An Introduction to Keywording & Controlled Vocabularies

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The Importance of Keywords & Keywording

Aside from great content, the two biggest 'organic' drivers of traffic for content sites are regular content updates and great keywording.

The advancement of AI tools has meant that automation can deliver some of the generic Keywords and descriptions for media files, but specialist content still requires expertise to update and maintain the keywords and search terms that drive traffic, engagement, and ultimately revenue.

The evolution of AI has also led many to ask whether Keywords still matter. The answer, simply put, is yes, keywords remain a crucial element of content discovery because:

  • Search engines still use them: They help algorithms understand your content's relevance to user queries.
  • They guide user intent: Choosing the right keywords attracts the right audience searching for what you offer.
  • Inform content creation: Keywords inspire topics and ensure your content aligns with user needs.

In terms of tangible data:

  • Google Image searches account for 22.6% of all searches (SEMRush)
  • 61% of marketers say keyword research is their top SEO priority. (Moz)
  • Content with high keyword relevance has a 15% higher click-through rate. (Search Engine Journal)

Add to this the fact that Image & video SEO greatly improves site accessibility, it is easy to see why Keywording remains so important. It's also crucial to remember that the landscape is always evolving and especially becoming more user-centric, so Keywords, along with SEO should be constantly reviewed and updated.


The Basics


Sometimes used interchangeably, taxonomies and controlled vocabularies are controlled lists of terms used to organize information, but in their simplest definitions, a taxonomy organises information, and metadata describes it.

Controlled Vocabularies

A controlled vocabulary is "an organized arrangement of words and phrases used to index content and/or to retrieve content through browsing and searching." Using controlled vocabularies during data or metadata creation supports consistency and accuracy by using a restricted palette of appropriate words to describe your content.


Controlled Vocabularies Accessible to Capture Users

Simple Controlled Vocabulary


Capture's 'Simple Controlled Vocabulary' (Simple CV), is provided as standard with every Capture system, containing over 2,000 English terms to enable the creation of Keywords and enhance existing data. 

The hierarchical vocabulary or 'tree structure' is organised into 11 headings or topics such as People Terms, Sport and Leisure, Seasons, and Nature. Each topic contains a range of most commonly used single or two-word terms and associated terms. Using the CV helps ensure assets are discoverable, keywords are correctly spelled, and easy to add as well as encourages the use of standard terms and search criteria for both administrators and users.

An administrator can assign terms to an image in the metadata screen, and in the same workflow, the associated terms in the hierarchical structure will be added automatically. For instance, adding the keyword England will ‘uptick’ the term United Kingdom, and add the alternative terms Great Britain and UK, which are on a subsidiary level (plurals and alternatives).


Capture comes with the pre-set screen (above), supporting multiple layouts and profiles as well as providing access to the controlled vocabulary configuration area.

The keywords for an asset should cover the visual content of the asset and use the basic methodology of Who, What, When, Where and Why to describe the valuable content of an image, with the vocabulary being as clear and concise as possible.

Enhanced Vocabulary - KT Thesaurus

Moving beyond the Simple CV is the KT Thesaurus from Electric Lane, which Capture has been using for the last decade, which can be uploaded and added to any Capture-Pro system in minutes.

The KT Thesaurus is one of the most comprehensive hierarchical keyword trees available and uses a taxonomy that has been purpose-built for visual content. The tree contains over 45,000 terms, mainly single keyword terms, including related terms such as synonyms, plurals, US and UK terms, and spellings, as well as many other variations of terms arranged in a hierarchical structure, offering a firm foundation for any visual content library.

Sarah Saunders, author of the CEPIC/IPTC Metadata Handbook, with over 20 years of experience in image management, archiving, and metadata, is the CEO of Electric Lane. A webinar by Sarah, outlining how to make your content discoverable, can be found here:  How discoverable is your content? – Capture Ltd.

The KT Thesaurus is available as an 'add-on' to any Capture-Pro system and can be ordered from the Customer Success Team ( Pricing is available from the Customer Success Team or can be found on Capture's Standard Price list.

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