The Practical Keyworder - The Mind of the User
There is a saying among librarians that "every book has its reader and for every reader, a book". Information organization is designed around this principle and this philosophy is relevant for any type of information that needs to found, including visual information.
For every image on our site there is someone for whom that image is the perfect thing - exactly what they were looking for. But how to bring together the perfect image and the perfect person? In past posts about keywording we have talked only about one half the equation - the image itself. But in order to maximum search success and bring images most efficiently to customers, it is also necessary to consider the other half - the mind of the user.
Stock photography is created for a very specific kind of user. As noted in the excellent article about stock basics "New to Stock?"
, stock photography is not art, it's a commodity. Stock is created for a commercial user with commercial needs. Stock images are used to sell products and to illustrate commercial marketing materials. Because of this, our customers use search terms that are geared towards very specific qualities in images - qualities that need to be described in keywords.
These qualities fall roughly into two categories that have been mentioned before (see "A Checklist Manifesto"
), compositional/aesthetic and demographic. Marketers and advertisers are driven by demographics and target markets; and images are not looked at in isolation. Commercial imagery is almost always used with text and in the context of other images, often within a prescribed color palette or design scheme.
One of the most important of these commercial qualities is the idea of "copy space", or room for text within an image. This bestselling image of a cute baby
includes the word "space" and also the word "copy". The search engine does not support multi-word terms, so "space" can be used alone, but adding "copy" can also help the user who is searching for both words at once.
This image also includes other aesthetic elements such as the dominant color, "green". Compositional qualities can also include the terms CANDIDS or PORTRAITS; subjects LOOKING AT CAMERA; CLOSE-UPS; DAYLIGHT; SINGLE SUBJECT; or STUDIO SHOT.
Cultural and ethnic terms are also important for advertisers and marketers although they are often used broadly (and sometimes inaccurately). This image includes the term "Caucasian". It is important to be sensitive when using these terms, while at the same time realizing that such words do, in fact, describe categories that are frequently used in commercial marketing.
Compare the bestselling sample image above with another image that has not sold:
This is a perfectly lovely image with plenty of copy space and very appropriate for stock. Although it has many keywords, most terms that a commercial user would find useful are missing. It does not include any terms indicating that it has copy space. It is a studio shot, but that is not expressed in the keywords. Also, the demographic, or age range, is incorrect. The keyword "baby" is used but the girl is not a baby, she is a young girl. It is important to be precise when using demographic terms that specify age range. There are also color elements like "pink" that are not included.
One last hint - although I see no immediate harm in using the multi - word keyword "copy space", using multi-word terms in general is a VERY bad idea. Try to use an equivalent single term whenever possible. This image illustrates why,
in searching for images of babies, I came across multiple images showing baby tomatoes. These images have not sold and it is no wonder. Users searching for babies would find baby tomatoes - imagine the frustration….
So remember - Always consider the mind of the user!