When WordPress announced its update to version 3.5 about a month ago, the big takeaway was the cool new Media Uploader. While I appreciate the usability improvements, there is one major gripe I have with the uploader’s default image URL setting. If you’re vaguely interested in your WordPress website’s Google search indexation, keep reading. If not, I have no idea how you got here, but here’s one of the all-time YouTube greats.
The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice with the new WordPress Media Uploader is that it’s significantly nicer to look at and makes titling, editing, and captioning images a breeze.
This is great for any image search optimization you may be focusing on. The excuses keeping you from simple alt text and targeted image file names are pretty much thrown out the window.
The thing that bothered me about the new WordPress Media Uploader, though, is the default setting that creates a separate page for your image following the post path filename. For example:
This post’s URL: /wordpress-3-5-media-uploader-seo
Default Image URL: /wordpress-3-5-media-uploader-seo/new-wordpress-media-uploader
So essentially, WordPress appends the image file name onto the end of your post URL. What’s the big deal?
Seriously, What’s the Big Deal?
Unless you’re operating a blog that will benefit from a targeted focus on your photos (I’m thinking something along the lines of a photography blog, but I’m just one man), this can create an annoying glut of largely useless organic landing pages. And even if you ARE running a photo-focused site, you’re probably creating a landing page focused on your photos anyway. What good does it do you to have the following URLs available via search?
Original URL: /my-sweet-photos
WP Media Uploader URL: /my-sweet-photos/sweet-photo-1
Grand scheme of things, this isn’t going to tank your site’s SEO value or anything. But it IS going to create some initial URL confusion and bother the SEO inside of me.
Over time, there’s a 99% chance that Google sorts out the relevant post URL and this becomes a non-issue. But the first blog post I uploaded had some majorly bothersome primary URL confusion. When I searched for my posts’ core term, I would get several URLs with the photo URLs cluttering the search index. A good ol’ rel=canonical tag or noindex is the SEO’s go-to for situations like these, but why even create the need for that work?
In theory this might even sound like a good thing – you’re creating more possible ways internet users can find your site via search. How can that hurt?
The main problem is that those photo specific pages are a huge waste of anyone’s time. Unless they are specifically looking for an image (in which case they’re probably using the newfangled Google image search), any visits you get to a page like this are going to bounce.
The WP Media Uploader Fix
Ok: So it’s a minor annoyance. What are you gonna do about it? Curl up in a ball and weep? Passive aggressively resent WordPress for months in a row? Write to your Senator?
Fortunately, the answer is about as simple as they come: We just change the setting.
Within the WordPress Media Uploader, in the ‘Attachment Details’ section, you will just scroll down to the dropdown that reads ‘Link To.’ From there, change ‘Attachment Page’ to ‘Media File.’ This will prevent WordPress from creating a separate image-specific URL, and just link to the uploaded photo the way you’re used to. If someone clicks a photo in this case they’ll see /wp-content in the filename, and these sorts of files are almost uniformly kept out of Google’s index.