How to correctly write keywords and descriptions
Photo by roserodionova

How to correctly write keywords and descriptions

Published on May 27, 2019

One of the main strategies to have your photos and footage found in between millions of files on stock photography websites is writing the correct metadata. In this article, I am going to show you a few tips on how to do that in a decent way. Writing correct metadata could take you a while, it is time-consuming and takes patience but the problem is, it is crucial information for your files to be found. There are many ways you could approach the subject but in this article, I will try to present the most optimal way for you to populate your content with correct keywords and descriptions from my personal experience. So, without further ado, here are the 6 steps to correctly populate your stock photos and footage.


1. Understand search engines

Unfortunately, there isn’t much content about search engines of microstock agencies, so we don’t have enough information to understand how their algorithm works and what is needed to have your file be shown on the main page. What I know, is that search engines are growing smarter every day and are trying to be more relevant as possible to the users. Google, for example, is a big standard for that, so you should write your title, descriptions, and keywords as if they were YouTube videos. The secret, as I understand it, is to write keywords that are really relevant to the searcher and use them again in the description then search for similar concepts and put them there as well. If you take a quick look at the best selling files, you’ll notice that most of them make use of all keywords they can, you can write up to 50 keywords on almost every agency there is, so writing all 50 keywords would be great, but on the other hand, you have to make sure that the majority of your keywords are relevant to the subject of your file so you should avoid unrelated text as much as possible. Good search engines tend to restrain results that are not interesting for the searchers, so keep that in mind too.


2. Use keywording tools

Let’s take this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge for example.

I suggest you use to easily and quickly find the most relevant keywords for your file. In this example, write “golden gate bridge” in the search bar and the site will generate the most relevant 50 keywords to your search. Feel free to uncheck some words and add others that you find more relevant to your photo. At this point, you might have had new ideas of what you could write. I also find it a good idea to combine some words that don’t make much sense alone. San Francisco + Golden Gate are a few examples in this case. Keep all the words that you feel are relevant and take out all those which aren’t connected. Once again, I don’t exactly know how their algorithm works but again, we’re trying to get anywhere close to what Google is, so take those unrelated words out. Once you’re done, hit “Export Selected Keywords” and then “Copy to Clipboard” and just paste in the keywords area, that’s pretty much it. Once again, avoid keyword spamming and keep them as relevant as possible.

3. Express the feeling

If you ever worked at a production company or an advertising agency, you’ll know that microstock customers are not always sure of what they’re looking for so sometimes they’re not going to search for something specific but they’re going to search for a concept. Again, let’s take that Golden Gate Bridge photo for example. It’s safe to say that this picture would work great for traveling agency but the words “Golden Gate Bridge” probably aren’t the words that they’re going to search for. Instead, they’re going to search for “travel, famous landscapes, touristic point” and that’s what I mean by saying “Express the feeling”. You’d have to go way beyond of just describing what’s in your scene, wheater it’s a photo or footage. You have to bring the feeling that your content is trying to express. So, in this example “traveling, landscape, famous landscapes, famous touristic points, vacation” are the words that will also work for this type of image. When I’m short of ideas, I use Shutterstock’s keyword suggestion tool. I look for pictures that express the feeling of my file instead of a simple visual description, so “adorable, cheerful, travel, relaxing, holiday, sustainable”, these are all words that cannot be really expressed on the image but they are the “feelings” that you want to express… I hope I make myself clear :)


4. Write technical keywords

A big part of microstock customers is made of professional designers, filmmakers, etc. This kind of users will be looking for specific and technical kind of files. They’re the exact opposite of the users I was just talking about. So it’s a good idea to write a few keywords that describe your file in a technical way. For example, you could describe the lighting of your photo or footage, like “daylight, night, outdoor, outside, evening, sunset”. You could describe the angle like “low angle, high angle, flat lay, close up, zoom in, zoom out”. Describe the speed - “slow motion, time-lapse, hyper-lapse, long exposure”. It is also very important to describe people in your footage or photos like “African, American, Caucasian, Asian, Latin, multi-ethnic, no people”. Keep in mind to not lose all your space for keywords with these technical keywords but the main points you could use are the “Isolated” types of images, these are the kind of images that I see selling a lot. Try to really bring the ones that are true and not just random keywords.


5. Be Specific

If you check this video by another stock photographer where he presents his best-selling files, you’ll notice that some of them are very specific to the place where he lives. What I learned from it, is that there are some opportunities around you that are very very specific but in this case, you have to be very specific on the keywords and description you write. Don’t be afraid to write the words like they were to be searched in Brazil for example. There, the word “carnival” would be searched as “Carnaval”. Now, Shutterstock will normally consider that as a mistake, when it happens, you can just click on the highlighted word and let Shutterstock know that it wasn’t a mistake.


6. Use keywords to write a description

Now that you got a lot of keywords you now also have a better view of which words are going to fit better in the description. Try to connect them the best way you can but don’t worry if you’re not making sense of if your grammar is right, nobody is going to check that, just try to use essential keywords in the description so the algorithm is able to understand how important these words are.

In conclusion, I hope this will help you to more efficiently populate your content and get it on the first pages in stock photography agencies. And also, here are some useful videos to watch before starting uploading your content to Wirestock.