How to Find the Best Keywords
for Your Stock Images

Published: April 1, 2016

Last Updated: April 6, 2016

How do you know which keywords to use for your stock images? 

Keywords are crucial to help customers find your images. Here are the steps Catherine uses to find the strongest keywords for stock photos or vector art.

This step-by-step process is one Catherine shared with her husband, Matt, to help him find keywords for his stock vector art. Matt had created a "superhero" for Father's Day.

Catherine walked Matt through the steps and found keywords for his vector art image. This process is one Catherine uses to find keywords for her images. 

We'll let Catherine take it from here!


Daisey, the "Paws-itive" Beagle

7 Steps to Finding Keywords

1) I go to and type in what I am looking for. In this case, "Father's Day vector". 

2) I then click on a photo that looks relevant to mine (or in this case, my husband's art) and put the keywords into a Microsoft Word document. 

3) I also like going to 

4) I type in the keyword (such as "Father's Day vector") then click on "Best Selling." 

5) I then click on the photo and put in any new keywords into my Word Document. 

6) I usually repeat the steps, especially for Dreamstime, to find more keywords. 

7) The final step is to take a good look at your image. Is there anything you can see in your stock image that you haven't added a keyword for yet? For example, in a squirrel photo I took, I followed Steps 1-6. But when I looked at my image (Step 7) I noticed I hadn't added anything about the creative blur background. "Is 'blur' a real keyword" I wondered? I searched on Dreamstime, and sure enough, "blur" is a valid keyword if the image has intended blur. In doing this Step 7, I added "blur," and "blurred effect" to my keywords.

Next, the "Alphabet Secret"
for Keywording Stock Images

I organize the keywords in alphabetical order -- or keep them in alphabetical order as I add them into my Word Document.

Why? Because sometimes there are so many, I can duplicate words. So, by alphabetizing them, I can see if I've got the same word more than once. 

I can also search for other variations. In this case, because my husband's theme was "superhero" he could also re-do the steps and type in "superhero" as a keyword and follow the steps I outlined above.

As it turns out, one of the best-sellers in Dreamstime had a comic/superhero theme, so that helped me add superhero type keywords to the list (below).

Keywording Results from these Steps

As a result of following the six steps, here are the keywords I got for my husband's Father's Day vector superhero...

  • Action
  • Adult
  • Celebration 
  • Costume
  • Dad
  • Day 
  • Design
  • Family
  • Father 
  • Father's Day
  • Greeting
  • Greeting Card
  • Happiness
  • Hero
  • Heroic
  • Holiday
  • Illustration
  • Invitation
  • Male
  • Muscular Build
  • Parent
  • Parenthood
  • People
  • Power
  • Strength
  • Strong
  • Suit
  • Super
  • Superhero
  • Vector

From here, he could add them into his vector art file. In my case, I would then copy and paste the keywords into my photo file. Please keep in mind this is just "one" way to do it. If you have other ideas, or a better way of collecting keywords, please do let us know. Thanks!

One More BONUS Keywording Tip

If you sell your images on Can Stock Photo, once you upload them, you can access their "keyword helper" tool. It's really good and often helps me find one or two extra keywords -- which always helps in customers finding my images! Hope all this helps you too!



P.S.: One more tip! Here's a good article on keywording well so you can increase stock image sales.