Keywords that Work (Part III)


posted on 4th of april, 2007

Keywording is both a science and an art. No matter what you call it, it can be the best cure for insomnia available outside of a bottle of sleeping pills. But without relevant keywords, images will be lost in remote territories and never be found.
Modern computer.
Compass Navigation
Here's a checklist that might help you stay on track and not miss good keywords. Try for 25 words (10 is the minimum) but stay away from extraneous words just to make a quota. It is highly unlikely that more than forty keywords will be useful in finding an image without introducing confusion in search results.
Let's pick up from where we were in part II...
1. Look at the words you have already used in the image title, description and the categories. Add these words and any synonyms and different tenses or plurals into the keyword box.
2. Carefully look at the image one more time. Scan the image with your eyes from top to bottom to see if you have missed anything. Try to think of alternative words for each important element and get those into the keywords. Make certain that what you find on this final look really matters to the message of the image.
3. Spell check. Before you hit the "submit" button SPELL CHECK! Click on the check box and change any misspellings.
CAUTION: In using a thesaurus, do not copy all the words under a listing. Many will not be appropriate. Only use a thesaurus to suggest relevant words that you might overlook. Never enter a word when the meaning is unfamiliar to you.
Rules and standard practices for Dreamstime keywords.
Place Names and Proper Nouns
No need to capitalize place names in keywords
Unless it is obvious an image is from a specific locale or the elements in the image are important to the region, do not use the location name.
Example: The image of the man below has this description: In the city, New York. But there is nothing about New York in the image. Keywords relating to Manhattan or New York would also be wrong. This image would get many more downloads if New York was replaced with words more relevant to the image. The image of the couple below had the keywords Manhattan and New York. These images were both taken New York but that fact isn't evident in the images.
Thinker
There is no specific landscape in the following images but they are typical images that say Turkish souvenirs (the colorful shoes) or Argentina (Flamenco) and someone wanting to illustrate a tourism brochure would find them if they were keyworded to the locale.
Ethnic shoes
Flamenco dancer
Do not use a model's name in the caption or in keywords. This is important to protect their privacy
Don't enter the names of pets in the caption or in keywords
Singular/Plural forms
If only one object is in the image, do not use the plural form of the word.
Example: The keyword for the images below is woman NOT women. Only one woman in each image
Negotiation over,man and woman  handshake
Example: Two women in an image. Keywords would be woman AND women.
Business meeting of 4 persons
Verbs. Only use a verb to describe what is in an image if the action is actually taking place
Example: Don't use eat or eating when the image is a food still life. There is no eating going on in the image of the burger. Only the image on the right has eat and eating as correct keywords.
Burger time
Man eats hamburger
Nouns. Only use the word if the object is actually in the image.
Example: The image of the woman on the phone is found when searching on keyword desk but there is no desk in the picture. The illustration correctly has the keyword desk.
Communicate with a smile
Teacher Illustration Series
Colors
Only use words describing color if the color is prominent in the image.
Don't describe all the colors in a plaid shirt, for example.
Use a keyword describing clothing if it is a prominent feature of an image and the color is a solid color.
Example: Blue would not be an acceptable keyword for the image on the left but is an important keyword to the image on the right.
Serious
Blue
Indicate the dominate, overall color of the image. Sometimes designers want an image because its dominant color matches a certain a palette.
It is important to identify a prominent background color with a keyword.
It is also important to name a color that predominates in an image even when it isn't the background color.
Example: The dominant color on the left is blue and the image should have the keyword blue. Yellow dominates the image on the right and accordingly should have the keyword yellow.
Bouquet on blue background
Concept keywords. Concept keywords denote an emotion or an idea. They can be very subjective and culture dependent. Try to use them but be careful. Concepts can also be identified under the various sub-categories in Abstracts.
Example: Some noun keywords for the ocean wave image could be wave, ocean, and spray. A concept keyword would be powerful. Noun keywords for the image on the right below could be mother, child, toddler. Joy is a concept keyword for this mother and child:
Waimea Shorebreak
Happiness of motherhood
Example: In the image of the tulips below the most important element is the yellow tulip. Yet it is very small in comparison to the whole image. It has the most impact because it is different from the rest. And it carries a strong concept. Noun keywords: tulip, flower, red, yellow, group. Concept keywords: individual, unique, different. Noun keywords for the row of men would be men, suit, row, jeans. Concept keywords are the same as for the tulip image: individual, unique, different.
Tulips
Be different
Ethnicity. If you know the ethnicity or nationality of a model indicate it in the keywords and image name. If the ethnicity is obvious, it is ok to use but don't guess.
Example: The keyword Latina will identify the woman in the red dress below to the many users for Hispanic and Latin images. The user looking for image of those of African descent will easily find the mother and child image below if it is keyworded African American or African descent.
Latina Woman Close Up
Story time
Nationality is an important element in images. There are visual clues embedded in images taken in different countries that users in those countries value. When Americans, for example, want to photograph youth culture in a distant country, they sometimes miss the mark and the images look silly.
Variant spellings in English. Whenever possible please keyword images with both the US and the UK versions of English spellings such as color and colour. The trunk of a car in America is the boot in the UK.
Don't Spam. Spamming causes poor search results. It makes the site less useful and does nothing to improve your sales over time. So just don't do it.
Think of keywording as a crossword puzzle: get all the words right and you win.
Comments (34)

