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Why put keywords in quotation marks?

 

In their guidelines Alamy state that putting keywords in quotation marks: "Tells the search engine to only find results where the search terms are an exact match for the keywords." And the benefits are: "... images keyworded in this way will be found earlier in the search results."

 

However, when I run a test on my own images this doesn't seem to be the case.

 

I chose the fairly unusual term "queen excluder" (a piece of equipment used by beekeepers), which gave me a manageable number of results.

 

When I enter the search term in quotation marks I get 19 images (under the 'Relevant' tab). My first image is number 8, and of the 7 images before it only one shows the term in quotation marks.

 

When I enter the term without quotation marks I get 193 results and my first image is still number 8 with exactly the same images (6 of which don't have the term in quotation marks) coming before it.

 

So, what's the point of adding quotation marks?

Edited by Alistair Scott
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  • 2 months later...

Quite new to the Forum, but hoping to shed some light on keywording-related issues. We work with a number of Alamy photographers (amongst stock libraries and archives) to improve search results, and as such, we're extremely interested in Alamy's search technology and strategy. It's been confirmed that, as Alan says, "double quotes" make no difference to the way the search engine works, neither does using [square brackets]. Alamy say this is unlikely to be implemented, as they are focusing on other areas of the site. Proximity is the main way to improve search results, i.e. the search engine will prioritise an image with relevant keywords placed in order. So adding 'blue car dog' means that a search on 'blue car will return images with blue cars first (so blue dogs, blue clothes, blue whatever will take lower priority).

 

Alamy claim that "the other additional syntax annotation options are not live as not enough contributors have used them to make it worthwhile releasing". I'd be curious to know what proportion of photographers Alamy would deem significant enough to warrant implementing these? From experience, we know photographers (and keywording professionals) have used "" and [] based on the Alamy Annotation Guidelines on their site, but as we now know these are inactive, we feel it is worth taking the opportunity to clarify this whenever possible to avoid unnecessary work. 

 

Finally, Alamy comment that they cannot give a realistic timeframe of when (or even if) they’ll implement the search annotations they currently advertise on their site, as they are "concentrating development time to other areas of [their] search engine and other parts of the site."

 

I hope this is of some use. Do let me know if you'd like more background.

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Alamy claim that "the other additional syntax annotation options are not live as not enough contributors have used them to make it worthwhile releasing".

 

 

Which is a clever way of saying "We can't bothered". They know perfectly well (because we've told them via this forum many, many times) that lots of photographers would add quotes with enthusiasm if ever they were implemented. We all hate false matches that could be avoided by recognising quotes but we're busy people and are not going to spend time on something that doesn't have much chance of ever being useful.

 

I do put them in sometimes, but recently I realised there would be a major flaw - in order to prevent false matches you would also have to put quotes in the Caption field and that would look rather odd. So perhaps it isn't worth going to the trouble of using them after all.

 

Alan

Edited by Inchiquin
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If you use the three keywords you mentioned in a search you will get the same images returned no matter what order you put the keywords in.  They will appear in a slightly different order on the page, but much of that is determined by Alamy rank.  Try it out with the keywords you mentioned.  The more keywords you add to the search the more refined will be the result, with fewer images returned.  Try this thread for more info.  http://discussion.alamy.com/index.php?/topic/1787-does-anyone-else-know-this-about-the-search-engine/?hl=johnnie5#entry26442

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Quite new to the Forum, but hoping to shed some light on keywording-related issues. We work with a number of Alamy photographers (amongst stock libraries and archives) to improve search results, and as such, we're extremely interested in Alamy's search technology and strategy. It's been confirmed that, as Alan says, "double quotes" make no difference to the way the search engine works, neither does using [square brackets]. Alamy say this is unlikely to be implemented, as they are focusing on other areas of the site. Proximity is the main way to improve search results, i.e. the search engine will prioritise an image with relevant keywords placed in order. So adding 'blue car dog' means that a search on 'blue car will return images with blue cars first (so blue dogs, blue clothes, blue whatever will take lower priority).

