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How To Unravel the Mysteries of a Keyword Search

Providing the ultimate 'shopping' experience for our customers has always been important at Vital Imagery Ltd. To that end we've recently added LiveChat to our websites so that people who have a quick question while browsing clipart can reach out immediately.

It's been an interesting exercise, of course — people using the feature for play time for example.  However, when someone is seriously interested in an answer to a legitimate query, there is great satisfaction for the support staff in being able to respond in a timely manner. 

One of the most frequent requests has been for assistance in finding a particular image or photo. The quandary for us is to determine if laziness or intimidation are at heart.  If it's the former, and people just can't be bothered, we're happy to help as much as we can. If it's the latter, however, we need to find a way to help people feel less overwhelmed by the incredible amount of content.

For this reason, I've decided to come back once again to the topic of keywords. In my years at a community newspaper, finding graphics was a part of the job that could be frustratingly time-consuming. Particularly before the introduction of online graphics services.  Way back in the good old days, with deadlines looming, searching for a visual element to accompany a story or advertisement involved leafing through the enormous clipart tome. Hundreds of pages of multiple images, sorted in various categories, were perused before the appropriate one was discovered.

Now, however, with a few simple words and a couple of clicks, the number of results should be minimized. In a perfect world anyway.

Ensuring that the hunt for the perfect image is as efficient as possible means attaching 'keywords' to it. While it might seem a simple task, those who do it conscientiously have  much to consider before putting fingers to keyboard. When first looking at an image, keyworders should consider its potential — how might it be used, who might be interested in it and what steps are required so a diverse group of clients can find it easily.

Of course, since no one sees the world the same as any other person, even the most basic images can be open to interpretation. For example, when searching for 'rat' it would be likely to find hassled, harried businesspeople as well, since the word would be added for the purpose of those looking for an image to depict 'rat race'. 

Ultimately, because there are many variables and variations to be considered when keywording, people taking the time to search should keep in mind that what narrows a search for one might broaden it for others. For instance, in the above example, putting 'rats' rather than 'rat' into the search box should get rid of the dudes in suits.

It's beneficial then to use all of the tools at your disposal, too. On sites such as, and every effort is made to provide options to help customers separate the boys from the girls so to speak. For instance the first link shows the results from a simple keyword search for boys. As you will see there will be women and girls in this as well.

iPHOTOS Results for Boys

After using the Advanced Search 'Exclude' option to take away girls and females from the results this is what you get: Advanced Search for Boys

You can also search for black and white only or colour, segregate by specific categories or by orientations.

The important thing to remember is that keywording is a human science. Also with thousands of images being added to the sites weekly,  to ensure content is always fresh and exciting, it can take time for staff to get them properly keyworded.  I guarantee though that with patience and the right tools finding your clipart shouldn't take too much effort.


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