If you’re like most people these days, when you need to find something, your first stop is www.google.com . Google search is an amazing tool that allows you to quickly discover how to kill a weed in your yard, or find the name of the 23rd President (I googled it, it’s Benjamin Harrison). But is it really the best way to search for handmade goods?
As a Google user, you might expect that when you enter a search term, the results you receive will be the best possible matches for your search no matter where on the internet they may be. But if this was ever the case, it is certainly not the case now. Recently Google made a change to its algorithm that significantly impacted the search results you receive from it. Observers have noted that now when you enter a search term, Google will limit the results to two per domain, at least for the first three or four pages of results. So how does that impact your search for the perfect handmade item?
Say you’re searching for a handmade beach glass necklace for your niece’s birthday. The search result I get (and it will vary by searcher depending upon your previous searches, whether or not you’re logged in to Google, and a host of other factors) shows one etsy listing, one craftisart listing and one artfire listing, on the first page of results, along with a number of other listings and a less relevant link to a bead site.
What is striking about this is that there are 465 results for the same search on etsy alone. But because Google is limiting results by domain, you would never know that. Even if I alter my search to include the word etsy, I get only one shop and two listings, and would have to click “More results from etsy.com” to see more of what’s really available. And then I’d have to repeat the process for each additional handmade venue.
So given that, is there a better way to search for handmade goods (or actually any product that you’d like to purchase) online? Fortunately Google and others have provided a better ways, but most people don’t know about them.
Enter Google Shopping Search. Google Shopping is a search engine specific to products online. When you enter a search term, the results will be products only, complete with a photo of the item, the price, and a few lines of description. You can organize the results by a number of factors including price, seller ratings, and more. The downside is that the Google Product Search contains only those items at domains that are feeding to the Google product database (regular Google search “crawls” pages to find results so theoretically the regular search would pick up all pages eventually).
Fortunately most of the handmade venues are feeding listings to the Google Products database, which makes it uniquely suited to searching for handmade goods. You won’t see every possible listing, but you will generally see a huge number of handmade goods that, with any luck, will include exactly what you’re looking for in a format that will make it easy for you to zero in on the perfect item. You access Google Shopping Search by clicking on “Shopping” at the top of the www.google.com page, or bookmark and go direct to www.froogle.com (the original name for google’s product search) or http://www.google.com/products .
Another option for product searches is called TheFind. TheFind claims to have “…every product from every store, every coupon, and every review”. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you will still find plenty of handmade goods to choose from. What’s great about TheFind is that mousing over an entry will give you a fuller description and additional information without having to actually click through to the listing. I also think they do a better job of allowing you to pull out listings from particular venues since their searches will often turn up a lot of manufactured goods… clicking on Choose Stores in the right column allows you to choose one or more handmade venues which narrows down the results to handmade goods.
So for an easier way to search for handmade goods, try out Google Shopping Search or TheFind and let us know what you think in the comments below.