Posted by Dandamanwasch on July 09, 2012
Is there any way to still read the article, the link doesn't work anymore (i guess since the last post was in 2007)

Does anyone else maybe know some articles about keywording? I find it to be one of the most time consuming things in Micro :/ and would love to learn more about it !!

Thanks in advance
Posted by Isonphoto on July 08, 2012
Thanks for the post. Helped me make sense of Dreamstime keywording requirements.
Posted by Knightshade on November 13, 2008
I read something here that I don't understand. Why wouldn't you use plurals to keyword an image with one of something in it? If I were needing a picture with a woman in it, I would want to look at many pictures to choose from. Why wouldn't I use the keyword women to bring up pictures that had one woman. If you think like the searcher does I would have to think it is possible that someone might do that. Wouldn't you want to be covered for all searchers or is there some kind of magic that tells us no one will ever search that way?
Posted by Bradcalkins on June 17, 2008
Thanks for the advice. I was uncertain if title and description words should be added as keywords as well.
Posted by Photostar73 on June 16, 2008
thank you very much for the article!
Every article on keywording is very appreciated: it was useful for me to know about the plurals, for i ever thinked this thing was similar to spamming.
Posted by Photomyeye on May 02, 2008
I started getting my images keywords and hits are up, well worth it !!!
Posted by Ellenboughn on March 10, 2008
Just wondering about phrases...

I have noticed when I enter a phrase such as "golf ball",
The keywords are re-ordered into alphabetical order...
And the phrase is split up into separate words, with "ball" coming first and "golf" further down.

Do I need to put a hyphen between the two words instead of a space?
I haven't found any info regarding this.

Cheers

It doesn't matter to the search that the noun and the adjective are together. When the search terms 'golf' and ''ball' are both entered into the search field, the search will return images that have both words in the keywords no matter what order they appear in the list of keywords.

If you were to enter 'golf-ball', your images of golf balls would not be found as easily.
Posted by Astroboi on March 05, 2008
Just wondering about phrases...

I have noticed when I enter a phrase such as "golf ball",
The keywords are re-ordered into alphabetical order...
And the phrase is split up into separate words, with "ball" coming first and "golf" further down.

Do I need to put a hyphen between the two words instead of a space?
I haven't found any info regarding this.

Cheers
Posted by Twieja on February 13, 2008
Great article, thank you! I will pay more attention to the conceptual aspect of my kewording.
Posted by Seesea on January 10, 2008
Great,enlighten article.Thank you!
Posted by Belgium on January 09, 2008
Thank you for posting this article. It will help me in getting the keywords right.
Posted by Amyemilia on January 08, 2008
I've read all three of the Keywording blogs you have written - thanks very much! I learned a bit about keywords on Flickr, but of course those are subjective and not calculated to capture buyers. My journey into stock photography is starting here at Dreamstime so I thank you in advance for helping me refine the title and keyword process!
Posted by Ellenboughn on December 13, 2007
British vs American terms Or just google "American vs British English
Posted by Pinkcandy on December 12, 2007
Look on internet, you have many dictionnary available....or Thesaurus is a good one too...
Posted by Bimmergirl on December 12, 2007
Thank you it helps quite a bit. But where can I find the spellings in American and in British because I don't know all the words from the two different countries.
Posted by Pamtriv on December 02, 2007
Thank you! I really needed this article.
Posted by Lelodier on November 24, 2007
Thanks for posting!!!!!
I really happy with answers!!!! :)
Posted by Roberto1977 on October 19, 2007
Thank you! Your articles are very interesting.

