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Clearly proper keywording is an art that I have failed to master.  Alamy's recent changes showing all keywords below the image makes that all too obvious.  Before I go back through and modify keywords for all 1671 images I'd like a clear plan of what I need to change.  Rather than focusing on additional keywords that are needed, I'd primarily like help with organizing and annotating them (of course I'll gratefully accept suggestions for additional keywords as well).  I'm guessing this discussion will benefit others as well.

 

For discussion purposes I've selected a recent image at random.  Most of my images have at least as many keywords as this image and many of them have more.  I've provided the image information as I entered it below and the very last section includes the keywords as reorganized and edited by Alamy.  Until this week I had no clue what Alamy does to the keywords but now I recognize it's a miracle any of my images are found at all.

 

Questions that come to mind are:

  • How do I format "United States of America", "United States", "North America", North American", US, USA, U.S., U.S.A., etc.  and where do I put them?
  • What about city and county names like Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale, Saint Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Saint Johns County that have alternate spellings and multiple words.
  • my name "Lynn Palmer"
  • Entering website URLs like  www.lynnpalmerstudio.com and so forth.
  • Inclusion of plurals
  • English vs. American spellings, commonly used names from other languages?
  • Inclusion of common misspellings
  • Orientation and image qualities like portrait, landscape, black and white, B&W, color, vertical, horizontal, pano, panorama, etc.
  • and anything else I've missed...

 

Image:  DRTDP8

 

Caption:  Arched transom window, dated arch keystone and entry porch roof of the lighthouse keeper's cottage.

 

Description:  Arched transom window, dated arch keystone and entry porch roof of the lighthouse keeper's cottage. The Saint Augustine lighthouse was built in Saint Augustine on Anastasia Island in 1874. Designed by Paul J. Pelz it stands 165 feet (50 meters) tall, has 209 steps, eight landings and is listed on the U. S. National Register of Historic Places.

 

Location:  Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida, USA

 

Keywords As Entered:

 

Essential  Arched transom window dated keystone 1871 porch roof
 

Main  [Anastasia Island] historic lighthouse quaint [st. Augustine] [saint Augustine] 1871 1874 [st. Johns County] [saint Johns] Florida FL USA
 

Comprehensive  America American "United States" "United States of America" "North America" "Lynn Palmer" "www.restlesslightphotography.com" "www.lynnpalmerstudio.com"

 

Keywords As Shown by Alamy:  America, American, "United, States", States, of, America", "North, "Lynn, Palmer", "www, restlesslightphotography, com", "www, lynnpalmerstudio, com", Arched, transom, window, dated, keystone, 1871, porch, 1874, [Anastasia, Island], historic, lighthouse, quaint, [st, Augustine], [saint, Johns, County], Johns], Florida, FL, USA

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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Lynn and all,

 

 

I've been in the Photo Agency and now Photo Library business for decades and the following is just my own

 

opinion based on the experience and success or lack of it that I have had over decades.

 

 

First:  Take pictures that illustrate a story or an issue that is currently being discussed worldwide.

 

 

Second: Write ALL IPTC (caption information) that supports the image.

 

 

Third:  Sit back and wait.  

 

 

In my opinion, it does not make sense to keep working something.  Do it once and do it right, keeping in mind 

 

that NEWS and ISSUES change.  I keep promising to start going back and re-working the IPTC info on the images

 

that I have available on Alamy, but I have not at this time.  It is my opinion that Alamy is a great library of existing 

 

images.  An important resource for a picture researcher and I do my best to make my images and IPTC information

 

Serve that.

 

