Keywording Cheat Sheet

Image source: Adobe Stock / Anja Kaiser.
Keywording Cheat Sheet
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While keywording isn’t necessarily the most glamorous aspects of the stock business, it is most definitely one of the most important. You can have the best photo or video ever shot in the history of the camera, but if a customer can’t find it they can’t buy it. The way customers find your content is by searching for keywords. Here are our best practices for keywording your content to help increase visibility in search.

Arrange keywords in order of importance

Adobe Stock’s search engine puts an emphasis on keywords based on the order you add them. The most important keyword should be listed first, followed by the second most important, and so on. The first 10 keywords are the most critical.

Suggested Keywords: newborn, baby, mother, father, African American, man, woman, adult, young, nursery, son, smile, birth, milestone, family, love, indoors, day, people, three, lifestyle. Image source: Adobe Stock / Monkey Business.

Use the auto-keywording tool

The contributor portal will suggest up to 25 keywords automatically for each submission. Review them for accuracy, reorder or remove irrelevant words, and add any keywords that you think the tool has missed.

If you upload files with keywords already embedded in the metadata, the auto-keywords feature is disabled.


Suggested Keywords: green tea, tea, teacup, herbal, organic, drink, mint, herb, leaf, glass, hot, beverage, relaxation, healthy, sugarcube, no people, nobody. Image source: Adobe Stock / Lukas Gojda.

Copy and paste keywords

If you prefer to add your own keywords from scratch, you can copy and paste keywords separated by commas, or upload a CSV file. You can add your keywords to the metadata using Adobe Bridge or Lightroom, and the Adobe Stock Contributor Portal will automatically add them to your file. It is important to note that Lightroom with alphabetize your keywords so if you use LR, be sure to rearrange the keywords once in the portal in order of importance.

General keywording tips:

  • The minimum keyword amount is five, the maximum is 50. The sweet spot is generally between 15-25. It’s more important to be accurate and relevant than to fill up all 50 slots. Only add relevant keywords that apply to your content specifically.
  • Titles are not searchable in Adobe Stock. If a word is important enough to add to your title, add it as a keyword as well.
  • Use singular nouns, plural variations will automatically be applicable.
  • Use verbs — describe the actions in the infinitive form (ex. run, jump, sing, smile).
  • After describing the basic elements and actions, add conceptual keywords that describe the feelings, mood, or trends (e.g., solitude, childhood, milestones, celebration).
Suggested Keywords: illustration, art, graphic, people, man, woman, adult, teamwork, collaboration, team, work, success, business, group, workflow, winning, competition. Image source: Adobe Stock / PureSolution.

Keywording tips for people:

If there are no people in the image, include keywords like “no people” and “nobody.”

  • Include a descriptive term for age, numeric age range, gender, and ethnicity (e.g., teen, 14-15 years, boy, Japanese).
  • Indicate relationship or role (e.g., couple, mother, family, teacher, musician).
  • Describe facial expression or emotion (e.g., happy, sad, angry, smile, frown).
  • Call out appearances such as clothing, hair, and other attributes like tattoos, beards, or eyeglasses to help buyers find the appropriate subject.
Suggested Keywords: girl, daughter, reading, child, childhood, education, tablet, technology studying, glasses, Asian, lifestyle. Image source: Adobe Stock / lalalululala.

Keywording tips for animals and objects:

  •  Always use the most specific animal or plant term, such as Dalmatian, along with the broader term dog and/or pet.
  • Object arrangement can be described using keywords like row, random, stack, or circle.
  • Enter phrases of two or more words as a phrase and individually (e.g., arctic fox, arctic, fox).
Suggested keywords: Dalmatian, dog, woman, African American, adult, young, smile, pet, friend, friendship, love, glasses, kiss, joy, happiness, animal, people, one, lifestyle. Image source: Adobe Stock / Wayhome Studio.

Things to avoid

  • Do not use brand or trademarked names (Porsche, iPad), camera specifications (Nikon, 12MP), or people’s names.
  • Do not spam keywords — irrelevant keywords can actually hurt your visibility on the Stock site.

For additional info on how to optimize your keywords, visit our Learn page.

Ready to start selling your photos, videos, illustrations, and more? Submit them to the Adobe Stock Contributor Portal and get your work out in front of millions of buyers.

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