Image descriptions: A place for unrelated keywords?

posted on 29th of may, 2013

I was looking up random images trying to figure out and list a number of potential subjects in demand. Right now I have no proper gear and not enough time for much. Next month, I think I will have both. Plenty of it. Hence the casual research in free time.

And see what it turns up.
I searched "revenge" (I didn't know what else to search for)...and quite some images turned up in the search results. "Quite some" means a thousand or more images. I hit the "most downloaded" category because the most relevant isn't really relevant for me as of now.
I got this image in the search results, on second row of first page:

© Fet (Help)

Why did this image turn up?
Keyword spamming? Not really. It turned up because it has "revenge" in its description. ONLY description, not the title or keywords. Makes me wonder, if I wrote my story of capturing a grasshopper photo in description like this:

"I clicked the photo of this grasshopper when the majestic lion was roaring behind me and my camera flash failed to fire because of the fear and after shooting the image I was so scared my camera dropped and broke by accident. Then I remembered I did not have any insurance. But I was happy the memory card still had the shot. I always think positive."

Okay, this is stupid exaggeration. But think about it, how do the words in the description count in a search result? I'm sure many images have strange and sometimes such exaggerated descriptions. It is also very easy to put some relevant unrelated keywords in a description without realizing it. The contributor with the above image probably used a translator or some tool and ended up with "revenge" by mistake.

Now this makes me think...what is the priority of keywords INSIDE descriptions? Will they also turn up in the most relevant category? Will my image turn up if I wrote a title with some main words but didn't include it in keywords?
My image for "revenge" turns up on the second or third row of the most relevant category... keywords do matter a lot. And hitting on something like this makes things a little confusing.

What do you know about the relevancy of keywords and where they are mentioned? What is the optimal number of words for title? What is the best number of keywords?
Share what you know! It would help us all. :)

Comments (20)

Posted by Robinstockphotos on June 01, 2013
But I'll put name in every possible field including "comment to editor" if Mr. Obama signed a release for me. ;)
So apple pie beach should be there unless you know for sure it is world famous like Times Square. And some cunning fellows would make a model stand there with an apple pie and thus be eligible for including the keywords "apple" and "pie". Better sales potential I guess. :P
Posted by Igordabari on June 01, 2013
What if there is a beach called "Apple pie beach"?

It could be. In Italian town Bari where I lived for some years there was a beach called Pane e Pomodoro (which means Bread and Tomato). :)

But be agree: the probability that somebody will look just for this specific beach is negligible small. The most probably buyer will look simply for an image with a beach. Buyers generally need concept of beach rather then specific beaches. So, on my opinion, to increase relevancy and, concequently, also sales, one should not include apple and pie both in keywords and description. In fact, these words are irrelevant in this case.

Have a look at the Yuri's photos with models. For sure, all the people there have their specific names like Monika or John or Lucia or Artur, etc. But you will not find these names among keywords. They are also missed in titles and descriptions. Which is correct, I believe.
Posted by Imagerybycharly on May 31, 2013
I searched apple and that image didn't show up in the first 11 pages using most relevant, but .... I can see images of NYC coming up in a search for "apple" since it's famous nickname is "The Big Apple". It's a very common reference here in the US, often used more so than New York City. :)

Of all the searches I've done on DT, rarely does something come up that doesn't match my search on some level. Sure some are a stretch, but I got their use after a bit of thought. ;) And nothing is ever "perfect", though we'd like it to be.
Posted by Robinstockphotos on May 31, 2013
What if there is a beach called "Apple pie beach"? I'm sure there are things like that in our amazing and huge world.
You really can't do anything about it. Somebody would search "Girl apple pie" and find a girl on the beach instead of a girl eating a pie. And there your keywords get reported and your account deleted. Helpless, really.

Maybe just bother about targeting the right customers and forget about the rest. DT doesn't reveal much so we cannot really make things "perfect".
Posted by Igordabari on May 31, 2013
An Editorial photo is supposed to be "newsworthy" so location is important (essential, even)

Right you are.

Then it's worth to include location in keyword set, isn't it? Otherwise how buyer will find what is important for him/her?

There is no an abstract 'importance'. Saying 'it's important' we mean the 'searchability'. According to me there is no other crirerium for 'important'.
Posted by Vilaimages on May 31, 2013
An Editorial photo is supposed to be "newsworthy" so geographic location is important (essential, even) in my opinion. But it is ok to disagree Igordabari, best wishes to you and your sales too.
Posted by Igordabari on May 31, 2013
to Pratik:

Really? It doesn't matter how many keywords you include? I'm 101% SURE that I saw some admin mention that 4-5 words in title and 25 keywords is the best for good search placement. The admin was probably Nikitu. I tried but couldn't find the post again. :/

The DT policy changes reflecting the market changes. It might be a reason for different statements from admins. But, anyway, 25 keywords are quite enough in the most cases, be agree.
Posted by Igordabari on May 31, 2013
@ Vilaimages My respect to you, as well. But respecting you I, at the same time, just can't accept your point of view. I have had a look at your image (by the way, it's nice and IMHO deserves sales which I wish you :) ). I think that 'beach' would be relevant as a keyword since beach is clearly presented. As for 'Florida'... If you think that it's important for some amount of buyers - it's worth to include 'Florida' both in description and keywords. If you think that nobody takes care of where the image has been taken - then you shouldn't include 'Florida' in yor keywords. But by the same reason it should be exluded from description, as well. Why should I keep a word in description if the word is of no use for anybody? But if it's supposed to be of some use, it should be presented also among keywords.

