Keyword Guide

Learn why & how you need to keyword your images

Why Do I Need Keywords?

The whole point of adding keywords is to help our customers find the right images. You will sell more if your keywords are accurate and relevant to the material. It’s as simple as that. Think like an image buyer when you describe the elements and the concept in the image. Otherwise your materials will be lost among the thousands of files uploaded to our site every day.

Good Practice

The most important thing is to choose words that describe accurately what is in your image. Each file should have at least 4 keywords, but 10-20 are often appropriate. It can be tempting to add the same keywords to a batch of images from a single shoot. However, you will get better sales if you customize the keywords for each image. If you are having a hard time getting started, just keep these questions in mind – WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE.

Who?

Gender: male, female, girl, boy, man, woman
Ethnicity or nationality: Caucasian, Asian, African, Chinese, Dane
Age: baby, toddler, teenager, adult, senior, 10, 15, 20
Profession: teacher, painter, artist, doctor, nurse
Physical traits: tall, obese, bald, slim, skinny, sexy
Relationships: father, mother, son, daughter, sister
Number of people: one person, couple, pair, crowd, group

What?

Objects, plants or animals: car, computer, orchid, rose, tiger, cat
Mood: somber, happiness, tranquility
Concept: business, health, environment

What is Happening?

Action: crying, laughing, dancing, eating, running
Occasion: birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween

Where?

Setting: indoor, outdoor, landscape
Location (generic): park, school, village, farm
Location (specific): Paris, France, Europe

When?

Time of day: morning, evening, dusk, dawn
Season: winter, spring, summer, autumn
Weather: sunny, rainy, thunderstorm, foggy

Technical Attributes?

Special effects: blurred, blurred motion
Perspective: aerial view, top view, up tilt, panorama, horizontal, vertical
Style: cut out, black and white, sepia

Common Mistakes

Verbs or action words, such as “eating”, “walking”, “swimming” or “running”, are often used incorrectly. They should only be used if your image is showing the actual action – i.e. a person or an animal eating, walking, swimming or running. Don’t tag an image of food with “eating” unless you can see someone actually eating something.
Another common mistake is to add keywords that you think are associated with the image. For example, if you have a picture of Easter eggs, you should not add “Jesus Christ” to your keywords if you cannot see Jesus Christ in the image. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is connected with Easter, but adding the name to an image of Easter eggs will not give good search results for our users.
Similarly, you should not add “tea” as a keyword to an image of a lemon or a slice of cake just because it is common to drink tea with lemon or have tea with cake. In some cases it is alright to think outside the box, but you should limit how far outside the box you go.
Using compounds such as “Christmas tree”, “tiger lily” or “water buffalo” can also be problematic. Unfortunately the English language is full of them. Separately these words have different meanings, and a customer will be annoyed if s/he is looking for lily images and instead gets images of tigers. It’s fine if the words can be used separately - e.g. if you have an image of a Christmas tree, the words “Christmas” and “tree” are correct together and individually.
Using profession keywords such as “painter” or “artist” must also be done with care. Although obviously connected, “painting” and “painter” have two different meanings. A background image may be keyworded correctly with “painting” or “art”, but if you add “painter” or “artist” you are suggesting that the people who are painters or artists are visible in the image. Again, a customer will stop searching if s/he is looking for an image of a painter or an artist and instead gets thousands of background images.

How Do I Add Keywords?

When you add keywords to your images’ metadata they will be imported directly into our system and automatically translated. The default setting for imported keywords is English, but if you have German or Danish keywords you can simply change the import setting.
You can also add your keywords after uploading your images by using our keyword tool. Log in to Colourbox.com to add keywords in English, or to Colourbox.de/Colourbox.dk if you prefer to add keywords in German or Danish. If you want to apply the same keyword to multiple images, you can click and drag the mouse over the images you wish to select. Add single words using comma separation or by hitting enter.
If you have any questions, we are happy to help. Keyword images now Read our Title Guide  →
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