Are You A Keyword Spammer?

In an effort to make sales, it's obviously a good idea to have your images included in as many relevant search results as possible. However, you must be careful not to engage in what's known as "keyword spamming" - including every possible word that might apply to an image, no matter how tenuous.

In fact some people have been known to include words that have no relevance whatsoever to their images, much like webmasters trying to boost their search ranking with enormous amounts of metadata. These days Google and other search engines have ways to avoid such spamming.

In the image business, big libraries such as Getty and Corbis have limits and formulas (aka standards) which prevent people going overboard with their keywords - too many and the images will be rejected. That prevents their huge databases producing poor quality search results full of images of no value to the researcher.

When keywording for your own library,, where no such limits exist, it is tempting to throw the kitchen sink at the keywords field. I've heard it argued that for small libraries it doesn't matter if you go overboard because relatively few search results are generated so it doesn't take long to wade through them.

Even in that case I would question the advisability of keyword spamming, or anything approaching it. What message does it send about your professionalism if researchers type in the word banana and they get a lot of oranges?

Good keywording should be as focused as possible and differentiate your images, not lump them together for no good reason. As the saying goes, "a picture paints a thousand words" - just don't put all of them in the keyword field.