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I get the feeling sometimes that customers do not know exactly what they are looking for so they search using more general terms rather than specific.  I have been using the Microstock Keyword tool that was suggested by someone in another thread.  Link. It usually come up with less specific keywords that someone who is looking for ideas may use.  I think this may be the reason customers requested that keywords be visible.  Also the order of the words isn't as important as just having the words present somewhere in your keywords.  I noticed in your example photo that you don't mention vacation, tourism, fun, point of interest, coast, or coastline or other such keywords.  As this photo would appeal to someone doing a travel story it would be good to include those words.  I did a little research on how the search engine works and posted it here.  I put up a test image to play with so you can get a sense of how the search engine works.  I found that word order isn't as important as having the words there.  With the test image you can enter the keywords I provided in any order you care to and you will always get the test image.  It is an additive process, you can start out with one keyword and you will get a lot of results, but as you add more keywords to the search the size of the results become smaller and smaller.  As far as location is concerned,  if you put USA in the location field it will be found by the filter feature on the search page, but you should include it in your keywords also if you feel it is relevant so it can be found in a search.  Do include plurals because the search engine isn't fuzzy enough to include those. Do include as many mispellings as you can think of.  This search engine is not google and for good reason.  Yes to American and British spellings.  As far as image properties I would also include those.  One thing I take into consideration when keywording a certain image is how many like images are already on Alamy.  If there are 5 or 6 pages of images returned on a simple search I figure a customer won't mind scanning through all the pages, but if thousand of images are returned then more keywords would be necessary so that the customer can refine their search.  If Alamy contributors think you have good ideas they will copy them and you may have to go back in a year or so and add more keywords as there will be hundreds of photos where there once were few.  I think your website info should go in the description field.  Your name is going to appear with the photo but if you want it to be searchable without using the advanced search feature then include it in the keywords.  Hope this helps.  John

Edited by Johnnie5
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According to this recent Alamy blog, I don't think it is very much appreciated to add your website addres(ses) in the keywords. Their business is selling your work, not promoting it and pushing clients directly in your arms.

Just my two cents.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

Same thing occurred to me. Not a good idea.

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Philippe and John,

 

I included my artist website addresses and my name in the keywords not in an effort to redirect traffic elsewhere, but quite the reverse, to bring traffic I'm generating elsewhere to my Alamy portfolio.  To this end I put these website URL's in the comprehensive keywords, which until a few days ago were not even visible to clients viewing my images.  Whether including these URL's is effective is debatable, but until this week there was no chance they were directing traffic elsewhere.  I might also note that unlike many contributors to Alamy, I am for the time being exclusive to Alamy.  I sell prints on a POD which generates a fair bit of traffic but I don't sell stock images elsewhere.  However, if after a few more months I'm unable to generate more traffic and sales through Alamy I may be forced to consider other options.  I should add that Alamy's automated sweep hasn't found the URL's in 8 months but I will remove them now that they show below the images.

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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Philippe and John,

 

I included my artist website addresses and my name in the keywords not in an effort to redirect traffic elsewhere, but quite the reverse, to bring traffic I'm generating elsewhere to my Alamy portfolio.  To this end I put these website URL's in the comprehensive keywords, which until a few days ago were not even visible to clients viewing my images.  Whether including these URL's is effective is debatable, but until this week there was no chance they were directing traffic elsewhere.  I might also note that unlike many contributors to Alamy, I am for the time being exclusive to Alamy.  I sell prints on a POD which generates a fair bit of traffic but I don't sell stock images elsewhere.  However, if after a few more months I'm unable to generate more traffic and sales through Alamy I may be forced to consider other options.  I should add that I will probably remove the URL's now that they show below the images.

 

Clearly, this is why Alamy wrote the blog post - in advance of the new keywording display.  Until now, it wasn't of any great import - now it is.

 

Better get in there and remove the urls before a machine does:

 

We’ll remove all the contact details we find. This is an automated process and we can’t promise the rest of your metadata will stay as you originally entered.

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Johnnie 5,

 

I couldn't agree more.  I check common search terms on All Of Alamy every week and the vast majority of the searches are comprised of three or less commonly used words.  Examples from the first page of today's searches include; vector or vectors, car, cat, dog, family, ipad, alamy, facebook, paris, shopping, nelson mandela, Sochi, world map, apple, india, industry, forest, Dubai, couple, skiing--all mostly one word searches.  Because of this I've kept my keywords simple and for the most part my images are not being pulled up in irrelevant searches.  Thankfully when my images do get searched, the searches are returning smaller numbers of images where my poor ranking is less of a problem.  Unfortunately my images and keywords are not yet generating regular zooms and sales.  I will endeavor to take more appropriate, higher demand images but in the meantime I want to improve the keywords for existing images. 

 

Thank you for suggesting additional keywords.

 

I almost always include the location in the Main Keywords (at a minimum the City, County, State and Country).

 

I read your search discussion with interest when it was first posted.  It's worth a reread so thanks for including the link again.

 

I haven't been paying much attention to how many similar images are posted by others.  So far I take pictures when I run across interesting subjects in the course of living life.  Quite frankly my Alamy income and the income reported by others doesn't make me want to go out shooting specifically for Alamy on a speculative basis.

