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How to add video thumbnails in WordPress

Usually WordPress themes nowadays make use of featured images to display thumbnails on various locations within your WordPress theme, like archives, within widgets or inside the post content. In case you’re running websites with lots of videos, you might want to automatically add video thumbnails as featured image for a better workflow when creating your content. In this tutorial we’ll cover how you can make use of featured images while handling your video content in WordPress.

Video Thumbnails
Video Thumbnails will create a thumbnail of your videos for use as featured image

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have automatic video thumbnails as featured image so that you don’t need to create and upload featured images manually? Well, luckily there are plugin developers who had the same idea and there are various WordPress plugins that can do just that and more. Video Thumbnails for example is a plugin that will find the first video embedded within your content and retrieve thumbnails for you. These thumbnails will be saved within your media library and automatically set as featured image so that you don’t need to do this manually anymore.

Featured Video Plus
Featured Video Plus will replace featured images with video content

While the Video Thumbnails plugin sets regular featured images for your posts that contain a video, there also are more sophisticated solutions as well. The Featured Video Plus plugin goes one step further and will not set featured images, but instead will replace the featured image with the video itself. That means on your website where usually the featured images would have been displayed, there now will be the video, ready to be watched by your website visitors.

However, please keep in mind that while it’s great to display videos instead of featured images and provide your audience a way to easily watch these videos, this also can have some disadvantages. The most importent aspect that needs to be considered is the performance of your website! Displaying lots of videos instead of featured images on your WordPress website (e.g. on archives) can have a negative performance impact and heavily slow-down your website. So that’s definitely something you should keep in mind while working with plugins like this.

In addition, when you already display the video content instead of the featured image on archives and within widgets, your audience doesn’t necessarily need to access your post content anymore to watch the video. That means there is a chance that many people won’t read your additional post content anymore and this also can have negative effects on the bounce rate of your website and reduce page impressions, which usually isn’t that great for ad revenue.

Conclusion: Find your own workflow

You see, there are several ways of working with video content on your website instead of displaying featured images which you’ve manually uploaded within WordPress. While the first approach will simply replace the featured images with video thumbnails, the other solution will display the video content itself instead of featured images. Each way has its own benefits and disadvantages and you can choose whatever suits your personal requirements. But these were only two examples of plugins for this purpose and you’ll find more within the official WordPress plugin directory.

This article also helped users with the following questions:

  • How to auto create thumbnails from videos
  • Is there a way to replace featured images with Vimeo videos
  • How to add a video as post thumbnail instead of featured image
  • Easily display videos instead of featured images in WordPress
  • How to make use of YouTube videos as thumbnails in WordPress
  • Can I show YouTube videos instead of featured images in WordPress
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