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Keyword Search

Keywords definition is “the tags used to group assets of the same category”. They improve the speed and efficiency of navigating the file storage.

Keyword search is the process of entering the keyword and choosing a needed file among assets that match it.

How to Find Files Owned By a User?

Keyword search is a tool that helps team managers, creators, and third-party contributors quickly find a needed file. Here’s how teams set up keywording:

Step #1. A team manager chooses the most comfortable way to handle keywords: creating them manually or generating them automatically.

Step #2. A file manager creates a list of words creators can use to generate new asset tags (controlled vocabulary.

Step #3. File publishers assign keywords to each asset they upload.

Step #4. A person who needs access to a file enters a corresponding keyword into the search tab.

Step #5. The assets that match the keyword appear.

Benefits of File Tags in DAM

1. Facilitate file search

When teams have a robust vertical structure, browsing through multiple parent folders before finding a needed file takes a lot of time. That’s why digital asset management tools offer creators and project leaders a so-called “horizontal file navigation” - allowing them to find files by entering metadata or keywords into the search tab.

2. Describe the main characteristics of an asset

A quick look at the keywords attached to a file allows all users of the library to get more information about the file. For example, if an asset is labeled as “logo”, “final version”, “blue”, “Facebook”, a teammate who opened the asset can quickly deduce that he’s looking at the final version of a logo for Facebook.

If a creator needs more details about a file, these are typically stored within the system as metadata.

3. Automate file description

If a manager wants to take team efficiency one step further, enabling automated keywords generation is a fast and quick way to save your team hours of productive time.

Top-tier DAM systems can generate automated keywords that describe the contents of the asset, showing what is in the frame of a photo, inside a video, or a document.

3 Types of Keywords to Manage Your Files


Depending on the DAM solution you choose, there are several ways to create keywords. Let’s take a look at the most popular options to tag assets.

File sharing can appear useful in a range of ways:

  • 1.
    Manual keywords - whenever a teammate is uploading a new file, he enters 5-7 keywords that describe the asset. To make sure that there aren’t any repetitive tags in the system, most DAM providers recommend teams to use controlled vocabulary for keyword generation.
  • 2.
    Automated keywords - asset tags are assigned without human supervision through machine learning and computer vision.
  • 3.
    Custom fields - some DAM solutions don’t have a separate keyword feature - in this case, team managers can create custom metadata fields and use them as tags.

Best Keyword Search Practices in DAM Tools

Keywords are a powerful weapon that helps transform and improve file organization - however, the efficiency of this tool depends on the practices individual teams implement.

Let’s take a look at the best practices of creating and managing keywords - their efficiency was proven by our clients multiple times.

1. Don’t be too broad or specific

Keywords have to describe a group of files precisely enough to separate it from other assets in the library. However, they cannot be too specific either - otherwise, not many files will match such a tag.

Here’s a practical example of walking a fine line between a too broad, too specific, and precise enough keyword.

Too broad: photo

Too specific: July in Miami

Precise enough: summer vacation

2. Do not use abbreviations (or be consistent)

Experienced file managers advise teams against keywording in abbreviations. The problem is that a teammate might not necessarily enter a term as an abbreviation or look for a different version.

For example, a manager adds an asset keyworded “US”. Later, a new colleague might look for this file entering “the US”, “United States”, “the United States”, or “the United States of America”.

To avoid confusion, specify keywording conventions for tags like “US”, “EU”, and other abbreviations. Share these guidelines with your team to make sure everyone knows which keyword is the right one.

3. Avoid plurals when creating keywords

As you work on controlled vocabulary for your digital asset library, you might be wondering: “Should I write “car” or “cars”?”

The rule of thumb is: when describing an asset, we specify the type, not the number of objects featured. That’s why it’s better to use “person” even if there are several people in the photo and “cat” in a video of several kittens.

4. Ensure spelling consistency and avoid errors

It goes without saying that teammates should watch out for misspelling words when creating keywords. Other than this, there should be a unique spelling convention accepted within the team.

For example, a file manager should specify whether teammates use the American English spelling (e.g. color) or the British one (e.g. colour). This small specification helps avoid a ton of file management confusion.


Using keyword search helps teams locate files in the blink of an eye. Depending on a DAM tool, there are different types of keywording - it’s up to teams to choose whether custom or automated asset tagging suits their needs.

Other than that, there are tips and best practices file managers should follow to make the most out of keywording. Creating a list of controlled words, specifying the spelling and abbreviation conventions is a way to make sure everyone on the team will be comfortable using keywords to navigate the digital library.

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