Shutterstock Keyword Trends

Shutterstock  has just announced a new tool for microstock photographers (and illustrators and videographers of course).  A tool that could potentially help us know what styles of imagery to create and when to create it.

The tool can be found in the Shutterstock Darkroom.

How it Works

shutterstock keyword tool 1The tool works by comparing the search column of up to 5 keyword terms or phrases.  If you type in the keywords [woman] [women] [lady] and [female] you can see how these words compare to each other and how they perform over time.   In this example you can see that the keyword woman receives a much larger search volume that the other keywords and seasonal variation isn’t extreme.  It appears there is a spike around Valentines days and one in October for some reason which could just be due to low data before January 2011.   Shutterstock has mentioned that the data before January 2011 is based on a sample of searches instead of ALL the search data so unusual spikes may occur, especially for low volume keywords.

popular keywordsOn the left side of the graph, Shutterstock has  displayed each users’ most searched for keywords as well as the most searched for keywords on the site, giving some suggestions of fun keyword searches to play around with.

In order to protect some of their information, actual search volume numbers aren’t displayed on the graph.  The scale of the graph will dynamically adjust to the search terms entered.  Enter two crummy terms and the graph will hit the top just the same as two hot searches.  The tool is meant as a comparison tool – month compared to month or keyword compared to keyword.

You are also able to search for multiple keywords at the same time.  A search for [healthy food] will return results for searches that contained both  healthy and food and not just the phrase “healthy food”.

Potential Uses

seasonal trends microstockShutterstock has expressed that their main intention with this tool is to give users an accurate picture of seasonal trends in search volume.  With this information a user can shoot and upload at the correct times of the year.  Looking at the example of [Mother] [Father] [Easter] [Halloween] [Valentine] it’s pretty clear you should have your Halloween images online by the beginning of August.  Valentines shots should be uploaded in December, Mother’s day shots by February, Father’s day by February and Easter shots should be uploaded early January.  I’ll leave the crazy Christmas spike as a surprise for you to discover yourself 🙂

smartphoneAnother fun use is seeing trending subjects due to general cultural popularity.  Certain things are simply loosing popularity over time while others are gaining in popularity.  Doing a search for [smartphone] returns a pretty obvious climb in popularity over the last year.

Suggestions for Improvement

I’ve mentioned this to Shutterstock already, but I would like to see a list of trending topics.  It would be great to see which search terms have the greatest change in search volume within the last two years, year, month, week etc. Otherwise I feel this is a really great tool and it is great to see Shutterstock is giving tools to the microstock artists helping them create relevant material.  Two thumbs up!  Is there any improvements you would like to see?

[Discuss on the Microstock Forum]

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
Posted on July 12th, 2011 in Microstock News | tags: ,
  • Very nice tool by SS there, shame they’re not opening up the underlying details (real numbers) but it’s understandable why not. The microstocker’s research toolset just got a bit better 🙂

    • Yeah, it would certainly be nice (interesting) with more raw data figures, I think we may be waiting a while for those. I also asked about any RPI plans (thinking of you) but they said nothing was in the works 🙁

  • Nicely explained. It is great, I can see other agencies releasing their own versions in time. For people who pay attention to this and upload their images at the right time, it could really boost their earnings. And with the amount of competition there is these days, analytics seems to be pretty important to help us gain a competitive advantage.

    • Yes, hopefully this sets the standard for contributer tools. I also agree, the days of uploading holiday snaps whenever the mood hits and making any money is long gone (if it every existed in the first place). The microstock marketplace is becoming a lions den of competition.

  • Could work effectively if used correctly, then again there are 3rd party tools to do this just as easily, however, most of the public at large are probably unaware of them.