I have to admit. I’m still a beginner when it comes to WordPress and all the cool nifty things you can do with it.
One of the things I love about WordPress is its seemingly endless customizability. The possibilities are endless and there is just so much you can do with it.
But this is also why I sometimes “hate” WordPress. The times when I am pulling out my hair just trying to figure out how to do something so seemingly simple!
You see, it turns out, WordPress’ strength is also its weakness. Because WordPress is so customizable that inevitably translates to complexity. There is a ton of information out there about the thousands and thousands of WordPress themes, plugins and features and that can make it difficult to navigate the WordPress landscape.
But when things just work, it feels good!
Like I said, sometimes WordPress isn’t the easiest thing in the world to use and I get frustrated.
So that’s why when I come across something easy and simple that just works, I get very excited and I’m sharing it!
Today I’ll show you a really “easy win.”
How to embed externally hosted images in your WordPress site
Before I start you may be thinking: “what the heck is the difference between embedding external images versus just uploading a file to your WordPress Media Library the way you usually do?”
The main difference lies in where the actual image is hosted.
The usual way of uploading images to your Media Library means the images are hosted on your server.
Whereas with embedding externally hosted images (as its name suggests) the images live on some external server, for example, Flickr, Pinterest or Imgur’s servers. In other words, the images are living outside of your WordPress host.
Why does this even matter?
Here’s the good and bad:
Two reasons why this is great
Firstly: the images living on someone else’s server means less load on your servers hence quicker loading times which is a major contributing factor to user page abandonment. I mean who likes a slow-loading page? Many users will just click the back button if your site is too slow.
Secondly: images are one of the main contributors to the growing size of your website. Less images means less load on your backups. I’ve personally noticed my backups steadily grow in size over time. Mainly due to the proliferation of images. Each time your site gets backed up, its additional load on your servers and depending on your hosting plan (I’m guessing lots of people start out with Shared Hosting and don’t have a VPS) that eats up CPU / RAM. Again slowing down your site.
One reason why this could be bad-ish?
One potential downside I’ve seen people bring up is you potentially forego the SEO benefits of having many of your own images on your site. Because when people do a Google Images search the pictures you used won’t show up, or rather they will show up but will point to another site that is not yours so you do not get that traffic. The truth is, I haven’t seen the data for this so I’m not too sure how to quantify or measure the impact of this so I can’t say how “bad” it is.
As easy as copy + paste!
Alright enough with the pros and cons.
Here are the steps to actually embed externally hosted media to your WordPress site:
- Check if this feature is supported by WordPress. So far according to WordPress the following sites are supported:
- Flickr (videos and images)
- Imgur (I tested this myself)
- If the site you are grabbing the image from is one of the above, then you’re in business! Simply copy the direct image URL (a URL that usually ends with a .jpg or .png or any other image extension) and then paste it into the WordPress editor and voila it will immediately embed the image on your page.
- Now you can treat it like any other image and add a caption etc.
- You’re done!
A word of warning on copyright…
When using externally hosted images as usual be careful not to infringe on anyone’s copyright. Most sites including Google Images usually allow you to filter by reuse rights and I always choose images that are in the public domain with no known limitations on use.
Is it worth it?
Like many things, this is a trade-off you must consider and weigh the pros and cons of.
I personally feel for this site, at this point it is worth the better performance to use externally hosted images and maybe next time when I get enough traffic (fifty thousand or more visitors a month) to warrant moving to a dedicated server and use a high performing CDN and cache then I might change my mind.
Most importantly there is no point sitting there and just analyzing or theorizing which is better. Just pick one and go do! Then see the results and adjust your approach accordingly.
Lastly, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you personally manage your WordPress images.
Have I missed something? If I have, please leave a message in the comments below.
Until next time.
Tony Lee Jacobs