The Art of Tagging: Boosting Your Flickr Presence

photo credit SquatchSocks

As one of the internet’s first advocates for robust image tagging, we’re BIG fans of how tags can help you find new photos, new photographers, and new audiences for your work. So we thought we’d throw together some pro tips on how to make the best use of tags on Flickr.

First things first: What are tags and how do I use them?

Simply put, tags are key terms you include with your images that help people find them. Ideally, your tags describe details about your photo, so that someone looking for, say, “bokeh” or “dogs” can find more photos that include their favorite fuzzy elements.

We were *very* early adopters of this revolutionary tool, and tags continue to drive community engagement on Flickr today. Tagging helps add meaning to photos by including them in searches of related images and content, making photos and photographers easier to find.

For a walk-through on how to apply tags, check out this quick video and you’ll be tagging like a pro in no time.

Something important to note about tags: The more specific the tag, the more refined and detailed search results you’ll be a part of. To use our earlier example, “dogs” is a great place to start, but if you specialize in photos of your “pug” or “poodle” those are helpful to include, too. When people search on Flickr, it may also suggest similar tags related to that search, so the more related tags you use, the better!

Tags are also used to populate our Trending page, they’re used in curating Explore takeovers, and for participating in contests. Recently, we put a call out to the Flickr community to apply a special tag on photos of the total solar eclipse. Tagging helped NASA curate a special gallery that now lives on their official Flickr account, showing the photos of many Flickr members to a much larger audience.

Top 20 Flickr tags

Want to know some of the most popular tags being used on Flickr right now? We’ve pulled together the data to share the top 20 Flickr tags used over the last 12 months. Here are those tags in no particular order!

Some of these come as no surprise: popular styles of photography like landscape, nature, street, and travel. Common subjects like sunsets and sunrises are also expected—Flickr members capture stunning sunset and sunrise photos on a regular basis. (Check out some of those beauties in this popular Flickr group.

However, you may be surprised to see a few specific colors on our top 20 tag list. One of the reasons is the Flickr Community team has hosted several color-themed Explore Takeovers over the years. “Red” and “green” showing up in our Top 20 list helps demonstrate just how popular Explore Takeover events are within the Flickr community. They happen every month and are a great way to increase your photos’ visibility. You can also participate in group discussions and get a chance to be featured in Explore, so don’t hesitate to join in! (Pssst…A future top 20 tag could be in the making over on Flickr Social.)

In addition to featuring colors on Explore takeovers, Flickr is full of color-focused Flickr groups. So if you are inspired by a certain color, tagging it on your photos and taking a look through color-focused Flickr groups is another great way to connect and engage with Flickr members.

Driving engagement on Flickr

Community is the heart of Flickr and tags are a primary driver of how people view, fave, comment, and engage with fellow photographers on Flickr. Curious which tags drove the most engagement? We’ve got you covered!

Unlike the top 20 tags used, many of the tags driving engagement are a bit more fine-tuned and specific. For example, Canon, Sony, and Nikon fans often tag their preferred photography brands in photos, building a strong community of brand loyalists. If you’re looking to connect with other users of your favorite photo gear, make sure to add those brand tags to your images.

photo credit

While certain colors were highlighted on our top 20 tags list, further engagement falls around other color-based terms like Monochrome and Black & White. Another engagement-driving tag was 2023, so adding year-specific tags to past and future images you upload may help improve engagement of your photos.

Second Life also made an appearance on the list. This virtual community, created by Linden Lab back in 2003, meets regularly on Flickr to connect, network, and share content across the platform.

If you’re looking to see some examples of what those top engagement-driving tags pull in a search result on Flickr, make sure to give them a test drive in your own quick search. If you’d like a refresher on using the search functionality on Flickr, you can check out those details in our help center article.

Best tagging practices

So now you know what tags are used for, how to apply them, and which ones drive engagement on Flickr, but wait, there’s more! We’re including some tips on best tagging practices to really get you started off right on your tagging journey.

  • Choose a couple of general tags along with a couple of specific tags to apply to your photos. The more general tags will help include your photos in broader, more popular searches while the specific tags may help your photos hit a more targeted audience.
  • Location, location, location! Whether Flickr members are looking for future vacation spots or a snapshot from across the world, adding location-specific tags like continent, country, town or even specific stadium or venue information can really help your photos get found!
  • If you are participating in a contest, Explore takeover, or any Flickr group activity, make sure you are reading through the directions and tagging accordingly. Those tagging requirements can determine whether your image is considered for prizes and group accolades.

For more information on tagging, check out: 

Flickr FAQs: Tagging, Searching, Trending, Repeat

Tag Your Flickr Content with Keywords

Tag photos in the Flickr app

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