Updated 31 August, 2022
Quick and easy search is one of the main tasks for a top-notch Digital Asset Management system. Keywords let label assets in a way relevant to one’s business needs and then use these tags to find assets faster.
This is why we hear the question about asset tagging more often than any other. While there is no secret to finding your assets in seconds, we can give you a few tips on building a successful keywording strategy.
Use our set of best practices and start optimizing the keyword search from day one of adopting Pics.io DAM.
Tip #1. Keep the balance between too many and few keywords
There is no need to use 50 tags per image in your keyword strategy, but in most cases one tag won’t be helpful either. Try to get advantages from AI technology, usually offered by advanced DAM software, to make it work. AI lets you add a list of keywords automatically and then edit them by hand to get rid of the irrelevant tags.
Also, following the 5Ws rule will help you strike a balance between too many and too few keywords. When assigning assets, focus on:
- WHO: Are there people in the image? Who are they? Their ages, sex, roles (mother/teacher/leader)? Who is the subject?
- WHAT: What does the subject do? What is it like? What are the colors/textures/fonts/perspective/light?
- WHEN: When was the image taken? When was the document created/edited? When the license of the asset is about to expire?
- WHERE: Where is the subject located? Inside/outside? Part of a larger region?
- WHY: Why was the asset created? Why is the action happening in the video?
Tip #2. Avoid being too specific or broad
The keyword needs to be balanced. Keywords like pumps or stilettos are too narrow unless you work in a shoe company so go ahead and replace them with high heels.
Too broad categories like animal and clothing also won’t work for taxonomy. Think about using a keyword hierarchy. You assign a broader category to a list of items and then differentiate between them using sub-keywords.
Make sure to describe an asset, not a project. Sometimes, the difference between them is insignificant so a project-specific tag sneaks into the keyword structure. Nonetheless, it's better to avoid that as irrelevant tags prevent you from finding and reusing the asset later.
Generally speaking, when choosing keywords, try to keep them as simple and intuitive as possible. This should be the first thing that comes to your mind when seeing the asset. No need to create a unique keyword structure when you type in the word and the system returns that one asset. It’s enough to get a few assets in return and then pick the right one.
Tip #3. Be consistent when assigning keywords
Consistency helps keywords to make sense. If some teammates use the United States as their keyword, others stick to the USA, and a few more assign the US, your team will never get effective results in taxonomy searches.
Here are a few areas where you’d better agree on one particular strategy in advance:
- Abbreviations and acronyms like Corp or VP. The most confusion occurs with locations like when a team member keeps using NY instead of New York. Consider not using abbreviations at all.
- Plurals and other grammatical forms. Dog or dogs? Swim or swimming? Just choose one variant and let the whole team stick to it.
- Language variety. Color and colour are two different keywords for DAM. Whatever you prefer, American or British English, use one variety in the keyword strategy.
- Synonyms like rubbish/garbage/trash/litter. Though enriching the language, synonyms are confusing for machines and generate duplicates in your media library. Again, pick up one variant and use it. The best practice is to choose emotionally neutral words like cat instead of kitty.
- Homonyms i.e. words that have the same spelling but different meanings. Bat has a few meanings, which can bring ambiguity to search results.
- Also, be aware of slang, trendy words, and highly technical vocabulary. Keywords like cheesy, facepalm, or lede are better to omit. They’re not common so won’t help your users to search for assets.
By the way, incorporating a controlled vocabulary (like in Pics.io) can be a good starting point for your asset tagging strategy. You provide a well-prepared list of keywords for the team to use. Uploaders and searchers stay on the same page, and the management doesn’t have to worry about consistency in taxonomy.
Tip #4. Consider the context
It’s critical to think about the end users when selecting keywords. This is why we recommend considering the context when tagging assets.
Look at the image below depicting shopping at a local farmer’s market. A grocery store will focus on the food in their choice of keywords. If it’s a travel agency, they’ll probably highlight the location and the atmosphere in the picture.
Tip #5. Watch out for the typos
Misspellings are another way to get unsuccessful search results. You don’t want to see celery when looking for cell phones or a costume when searching for customers.
Do not forget about literacy in your keywording strategy. Otherwise, team members won’t find the newly uploaded and tagged assets. Of course, the easiest way to avoid typos is to copy and pace the keyword from another asset. You noticed the typo in the last sentence, didn’t you?
Tip #6. Don’t over-rely on keywords
No doubt keywords are a good way to access assets easier. But this isn’t the only one offered by powerful DAM solutions.
To start with, don’t forget to add custom metadata to find and identify assets in the blink of an eye. Some of the info you might want to include is a filename, description, location, creator’s name, EXIF/IPTC, or dates.
Another good practice is to combine keywords with custom metadata fields. Those store the information specific to your business needs. Use custom fields to group assets under broad categories like types of goods and prices for retailers. You can use keywords for more specific info like the precise description like the subject of an image or topic of the document. Then, use both custom fields and keywords as a grid to narrow down your searches.
Tip #7. Just tag assets
This advice may sound weird to you as we’ve discussed different keyword strategies in the post. But it’s the way it is: remember to attach keywords. The issue is that, sometimes, companies create lots of keywords and then forget to tag their assets.
Pics.io has a few ways to solve this issue. For new assets, you can create uploading restrictions. So, users won't be able to upload assets at all unless they tag them first. For existing assets, you can search for all assets that don't have keywords so you can tag them properly.
Keywords can be a great way to organize your media library and access assets with less effort. The keyword strategy is also the first one that comes to mind during the incorporation of a DAM system into your workflow.
However, to make it work, you have to elaborate on your asset tagging structure. Here are 7 simple steps to start with when working on your keyword strategy:
- Find a balance in the number of keywords
- Avoid too narrow and too broad keywords
- Be consistent when assigning keywords
- Consider the context
- Watch out for the typos
- Don’t over-rely on keywords
- Keep tagging the assets
Pics.io is a great Digital Asset Management platform to assist you with a workable keyword strategy. Access and find assets in a minute with Pics.io!