 

Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my post in detail.

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Chuck,

 

I agree, "do it once and do it right".  Unfortunately I don't think I have been doing it right and I would like to determine what I should change to make my tags more effective.

 

Over the past eight months I've read the discussions in the forum, Alamy information and thought I had done it right since I get regular daily views and few irrelevant search hits.  I've tried to be patient as well although my zooms are sporadic and not sufficient for the size of my portfolio. 

 

Based on an Alamy article I utilized quotation marks and square brackets to organize my keywords.  I later learned they hadn't been implemented in the Alamy system but figured they weren't hurting anything and if Alamy ever implemented quotations and brackets I would be good to go.

 

However this week Alamy began showing all keywords below the image and the results of my keywording disturb me. The brackets and quotation marks are scattered through my keywords, words have been omitted and the order has been changed.  I can only assume that word order is irrelevant and all attempts to create phrases are useless.  As an example, putting "Fort Lauderdale" in my keywords will lead to an image being pulled up under a search for Fort Sumpter, "Gulf of Mexico" in the tags of a Florida image will cause it to come up when people are looking for pictures of Mexico City, and so forth.

 

From what I can see, I should put each word in once and the order of the words is completely irrelevant.  I will include misspellings, alternate spellings and any foreign words commonly associated with the subject. As long as I have the extra space duplicate words are ok because Alamy will eliminate them.  I can type specific phrases but they will be treated as separate words (I say this because Alamy adds commas between every word).  I guess phrases are most effectively included in the captions and descriptions.

 

I agree that Alamy's library of images is an important resource for picture researchers and everything should be done to facilitate their use of it.  Clean, well organized IPTC data that supports easy searching should facilitate purchasing and hopefully will require less effort by Alamy staff.

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Questions that come to mind are:

  • How do I format "United States of America", "United States", "North America", North American", US, USA, U.S., U.S.A., etc.  and where do I put them?
  • What about city and county names like Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale, Saint Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Saint Johns County that have alternate spellings and multiple words.
  • my name "Lynn Palmer"
  • Entering website URLs like  www.lynnpalmerstudio.com and so forth.
  • Inclusion of plurals
  • English vs. American spellings, commonly used names from other languages?
  • Inclusion of common misspellings
  • Orientation and image qualities like portrait, landscape, black and white, B&W, color, vertical, horizontal, pano, panorama, etc.
  • and anything else I've missed...

 

 

 

1. all of them  - depends on the image

2. all of them

3. No

4. No

5. yes

6.yes and where appropriate

7. yes

8. some of them e.g. B/W, panorama but not portrait / landscape

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Thank you Peter.  Name and URL's have already been eliminated, still need to add more keywords, plurals, etc.

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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One thing I have recently discovered by using my test image is that when I enter in the keyword string of four of the keywords it will be the only image returned in the search.  If I add a keyword for location (USA, UK, Europe) I get the "sorry no images found" message.  When I created the test image I did not include those locations in the keywords but only in the location field.  It seems like a flaw in the search engine if it excludes photos by the addition of a single keyword.  If you are a customer it makes finding the photo you are looking for a real crapshoot and more a matter of pure chance because you have to enter the exact keywords that the contributor provided to find an image.  My Son and I were discussing this last night and came to the conclusion that Alamy needs to educate both customers and contributors on how to use the Search Engine.

Edited by Johnnie5

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Questions that come to mind are:

  • How do I format "United States of America", "United States", "North America", North American", US, USA, U.S., U.S.A., etc.  and where do I put them?
  • What about city and county names like Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale, Saint Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Saint Johns County that have alternate spellings and multiple words.
  • my name "Lynn Palmer"
  • Entering website URLs like  www.lynnpalmerstudio.com and so forth.
  • Inclusion of plurals
  • English vs. American spellings, commonly used names from other languages?
  • Inclusion of common misspellings
  • Orientation and image qualities like portrait, landscape, black and white, B&W, color, vertical, horizontal, pano, panorama, etc.
  • and anything else I've missed...

