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How many keywords do you write?


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Maximum keywords 50. Many (and I) do this. But is it right?

Some stocks recommended only 15-20 keywords. If more, then "these will actually hurt your ranking". Shatterstock doesn't write like that, but maybe...

I try to attribute words to each photo by groups (for example): What, Where, Act, Emotion, Amount, Colour, Environment, Age etc. But the result (financial) does not please me at all.

Maybe my approach to keywords is wrong?

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The actual number of keywords is less important than having only relevant and useful keywords.   Sometimes you need all 50, and sometimes 20 is actually better and will lead to more sales.  This is a concept some people just don't get.  All the keywords have to be relevant and not too general --tacking on some irrelevant keywords just to fill space will actually reduce sales.

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Don't use any keywords that don't apply to the exact content of your image. And don't use keywords that are overly generic. 

Let's use your image for an example:  https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/caspian-gull-larus-cachinnans-large-member-1792049225

I would remove the following keywords:  animal, arm, aves. background, calm, careful, fauna, feather, few, fisher, foot, gold, landscape, laugh, lemon.

If I am looking for a lemon, and the search engine shows me your picture, and I do not buy it, it will reduce the chances your picture will be shown again in search results.  Your picture is not a background.  Feathers, foot, arm are not the subject of your picture.  It is not a background image.  Millions of images can represent calm so why bother?  Your image is not a landscape or a background.  Why is this picture "careful".  There are millions of picture of animals so why bother using that keyword? 

I would add:  seagull, standing, railing, pier, dock, four birds, sea gull, golden hour, sea, ocean, sea bird, row, sunset, sunrise.

Your description is just a scientific definition of a seagull and does not describe the picture:   "The Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) is a large gull and a member of the herring and lesser black-backed gull complex. The Caspian gull breeds around the Black and Caspian Seas". 

Nobody cares about a scientific description of a seagull so you shouldn't be writing a caption for a science book.

A better description might be "A group of four seagulls or gulls stand in a row on a seaside railing at golden hour near the ocean at sunset or sunrise with water on the horizon."

Notice at all the keywords I have also embedded into the description and I have described exactly what the shot looks like.

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11 hours ago, Doug Jensen said:

it will reduce the chances your picture will be shown again in search results

I wonder how the algorithm works in these cases. Granted the picture will be shown less or not at all in search results for this particular keyword after a while, will it also be generically penalized for all keywords? Likely something in the middle I would guess.

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On 12/3/2020 at 2:31 PM, Dmitrii Kash said:

Maximum keywords 50. Many (and I) do this. But is it right?

Some stocks recommended only 15-20 keywords. If more, then "these will actually hurt your ranking". Shatterstock doesn't write like that, but maybe...

I try to attribute words to each photo by groups (for example): What, Where, Act, Emotion, Amount, Colour, Environment, Age etc. But the result (financial) does not please me at all.

Maybe my approach to keywords is wrong?

There is no right number, it varies by the necessary number of words that are needed to correctly identify and describe the subject and image. I know some people live by the 50 rule, if they allowed 100 they would have 100. I won't pretend to have the only right answer or the absolute, my way is the bast way, attitude. I just think that logically and according to thoughts and systems, where views and zooms and downloads, make a difference to an image rank, I like the conservative approach.

If someone is not including important words, then that's going to hurt the search. If people add words that don't matter or apply, they won't gain anything from that and possibly hurt the rank.

The name of the image might actually matter for some agencies. The title for others, is stripped out. The Description (or title depending on who's calling it whatever) is important for some web searches. Some agencies, the words that are in the description and keywords, get a heavier positive weighting.

2 hours ago, Dmitrii Kash said:

Thanks, Doug, for the advice. I will follow them. 


Why is this duplication necessary? Isn't this just a waste of the number of keywords?

The description is to describe the image, not to just slam in extra keywords. It should also describe the visual content. 🙂

One way that has been used to explain what to use for description is "If you were someone looking for this image, what words would you use to search for it?' Same can be added for keywords.

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On 12/5/2020 at 3:57 PM, Doug Jensen said:

Don't use any keywords that don't apply to the exact content of your image. And don't use keywords that are overly generic. 

Let's use your image for an example:  https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/caspian-gull-larus-cachinnans-large-member-1792049225

I would remove the following keywords:  animal, arm, aves. background, calm, careful, fauna, feather, few, fisher, foot, gold, landscape, laugh, lemon.

If I am looking for a lemon, and the search engine shows me your picture, and I do not buy it, it will reduce the chances your picture will be shown again in search results.  Your picture is not a background.  Feathers, foot, arm are not the subject of your picture.  It is not a background image.  Millions of images can represent calm so why bother?  Your image is not a landscape or a background.  Why is this picture "careful".  There are millions of picture of animals so why bother using that keyword? 

