Should images be before or after subheadings in blog posts (listicles)?

Blog listicle blogger

Short answer: My preference is to place images below the subheading to which it refers.  I’ve seen websites place the image above the subheading. I find that confusing because I’m not sure if the image is referring to the subheading above or below.

Generally speaking, this issue pertains to listicle articles.  If you’ve ever read a listicle you know what I’m talking about.

Buzzfeed, arguably the top dog of listicle websites, puts the image below the subheading to which it refers. also places the image below the subheading.  IMO, that’s pretty solid authority for doing it this way.  Most of us can only dream of getting the traffic those sites get.  Not that whether images are above or below subheadings will dictate traffic.  It probably doesn’t. That’s not the point of this article.  I’m not suggesting that image placement in relation to subheadings has any impact on SEO.

This issue is solely a user experience issue.  Images below the heading results in less confusion for readers IMO.

Does every subheading in a listicle need an image?

It’s become fairly standard to include an image with every list item in a listicle.  Is this necessary? IMO, no, it is not necessary.  If it’s a visual point, then an image is important.  But if the image isn’t really adding anything content-wise and instead is just taking up screen place, it’s totally optional.  I publish listicles where not every list item has an image for a few reasons.  First, images are costly.  If a listicle is 25 items long, that’s 25 images.  If I can reduce that to 12 without compromising the article, I do so.  Second, sometimes it’s not possible to find the perfect image.  I don’t use images without a license or permission so sometimes even if I want an image, I can’t find one.  While that may detract a bit from the article, I accept it and move on.

What if the listicle is a product listicle?

In this case, it’s a good idea to include an image of each product listed. This is particularly easy to do if you feature products from Amazon with this Amazon image plugin.

Is it okay to mix up image placement on the same website?

Again, it’s a personal preference, but I try to apply the same styling to all posts so that it’s uniform. That way visitors know what to expect. This includes being consistent with placing images below the subheading.

If not a listicle, is it okay to put an image in between two regular paragraphs?

You bet it is. I do this often for non-listicle articles when an image or graphic provides an additional illustration of what the article is discussing.

How about adding an image in the middle of a paragraph?

I’m not big on this.  Often sites that do this left or right-aline the image which is fine on desktop but can look terrible on mobile. If it’s not done precisely, there could be a sliver of text wrapping around the image which looks bad.  Moreover, if an image splits a paragraph in half, it’s hard to tell that it’s the same paragraph.  As a rule of thumb, I put images outside of paragraphs.


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