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Every time you upload an image, a video, or audio to Foundmyself or elsewhere on the ‘net, you should be entering quality keywords to help people find your art.

Without them your work is as good as lost, and is just one unidentifiable needle in the enormous haystack that is the internet. (I know the internet switched from hay to tubes in the early ’90s but you get the point).

Good keywords allow people to find your work out of a confusing sea of art and data. Visitors often browse without a specific goal in mind except to see interesting art, but other times they want to find something in particular. How do they find what they want? You guessed it.

The following are some tips for picking your keywords that will give your art the upper hand in search results – both by people on Foundmyself and by internet search engines like Google, Bing, etc.

Tip #1: Format your keywords correctly

Entering keywords properly is the first step in improving your exposure. In the case here on FM, you should enter them using all lowercase characters, and separate each keyword by a single comma. Leave out special punctuation or characters (e.g. apostrophes, quotation marks, hyphens, etc.). You should also limit the total number of keywords per image to about 20 if possible.

Use keywords that describe your image properly

Tip #2: Only use relevant keywords

Take a hard look at your image. If it’s a painting of a crowd of people, and one person way off in the distance has a blue purse, leave “purse” out of your keywords, unless it’s important to the painting.

Instead, focus on what you feel most people will see when looking at it for the first time. This way, when they type in a search phrase, they will be more likely to get results they’re happy with. In other words, if they’re really looking for an image of a blue purse, they most likely won’t see it in the painting mentioned, and will move on to the next piece of art. Adding keywords unrelated to your piece will discourage visitors, and you want your audience happy.

Tip #3: Be descriptive

Bust out a thesaurus, or use one online (here’s a good one), and get some descriptive words for your image. Suppose you have a photo of a pile of rocks, with a single, red rose growing out of the pile. Because the red is so striking, you might include that color in your keywords, along with “crimson”, “vermillion”, “magenta”, “maroon”, etc. Whatever’s in your image. Adding that many similar words is justified in this case because color is an important part of the image.

Other keywords you might enter for the flower might be “flower”, “rose”, “thorn”, “grow”, “plant”, “living”, “growth”, “photosynthesis”, etc. The rock keywords might include “rocks”, “hard”, “tough”, “pile”, “heavy”, “hill”, “dust”, “dirt”, “nature”, etc.

Tip #4: Use metaphors

Sticking with the rock and flower example, we’ve done a fine job of describing the photo itself – what most everyone can see with their naked eyes. But what about a person searching for “perseverance”, or “strength”, or “overpowering”? Would they find this image?

Give some thought as to the meaning behind each image you upload. Some images lend themselves better to visual metaphors than others, like the “standing out from the crowd” example here with rubber ducks, but almost every engaging visual has a lot more going on in it than what we see on the surface.

Remember, computers are stupid. They know what you tell them, and not much else. If you put up a photo of a fish, you have to tell the computer it’s a fish. Surely someday this process will be universally automated, and there has been a lot of progress, but in the meantime, it’s all about good keywords.