Keyword Like A Pro

Keyword Like A Pro

One of the main ways both buyers and the Twenty20 Editors find photos on Twenty20 is by searching different keywords so we are going to help you learn how to Keyword Like A Pro!

You might be thinking, “Great, I’ll just add a lot of keywords to my photos so they will be found!” This is not necessarily true. While it’s tempting to add every possible keyword to your photo, the keywords that are actually the most valuable are the ones that are most relevant to your photo. Why? Because buyers are more likely to license your photo if it is relevant to what they are searching. When in doubt, ask yourself, “If I were searching for photos and wanted to find this exact photo, what keywords would I search for?”

Along with guiding questions, the Twenty20 Editors put together a few examples to explain good vs. bad keywords:

What is the main focus of the photo?

Photo by

Photo by

In this example, the focus of the photo is a cheerful woman smiling. While she may be your sister, cousin, mother, or best friend, it is not necessary to keyword her as such because the focus is on her action and expression.

Good Keywords: woman, smile, happy, colorful, fashion, style, african american

Bad Keywords: friend, sister, mouth, hands, building, door, art, wcw


Photo by Darby

Photo by Darby

In this example, the focus of the photo is the relationship between child and father, meaning it is appropriate to keyword it as such. However, their actions are still important to keyword because it describes what is happening in the photo.

Good Keywords: tickle, playing, silly, dad, father, parent, son, child, kid, boy, toddler, childhood, parenthood, family, nervous, roughhouse

Bad Keywords: people, arms, love, pillow, tshirt, baby, lighting


What is happening in the photo?

Photo by jasminoco94

Photo by jasminoco94

In this example, the men are the focus of the photo BUT the fact that they are running is equally as important. When there is an obvious action that explains what is happening in the photo, it is important to keyword that action in addition to the main subject.

Good Keywords: running, track, men, sports, exercise, track field, health, fitness

Bad Keywords: backpack, people, field, sweat, headband, water bottle


What is the theme, tone, or overall message of the photo?

Exploring Yosemite by PerAgrenPhotos

Exploring Yosemite by PerAgrenPhotos

In this example, the focus of the photo is a beautiful landscape in famous location, Yosemite. Since there is no activity happening in the photo, it is important to note the general feeling you get while looking at this photo. In this case, the tone of the photo is very tranquil so adding the keyword ‘tranquility’ would be appropriate.

Good Keywords: yosemite, landscape, nature, forest, mountains, sunlight, tranquility

Bad Keywords: rocks, walking path, favorite spot, happy place, beautyisallaround


Here are some other examples:

Photo by joeydgraffix

Good Keywords: french bulldog, frenchie, dog, puppy, pet, cute

Bad Keywords: baby, newborn, dawg, floor, eyes, nose, canon, photography, mr.snugglesworth, los angeles, dogsofinstagram


Photo by nikmock

Photo by nikmock

Good Keywords: work, desk, desk job, cubicle, typing, computer, office, office space, job, woman

Bad Keywords: staring, bored, binders, notebooks, inside, plant, hair, san diego, almosttheweekend

Now that you are a keyword pro, you can make sure your images are easy to find!

How do I add or edit keywords on my photo? Find out here.

  • Mike

    I’m a subscription customer on Twenty20, so am just providing some feedback. For the last example for the woman in the yellow sweater, I’m confused why one word is good and another not.

    Good Keywords: work, desk, desk job, cubicle, typing, computer, office, office space, job, woman
    Bad Keywords: staring, bored, binders, notebooks, inside, plant, hair, san diego, almosttheweekend

    Also, sometimes you want to be more descriptive in order to find somthing specific. Would “office plant” be
    good or bad? It would be helpful to see descriptions on the photographic style of the image itself. Also, what about commas, ” “, +, -, or, etc. Can customers tag words that they think are relevant? How do you search curated collections?

    • Mike, those are great questions. I am an engineer at Twenty20 working on search.

      “Office plant” would not be a helpful keyword here, because the plant in the image is a secondary, background element of the composition. If someone were searching for “office plant”, it is unlikely that this photo would match their search, because the plant is not the main focal point of the image. One would imagine that anyone searching for “office plant” would expect to find photos that have office plants as the main, featured element of the image — either because they are in the foreground, or they somehow grab the viewers attention on first glance.

      We are working on ways to add secondary meta data to images and make them searchable. This includes things like photographic style. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on this.

      At the moment our search does not allow for non-alphanumeric characters. We are rolling out updates to our search that will take these characters into account and allow for better interaction with our search engine. Again, stay tuned to the blog for updates.

      Hope this is helpful!

      • Syed Mahboob

        Very useful and important information. Thank you for the guidelines.

  • CJF

    I still haven’t made any sales 🙁

  • CJF

    Good advice still.