The definitions for your keywords, terms, or tags are useless to your DAM without a good taxonomy. When searching for content using a particular keyword, your DAM will find all instances of that term. Sounds excellent until you have hundreds and thousands of results to sift through. Your DAM will answer your search query with as many relevant assets as possible, and without context and consistent term use, you’ll get plenty of unrelated content.
A taxonomy is a system that defines the keywords and terms attributed to your assets. The intent is to organize assets through these descriptions and improve search performance, making it easier to retrieve your content. A successful taxonomy is not the flashy star of your DAM; it lives behind the scenes, connecting your assets to your end-users.
Keywords Without a Taxonomy
Without a taxonomy, the terms your end-users employ when searching for assets have no context for the rest of your media. Your DAM – “out of the box” – doesn’t know your keywords or terms. Tagging an asset with a keyword only connects it with other assets sharing that exact keyword, but consistent description practices can fix this issue.
What Kind of Bat Are You Looking For?
Take an example of a term: Bat. You enter your search query into the DAM and receive results. What do you intend to see? What is your definition of ‘Bat’ at that moment? You see a winged mammal in your results; perfect, that’s what you wanted. But those results also include sports equipment, wooden clubs, winking faces, etc. If you were to tag assets with ‘Bat,’ meaning the animal, and another user tags assets ‘Bat’ but defined as a stick or club, assets with all of those features will appear—convoluting your search. Your DAM will not understand the difference between definitions of any term unless you create and maintain a clear taxonomy. That’s just with two definitions of ‘Bat.’ It gets even more confusing if you include additional definitions:
- Definitions: a fruit; or a specific unit of time; or to identify age; or to go on a planned activity with a partner
- Use: you’re looking for the fruit, but you receive results including calendars, clocks, timepieces, couples, or groups of people sitting at dinner together.
Inconsistent Use; Inconsistent Results
You get the point. Another problem arises when descriptions of objects differ from one another. People use different vocabularies depending on region and culture.
For example, take a car. How is it tagged? Several terms could be used: car, vehicle, sedan, SUV, truck, automobile, and more. When an end-user searches for “car,” but the original input term is “vehicle,” the desired results will not appear. Neglecting possible search terms inhibits engagement with your assets.
The Fix: A Taxonomy
With an implemented taxonomy, keywords and terms have guidelines for their use and intention. For instance, you might decide that a bat is an animal, not a club; and a date is a fruit, not an activity. Implementing a successful taxonomy with these kinds of guidelines will return fewer search results but with increased accuracy, relevancy, and effectiveness for your end-users.
When keywords have meaning and are used consistently, end-users are able to discover assets efficiently. A thorough discovery process is key to a successful DAM, because it enables the implementation of a successful taxonomy, which will allow your end-users to discover the assets that are relevant and useful to their work.