Get the Keywording that Fits Your Needs, Not the Needs of the Keywording Company

Henry Ford famously said his customers could have a Model-T in "any colour - so long as it's black".  The idea was to make cars affordable by producing a single model.  That was a winner for Ford, but one colour definitely doesn't fit all when it comes to keywording photos and video clips.


Despite that, a number of keywording companies could be accused of offering "any keywording - so long as it's Getty".  The Getty submission standard for keywording is a great idea if your images are going to be sold by Getty, in fact it is mandatory.  But the terms used for Getty are not complete, don't include synonyms as such, and can be rather idiosyncratic (full suit for suit, or human hand for hand).


They are designed to integrate contributors' images into a much bigger vocabulary.  "Getty keywording" is not designed primarily as a stand-alone system.  So whilst Getty's search system and keywording is excellent, the words used to meet the submission standard have a very specific purpose which is unlikely to meet the needs of a photo library with a different search system and without the identical system to integrate with.
   

Keywords to be used directly on a photo library site, or for a site such as Alamy, need to be more intuitive and of a totally different style and depth.


The moral of the story is that companies recommending Getty keywording, or keywording similar to the Getty submission standard, but for non-Getty purposes, should be questioned closely about how they see that working in practice.  It may be they are offering that style of keywording simply to keep their costs down, rather than because it is suitable for the clients' needs.


Some companies will even try to shoehorn Getty submission standard keywording to fit other standards, such as for Corbis, by eliminating keywords which don't meet the other standard.
To protect yourself from this sort of inappropriate keywording, always ask for keywording according to the final use it will be put to, and go to at least two or three different companies.  


Look closely at their samples to see if you can detect differences between various standards on offer to make sure they aren't just thinly disguised copies of just one standard.