The Practical Keyworder - Deep Search

Images are not made of words, but words are the only means by which we can organize, identify and find images. I've often wished that I could translate the look and feel of an image that I am searching for into something besides words - is it possible to search by painting or drawing a picture and somehow feeding that into a search engine? No, I didn't think so! Until that is possible, we only have words and we need to learn how to use them - both for our own success and for the success of our Dreamstime community.

In past articles I have talked about the importance of understanding the specific Dreamstime search engine and how to use it effectively. I've talked about things like how to create a controlled vocabulary and about expanding concepts in a structured way ( Concepts - one thing leads to another) for focused search results. Keywords are the "keys" that unlock your images for the users and designers that are part of our community.

But, going one step further, we can see that Dreamstime itself is a key that fits into a larger system of search tools. Metasearch engines, like Google and Yahoo, have different infrastructures and different ways of searching than the local Dreamstime search engine. These larger systems are something that contributors should keep in mind as they keyword their images so that visibility and search relevance are increased both within the Dreamstime site and within metasearch systems.

Part of this topic has been covered in a wonderful article here on Dreamstime Understanding search engine visibility. I urge you to read it for tips on effective captioning and descriptions for multilevel, meta search. Another very useful resource can be found at Controlled Vocabulary dot com. This site has wonderful, clearly written explanations of some of the basic concepts of search engines, both local and meta, such as controlled vocabulary*, vocabulary standards, metadata*, captioning, descriptions and so on.

This may seem like a lot of trouble - why can't we just take beautiful, stunning pictures and leave it at that? Well, maybe one day a search method will be invented that finds the exact image that is desired without the muss and fuss of words - but until then, don't let your beautiful images get buried and lost because of poor keywording and metadata!

Some definitions:

*Controlled Vocabulary - a selected list of words and phrases which are used to tag images. Controlled vocabularies reduce ambiguity inherent in natural language and connect related terms - someone searching for "movies" would also retrieve items tagged with the related terms 'cinema' and 'film'.

*Metadata - Information about data or 'data about data'. Data that is not an inherent part of the object itself. information regarding the characteristics of any object, such as its name, location, importance, quality and relationship to other objects in the collection

Good luck!

Photo credits: Lavitreiu.

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November 15, 2010


Just find your article. Thanks for the link :) For sure your complete blog is interesting and usefull. Keep up!

June 14, 2010


All you say makes a lot of sense, the problem is real and difficult. Unfortunately the facts in the field -my experience at DT, do not support investing in all this science. Out of the last 20 sales I had, 14 were picked with NA as "Buyers searched after". The other 6 that have the information had mostly single words like "california", "gardner", "violin", very few have 2 words like "field flower" or "course golf".
Maybe the buyers need to become more sophisticated in their searches for all this to work.

June 14, 2010


You can take beautiful, stunning pictures and leave it at that - if you use keymasters ;) Thanks for the links...

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