What keywords would you use for this image? Word Association has a load of suggestions to get picture buyers and sellers talking with each other. Image © Image Source/BC Images.
Word Association is a keywording consultancy service founded by Clemency Wright and Maura Framrose. It offers services such as keywording, data cleansing, thesaurus management and controlled vocabulary construction. They share with BJP, as part of our 11 Tips for 2011 series, their insight into the importance behind effective keywording.
If an image can’t be found, it can’t be sold; applying relevant, accurate and consistent keywords enables potential buyers to access images. In short, keywords sell.
Keywording is also a critical aspect of search engine optimisation for the photographic community in today’s ecommerce world. Think what makes search engines function best – the speed, ease and relevancy at which they deliver a desired product. Keywords form the vital link between images and buyers. Keyword well, and you attract sales. Keyword badly, and you lose out. Clients use different words to find what they want, so you must understand users’ search patterns and behaviours.
Trademarks of a successfully keyworded image include non-ambiguous keywords, appropriate synonyms, hierarchical terms and keywords sourced from live requests. The picture illustrates significant terms for lifestyle imagery: people terms (age, ethnicity, gender), compositional terms, key objects and concepts. Keywords should capture the essence of the image and highlight the most significant elements, so for this image we would suggest: Two People, Sitting, Back to Back, Footstool, Inside, Patterned, Wallpaper, Talking, Mobile Phones. Wearing Casual Clothing, Jeans. Full Length, Side View, 18-19 years old, Teenage Girls, Caucasian, Redhead Brunette. Smiling, Listening. Gossip, Friendship, Happiness, Reassurance, Support Communication.
Treat keywords independently, and keep nouns separate from adjectives – use “purple” and “vest top”, not “purple vest top”. Keep activities separate from objects, and numbers separate from the objects they enumerate – use “talking” and “girls” not “talking girls” and “two people” and “teenage girls”, not “two teenage girls”. Add depth with carefully selected concepts.
Be mindful of the end use and avoid inference. The girls could be students discussing boyfriends, but these would not be helpful search terms for clients. Over keywording dilutes search results and puts customers off. Not everything you see needs to be keyworded. This image includes a belt, for example, but it is not represented well so should not be added as a keyword.
Consider why someone would want to buy the image. If you were looking for the image, which words would you use to find it? If you were looking for an image of girls talking on mobile phones, would this image meet your expectations? If you only had the words but no image, could you visualise the image? As a final test, look away. What do you remember?
This article, and the other 10 tips from our panel of experts [to be published each day until 31 January], were first appeared in BJP's January issue, published on 05 January 2011. It's still available for purchase from your nearest newsagent until 02 February 2011. To find your nearest newsagent, check our Store Finder.
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