Friday, June 17, 2011

Problems with Google Product Search

Google Product Search is a useful tool for finding scarce items or for attempting to place a value on a scarce item. For instance, let's say that a buyer is trying to find a copy of The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Midnight Trolls. Google Product Search yields five results.

Anyone who is trying to find Midnight Trolls has a choice of five copies. Furthermore, anyone who is attempting to price Midnight Trolls can see that the least expensive copy is $69.95. A seller might decide to price the book at around the lowest price or perhaps slightly higher.

Google Product Search has some serious drawbacks. I have discovered that the Advanced Book Exchange is not included in the results, and ABE is an excellent source for books. For instance, ABE has six results for Midnight Trolls, and only one of those results appears to be one of the books in Product Search that is listed on another site. More copies of Midnight Trolls are available than what Product Search shows.

I find Google Product Search to be unusable when it comes to finding collectible copies of common books such as most any Nancy Drew title. This is why I get no sales from Product Search. I want to remain in compliance with Product Search just in case, but I know that few buyers will ever be able to find the Nancy Drew books.

I received an inquiry recently. Someone wanted to know where he could find the Nancy Drew Files title Power of Suggestion and the Nancy Drew title Trouble at Lake Tahoe. Neither book is on eBay at the moment. I checked ABE and Google Product Search and then gave directions for how to find those copies.

This was when I discovered exactly how badly the results display in Google Product Search. I ran a search for "Nancy Drew Trouble at Lake Tahoe." This is what I saw.

Google has an image that does not match the book and states that the price is "$60 from 13 stores." The price is enough to scare me off. Clicking on this result produces the following list, where we can now see that the price is not $60, except for one listing.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

My listing on Bonanza appears in the results. However, why would anyone be drawn to my listing when nobody can see my picture? Someone might possibly click on it since the price is one of the lower ones, but I'm not sure that most buyers would make it this far.

I searched for "Nancy Drew Power of Suggestion" which gave me the following results.

Here, at least, we get the correct image on one of the results, but Google states that the book is priced at "$189 from 14 stores." This is no good. As before, clicking on that result gives us the following listings.

We can now see that this book can also be found inexpensively.

I also ran some searches for different Nancy Drew titles that I know I have available on Bonanza in my Jennifer's Series Books booth. I could not find them anywhere near the top of the results.

Google Product Search needs some serious tweaking since at present, I find it impossible to use for books for which many available copies are up for sale. Product Search is very useful for scarce books.

Note: The subject of this discussion is Google Product Search, which is not to be confused with the regular Google search, mentioned recently in this post.


Coffeegulper said...

I never use Google, Jennifer. My main search engine (which I prefer above all others) is Yahoo.

One thing that's gnawing at me...
If someone's looking for books in a particular series (or a specific title), wouldn't they simply go to a bookseller site or Ebay and do the searches over THERE?


Jennifer White said...

I believe that most book buyers would do that, which is another reason why I care very little about how well my items rank in Google Product Search.

However, there are some buyers who have no clue where to find books. They really don't. My website,, gets a lot of Google traffic from people who type "where to buy Nancy Drew books" or similar phrases into the search form. This blog gets a lot of that traffic as well.

I have had people contact me asking where they can find certain books, like Sally Baxter. I tell them that eBay is a good place to look. I tell them about ABE. There are people who don't seem to know that eBay has books for sale. It boggles the mind how many people have absolutely no idea where to find books.

This is why that I do care how high I rank in the regular Google search. I want a chance at those people who do not know about ABE or other sites, but who do use Google to find books.