Keywording to the right sort of standard, with the right sort of vocabulary is largely determined by the audience you are trying to appeal to.  Working out who the audience is may be trickier than you think though.

Although it is tempting to say that keywords should work for all researchers, it is almost certain that the people who are most likely to search your images and videos will come from certain market sectors or have particular background knowledge.  They might be experts in their field – from cricket to interior decorating.  They might be commercial/advertising buyers, magazines or newspapers, blogs or web publishers – and often your own staff.

Depending on their needs and interests you might need more or less keywording and more or less specialist terminology.  Some aspects of the images/videos might need particularly deep keywording, such as age and ethnicity or location.

In working out what the audience wants, it is crucial not to be lead astray by web site search data.  The typical way to get this wrong on publicly searchable sites, particularly celebrity libraries, is to simply look at what people are writing in the search window.

You will often find that very short and simple terms are used – often just the name of a person or event.  However these searches could well be the work of lurkers and fans who have no intention of licensing images or videos.  If you are going to rely on that sort of information, then search data needs to be tied to purchase behaviour to find out what the paying customers want.  Anything less is like an online political poll where anyone can cast a “vote”, and vote as many times as they want, skewing the results.

You also don’t want to make the mistake of having such poor keywording that people give up searching at all.  In that case the search window data is more a reflection of what is being done wrong with keywording, rather than what the audience wants.

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