As a Shutterstock contributor, keywording should be a routine part of your workflow. Your images will sell better if you put a little extra effort into writing accurate image keywords — and lots of them. Here are a few tips to help you master the art and science of keywording.

Think like an image buyer.
Picture the person most likely to download your image. Now put yourself in that person’s shoes and think about which words they’d type to find an image like yours. Get specific.

Use 25 to 45 accurate keywords, and customize them as much as possible.
As a general rule, try to input this many keywords per image. It might be tempting to upload a batch of images from a single shoot and label them all with a list of identical keywords. However, if you put in a little more time to write precise keywords for each image, you’ll see better sales.

Jennifer Stone | Words clipped from magazines form a colorful background for image keywords
Jennifer Stone | Words clipped from magazines form a colorful background

Make your titles and descriptions unique.
Titles should be succinct, punchy, and descriptive of exactly what’s seen in the image. Make the title as accurate and unique as possible. For example, if you have two images of dogs, don’t give them both a title of “Dog.” Instead, titles like “White Dog Playing With Ball” and “Black Dog Eating” will help differentiate the photos. Remember, the time you save when batch editing might result in fewer sales.

Liliya Kulianionak | Pug puppies
Liliya Kulianionak | Pug puppies

Don’t spam.
Never label your images with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to get more views. The whole idea is to help the right customers find your images. Shutterstock reserves the right to ban contributors who use spam keywords.

Be precise with descriptions of people.
Use as many accurate words as possible to describe your models’ ages, races, and genders. Also take particular care in how you describe someone’s race and ethnicity. Don’t label someone with inaccurate ethnicities.

Wilson Araujo | Cute, curly-haired Brazilian boy close-up
Wilson Araujo | Cute, curly-haired Brazilian boy close-up

Think about concepts and feelings.
A smiling person isn’t just “smiling.” He or she might also be conveying “happiness,” “joy,” “delight,” “humor,” or any number of other emotions. Image customers often search for conceptual words like these, so think about which words might apply to your images and use those keywords liberally. Use a thesaurus to find new words, and a dictionary to help spell your keywords correctly.

Top image: Hatched by Everett Collection.

This article is an excerpt from the Shutterstock Contributor Success Guide. To download the complete guide in multiple languages, visit this page.

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