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Has Alamy changed its search algorithm (again!)?


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I have noticed that my zooms/CTR seem to have taken a bit of a knock again in the past month or so. Views have been holding up reasonably so I wondered whether the best images are not showing high up in searches.

 

In a search of "Bury St Edmunds" (Relevant search), I have a total of 80 images. 60 of those are very relevant and have Bury St Edmunds in the supertags and the caption. 20 are non-specific and have Bury St Edmunds as a tag or only in the caption. 

 

Yet in the Alamy search, I have 5 images on p1, three  of which are images that do NOT have Bury St Edmunds as a supertag. Indeed in the first 8 of my images showing up in the search, 6 are in the group of 20 images which do not have the supertag. This results in non-specific images (a close up of a stall at the Xmas market, children on a roundabout motion blur etc.) showing high up in searches to the detriment of better images for the search parameter.

 

Has anyone else noticed this?

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

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21 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

I notice that image are no longer identified as RM/RF until you rollover.

Still show as RM/RF on my screen - perhaps a browser issue?

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I used to play the BHZ game and still have my BHZ image on Alamy.

 

It used to be somewhere on page 1 but has suddenly dropped to page 7.:angry:

 

Could be something in what you say Kumar.

 

Allan

 

 

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The point I am trying to make is not that there has been a change in BHZ, but that images with the search term either in the caption only, or in the caption and ORDINARY tags, are appearing well above images with the search term as a SUPERTAG and also in the caption, resulting in less relevant images appearing higher in searches resulting in reduction of CTR and zoom numbers, and subsequently of sales - no good for the photographer or indeed Alamy and the purchasers!

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

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1 hour ago, Doc said:

The point I am trying to make is not that there has been a change in BHZ, but that images with the search term either in the caption only, or in the caption and ORDINARY tags, are appearing well above images with the search term as a SUPERTAG and also in the caption, resulting in less relevant images appearing higher in searches resulting in reduction of CTR and zoom numbers, and subsequently of sales - no good for the photographer or indeed Alamy and the purchasers!

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

 

My CTR has been regularly around 0.39 over the Christmas/NY period with views around 660 mark.

 

Today my views are still around 660 mark bur CTR has jumped to 3.50.

 

Whatever the change is it seems to benefit me and maybe others. A lot of my zoomed images do not have "Supertags".

 

Allan

 

 

Edited by Allan Bell
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Gnaa, gimme a break. I've just spent so many hours over the Christmas break trying to improve/set those bloody supertags on a whole load of images and work through a lot of older images to get them more aligned with the new AIM.  

Do I understand this correctly, that if the algorithm suddenly favours images without supertags, it would also, sort of by default, favour a. older images that have been in the catalogue for ages  and where contributors haven't made changes to keywords for a while, and b. images by large libraries/mass contributors who do not bother supertagging in the first place? That wouldn't seem particularly fair...so perhaps it's just a temporary thing? (please?)

Edited by imageplotter
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17 minutes ago, imageplotter said:

Gnaa, gimme a break. I've just spent so many hours over the Christmas break trying to improve/set those bloody supertags on a whole load of images and work through a lot of older images to get them more aligned with the new AIM.  

Do I understand this correctly, that if the algorith suddenly favours images without supertags, it would also, sort of by default, favour a. older images that have been in the catalogue for ages  and where contributors haven't made changes to keywords for a while, and b. images by large libraries/mass contributors who do not bother supertagging in the first place? That wouldn't seem particularly fair...so perhaps it's just a temporary thing? (please?)

 

Bazinga!

As in "have we been fooled again?"

Edited by vpics
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Just to drag this thread back off topic again, doesn't the visibility of RF/RM depend on whether you have large thumbnails or small?  I prefer the small thumbnails and see RF/RM and the Alamy Ref under each one as in TeeCee's illustration.  If I switch to large thumbnails I have to roll over as in geogphoto's illustration. I thought it had always been like that (I'm using Firefox).

Steve

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37 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

Here is the metadata for my highest placed image in the Bury St Edmunds search. It is one of those converted from Esskeys/MainKeys and has not been touched since.