 

 

 

1. all of them  - depends on the image

2. all of them

3. No

4. No

5. yes

6.yes and where appropriate

7. yes

8. some of them e.g. B/W, panorama but not portrait / landscape

 

 

HI Lynn!  Generally I would agree with the above, but I feel more importantly, whenever you take an image for stock, you must be asking yourself the question "Why would somebody want to buy this image and what would they use it for?",  and then your keywords should reflect that. particularly the Essential keywords

 

Cheers

 

Kumar

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There are many right answers. The best: check your particular subject against real world all of alamy searches. If researchers use U.S. Capitol, use that. If they use US Capital use that, even when you think it's wrong. Same goes for USA or US or American or Amerika. Actually same goes for the whole dictionary.

Now comes the tricky part: do the wrong views for all those keywords outweigh all the right ones (or vice versa)?

Will all these views, but no zooms or sales drag you down?

Of course they will.

Will the occasional sale from a wrong or less used keyword offset that? 

Your call ;-)

 

wim

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I'm getting a lot of good advice but I don't want to neglect the basic mechanics of how key words work and the effect of Alamy's recent changes.

 

As an example I entered the following key words...

America American "United States" "United States of America" "North America"

 


and after adding commas between each word and eliminating duplicate words Alamy displays it like this...

America, American, "United, States", States, of, America", "North,


 

How does this truncating of phrases, separation of words by commas and orphaned words like "North, affect the search?  Isn't the order of the words supposed to be important?

 

When I first started entering keywords I read an Alamy article that suggested using " " for exact phrases and [ ] for groupings of words.  I have since learned Alamy doesn't utilize " " and [ ].  This is a shame as use of these would solve many of my problems.  For example [Ft. Fort Lauderdale] or [st. Saint Johns County] or [Daytona Beach] would make perfect sense.  The use of " " would solve many other false searches.  As an example, "iron horse" as an exact search term would only bring up railway engines while currently it brings up horses of all types and images depicting anything made of iron.  I personally have issues when I use Mexican or "Gulf of Mexico" as a key word phrase.  Under Alamy's current system it brings up any picture taken in Mexico, pictures of Mexican restaurants from around the world or every Mexican Blue Wing butterfly in Alamy's collection.

 

Are there solutions to these key wording problems that I am missing? 

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Johnny5, 

 

This discussion is my attempt to educate myself (with a lot of help from all of you) in the ways of Alamy search and key words.  From what I can tell, most buyers use only the most rudimentary of key word searches.  As I pointed out previously most searches I see are comprised of just one to three very common words.  It's a miracle the searchers don't end up with many thousands of images in their searches.  There's someone who's searches are typically as follows:

 

white cat NOT dog NOT person NOT city NOT etc....

 

Oddly enough, such a specific search ends up pulling up thousands of images.  How those searches work is beyond my understanding.

 

Kumar,  For the next few months my available time is going to be limited so I've mostly stopped uploading (just 50 images in 2-1/2 months) and intend to focus on choosing better subjects and improving my keywords.  I know I have some images of dubious sales potential.  Rather than fretting about which ones I should remove from my portfolio, I'm electing to optimize the tags and move on.

 

Redsnapper, I presume plurals should be included only if there are 2 or more of an object or person in the photo.

 

Wim,  your suggestion to research key words in All of Alamy makes sense and I'll be doing just that more often.  To date I've been spare with my keywords and as a result don't feel that I'm pulling a lot of views that aren't pertinent.  Unfortunately I'm not pulling a lot of views or zooms at all.  My 1600 images are averaging just 800=1000 views a month with only 2-3 zooms per month after eight months on Alamy.  I'm guessing that's poor performance for a port of 1600 images.

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According to this recent Alamy blog, I don't think it is very much appreciated to add your website addres(ses) in the keywords. Alamy's business is selling your work, not promoting it and pushing clients directly in your arms.

Just my two cents.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

After checking my keywords, I found out, that 1/3 of my images contain my name and website in the comprehensive field. This happened automatically, because I have it in my metadata presets. I didn´t pay attention to this, because it showed up in the comprehensive field, only.

 

This time, I was really happy, that I use the Alamy Picture Manager (Lightroom plugin). It was a matter of a minute to delete my name and website, and to upload the corrected versions.

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Quite a few pf mine recent ones have it in the caption as part of a the byline - it was added when they were submitted via the news channel.

Shaows as: © M-dash/Alamy Live News at the end of the caption.

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Quite a few pf mine recent ones have it in the caption as part of a the byline - it was added when they were submitted via the news channel.

 

Shaows as: © M-dash/Alamy Live News at the end of the caption.

 

The caption in news images is generated by Alamy. There should be no reason to change it.

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