Stock House Thursday: MasterFile.com
These aren’t really “reviews,” in that they will have no thumbs up or down at the end. This is not intended to be a recommendation or otherwise about any of the stock houses I will analyze. Most of the elements I’m looking at don’t necessarily have an objective right or wrong answer. The only thing that really matters is that the photographer know the correct way to keyword for the individual stock house.
If you haven’t read my introductory post for this series, on the various ways stock houses differ in their keyword standards, you probably should read 10 Ways that Stock Houses can be different in their Keywording Standards first.
I hope to provide an in depth look at how stock houses deal with keywords, and how their search engine works in order to give their contributors a complete set of requirements so that they can keyword their images get maximum exposure at the site.
For those of you with some gumption, you should read the complete introduction and methods behind these analyses: Image Keywording for Stock Houses: The Methodology.
I should preface this with the fact that MasterFile says it keywords all of its images, and I have every reason to believe them. So this post may not be useful for contributors, however I wanted to cover Masterfile because they have excellent Searchability. They have a controlled vocabulary which seems really quite excellent. I found a few flaws, but overall, they have done an excellent job of making it easy for their buyers to find exactly the images they are looking for.
Masterfile is an excellent example of the one end of the spectrum of keyword capabilities.
On to the Results:
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for each set of keyword searches, other than deliverymen, which returned 0 results, making me assume this is a little bug with their algorithm, not a systemwide problem.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include the plural form of any of your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for sofa & couch, happy & joy, narcissus & daffodil, boy & lad, and impressively for bald eagle, American bald eagle & Haliaeetus leucocephalus. However, they returned different results for elevator & lift, mad & angry, boy & male child, and frustration & aggravation.
- Prognosis: You probably should include all appropriate synonyms for your keywords. Clearly, Masterfile’s taxonomy is a work in progress, and I assume more synonym connections will be made as time goes by.
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for each set of keyword searches, except for one variation of tabouleh. Pretty impressive.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include all appropriate variant spellings for your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for each set of keyword searches.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include all forms of any verbs.
Other Forms of the Word:
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for every non-verb form of each word.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include all non-verb forms of any keyword.
- Result: Search for the variations of wooden and chair returned three sets of results.
- Prognosis: It appears that you do need include the keyword phrase, wooden chair, as well as individual keywords, wooden and chair.
Words in a Keyword Phrase:
- Result: MasterFile returned different results for a phrase in quotes and the same phrase without quotes. Also, changing the order of the words in the phrase would return different results.
- Prognosis: You do need to include the individual words as keywords.
- Result: Mixed results: MasterFile does allow prepositions in keyword phrase, however, they seem to only support their closed vocabulary of keyword phrases, including salt and pepper and waiting in line, but waiting for was treated as only waiting.
- Prognosis: It appears that you do need to include prepositions in your keyword phrases.
- Result: MasterFile appears ignore periods as spaces in searches.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include periods in any of your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile appears to ignore hyphens in search and treat the search as a single word.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include the hyphenated versions of any of your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile appears to ignore apostrophes in searches.
- Prognosis: You do not need to include both versions of your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile ignores capitalization when searching.
- Prognosis: No need to worry about capitalization.
- Result: MasterFile returned different results for apartment & apt and New York & NY, but it did return the same results for Mount Everest & Mt Everest.
- Prognosis: You probably should include all common abbreviations for your keywords.
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for all my individual letter searches
- Prognosis: If appropriate, you do need to include individual letters as keywords. They also use, for example, the keyword phrases letter b and letter z.
- Result: MasterFile returned the same results for all my numeral searches
- Prognosis: If appropriate, you do need to include numerals as keywords. They also use, for example, the keyword phrases numeral 9 and numeral 24.
Alphabetization of Keywords:
- Prognosis: MasterFile puts all your keywords into alphabetical order.
- Result: There was no indication that images were returned based on the number of keywords. It also appears there is more weighting or particular keywords
- Prognosis: No weighting based on number of keywords, or keyword order
Number of Keywords Allowed:
- Unclear, but I did see some images with over 50 keywords.
Disambiguation of Homographs:
- Prognosis: In their closed vocabulary, MasterFile does have terms such as orange (fruit) and orange color to differentiate between these two meanings of orange. However, they have no prompts during search to help the searcher disambiguate, if they simple enter orange.
- MasterFile has no faceted searches, such as format, category and file type, etc.
- Prognosis: Therefore, it is very important that you do need to keyword all words found that are in these faceted searches, such as; horizontal format, vertical, black and white image, vector, color illustration.
So, Masterfile does indeed do a great job of helping their searchers find as many appropriate images for any given search.
Previous Stock House analyses:
- Best Practices for Keywording Your Images at PhotoShelter
- NationalGeographicStock: Keywords and Search for Stock Photographers
- The Search Engine at Fotolia and How to Keyword for It
- Image keywording and Image Search at Dreamstime.com
- How AgeFotoStock Handles Keywords
- Image Keywording for Alamy.com
- Image Keywording for 123rf.com
- How Shutterstock.com Handles Keywords