When implementing a digital asset management system, your users' ability to quickly and easily find their assets is critical for high adoption and overall satisfaction, and creating a sound metadata strategy and a set of best practices is the first step to ensure that assets are discoverable.
As a part of your metadata, your keywords give you the power to label your assets in a way that’s relevant to your unique business needs. Keywords hold great power, but can also hinder the efficacy of the DAM if used incorrectly. Below, we share some best practices to help you build an successful keywording strategy.
1. Be thorough, but use keywords sparingly: Find the balance between too many and too little keywords – just enough to highlight the who, what, when and where (and why, if it’s relevant).
2. Don’t make your keywords too specific: If you get too specific with your keywords, it could prevent people from finding the assets they need. Instead of keywording STILETTOS, PUMPS and PEEP-TOES, just stick with HIGH HEELS to cover all three.
3. Don’t make your keywords too broad: If you find you’re using the same keyword over and over again, it’s likely too broad. For example, if you work at a jeweller, the keyword JEWELRY would likely make it into a majority of your assets, and should be eliminated entirely.
4. Be consistent with your abbreviations (or avoid them altogether): While it’s best to not use abbreviations at all, if you need to, be sure that you’re using the same style across all keywords. This tends to become a problem with locations, for example, UNITED STATES vs. USA vs. US.
5. Be consistent with how you phrase verbs: Do you prefer to use SURF or SURFING? Both are fine, but pick one and keep with it (although SURFING may be the better choice, as it will likely come up when you search for SURF, as well).
6. Don’t double-up on synonyms to describe the same thing: It’s common to want to keyword different synonyms, such as FELINE, CAT and KITTEN, however it’s better to pick one and use it consistently.
7. Be consistent with plurals: Decide if you want to keyword assets in singular or plural tense - and stick to it! For example, do you want to say CARS or CAR? Keeping it consistent will make it easier to find assets in the future, without having to use advanced search capabilities.
8. Be literal with your keywords: While an image might suggest a LADIES NIGHT, using literal words, such as WOMEN, DANCING and NIGHT CLUB, makes it much easier to find later.
9. Be careful when using trendy words: It’s tempting to use words that are trending at the time you upload the image, but while the word SELFIE might be relevant now, the keyword could be useless down the line.
10. Avoid homonyms and homographs: The keyword BAND could refer to both a music group or a ring. Only use homonyms if it has a clear context with your business (for example, a jeweller would only use BAND in the context of a ring).
12. Choose your language and stick to it: Be sure to use the same language for all of your keywords. Also consider regional spelling, such as American (COLOR) and Canadian (COLOUR), and ensure that it’s consistent.
11. Avoid regional and slang words: Only use keywords that will be understood across different regions and groups. For example, in Canada the word TOQUE is used to describe a HAT worn in WINTER, and a BUNNY HUG is used to describe a style of SWEATER.
13. Keyword for your business: Keywords will be used to make searching easier for the end user, so it’s important to think of context. Consider an image of a couple walking on a beach. For a dating site, they’ll likely use more keywords to describe the couple, while a travel company will be more concerned about the location.
14. Watch your spelling: Most importantly, be careful that there are no typos in your keywords – it will leave the asset almost undiscoverable later.
Your keywording strategy is at the heart of your whole digital asset management initiative. It’s important to take the time to create keywords that are consistent, clear and have the end user in mind.
If you’re ready to start implementing a DAM, don’t forget to download this step-by-step guide that shows how setting up a DAM is like running a bake sale.