Keywording your stock photos correctly is critical to their success!
Embedded Data – Title, Description and Keywords
Exif Data (Exchangeable Image File)
This is of massive importance and a little effort now will save you hours of work later on.
Exif data is data that is “embedded” permanently into an image including:
- Camera model
- Serial number
- Aperture rating
- Shutter speed
- Date/time image taken
- and a number of other things
You are also able to add essential data for stock photography such as the title of an image, a description of the image and all the keywords that relate to that image.
This has huge benefits…
In the beginning, it wasn’t possible for agencies to pull Exif data from images so you had to manually add this data to each image at every stock agency you uploaded to and this could take hours. It was best to keep a spreadsheet of all the data and just cut and paste all day long…boring!
Now, all agencies have the ability to pull data from each image as it is uploaded so all you need to do is add that data to each image once and you are done!
So why do we need this data?
When a buyer searches for an image, he will type in keywords that relate to what he is after. For example, let’s say I am looking for a shot of a woman sitting on a beach, the chances are I would type “woman beach sitting” and voila! The agency should produce a number of images with exactly that.
So what is the correct way to add this data to enable my images to be found?
Rule one, no spamming!
Spamming is when you add unrelated keywords to your image in the hope that it will be found more. For example, I may add the keywords “woman sitting beach” to an image of an airport, not related in any way at all.
That image would be found by someone looking for a woman sitting on a beach in the hope that they may also want a slightly related image with a holiday theme…naughty and likely to get you into trouble.
Don’t spam, it just isn’t worth it!
Effective use of words is paramount here so let’s go through each stage. First of all, in Photoshop, to add all the data go to File – File Info or press CTRL – ALT – SHIFT – i and that will bring up the data entry box, hopefully already open at the description stage. you will also find all of the EXIF data etc here too.
Keep it short and around 7 relevant words. Some agencies use the title in their search criteria so only include your most relevant words. For my image of a woman sitting on a beach I may add as the title…
“Young attractive woman sitting on sunny beach”
“Sexy woman in bikini sitting on beach”
The second is more likely to receive hits as sexy is a well used keyword for stock. Just make sure the woman IS sexy and NEVER include the word sexy or nude with words such as “teen” as this will get you flagged and possibly suspended.
Use your best and most relevant keywords that describe the image most accurately and don’t repeat words.
Again, keep this short, to around 15 words and simply describe what you see in the image but try not to use too many of the exact same words as the title, some agencies frown upon this. Use this opportunity to use the most relevant keywords again and include phrases such as “isolated on white” or “macro” or “close up” here as well as in the keywords, the more help you can give your images to be found the better.
So, a description for our young lady on the beach might be…
“Sexy young woman sitting on a sunny, sandy white beach whilst reading a book on vacation”
You are covering a lot of “keyword” ground already as this could be found if a buyer searches for terms such as:
- woman reading
- sexy woman reading
- woman on beach vacation
- sandy white beach
- reading on vacation
- reading on a beach
The better you describe the image can help it get passed inspection too.
For example, on first viewing, a reviewer may not fully understand your dull image of some uninteresting and every day mud. But if the title and description explain that the footprint in the mud is that of a prehistoric creature, he is more likely to pass it. Make the description factual and interesting using the best, most relevant keywords.
Whilst nothing gets more sales than taking a good image in the first place, effective and relevant keywording can also help push those sales.
Some agencies like fewer keywords, as little as 7 only, whereas others prefer up to 50. I normally include as many as I can up to 50. It is hard to establish how many keywords the agencies algorithms use or prefer so to be safe, keep them relevant and under 50.
It is also thought that you should always add your most relevant keywords first and then in descending order of importance. For example, using our lady on the beach I would keyword as follows:
Woman, beach, reading, book, sitting, sexy, bikini, white sand, sunny, vacation, holiday, travel, tanned, sea, ocean, water, seated, slim, attractive, lady, female…
Those are quite literal but don’t forget to add conceptual keywords too:
Relaxed, chilled, peaceful, secluded, happy (if she is smiling) and so on…
It is hard to know which keyword would get more hits, woman or beach…it all depends on what the buyer is looking for so don’t get too hung up on this.
If you have difficulties in thinking up keywords, look at similar images and use those as inspiration to think of your own, NEVER copy word for word, someone else’s keywords. You will be found out by regular forum goers and then get flagged as a spammer or worse. Not illegal but highly immoral.
Use a thesaurus too for inspiration but keep the words relevant and not overly complicated (e.g. “Long Fingers” not “Elongated Extremities”.
If you shoot a photo of someone in a house in Spain, unless you can see obvious Spanish artifacts or a view of a bullring from the window, there is no need to mention Spain…the house could be anywhere.
Here are a couple of images with the keywords I used when uploading:
Title: Smartly dressed couple at a dinner party
Description: Smartly dressed couple with Champagne chatting at a dinner party next to a swimming pool
Keywords: man; woman; champagne; dinner; party; dressed; smart; guests; evening; attire; dress; black; little; fashion; beauty; rose; drink; alcohol; glass; flute; people; breasts; boobs; chest; bosom; shirt; tie; swimming pool; sea; views; ocean; vacation; holiday; love; affection; diamond; necklace
I am sure I missed a few and that you could think of a few more but as I said, the idea is to say what you see with the most relevant keywords first and keep it less than 50 in total. Also remember that no matter how well you keyword an image, if it is no good it won’t well…period!
Check each agency and read up on their rules and regulations and follow them closely. Some sites also have hints and tips to help you keyword effectively…do your research.
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