Best Practices for Keywording

Keywords are a subset of metadata. In Webdam, keywords are applied to your assets as clickable links. So, when a user clicks on a given keyword, they will see results for all assets containing that same keyword. All metadata fields are searchable, but only the keywords are clickable links.

Implementing a controlled vocabulary gives you even more search power and greatly increases efficiency in adding keywords to your assets. After you build and upload your controlled vocabulary into Webdam, be sure to also enable the option to show your controlled vocabulary on the power search page.

Whether you are implementing a controlled vocabulary or adding keywords freely, it is important to outline some best practices to guide your efforts. Below are some guidelines Webdam recommends:

  1. Be thorough in keywording assets. Cover the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why.

  2. Be consistent with acronyms and abbreviations. Don’t keyword one asset with the abbreviation AZ and another asset with Arizona.

  3. Be consistent in plurals versus singulars, choose one format or always use both. For example, either use “feet” and “hands” or “foot, feet” and “hand, hands.”

  4. Be consistent in how you describe an action or activity, for instance, either use “running” and “swimming” or “run, running” and “swim, swimming.”

  5. Don’t be too narrow – “Keokuk, IA” may be too narrow for a keyword and completely unrecognizable to any of your users, “Southeast Iowa” would be better.

  6. Don’t be too broad – “University” may be too broad, perhaps everything in your DAM relates to the University. What will distinguish the assets in this scenario; try using the specific college name, such as “College of Engineering” or the campus building name.

  7. Be mindful of relevance. Just because every asset has a project code associated with it does not mean it offers relevance to the users relying on keywords to find assets. If this information needs to stay with the asset nonetheless, consider adding it into another metadata field.

  8. Don’t use too few keywords otherwise they won’t help narrow the results.

  9. Avoid misspellings. Implementing a controlled vocabulary that has been copyedited will help with this.

  10. Don’t rely on keywords for every piece of data. More objective data such as photographer name, location, or designer name can be added to other metadata fields.

One last note, always have your use cases in mind when adding keywords. This will keep your efforts focused. Fill in this sentence when considering a keyword: “How likely is it that [insert person/role] will search by [insert keyword] when looking for [insert asset]? Going through this exercise will help you consider others’ perspectives when adding keywords.



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  • Comment author
    Christine Zhu

    Hi, I don't see the Keyword Strategy Worksheet button. Can you please include? Thank you!

  • Comment author
    Bill Keiffer

    Hi Christine,

    We usually place the worksheet in your DAM for you to download and plan your keyword structure. You'll find it in the "Webdam Training" folder. Your Implementation Consultant will follow up with you as they scope your metadata needs.

  • Comment author
    Laura Templeton

    Hello, Does capitalization matter in keyword searching? Should I capitalize proper nouns, or does this not matter?


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