 

Alamy claim that "the other additional syntax annotation options are not live as not enough contributors have used them to make it worthwhile releasing". I'd be curious to know what proportion of photographers Alamy would deem significant enough to warrant implementing these? From experience, we know photographers (and keywording professionals) have used "" and [] based on the Alamy Annotation Guidelines on their site, but as we now know these are inactive, we feel it is worth taking the opportunity to clarify this whenever possible to avoid unnecessary work. 

 

Finally, Alamy comment that they cannot give a realistic timeframe of when (or even if) they’ll implement the search annotations they currently advertise on their site, as they are "concentrating development time to other areas of [their] search engine and other parts of the site."

 

I hope this is of some use. Do let me know if you'd like more background.

 

Nice to have you on board!

 

You are right about word order.

 

Quotes now do play a role in the presentation of keywords to clients. On the page that is called comp or zoom or preview page keywords are now presented in alphabetical order, with duplicates removed. Except for everything that's between quotes. So blue, car, dog, "blue car", "blue dog", will appear as "blue car", "blue dog", blue, car, dog. Allowing a client to click on a key phrase. Which will be treated by the search engine as blue AND dog not as "blue dog" btw.

 

For not enough contributors, also read: agencies.

With so many images provided to Alamy by other agencies, it's highly unlikely that any other syntax will be introduced. However most if not all contributing agencies have found a way to populate the 3 different tiers of input boxes for keywords. Finding a way to put quotation marks around a key phrase would be really easy. In fact so easy that it would be best if conversion would happen at Alamy's end. Of course if they would leave contributor's punctuation intact, it would be unnecessary. All keywording software allows for more than one word to be used between commas or semi-colons in a keyword field. A very simple check or tick box would suffice: keep my punctuation for my keywords, in the new Manage Images tool.

In the conversion from Excel sheet agencies use, it could take the form of if punctuation is present, do not add our own.

 

If clients use quotes it does have the effect it should have: for "blue dog" car only images of blue dogs are returned, if they have the exact phrase blue dog in their keywords.

 

Personally I'm for giving the client a choice between an exact and fuzzy search. A slider would be best: with singulars/plurals; US/UK spelling and maybe even US/UK synonyms.

Which would be highly confusing for British buyers, but a real benefit for non-native speakers who have no idea that a truck is called a lorry or a hood is called a bonnet in a small part of the world. ;-)

(OK - Australia and Canada are massive of course.)

 

wim

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Using quotation marks to separate out multi-word keywords such as "blue dog" seems rather clumsy to me. Surely the standard is to use comma delimiters, for example: red, green, blue dog, breed (etc).

 

Unfortunately this would require most contributors to re-edit the keywords in most of their images, since commas have been optional up to now and I doubt if most of us bother to use them (apart from anything else, they take up precious space with a limited number of characters available in the field).

 

Alan

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As you know from searches on Google, quotation marks have a very specific purpose in searches.

Commas or semicolons are just the delimiter or separator of data. Commas are most widely used, but I have seen at least one agency here on Alamy using the character | to separate keywords, without a space. Probably to cram more words in or in the hope it would circumvent the Alamy keyword=one single word problem. By using exact key phrases, one needs a lot more space for keywords than there is now. Initially Alamy provided a 2000 character input box for Comprehensive.

 

wim

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As far as I can see, commas do in fact work the same as quotations. 

 

Not quite sure what you mean by that. When keywording images, they have two completely different functions.

 

And in any case, the fact still remains that if Alamy were to suddenly make commas significant, all the photographers who have ignored them because they were optional would have to re-keyword every image in their collection. Unless Alamy were to automatically add them in which case many keyword fields would become too long for the space available.

 

Alan

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Of course if they would leave contributor's punctuation intact, it would be unnecessary. All keywording software allows for more than one word to be used between commas or semi-colons in a keyword field. 

 

End of story! Never understood why this was stripped by Alamy- likely because of character counts of individual the keyword fields...? But then again, we probably wouldn't need those either (or quotes or brackets, etc) if phrases stayed in tact in the first place!

 

-Jason

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