It’s not quite in the same league as continental drift, but for photo agencies, keywording drift is a lot more serious. 

Put simply, keywording drift is the slow (or sometimes not so slow) change in the way keywording terms are applied over time.

The consequence is that the effectiveness of how customers search for a library’s images slowly but surely diminishes.  Search terms which used to produce relevant results no longer work because those keywords aren’t being added anymore, while others may or may not have taken their place. It can also result in the general standard of keywording diminishing across the board.

The primary cause of this problem is what is known as seat-of-the-pants keywording, where keyworders don’t use vocabularies or written rules, and essentially make it up as they go along. Even the keenest mind finds it impossible to remain consistent for very long.  If keywording isn’t the staff member’s main job, then the problem is infinitely worse.

This can even occur with controlled vocabularies, which often require good memory to choose the appropriate term from a complicated web of search terms.

The solution to this insidious problem is to outsource the work to companies with full-time keywording professionals who use vocabularies, keywording rules and prompt cards to keep their application of terms as consistent as possible.  At Picsell Media, extensive training and regular quality control also makes a huge difference.

For a free assessment of your keywording, and information about consistent outsourced keywording, click here.