This is my logic. If somebody looks for 'a', 'b' and 'c' it's important to keep 'a', 'b' and 'c' both in description and keywords. If 'b' (for example) is irrelevant as a keyword,...(More)
Posted by Robinstockphotos on May 30, 2013
Well SEO stuff never gets old. I'm sure they modify algorithms here and there once in a while. periodic discussions may only make things better for us.
Really? It doesn't matter how many keywords you include? I'm 101% SURE that I saw some admin mention that 4-5 words in title and 25 keywords is the best for good search placement. The admin was probably Nikitu. I tried but couldn't find the post again. :/
Posted by Vilaimages on May 30, 2013
With all due respect to Igordabari, your experience and amazing portfolio, I disagree. In a description of, for example an Editorial image, you need to describe a situation, action, event or character using words that are necessary and valid but by themselves have nothing to do with the title or the subject. The sample you are giving below with the girls playing is correct, but unfortunately the same criteria cannot ALWAYS be applied. For example, on my last submission, a red convertible parked in front of a beach. In the description I used "A classic red convertible at a popular sunny beach in Fort Lauderdale, FL". Are "popular", "beach", "Fort", "Lauderdale" or "FL" relevant words by themselves to the subject? no, but I think they are ok in the context of the sentence. I don't think your sample con be used in ALL cases.
Even though this must be a boring discussion to many old and experienced contributors, for amateurs and new contributors is important to know. Imagine having to revise...(More)
Posted by Igordabari on May 30, 2013
If we try to concentrate on our descriptions, we can make them out of only keywords. But it would take efforts and time.

For me it takes much more efforts to complement relevant words in description by irrelevant ones. To compose description out of keywords no efforts are needed. Given that keywords are properly choosen. Which is a subject of experience.

Next big question is - does the number of keywords or contents of description field count while placing images under "most relevant" category?

(1) I did not bookmark a post from an admin in which it was clearly explained that number of keywords plays no role. Given that all they are relevant, of course.

(2) Content of description rules. And I am quite sure about that.
Posted by Lenutaidi on May 30, 2013
Robinstockphotos,I agree.Most of us took titles and keywords seriously only and yes I think descriptions is important like keywords....by the way is weird what you found searching"apple"...:-)
Posted by Wisconsinart on May 30, 2013
This is old news, it's been discussed before.
Posted by Robinstockphotos on May 30, 2013
Igordabari, yes this is possible. If we try to concentrate on our descriptions, we can make them out of only keywords. But it would take efforts and time. Hardly any people know that descriptions are coming up with search too. Google will index the terms in the description, maybe. But DT? Wasn't really expected.
Okay, let us just assume that we have made all our descriptions from keywords. At least 80% of images. Possible, right?
Next big question is - does the number of keywords or contents of description field count while placing images under "most relevant" category?
Because if it does, the description becomes as important as anything else - which wasn't really the case. Most of us took titles and keywords seriously only. That is obvious from most descriptions.

By the way, I searched "apple" and got this: [imgr]8005911[/imgr]
Posted by Igordabari on May 29, 2013
How is it possible to use only relevant keywords on a description?

Let's imagine some image with 2 little girls playing on the grass. In this case description could be "Happy childhood concept: two children (girls) playing on the green grass under the trees with sunny summer sky as a backdrop". Or something of the sort. Please note that all marked words can be and must be among keywords. Perhaps, there should be no other keywords except for these ones.

Could you explain where I am wrong and what words are missed in my description which would be irrelevabt but needed?
Posted by Vilaimages on May 29, 2013
How is it possible to use only relevant keywords on a description? when something or a situation is described, many individual words might not have anything to do with the subject if they are taken out of context. I am really surprised by the fact that description words by themselves can be in the results of a search. To me, if this is the case, it is something that should be corrected.
Posted by Bobbigmac on May 29, 2013
A title field should contain 5-9 words at most, and should always be constructed primarily from the most relevant keywords also found in your keyword field.

A description field can be longer (upto 15-20 words) but should also consist of mainly the most relevant keywords, most search engines will index on keywords, but boost the position for keywords also found in the title and/or description field.

Both title and description field should be readable as a sentence.

Irrelevant keywords located in any field can only hurt your search ranking because it dilutes the visibility of an image and damages it's conversion rate (i.e. every time it appears in search results, but does not sell it can be penalised).

Always focus on using simple words rather unnecessarily superfluous terminology.
Posted by Suyerry on May 29, 2013
By looking at the photo and description, looks like the person probably meant to put "room" for your text. Not sure why revenge was used unless, maybe they used some kind of English translator and it didn't translate right. I agree with Igordabari on how title and description should be used.
Posted by Igordabari on May 29, 2013
The logic tells that description should be composed out of the principal (the most relevant) keywords and should be of 2-4 or (in rare cases) 5 words and not longer and description can be as long as one wants but should contain nothing except for keywords complemented by "and", "or", "along with", etc...

Not that other words would be considered by anybody as a spam but they will decrease the probability to find the image which results in low sales.

I think so.
Posted by Melonstone on May 29, 2013
Good observation - that's the difficulty with titles & descriptions, sometimes a picture is included in a search result not because it contains a related keyword, or even spam words, but because the word searched for is in the title or description.

If a word in a title or description does not relate to anything in the image is it spam or not? If it was classed as spam that means conceptual words may well be seen as irrelevant even if that's the not necessarily the case.......its a tricky one.

Of course, some "conceptual" words are clearly spam when they don't relate to the image in any way at all. It's all about striking the right balance, getting exposure without having word overkill.

Comments (20)

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Photo credits: Dmitry Fetisov.

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