 

6th out of 5,206 images

 

I0000yjXAJbVOQqA.jpg

 

Matches 3 supertags, 4 tags and the caption... looks like you have all bases covered there! :D

 

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4 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

 

But 'Bury St Edmunds' is not a Supertag.

 

Maybe Doc needs to look at a more straightforward search term to test out his theory? All too complicated :wacko:

 

Not as a single phrase.. no... but you have "Bury", "St" and "Edmunds" all as supertags which would all match... and for what it's worth with regards to proximity of tags, they appear next to each other in the right order!

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15 minutes ago, Matt Ashmore said:

..with regards to proximity of tags, they appear next to each other in the right order!

Which is what Alamy tell us is important. They no lie

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Perhaps it's just the "diversity algorithm" (whatever that is) stirring the pot?

 

Updating metadata -- e.g. creating supertags -- still seems like a good long-term investment to me.

 

I might draw the line at super duper supertags, though. B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alamy may well be tinkering with their algorithm.   Sort of like BIOS updates - they happen but who knows what they do.

I don't think rank (as judged by BHZ) has changed at all.

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17 hours ago, Matt Ashmore said:

 

Not as a single phrase.. no... but you have "Bury", "St" and "Edmunds" all as supertags which would all match... and for what it's worth with regards to proximity of tags, they appear next to each other in the right order!

Agreed Matt, all my tests of the search engine lead me to believe that "Bury St Edmunds" as one supertag  has exactly the same effect as "Bury" "St" "Edmunds" as three supertags in the correct order (ie transferred over from the essential keywords in the previous system.

 

My point is this. I have 80 images for Bury St edmunds. 60 of them have Bury St Edmunds in the caption AND as a supertag

 

In the first 2 pages of a search on Bury St Edmunds I have 10 images (so not a rank/BHZ problem). Great, you would think, BUT

 

Only 4 of them have Bury St Edmunds in the supertags. Six do not, and one of them does not even have bury St Edmunds in the tags - only in the caption !!

 

and these 6 images at least are appearing higher in the search than the other 50 images I have of Bury St Edmunds I have which are supertagged and captioned as such.

 

So why is this, Alamy? I am following the rules that you have given us, but you are not.

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

 

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17 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

First off nobody is certain yet that anything has changed. Secondly, anything that you have done to improve your metadata will have a positive effect. The worst that could happen is that the positive effect is not as great as it would have been.

 

I made this point way back when the change was being discussed and not surprisingly it went down like a bucket of sick. Namely, that providing the means for 'small contributors' ( please excuse the expression) to actively improve their own search positions might not actually have the overall result of improving buyer search experience. And ultimately that is what Alamy wants to achieve so as to maximise sales.

 

Maybe we should think of it like one of those mixing studios with all sorts of sliders for the record producer to move back and forth to try and get the sweet spot.

 

geophotos, I appreciate the comment, but spending many, many hours for potentially absolutely nothing, when alamy encourage the use of and change to supertags and phrases, is kind of a big deal for me. It either has an effect to use them, or it doesn't. I don't see the 'not as great as it would have been' option there. If supertags are do not make any difference (and you are right that we don't know this for sure, yet), then 'the positive effect is not as great as it would have been' isn't quite accurate. Rather, 'you've spent those hours choosing and clicking supertags when you could have earned money doing something else'. Photography is my job. Stock is a minuscule part of it in terms of revenue, and if I do spend time on alamy images, rather than on paying client work, then it ain't great if that time generates zero outcome.  

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23 hours ago, Doc said:

The point I am trying to make is not that there has been a change in BHZ, but that images with the search term either in the caption only, or in the caption and ORDINARY tags, are appearing well above images with the search term as a SUPERTAG

 

 

 

This is not new. Others, including myself, have reported similar findings over the last few months.

 

For example: http://discussion.alamy.com/topic/8009-supertags/

 

 

Alan

Edited by Inchiquin
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2 hours ago, Inchiquin said:

 

This is not new. Others, including myself, have reported similar findings over the last few months.

