I've been shopping online since the early days of the Web. And I've gotten pretty good at online shopping. Sure, I'm no better at choosing the best products than before, but once I settle on something, I can now usually find the best price that's available at the time using this shopping trick.
Over the years, I've tried all of the popular shopping aggregators and product-finder sites, and have found them wanting. (Frankly, I find Amazon the most comprehensive and competitive product-finder site out there these days — in fact, why not go sign up for their awesome Amazon Prime now.)
But I've been most disappointed in Google Shopping. It's hard to fathom why the world's best search engine isn't also the world's best shopping aggregator.
But then again, maybe it secretly is…
Google Shopping is all but useless to most people because — undoubtedly for business reasons — it doesn't list ALL the possible retailers for a product (as you might rightly assume).
Unlike Google's search engine which shows you EVERYTHING related to your search (if you dig deeply enough), Google Shopping only shows you several pages of “relevant” retailers based on some unknown criteria.
So how do you find out if there are retailers that sell the product you're looking for, but who aren't showing up in Google Shopping or Amazon results?
Simple, you use Google Images.
Yep, if you do the exact same product search on Google Images, you'll get photos from EVERY retailer on the Web who's selling the product you want on their site, regardless of whether they have a business relationship with Google or not.
Suddenly, you'll find TONS of other sites that sell the product you want! Google Images doesn't have business deals with retailers. It just finds ALL the images that match your query, and that's usually retailers. It's an eye-opening experience that reveals how skewed Google Shopping's results really are. (Try it now, I'll wait.)
Just mouse-over the image and you'll see a green URL below the photo. When you find the product photo on a site that sounds credible (avoid .ru domains), just click the photo and Google will take you to the site.
Once there, either click on the ‘X' in the upper right-hand corner of the photo to make it go away, or click on “Website for this image” in the right sidebar. That will let you shop the retailer's site and the product page until you drop.
It's disappointing that Google Shopping artificially limits the retailers that show up in their results — I mean, you expect that from somebody like Amazon (who doesn't pretend to be an impartial search company). But I expected the planet's leading search engine and second largest tech company in the world to create the ultimate product-finder site.
And maybe even without realizing it, they ultimately have. It's just not called Google Shopping.