Adding a featured image to your posts and pages in WordPress may be very simple but adding one to your homepage can be really frustrating. I’ve personally dealt with this myself and I spent half a day trying plugins that are just not appropriate for the task or do not do what I really want.
When I have finally realized how to do it, I just can’t believe how I never thought about it because it’s just very simple actually. The thing with all of the plugins I tried is that they either put the same featured image on all of the pages of the site, or they put the assigned featured image on each post or page separately BUT none on the homepage.
I’m talking about the featured image here that will get shown on Google+ or Facebook, etc. when you share your links, particularly the homepage link.
If you’re using WordPress on your site as a blog system, most likely you have in your homepage a list of your posts or certain categories or featured posts. In the WP system, pages like this are called “archives” and one of the things that set archive pages apart from single-post pages and page-type pages is that you can’t manually edit it to put a featured image to it using the WordPress page or post editor.
And what happens when you share your blog’s homepage to social networks is that they send a scraper to read the content of that URL and their scrapers will try to look for a featured image on the page. If they don’t find one, they will use any available image they can find on the page and usually they use the first image found on the page to be displayed along with the title and some few lines from the content.
So if you don’t set a particular featured image for your home page, you will get an image from one of your posts that will be displayed when you share your homepage link on social networks. To the advanced WP users and especially to those who know some code, this is a like a very simple task to do. But for those who are just starting out and don’t want to mess with lots of code, the following is something for you.
You can use the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin. This is one plugin that you don’t want to miss anyway if you want your site to be found on search engines. Although the main purpose of this plugin is for SEO, it has a feature that lets you put meta tags into the header of your homepage and your homepage only.
This is what we’re going to use to assign a featured image for the home page and this featured image will be applied to the homepage alone. Other pages and posts will not be affected and they will each have their own individual featured image as you have assigned.
For the featured image to be picked up by scrapers of social sites like Facebook, plugins insert a
<meta> tag into the head section of pages on a WP site. So what we need to do is to manually add this
<meta> tag into the header of our homepage using the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin.
I’ll assume you already have that installed. If you don’t have it yet, you can just go to your plugins area, add new, search for “All in one seo” and install it from there. Don’t forget to activate it afterwards. Then go to its general settings: [highlight]All in One SEO[/highlight] >> [highlight]General Settings[/highlight]
On the next page, scroll down to the [highlight]Advanced Settings[/highlight] section and in the [highlight]Additional Front Page Headers:[/highlight] input area, enter the following meta tags (replace the image url with your actual one):
Here’s an example of how it looks like:
And that should do it! Only 2 lines of HTML code.
By the way, Facebook caches the snippets of links already shared on their site. So if you already shared your homepage URL on Facebook before, you’ll have to use their URL linter tool to change what they already have for your link. Just enter your homepage URL there (or any URL you want to check or refresh) and click debug. If you’ve done things right, you should be able to see the new featured image you have set.
If you have questions or any comments, just drop them below… I’ll do my best to answer them.