 

For example: http://discussion.alamy.com/topic/8009-supertags/

 

 

Alan

You are right Alan, but I think that this is a new episode if you like - my feeling is that Alamy had improved things for a few months and now more tinkering has occurred - those of us with larger collections, whose figures for views/zooms/sales tend overall to be more stable are likely to notice these sort of changes first I think

 

I have contacted customer support to ask why the system of supertags/tags/caption level of importance can result in such glaring errors. My impression is they are increasing caption importance again - I will let you know what the reply is next week, though it will probably be along the lines of "Keep doing what we tell you to do and all will be fine...")

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

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3 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

This must be the fourth or fifth time I have been through such a change. If it is happening. :wacko:

 

To start they encouraged people to add as many keywords as possible, then they totally reversed that and wanted as few as possible, we had tagging of supposedly similar images and then that was dropped, then EssKeys/MainKeys etc, Location has been unsearchable and then searchable, Description has likewise been turned On and then Off in terms of searchability. 

 

We had stemming of verb forms, singulars/plurals and then that was dropped and we had to make changes all over again. I've probably forgotten some of the other changes.

 

On each occasion Alamy made the changes to try and improve their business, the collateral damage to contributors was just one of those things.

 

I do understand your frustration. It is totally impossible for me to re-work all my images.

 

 

Totally understand that this has happened a few times. And yes, you have my complete symphathy in terms of even attempting to re-work a large portfolio like yours. I wish I had such a big port. What I would say though is that this one [if it is indeed the case] appears to have a stronger effect on which images come up where than some other changes e.g. description on/off or location on/off, given that a smaller % of customers are likely to search by description, and location is, if relevant to searches, likely to appear somewhere in the keywords and/or heading as well, especially since the googlemaps location tool seems somewhat plagued with inaccuracies. Imho.

 

Agree that it would be great if they'd be closer to IPTC data standards and ability to export from the software of choice with data already in place they could get, the fewer changes need to be made in AIM once uploaded by each contributor. I wonder, wouldn't that also be easier on the system overall, if fewer contributors were constantly finding the need to fiddle and adjust (of course a degree of that will always exist as and when info needs to be added to legacy images to keep them relevant etc). 

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There is a lot of movement of large image collections from agency to agency, newspaper syndicate archives to agency, museum to agency, going on in the stock industry. All tags, not only Alamy tags, are a problem for agencies moving big collections.

 

Many of these collections rely mainly on extensive captions. A large collection, with only captions is not going to do extra work to Alamy tag/supertag the several million images in their collections, if they move images to Alamy.

 

So I think the extensive caption will become more and more important to all agencies, because it is easy to transfer between all agencies without extensive extra tagging.

 

My policy has been to get as many supertags written into the caption as possible. Then do the 10 Alamy supertags, especially tag phrases as supertags, and as many other regular Alamy tags as possible. I am willing to throw in the thesaurus for regular tags, to achieve green status, as long as the words are relevant. This covers most Alamy bases. The extensive caption also prepares my collection if I move my RF images to another agency.

 

I think the best solution for all, would be a machine intelligence that could parse information from an extensive well written caption. Maybe this will happen in the future, or is happening today.

 

The stock industry is ever changing. Experimentation is normal. Therefore nothing can be certain, including the future of tags/supertags/caption. We can only speculate.

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My views and zooms are at the lowest level since January 2016 - about a quarter of what they were about 3 months ago.

 

I have more sales than zooms; but for how long?

 

John.

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One thing I've noticed more particularly over the past week is that where I have several images in a more 'generic' search, my files are scattered right through the search, as are others I can identify who also have several images in the search. I can't work out any other reason why my files would be spread out in that way; maybe it's a policy to let buyers see more variety.

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21 hours ago, Stokie said:

My views and zooms are at the lowest level since January 2016 - about a quarter of what they were about 3 months ago.

 

I have more sales than zooms; but for how long?

 

John.

 

From 30-40 zooms per month I'm currently down to just one zoom in January. 

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