Title and Keyword Guidelines, Policies and Best Practices

Excellent metadata (titles and keywords) helps customers discover your content. We have developed guidelines to help you create the best titles and keywords, and to help you understand how to use metadata that is compliant with our policies.
Titles and keywords have different purposes and require different approaches. Your titles and keywords should adhere to the guidelines outlined below. Remember that the overuse of repeated words or phrases is considered spam in both the keywords and the titles. Intentional disregard of any of Shutterstock’s metadata policies can result in account termination.
Great titles are unique and detailed. They read like a sentence or phrase and not like a list of words. Think of your title as a news headline and try to answer the main questions of: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Be descriptive and use words that capture the emotion or mood of the image.
Great keywords are detailed and precise. They relate directly to what is in the image or clip, either by describing what it shows, or what it might represent. The keywords for each of your images or clips should be precisely tailored to that individual work.
YES Very descriptive sentences or long phrases detailing who, what, when, whereYES A list of individual words or phrases
YES Uniquely identifies this exact image or clipYES Up to 50 keywords are allowed
YES Includes details about angle, focus, etc.YES Can include broader topics, feelings, concepts or associations
NEVER A list of keywordsNEVER Unrelated terms or concepts
NEVER Unnecessarily repeated words or phrasesNEVER Unnecessarily repeated words or phrases
NEVER Nonspecific, single word titlesNEVER Overly general keywords
NEVER Contributor’s name, web links, camera information, or trademarks (except where applicable for editorial images)NEVER Contributor’s name, web links, camera information, or trademarks (except where applicable for editorial images)

Here are a couple of image examples along with examples of good titles and keywords, as well as examples of unacceptable titles and keywords.

User-added image

YES: Seamless pattern of a Shiba Inu dog with blue, red and pink floral background elements
NEVER: Shiba Inu dog, flowers, Shiba Inu dog, flowers, Shiba Inu dog, flowers, Shiba Inu dog, flowers, Shiba Inu dog, flowers (Repeated words and phrases - spam)
NEVER: Dog Pattern (Too general - great titles are detailed)
NEVER: Pattern. Background. Dogs. Flowers. (This is a list of keywords. Titles should resemble sentences.)
YES: illustration, graphic, color, wallpaper, textile, background, vector, creative, design, decorative, art, pattern, modern, yellow, dog, shiba inu, gold, flower, blue, natural, seamless, floral
NEVER:  Shiba Inu dog, flowers, Husky, dog, dogs, dogging, dogged, doggy, dog standing, dog sitting, dog walking, smiling dog, golden dog, (Overuse of repeated words - spam)
NEVER:  dog, flowers, German Shepherd, cats, people, garden, woman, doctor (Contains irrelevant terms - spam)

User-added image

YES Close-up of Oatmeal raisin cranberry chocolate cookies on a plate with warm fall colors in soft-focus in the background.
NEVER Cookies (Too general - great titles are detailed)
NEVER Chocolate cookie. Cranberry Cookie. Warm cookie. Oatmeal cookie. (Overuse of repeated words - spam)
NEVER Cookie. Cookies. Tasty treat. Snack. Baked goods. (This is a list of keywords. Titles should resemble sentences.)
YES autumn, baked, bakery, brown, chip, chocolate, close, closeup, cookie, copy, cranberry, delicious, depth, dessert, edible, fall, field, food, fresh, gourmet, homemade, horizontal, oat, oatmeal, orange, plate, shallow, snack, sweet, tasty, treat, unhealthy, warm, raisin
NEVER cookie, cookies, chocolate cookie, baked cookie, tasty cookie, oatmeal cookie, cranberry cookie, brown cookie, snack cookie, sweet cookie (Overuse of repeated words - spam)
NEVER cookie, chocolate, business, pattern, icon, man, professional (Contains irrelevant terms - spam)
Additional Guidelines for Editorial and Vintage Content
Certain content types have specialized title requirements.

Documentary & Illustrative Editorial:
  • City, state/country where the image was taken
  • Month, day, and year or circa month/year when the image was taken
  • Factual description of the image content, including what the image portrays and the name of the depicted product in the case of Illustrative Editorial
Editorial Illustrations & Vectors:
  • Month, day, and year of creation
  • Content type (JPEG illustration or vector illustration)
  • Factual description of the image content and what the image portrays. If the image shows a building or landmark, include the location of the building or landmark.
Vintage Content:
  • Include the year the image was taken in the title. If the exact year is unknown it is acceptable to use CIRCA and the year.
Maximize Your Visibility: Keyword & Title Best Practices
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