RossHelen editorial / Alamy Stock Photo

Captions and Tags – How and why?

It’s important that your captions and tags accurately reflect what’s depicted within your images so that our customers can find them. We understand how overwhelming the process can be, so we’ve put this article together to make it simpler – we’ve even included a check list for you.


Your caption should describe the image for any potential customer – the caption is the first piece of information they’ll read about the image and needs to be as informative as possible. It should always detail who or what is in the image and what is happening.

If the date and location of the image is especially important – if it’s a historical image or taken at a certain event – then you should also add that to the caption.

Accuracy is vital when adding captions as incorrect names of people, places or animals can cause potential issues. There have been occasions where customers have licensed images for articles or educational texts based on the caption provided by the contributor, only to find this has been incorrect.

We would recommend that you research your subjects prior to captioning to ensure that the information you provide is accurate. This will not only help your images in searches, but also eliminate any potential issues down the line due to incorrect information.

How well you caption your images will affect their SEO performance – which is very important. The better the quality of your captions, the more likely external search engines will be to pick them up and drive traffic to your images.


Your tags should be words to further describe your image – they can be literal or conceptual – and you should add as many relevant tags as possible.

Start by thinking like a customer. Check Alamy Measures to see what’s trending in customer searches as customers might be looking for what you’ve got, but you might not have the words they’re looking for. Then remember to ask yourself ‘What is this photo of?’.

Alamy is more popular with photographers than ever before and as a result we’re receiving record numbers of images. This means you need to work hard to ensure that our customers get to see the best search results when looking for images.

Below are some tagging questions which we’re regularly asked – you have probably queried some of these yourself.

  • I can’t think of anymore tags, what do I do? Don’t feel you have to force words just to add more tags. You shouldn’t be including tags that are of little or no relevance to the photo. Maybe you have a very minimal image of a red ball on a white background. If you’ve described your image literally, and exhausted all words, then start thinking about the attributes and interactions in the image: smiling or frowning, young or old, running or sitting. You should also think about conceptual tags. It may be that a customer needs an image with copy space, if your image has this, include it as a tag: “copy space”.
  • What are supertags? These are the tags that you feel are the most relevant to the image. In Alamy Image Manager, you can add up to 10 supertags and the search engine will place extra priority to these. Make sure you select the most relevant words only and use them wisely.
  • I’ve tagged my image “Banff National Park”, will my image show if someone searches “Park”? Our tagging system does not exclude constituent words of a tag from being searched. For example, “Banff National Park” will still show up for “banff”, “national park” and “park” searches. This also means that “Rhinoceros Beetle” will show up in “Rhinoceros” searches, but the search engine tries to make sure that the beetle image does not appear too high up.
  • What about plurals and stemming? The Alamy search engine doesn’t ’stem’ search words. This means that if a customer searches for “Cat”, the search engine does not extend this to “Cats”. If the plural is important to the image, then you should add it as an additional tag. Consider this carefully though – you could potentially be giving the customer irrelevant results which can harm your ranking in the future. If you have a lifestyle shot of a child playing on a swing, “Child” is a perfectly acceptable tag, but “Children” is not – a customer searching for “Children” will likely want to see just that: more than one child.

Captions and Tags checklist

I’ve compiled a list of questions you should be asking yourself when adding captions and tags. Print it off and use it as a check list – it’ll help next time you’re annotating your images!

Captions and tags can seem like a very long and tiresome task, especially when you have a lot of images to work through, but we don’t want you to overthink it. Concentrate on producing strong, on trend imagery that is annotated in a way to make sure the right customers see your images.

If you’d like some more tips on captioning your images, then have a read of our sales teams top 10 tips.

Shannon has been part of the Content team since 2019 and is one of our Content Executives. She's been surrounded by delectable food all her life (by virtue of her Chef Dad) and is now pursuing her ambitions in food photography. She therefore has a penchant for thoughtfully laid out compositions designed to showcase the very best foods out there.