A rose by any other name would not sell as sweet

As stated in my previous articles, a crucial stage in thinking up your uploads is to step in your buyer's shoes: what do buyers need and what are they searching for? Or, most importantly, how do they search for our files? I have seen other users have also addressed this topic. I am pleased to see that you have tried your buyers' shoes not only for empathy reasons but mostly for business-related causes. Always keep in mind that you are selling something and this something does not sell simply because we want it.

It may sometimes be difficult to predict all market's needs. Furthermore, considering that most popular or best sold images are on topics that are very well covered in our database, contributors must constantly find solutions to increase chances of being spotted and downloaded. I have always talked about the importance of good keywording to help your image relevancy. Good keywording implies ACCURACY, correct description/title, an average number of keywords and of course, RELEVANCY.

In my opinion, successful keywording also implies naming exactly the animal, plant, fruit etc in your image. Maximize your image potential by matching as many search results as possible. BUT! Make sure your file contains only the info it needs to contain without spamming or relating to remote concepts . I will re-emphasize that if you mention concepts, these must remain exclusively in the description and not in the keywords.

Going back to the idea of good keywording, I will talk about the importance of being specific and reveal some instances of buyer requests to support the pieces of advice provided.

Often enough, I come across images with incomplete keywording while I see contributors complaining about files not appearing in searches. We later discover that their woman image did not contain the most obvious keyword: woman. Although this would be an interesting and important keywording aspect to approach, I will assume that you all check such minor details. I will assume that you all make sure your keyword sets do not lack the most obvious word while abounding in others.

Take advantage of the most relevant keywords:

This bride has ensured her appearance on the search result page of bride with flowers and she is also present in searches on flowers or calla lilly. I would have added also bouquet/bunch as keywords because you never know when someone will need a bridal calla bouquet. All in all, this contributor has covered several search possibilities taking advantage of what was not only obvious but also relevant.

The image on the right on the other hand has already left unexploited possibilities of appearing in more possible searches by omitting the name of the flower. While I advise the title to remain generic, the keyword peony would have ensured this lovely girl to appear in more searches. You may say that peony is not a common flower and very few would have looked for it anyway but no possible sale must be excluded especially when the keyword is so relevant for the file.

© Terex

Maximize search result placement:

Considering that the left image sticks to the generic wild animal denomination and leaves rather ambiguous the name of this otherwise extremely well-known animal, it will most likely sell only if someone looks for wild animal and actually had a lion in mind. The presence of lion in the keywords will not make the image stand out.

Searches on flower/flowers reveal huge number of search results. The chances of your image getting spotted in such searches are few. If you plan to sell an image through a more generic search as well, then you can leave the title flower, or animal, or fruit. Make sure you maximize sale potential by specifying which flower, animal or fruit you are selling in your file descriptions and keywords .

Think possible buyers:

I have mentioned earlier revealing some instances of buyer request. I had the surprise of seeing that there are buyers who search biological/botanical denomination. Don't be surprised if your meerkat image will sell for search keyword suricata suricatta or mongoose family or that your tulip sold for liliaceae. You can always include these “scientific” details in the keywords. I would not recommend them as title because they may restrain possibilities of selling the file unless florists or botanists visit and download files constantly but keep such buyer categories in mind when you add image info.

Stock may contradict Shakespeare at times but it has proven that what matters is not only what something is but also what it is called: the rose will sell better if it is both flower and rose :).

I don't really know what fish this is but I am sure it misses some sales :):

Photo credits: John Mccain Iii, Anne Kitzman, Doughnuts64, Okcomputer, Stanislav Tiplyashin, Igor Terekhov, Zorro12.

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Keywords are my Achilles heel. In the majority of cased, my download history shows that uses searched for ... N/A. They had downloaded an image but not based on any keyword. How come the hard work of key wording is N/A? Hope that after applying some of your advises, this trend will change and keywords will not only be part of the database but a useful hint to find some of my relevant images.


