie,
    I usually have the main post image link to the blogpost URL. Then is somebody accidentally hits it, they’re not going to get “lost”, and if they DO hit in intentionally, they’re staying on that page.
    If we have secondary images, they may link somewhere else, but more often, we use text links to our other content…
    Didn’t see your suggestion of that one – what are your thoughts on that strategy?

    • Why would you link your primary image back to the blog post? Isn’t that redundant? And on mobile, it’s so easy to hit an image accidentally. They the page reloads for no reason. Linking to other content is always smart. The point of the post is about linking images. The bottom line is link with intent not just allowing the default link to the image file which is for the most part of no use to the reader.

      • If you link your main or featured image to the blog post itself, if you run into that Pinterest issue you mentioned, then the Pinterest Pin will link back to the original post. If they’re already on the page, as stated, they won’t get lost if they click on the image anyway.

  • I have loads of images and it was suggested to me to unlink them from my image url (which I have been systematically doing) as excessive links looks spammy to Google. It seems like a good idea anyway as highlighted by your post. However it just occurred to me that when I do a site check I find these images indexed in Google.
    If I unlink them all will that have a bad affect on my seo or return any 404 errors?
    I’m starting to panic a bit!

    • It’s not bad to have your images indexed in Google. I’m not an SEO expert, but I don’t see how unlinking them could negatively affect anything at all. The images are still present on the posts/pages. They can still be found online. No 404 errors.

  • Well what if you have the Pinterest pin it button that allows any reader to pin any image? In this case shouldn’t you make sure each image is linked to the media file? That’s what I’ve been doing and it leads people back to my post.

    If I’m doing it wrong I’d love to know.

    • Hi, Anita. The pin it button doesn’t require the image to be linked to the media file. So you can remove that and still get pins. The danger is if someone clicks on an image, goes to the media file and then pins that. In that case, the pin would be linked to the media file and not the blog post. I’m glad that most of your readers are not making that mistake, but I prefer to remove the possibility altogether. Plus, linked images can be a pain on mobile when you accidentally click when trying to scroll.

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