Developing your own keywording strategy


Being a photographer who wants to market its images well, you need to take care of metadata and keywords. Without an image description and appropriate search phrases, photos cannot be marketed. This certainly is not a task with relish, but it probably is a necessary chore. It’s for a reason you choose to be a photographer, rather than a taxonomy specialist.

However, you can make a virtue out of a necessity. If you solve the task at hand efficiently, you are way better off as anyone who neglects this issue, or simply avoids it altogether. Efficiency means: To get the best results in the shortest timeframe possible. Efficiency gets a boost by a dedicated strategy. If your software supports your keyword strategy, your keywording can become a prolific routine-job.


In 3 steps towards efficient keywording

  1. Make an image description
  2. Use the image description as a starting point for adding keywords
  3. Add standard keywords

The image description has a high relevancy for ranking in Google and other search engines. A good image description supports and simplifies keywording. In KIM Keywording, our own Keywording software, the caption and headline field can be evaluated by the Wizard Function. It will find all keywords from the description in the keyword database and display these for you to select. Selection will result in adding complete strings from the keyword hierarchy to your set of keywords. Writing a caption in KIM Keywording is not extra effort, but actually a speeding up of the keywording process. If any keywords are missing, add them. Finally get to the standard keywords. KIM Keywording supports you with freely definable QuickLists, where you store any commonly used keywords for a quick access.


What are standard keywords?

Standard keywords are those you frequently need. Of course there will be huge differences between the preferred keywords of an outdoor photographer, if compared to a museum photographer. Standard is, what is good for the job. Standard phrases are also those which are helping your future image buyers to find the image. There is a need for words and phrases which allow the image researcher to limit or expand the search results. In this group you will find criteria to broaden or to limit the search results.

Typical standard phrases can be

  • Thematically relevant: Landscapes, Age Groups, Topics of your last photo journey…
  • Situation: Indoor/Outdoor, Day/Night, Studio/Event…
  • Excluding: Nobody (no persons in the picture)…
  • Dominant visible colours: Blue, Orange, Green, Multicolour…
  • Frequently used names of: People, Events, Buildings…
  • Image type: HDR, Monochrome, Illustration, Vector Illustration…
  • Angle and view: from above, from below, side view, looking at camera…

These standard phrases should be easily accessible during the process of adding keywords. In KIM Keywording so called QuickLists are used. You can fill Quicklists directly from the keyword database. When applying words from a QuickList, automatically the complete strings from the hierarchy are applied. QuickLists should give you a standardized approach to frequently used keywords. This will raise the quality and consistency of your keywording.


Strategic approach

Search for your own best keywording strategy. To be able to repeat the same workflow will help you to repeat the same quality and output results. Any software should help you reach that goal. Of no less importance though is a clear perception of the end result you want to achieve with your keywording.

  1. Who should find your images? Who is your customer and what and how do they search?
  2. Which platforms do you intend to use? Are there any requirements for keywording for those platforms?
  3. Do you intend to improve keywording over time, also for already keyworded images?
  4. Do you plan for any future developments of keywording? (multiple languages, exporting data).

The goal you want to achieve will influence your starting point. It can be necessary to adapt your strategy to comply with different projects. You will be happy if your software supports that goal. These are the technical aspects. There are other aspects as well, which have to do with the kind of keywords you add. Keep in mind that the photographer is not the end user. For the end user it is not relevant to understand the photographer. The person keywording is to be understood as a middle man. He or she should understand both the photographer and his intention as well as the needs of the image buyer.

For example, if you work within a certain industry with its own expressions, or if your company has a specific vocabulary or if there is a need for a certain language, you want to know this before as early as possible. This will help you to work with a clear perception of the ultimate results in mind.

Adding keywords to images can be compared to building bridges. Keywords help to form a bridge between the image (the photographer) and the end user of the image. Keywording is successful, if many people can use that bridge.