Thanks a lot for the nice tips...


its sometimes worth investing in flower encyclopedias, fish, butterflies etc, just to get the names of the species if you intend on shooting and uploading that sort of thing all the time. it can be time consuming going thru a whole book of butterflies or wildflowers but I found that sometimes buyers will search by species...not just butterfly or flower :D


This is very helpful! I understand some things better now. thanks!


Hm, my thought about deliberately incorrect spelling? Well, I have had my problems with this....because of British spelling and American spelling mostly. Although I know and use both....I always have the unpleasant surprise of having keywords underlined if I write them one way or the other. I don't think we should deliberately misspell our keywords because people are familiar with a certain spelling. As result of your post, I started performing a search and noticed that very many add several spelling versions. No news here. I already knew people try ten times before getting the right spelling: grafiti, grafitti, graffitti, graffiti . And this is not the only example. I check spelling when I am not sure of what I write. I think everyone should do it, native or non-native speaker.


Hey Tangie. Not to be picky but what is your thought about deliberately incorrect spelling in the keywords? For example: The real spelling for the flower in your article is "calla lily". However, as you can see even in your article and the search was "calla lilly". And many people will even search "cala lilly". Even the spell check on DT is underlining "lilly" as an incorrect spelling but people are still using it. From wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zantedeschia


Thank you very much for writing this very interesting and useful article! I love the title - very creative!


@ Sgcallaway1994: Regarding dog names, if you have several from the same series, you can try both possibilities. You can leave a generic name for one file and a more specific name for another. However, dog breeds are not extremely unusual and I think the a considerable part of our dog images are titled using breed names.


;) thanks


I have a question for you, I shoot a lot of dog images. Do I understand you to say it would be best NOT to put the breed name in the title, but instead include it in the keywords or decription? If I want the image viewed more often I should use the more generic "dog" in the title?


Thanks so much Carmen for this detailed review of keywording. It comes at a good time since I am in the process of re-keywording my entire (hardly extensive) portfolio.


Thank you Carmen.
Reading this and thinking about it I just realized that it's probably best to remove scientific names from titles. It will increase relevancy on the most important words and since there are not many files keyworded with species names, chances are that searches for those names will bring the files up anyway.


Oh, and about image modifications: it may take around 10 days at this point to see how the modifications work in searches. It is due to upgrades we perform but we hope to have this amount of time reduced in the near future.


@Digitalg: The search results depend on several factors and the image info is not the only criteria taken into consideration. It is no doubt the most important. The number of keywords may indeed affect relevancy however, as I explained in one of my previous articles, you need to decide: fewer keywords will increase search relevancy while more keywords will affect this relevancy but will ensure you more search possibilities and matches.
Regarding the title, yes, I advise you to keep it very short and focused exactly on what you want your image to be found for.


Very insightful. Thank you Carmen. I often have trouble finding enough key words, and thought searching for keywords for my images is a chore. Now I know I was wrong.


Enriching, indeed! Thank you, Carmen.


Great blog, really missed something useful like this. hope to see more from you Carmen


Very good article, I get a lot of harvest.


Talking about flowers... I've been working on a series of wild orchids and I've been playing with titles to see (a couple of days after each change) how those changes workout in searches. I wan't them to show in "wild orchid" searches, but I found that if the first words of the title are not exactly "wild orchid" at the very best I'll be relegated to second page. But then I also wanted those pics to show up on searches for "orchid", but the best I saw was about 50th page, even though orchid is the very first keyword I typed in!!! What I'm missing here is certainly the relevancy part. Can you share some hints on how relevancy works for title/description/keywords. Is it the number of words? Order I already know that is important, but maybe not for every word. eg. How relevant woudl be "small" (carrying negative weight) for a title "small flower" in a search for "flower" alone.
Great article anyway, thank you :)


Great advice thank you!


Thanks a lot for sharing this useful tips!


As always great advice, and learned some new stuff. thanks.


Thanks for the tips! I think my problem is using too much keywords. I it's hard to decide which of them to delete.

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