I’m not sure if you know what I mean from the title of the post, so first let me explain what I’m talking about. Basically, I really wish that bloggers would be consistent in how they add links to images in their posts, both as a group (all bloggers doing the same thing) or at least within their own blogs (making sure that all the images on their blog link relatively the same way). Because neither is happening right now.
To be fair, some bloggers do it right. It’s just not the majority of them.
There’s probably not a 100% “right” way to do this, but I have a system that I stick to and I honestly think that it’s the best way to deal with image links.
First of all, every image on my blog is clickable. Well, okay, not every single one. There’s a few that don’t, like the above “Discussion” header (although, if we want to be nitpicky, I probably should link that up to a page that lists all of my discussion posts). But even the book cover images under “Currently Reading” in my sidebar go to Goodreads if you click on them (which I’m willing to bet nobody ever has, because you probably didn’t even think they went anywhere!).
If I’m adding memes or GIFs to a post, clicking on those will bring you to its source. That’s the reason why I never include “source: …” when I’m adding those kinds of things to posts, because I think a link is equivalent. (Although if you disagree with me on that one, feel free to comment! I’m curious.)
Sometimes I’ll do collages of book cover images or other random things, and for those, the picture won’t link anywhere because it’s impossible to make an image link to multiple places. But usually, in that case, I’ll include the links to the image sources somewhere else in the post (like with my Exciting New Releases posts). So, yes, there are a few instances in which my “image -> source” rule doesn’t apply, but I try to use my best judgment and only abstain in very specific situations when I don’t think it’s detrimental to my readers.
I really like my system, but not all blogs do it my way. In fact, most of them don’t. Most of them don’t have any sort of system! And this can make navigating blogs pretty difficult. I mean, how many times have I clicked on an image in a post, thinking that it’s going to bring me someplace, but it either brings me to somewhere I don’t want to go or it doesn’t link to anything at all.
My biggest pet peeve is book covers. Bloggers will display them, and then the book cover image will do one of four things (which is way too many things in my opinion — another part of the problem): (1) link to nothing, (2) link to Goodreads, (3) link to Amazon/another seller website, (4) link to that blogger’s review of it.
I don’t like this. Personally, I think that the only acceptable thing to do with a book cover image is to link it to Goodreads. That’s what I do and that’s what I usually expect other people to do, too.
And, honestly, if you link a book cover image to your review, it annoys me. You’re basically stealing that pageview from me when it’s clearly not the page I was trying to visit. If you want to advertise your review, do what some bloggers do and say “check out my review!” with a link under the picture, or something to that effect. That way you’re only sending people there who actually want to read the review.
Or at the very least include a Goodreads link in your review so that I can immediately get where I want to go from that page. It’s happened to me multiple times where a book cover image links to a review that doesn’t even have a Goodreads link…forcing me to look up the book myself and be sent to a page I didn’t want to go to.
It also bothers me if a blog’s images are only sporadically linked to the “right” places. Like if, in a Top Ten Tuesday post, half of the book cover images go to Goodreads and half of them go to a review (maybe because that person only wrote reviews for a few of the books they listed). If you’re going to link images to someplace, be consistent about it. Don’t do half and half — it’s really frustrating for your readers. Instead, that would be the perfect instance to make use of the advertising link idea, and then go ahead and direct your book covers to a proper website.
I think that there should be some sort of universal accepted way to link images that all (or at least most) bloggers use. But practically every blogger does something different!
The problem with these inconsistencies is that it causes other blogs to suffer even if they’re doing it “right.” When bloggers aren’t generally consistent, readers don’t expect consistency. So a lot of the effort I put towards linking images on my blog (I know that it’s not a huge task, but eventually those couple minutes here and there add up!) goes to waste, because people don’t even realize that they can click on certain stuff, due to the unavailability of it on other blogs.
And that makes me feel the need to broadcast to my readers that certain images are clickable. Which is basically what started this whole post! Back in June, I created a feature called Must Haves, in which I (among other things) showcase new-to-me blogs. Originally I would go about that like this:
But I quickly realized that I’d much prefer to just show a photo of a blog that links directly to that person’s site, without including the descriptive linking text below the image. I was already linking the pictures to the blogs anyway (to give credit, and just in case anyone wanted to click the picture), but I thought that it would look a lot better (and be easier) to only have the clickable images instead of both the image and the link.
But it’s not really that easy. Maybe I’m overthinking all this, but the above picture is actually a great example of the complicated nature of linking images. That blog photo with linking text is a screenshot that I took from my post Must Haves (#4). So…should I link the image to that post (which is the image source) or to A Bottomless Book Bag (since that’s what the image is of)? Since I linked the original image to Jordin’s blog, I’d say that it’s totally fine for me to link this screenshot to my Must Haves post.
But, I also want to take into consideration: if somebody is clicking on that photo, what are they looking for? This is a question you constantly need to ask yourself when linking sites to images. I’m going to assume, since the photo is almost entirely of Jordin’s blog, that readers looking to click will be intrigued by her cute design, not the fact that it’s a screenshot from one of my blog posts. And since I’ve already referenced my Must Haves feature multiple times in this discussion, I’ve clearly given myself more than enough press. Why not spread the love, even if I don’t have to? So I linked it to her!
To get back to the point… Since I wanted to format my images without the additional text, I just up and decided to do it! But then I worried that people (especially new readers) wouldn’t realize that I wasn’t just sharing a picture of somebody’s blog vs. a clickable image. Would people assume that the image was clickable without my needing to include a disclaimer (which I have been doing: “Click on an image to go to its respective blog!“)? I don’t think that I would, just because of how inconsistent other bloggers can be.
Phew! That was a long discussion post. I’m sorry about that! I just really needed to rant about this and I honestly hope to inspire some great conversation with you guys.
I’m not trying to insinuate that my readers are stupid and won’t figure out that a picture links to something if they really are interested in whatever it is…I’m more talking about new readers or casual visitors who are skimming through posts. What if they’re missing out on stuff because they don’t realize how my images work?
I also think that other bloggers could be totally inadvertently pissing off their readers by not properly linking up their photos! If I was doing something like that, I would definitely want to know.