I would add:  seagull, standing, railing, pier, dock, four birds, sea gull, golden hour, sea, ocean, sea bird, row, sunset, sunrise.

Your description is just a scientific definition of a seagull and does not describe the picture:   "The Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) is a large gull and a member of the herring and lesser black-backed gull complex. The Caspian gull breeds around the Black and Caspian Seas". 

Nobody cares about a scientific description of a seagull so you shouldn't be writing a caption for a science book.

A better description might be "A group of four seagulls or gulls stand in a row on a seaside railing at golden hour near the ocean at sunset or sunrise with water on the horizon."

Notice at all the keywords I have also embedded into the description and I have described exactly what the shot looks like.

While I would agree that a caption shouldn’t be/sound like a caption for a science book. however I’ve heard the argument made for adding the scientific name of plants/animals/etc that are the subject of the photo. THe reason being, I guess/hopefully remember correctly, is that someone might not just be looking for a photo of “a seagull” but a specific kind of gull (A Caspian gull rather than a ring billed gull, for example) and the scientific name is a way of helping photos show up if the searcher uses the scientific name.

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13 minutes ago, Adam Gladstone said:

While I would agree that a caption shouldn’t be/sound like a caption for a science book. however I’ve heard the argument made for adding the scientific name of plants/animals/etc that are the subject of the photo. THe reason being, I guess/hopefully remember correctly, is that someone might not just be looking for a photo of “a seagull” but a specific kind of gull (A Caspian gull rather than a ring billed gull, for example) and the scientific name is a way of helping photos show up if the searcher uses the scientific name.

Selling photos is different than video, and I only do video, so my advice may only apply to video.

For video, I would never clutter up the description with scientific names.

On the other hand, it might not hurt to put scientific names in the keywords but I highly doubt it will ever help make a sale.  And It would be a total waste of my time to look up that information when I'm doing my keywords.  Other people are free to do whatever they want, but that is my advice.

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44 minutes ago, Doug Jensen said:

Selling photos is different than video, and I only do video, so my advice may only apply to video.

For video, I would never clutter up the description with scientific names.

On the other hand, it might not hurt to put scientific names in the keywords but I highly doubt it will ever help make a sale.  And It would be a total waste of my time to look up that information when I'm doing my keywords.  Other people are free to do whatever they want, but that is my advice.

As an insect hobbyist.  🙂
For photos it can be important. Some insects only have a scientific name. Before starting Stock Photos, I was amazed about the mistakes in photos in newspapers and news. Now I know they were taken from stock sites. For example, my Dutch newspaper gets the photos from Getty. I once wrote them an angry mail when they talked about harmful weevils with a photo of a Rhaphigaster nebulosa a stink bug in the family Pentatomidae. I was in a working group, which gave all bugs a Dutch name to make it easier for people in the Netherlands.
When I started I was also amazed about the many wrong names on Shutterstock.
For example, if I search for Dolycoris baccarum, I already see 14 other species of bugs  ( https://www.shutterstock.com/nl/search/Dolycoris+baccarum ). I always look for the scientific names of insects. If someone knows about insects and wants to write an article, he will too.

 

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Caveat emptor.  I'd call a wasp a bee or a mule a donkey if I thought it would result in more sales. Unless I am submitting an editorial clip, it is my creative decision to describe my work however I want.  You'd be amazed at some of the clips I sell that are not really what they claim to be.  It is all about making the sale. Caveat emptor to the buyer. :-)

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31 minutes ago, Doug Jensen said:

Caveat emptor.  I'd call a wasp a bee or a mule a donkey if I thought it would result in more sales. Unless I am submitting an editorial clip, it is my creative decision to describe my work however I want.  You'd be amazed at some of the clips I sell that are not really what they claim to be.  It is all about making the sale. Caveat emptor to the buyer. 🙂

I think it's different with videos. But if, for example, a French, Chinese, Russian biologist wants to write about the harmful Viburnum Leaf Beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), (sold several times) he will rather search by Scientific name. That is why biologists do not prefer the common name, which is different in every language.
For a donkey, horse it is not important of course. You are right. To me, a wrong insect name is a bit the same when you post a photo of a dog and call it a horse.
Essentially, my newspaper buys the wrong photo under the mistaken belief that they know it on the Stocksites.

 

Here you can find all my wasps / bees   http://www.tuin-thijs.com/wespen,bijen,hommels-engels.htm 😁

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1 hour ago, Doug Jensen said:

Selling photos is different than video, and I only do video, so my advice may only apply to video.

For video, I would never clutter up the description with scientific names.