Rob.
Posted by Kutnkudly on September 25, 2007
Great, very useful article! Thanks for posting!
Posted by Avion49 on September 21, 2007
The politically correct terms to use to describe ethnic groups is a very difficult designation as they change now and then.

You got that part right! The current policitally correct term is the 3rd polite one that I can remember. (the earliest one is definitely one that my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap if she'd heard me call someone that!)

Sandy
Posted by Ellenboughn on September 20, 2007
The politically correct terms to use to describe ethnic groups is a very difficult designation as they change now and then. You are correct that 'African American' hardly applies to someone of African descent living in the UK. So some companies use 'of African descent' to describe people of color. But what if you are describing a white African? Just use the most polite form that is the custom in your country and language is the best advice I can give but know that in the US market, users will search on African American or Black.
Posted by KDImages on September 20, 2007
Before reading the article it would not have occurred to me to use African-American to describe dark skinned people. Would you still use the same description if they were dark skinned English people as they are neither African nor American but British. I consider myself white (skinned) and those of African descent black or brown - is this no longer politically correct in the wider world?
Posted by Charon on September 20, 2007
A lot of great tips.

On the 2nd last point. How about if the search engine could recognize / recognise those variations? I believe it'll save us a lot of time and keyword space.
Posted by Mpalis on June 03, 2007
Great article... Let's start revise our Keywords....
Posted by Nightangel666 on May 22, 2007
Putting keywords is quite hard when you don't speak English fluently. It's quite a challenge to me... I also put some non english words sometimes because people may sometimes search in their native languages... I don't know if they really do so...

Anyway, this article is really interesting and I loved reading it !
Posted by Ellenboughn on April 12, 2007
Ellen - Flamingo dancers? Don't you mean Flamenco? There are a few sites on the web that showcase dancing flamingos but I'm sure that is not what you intended in your article. One of the words that drives me nuts when searching is "interesting" (a bolded search word on the first page in the Free Image section of DT). Who searches with the term interesting, the results would be endless?
Thanks. I'll have the spelling changed. I agree "interesting" is a poor keyword. I'm going to contradict myself. I searched on "interesting" and found that, yes, most images should have that keyword eliminated but if you look just at the first page I think you'll see at least three images that "interesting' is ok. It certainly describes certain facial expressions and body language of some images but I wonder if the word would be used by designers to find those images.
Posted by Ellenboughn on April 12, 2007
Ellen - Flamingo dancers? Don't you mean Flamenco? There are a few sites on the web that showcase dancing flamingos but I'm sure that is not what you intended in your article. One of the words that drives me nuts when searching is "interesting" (a bolded search word on the first page in the Free Image section of DT). Who searches with the term interesting, the results would be endless?
Thanks. I'll have the spelling changed. I agree "interesting" is a poor keyword.
Posted by Red on April 12, 2007
Ellen - Flamingo dancers? Don't you mean Flamenco? There are a few sites on the web that showcase dancing flamingos but I'm sure that is not what you intended in your article. One of the words that drives me nuts when searching is "interesting" (a bolded search word on the first page in the Free Image section of DT). Who searches with the term interesting, the results would be endless?
Posted by Littlemacproductions on April 06, 2007
Extremely helpful! Thanks for calling keywording what it is: a sleep aid. Makes me want to give a big ATTA BOY (GIRL) to the keyword mentors.
Posted by Ellenboughn on April 05, 2007
I sent a photographer to Argentina last year and ALL he came back with were Flamingo dancers. But I stand corrected: yes! Spain and Flamingo Dancing.

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