On the other hand, it might not hurt to put scientific names in the keywords but I highly doubt it will ever help make a sale.  And It would be a total waste of my time to look up that information when I'm doing my keywords.  Other people are free to do whatever they want, but that is my advice.

The advice I think was for photos (which is what I thought/assumed the OP was referring to). I have all of about 2 or thre videos up. The original advice I saw was reguarding photos. How much time to take looking up scientific names I guess depends on the person and familiarity with his/her subject matter (and how often he/she is taking differente pictures with the same animals/plants/fugi in them). I am sure it doesn’t hurt. How much it helps is another matter.  

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Usually I try to get the 50 keywords full. And so far this was not an absolute wrong decision.

More difficult I find the topic with the image description. I still don't know how important this is for the internal search at shutterstock. Nor do I know what role it plays in the search engines.

Doug has written several times that contributors have a hard time if English is not their mother language. I can only agree with that. The topic of describing an image is still a real problem for me.

I have never uploaded any videos. So my statement is subjective: I think it doesn't matter if you upload videos or stills: the topic keywords and description is probably the same for both areas.

 

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2 hours ago, Doug Jensen said:

Caveat emptor.  I'd call a wasp a bee or a mule a donkey if I thought it would result in more sales. Unless I am submitting an editorial clip, it is my creative decision to describe my work however I want.  You'd be amazed at some of the clips I sell that are not really what they claim to be.  It is all about making the sale. Caveat emptor to the buyer. 🙂

On this one, I'll have to disagree with you. The buyer relies on the contributor to label the asset correctly. That said, since titles are searchable on Shutterstock, I often go about it in a sneaky way, if I want to include a certain keyword. For example: "Close up of a grey mule, often mistaken for a donkey" - now I have both of the keywords in there without misleading the buyers, and they can decide how they want to proceed from there.

I have an image of an agricultural pest that only gets downloaded with the keywords being its incorrect name.

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15 minutes ago, Milo J said:

On this one, I'll have to disagree with you. The buyer relies on the contributor to label the asset correctly. That said, since titles are searchable on Shutterstock, I often go about it in a sneaky way, if I want to include a certain keyword. For example: "Close up of a grey mule, often mistaken for a donkey" - now I have both of the keywords in there without misleading the buyers, and they can decide how far they want to bend the truth if the like the image.

I see your point.  But just for the record, my slight of hand is usually more to do with the location or the real nature of the subject matter.  For example, an alligator in the Everglades will sell better than an alligator in an Orlando pond, but they look the same to the camera.  And I have a brown hot spring in Yellowstone that sells as water pollution.  I have water plunging into a container and bubbling up that I made look golden in post and it sells as gasoline.  The way I see it, I am merely helping editors fill a hole in their timeline. It's no different that hiring actors to play doctors, patients, business women, or anything else that is not who they really are.  No different than using mashed potatoes in a food shoot that looks like ice cream  Creative license.

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On 12/6/2020 at 8:06 AM, Ackab Photography said:

I wonder how the algorithm works in these cases. Granted the picture will be shown less or not at all in search results for this particular keyword after a while, will it also be generically penalized for all keywords? Likely something in the middle I would guess.

We simply don't know.

Alamy make it public that irrelevant keywords harm sales.  Adobe Stock discuss it in their keywording webinar.

SS havent given any hints at all about how their system works, whether media gets deranked if not clicked on or not.  They operate in complete secrecy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Many thanks to everyone for the advice in this thread.
I started changing my keywords and found that there is some misunderstanding. English is not my native language, so my problems may be commonplace for you...

1. landscape
I wrote this word not as "scenery", but as "horizontal". Landscape / portrait I add in every photo. Shouldn't this be done?

2. Common words are also sometimes useful? For example, for the query "tenacious animal" my beetle is shown on the first page, "few birds" - flamingos, "fisher birds" - egret. Although ... there are no sales for these photos.

3. Should I add "no person, without people"? Shatterstock has a "People - With people / Without people" option in the search form. How it works? By keywords that I explicitly add or do they have their own algorithm?

4. Some photostocks determine the country by EXIF, but Shatterstock does not. He suggests to fill in "Location (optional)" when uploading. Should this be done? There is no country search option in the search form.

5. Doug recommended adding "sea gull", "sea bird". Separately ALL these words I have - sea, gull, bird. Why add phrases?

6. After Doug gave a link here for a picture of seagulls, it sold immediately :)
Is this a coincidence or does the search algorithm consider the increased number of views of the image as a bonus?

7. How can you change keywords quickly across your entire portfolio now? The catalog manager only offers to edit one photo at a time. I have over 500 images. It's crazy to edit them one at a time ( Maybe just delete old photos and upload them again?

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